Renowned Italian musician and guitarist Alfredo Marasco, has found himself across the other side of the world in the bright lights of LA. He was also chosen to be the guitarist for country artist Carmel Helene and if that’s not enough, he also helps Carmel arrange and write her original songs. We recently caught up with Alfredo, here is what he had to say:
How did the collaboration with country singer/songwriter Carmel Helene start?
It started out a few months ago I believe in October 2017, just a couple of weeks after I moved to LA. I received a call from a musician friend of mine, who let me know that Carmel was looking for a guitar player in her band. A week later, I auditioned for it and after a few days I received her call. We suddenly started to work on the songs and on the overall sound she wanted for the band and after less than a couple of weeks we were ready to play the coming gigs.
Can you tell us more about your role in the band?
In this project I play both electric and acoustic guitars and I also collaborate on recording these instruments in the studio and arranging/writing part of Carmel’s original songs.
Have you had any other experience in the country music world prior to this collaboration?
I recorded the guitars for some country artists in the past, but this is the first time I’m doing live gigs in this genre. I’ve always tried to be versatile and to learn as many music styles as possible so when I got the chance to audition for Carmel, I really wanted to push myself and reach for something. Even though I was slightly less experienced.
What was your personal approach to such a new genre?
I didn’t have a lot of experience with it so I started to listen country as much as I could and tried to learn the culture behind it. I also sat with my guitar learning and listening carefully to all the common arrangements within the songs and how the instruments would tie together in order to create that characteristic vibe that country has. Also I started to be unusually interested for a few instruments that caught my attention.
How is the country music scene in Italy?
Surprisingly there are many people that follow this kind of music in Italy. I remember I was in the region of Veneto touring with my band and in a city nearby there was a festival that turned out to be a huge deal; People were line dancing all dressed up as cowboys and real American country bands were playing in the background. You can find those kinds of festivals in a few places up in the north of Italy especially if they are twinned with major country-music American cities.
You have mentioned before certain instruments that captured your interest, are you learning to play some of them as well?
Yes and I found this learning process quite amusing! I went into a few music stores here in LA eager to try out some new instruments; Parts of them are not easy to find so I had to search around a lot. It’s funny because just a year ago, I would have never laid eyes on instruments like that and now I have a blues mandolin at home and I’m in the process of getting a traditional 5 string banjo.
Are you willing to introduce those instruments as part of your gear in the band?
I would love to and actually I was already thinking to start recording and using some of them for future collaborations or projects -with the entire band or in acoustic sets. We’ll see how it goes.
Are there any projects you are currently working on?
The collaboration with Carmel keeps me busy, but I always try to be active with recording sessions and playing around with other musicians of the scene. I’m also thinking to work on some solo stuff. I have a few original pieces that at this point, I’ve never had the time or chance to record properly; I’m sure I’ll get to that eventually.