By Kristi Kates
Blues music is an American folk music, and as such, how can I help
but love it? says singer-songwriter John Latini, Its basic, raw and
full of feeling for those playing it and those listening to it. Blues
lovers are loyal and faithful to the music and will actually leave
their houses to seek it out.
Latini, who won both the 2008 and 2009 Detroit Blues Challenges, is a
veteran performer most often lauded for his energy and personality
onstage, and hell be bringing those characteristics - and a whole
lotta blues tunes - to Charlevoixs Black Cat Concert Series.
Growing up in Queens, NY, Latini was exposed to a wide range of music
via his family - and his eclectic musical choices continue today.
My mom listened to a lot of stuff, Latini explains, everything from
Hank Williams to Harry Belefonte, and a lot of ethnic music - Italian
and Irish, but also Middle Eastern belly-dancing music and such. My
older brothers - well, actually everyone - were listening to The
Beatles, The Rolling Stones and then The Band, The Allman Brothers,
and Simon and Garfunkel.
Latinis brother eventually made up a family fake book of songs with
all the words and chords so that the family could sit around the table
after dinner and have singalongs.
There were tunes that my parents liked, and tunes that we liked,
Latini remembers, and as it was passed around to all the family
members learning to play guitar, they would each add tunes to the
book. It was really cool - and that book is still around!
Today, Latini is still influenced by what he simply calls great
songwriters, among them, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, and Ryan Adams,
to name a few.
Also, many of my friends and contemporaries, Latini continues, Dave
Boutette, Jo Serrapere, Josh Davis, Jim Bizer; the list is long, and
includes virtually any songwriters that really care for and work over
their tunes. I so enjoy songs that reveal more and more with each new
Latini, who moved from Queens to the Detroit area in 1983 (my wife
moved here to attend EMU, he explains), has lived in Ypsilanti since
1988, and hes been part of Detroits Blues Society scene for the past
As a songwriter, hes found that most of his tunes lately end up being
about his family and his personal experiences - although theyre
personal experiences that would be common to many, many people that
have lived similarly, he says, I believe that a broader
accessibility is a must if you are writing about personal
FESTIVALS AND MORE
Latini has been sharing those personal-experiences-via-song at plenty
of live dates; hes got a full schedule booked already through the end
of this year, and says the gigs have been going well.
Ive enjoyed playing to some real great audiences, truly discerning
listeners, he says, the spring and summer dates have been especially
fun; Ive always loved playing outdoors, and I like the festival
atmosphere and playing on a bill with other acts. I enjoy the
camaraderie of rubbing elbows with the other players.
For the Charlevoix show, Latini says hell have his regular bass
player, John Sperendi, in tow (theyll be performing as a duo), and
will be playing plenty of original music.
Well be playing songs from my back catalog, as well as songs from my
upcoming record, which is due out early next year, he says, were
really excited about this new CD - its got great material, great
players and really, really great performances.
Those performances, of course, will include Latinis own impressive
guitar skills, as well as his distinctive voice, which he says is
perfectly cut out to bring the blues to every song.
My vocal ability is basic and raw, and no matter what musical style
Im singing in, it always comes out a little bluesy. I think its the
gravel, he chuckles.
Singer-songwriter John Latini will be performing as part of the Black
Cat Concert Series on Saturday, July 31 at 8 p.m. The concerts take
place at the Dhaseleer Farm, 15794 Paddock Road in Charlevoix,
telephone 231-675-7768. Tickets for the Latini show are $15; get more