The Old Communist was written in Milna, on the Isle of Brac, off the coast of Croatia where my sweetheart, Marilyn and I spend our summers at her family’s ancestral home. She thought she had better go to church as everyone in the small town was sure to gossip if she didn’t make an appearance. I stayed home, playing banjo on the porch, bewildered by the notion that the church pews were filled with former communists.
THE STORY OF FOREVER AGO – JOHN KRUTH & LA SOCIETÀ DEI MUSICI
I first met Claudio Scarabottini three years ago in the Autumn of 2014 when we played the music for Shakespeare’s The Tempest for the New York-based experimental theater company, La Mama. We became fast friends, working together daily under the direction of Liz Swados (to whom this album is dedicated). While Claudio and I are multi-instrumentalists, we are both mandolin players that draw from different traditions. Claudio mostly plays in the classic Neapolitan style, where my approach draws from American roots music: folk, blues, bluegrass and rock. Whenever we played together there was never a shortage of enthusiasm and fresh ideas to share.
Three years ago, while I on my annual summer vacation in Split, Croatia, Claudio suggested I come to visit Spoleto and play a few shows with him and his friends, the folk singer Massimo Liberatori and his great group La Società dei Musici. We all had a great time making music, eating and drinking and I soon returned again to play with Massimo and his gang, and to record on his new album Tratturo Zero. Soon after the sessions Claudio and accordionist/record label director, Gianluca Bibiani suggested I return again, this time to do an album of my songs, backed by La Società dei Musici.
As a singer/songwriter I have released ten solo albums over my career, when I haven’t been busy either writing books or leading the New York-based world music ensemble TriBeCaStan. While I had a handful of unrecorded songs, I needed to write another six or seven to comprise the new album. My recent travels in Italy, Croatia and the U.S.A. helped provide the inspiration for many of the lyrics, which reflect my impressions, from the American Southwest in “Picnic in the Sun” to the Everglades in Florida, in “Drivin’” as well as the piazza in Campello, where I witnessed “the girl with the red hair in the red dress” dancing the Tarantella one hot July night. Other songs are dedicated to the late, great poet Sylvia Plath and the Austrian painter/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Working with an Italian band in an Umbrian studio has been great fun (and sometimes a challenge as I don’t speak the language)! While many of our musical styles – employing mandolin, guitar and accordion fit hand in glove, our differences helped create a new wonderful fusion of sound and poetry.
I enthusiastically look forward to returning to Umbria again in the Summer of 2018 to perform the songs from Forever Ago with the wonderful La Società dei Musici.