Naples Bluegrass Band Blending Italian and American Cultures

The five guys began busking on the streets of Naples, and now they're touring the U.S.

By: Dina Di Maio, ISDA Contributor 

Bluegrass music was born in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee, by way of Irish, Scottish, and English parents. But La Terza Classe is injecting it with a Southern Italian flair that has to be heard to be believed.

La Terza Classe, named for the band that was playing in the Titanic’s third class in the film Titanic, began busking on the streets of Naples. The five members, Enrico Catanzariti (vocals and snare drum), Pierpaolo Provenzano (vocals and guitar), Rolando “Gallo” Maraviglia (vocals and bass), Corrado Ciervo (violin), and Alfredo D’Ecclesiis (harmonica), were drawn together over their love of American bluegrass, Dixieland jazz, and jug band music.

Traditional lonesome hillbilly with high energy breakdowns and close harmonies blended with distinctly Italian folk music, La Terza Classe creates a sound that is completely original. As Provenzano and Catanzariti note, “We think the secret is the fact that we have a traditional American sound although we come from a completely different part of the world, and that blows people’s minds away!” The band’s authentic sound comes from studying bluegrass, folk, and pop music.

While the band is influenced by American music, it has its own unique Italian, or more specifically, Neapolitan flair. “Even though we sing in English, you can feel the Italian touch inside our melodies and harmonies and also in the way we relate ourselves to the crowd in front of us,” say Provenzano and Catanzariti.

And people are taking notice, in Italy, Europe and the United States. The band appeared in Italy’s Got Talent and On the Road (with Joe Bastianich), an Italian TV program featuring musical acts from all over Italy. The band has played at Nashville’s “Music City Roots” and both the Live Oak Music Festival and SXSW in Austin, Texas. In 2015, the band won second place at the BooGrass Bash Festival in Anderson, South Carolina. Flat Tyre—An American Music Dream, an award-winning documentary of their first tour, tells of their serendipitous meeting with Jim Lauderdale, Grammy-winning musician and co-host of “Music City Roots,” while changing a flat tire on a highway in Nashville.

La Terza Classe has released three albums, Ready to Sail in 2014, Folkshake in 2016, and La Terza Classe in 2018. The band is currently touring the U.S., sponsored by the Sarah Good Foundation, founded by Michael Darigan to honor his late wife, artist and musician Sarah Good. The foundation’s mission is to bring people from diverse backgrounds together through music and art.

I’ve been fortunate enough to hear the band play three years in a row. Witnessing a discerning audience of North Carolinians embracing La Terza Classe’s cross-genre, cross-cultural sound for an evening of truly international music was an amazing experience.

Click here for tour dates.

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