Italian Pizzica with AmaraTerra

I don’t know if any of you have ever had the opportunity to listen to Italian folk and traditional sounds outside of Italy, but the good thing with London is that you can find anything you want. I have probably said it a 100 times before, but what I love most here is London’s multiculturalism. Back in summer I went to an Armenian festival, in Autumn there was an Arrancini festival and now this! You can travel to as many places as you want, without even leaving the confines of this city!

At Jamboree, a not so well-known little place in South East London, this band performed called AmaraTerra. They were fantastic! Their music and roots come from the area of Salento, in South Italy, and I have to tell you that it is so fun and exciting, even if you clearly don’t understand anything! As they say, the band plays traditional songs and dances from Southern Italy with the relentless beat of tambourine. And while tarantella is one of the most famous Italian dances, pizzica belongs to the wider family of tarantella, but is the folk dance of the area of Salento.

Pizzica as a dance goes back to Dionysiac festivals and the bite of tarantulla spider. According to the myth, if a person gets bitten, they can be healed only by frenetic dancing to the sounds of tambourine. This frenetic dancing most certainly comes true when you watch the members of the band dancing. Joy, pure unadulterated joy radiates from every beat and sound, while passion and excitement just bleads through. It’s impossible not to get carried away or feel, when the band is playing, despite the language barrier.

But it’s not only fun and roses; the band also played the incredibly sad and poignant song “Andra mou paei”. It was written in the 1970s and was inspired by the composer watching a woman saying good bye to her husband at the train station. The title may sound like Greek, but it is in fact a Salentian dialect called Griko (a decendant from Medieval Greek). Even if you don’t speak the language, you can’t help but feel moved! AmaraTerra did it justice I have to say, it was pure and unadorned. I didn’t expect they would play that or that they would include it in their playlist for the night, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.

Jamboree is a cool place and a venue that hosts folk and jazz nights, along with a quirky atmosphere and furniture. The band combined several instruments (with tambourine being the protagonist and mandolas, guitars and accordion) into melodies and sounds that transferred us to the South of Italy, where the sea and limestone blend into stunning natural beauty. Pizzica, despite being a dance for two, managed to make us all come together and celebrate life. No matter the different cultural or ethnic backgrounds we are all the same after all.

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