peak.JPGTo get from Switzerland to Italy there is only one thing to do: cross the Alps. Although we were passing through spectacular scenery, Cez-One kept himself covered up underneath a jacket, achieving maximum visual and sonic enhancement for his PlayStation Portable, refusing to acknowledge the outside world. We drove past Montreux, an impossible city that straddles the steep mountainside as it descends into Lake Geneva, then into the Rhone River valley, a deep glacial cut through the craggy snow-capped peaks. The van proved impressive, handily climbing up to the Great St. Bernard Pass at 8,000 feet , through a miles-long tunnel that spit us out into the Italian Alps, and down the steep slopes into the Po River Valley and Italy’s industrial heartland.

thedallop.JPGMadly Pub is special. Built out of a crumbling Italian villa on the side of the road — seemingly in the middle of nowhere — with Guinness on tap and the deeply side-burned Johnny (Gianni) to guide you through the throngs. We got there and learned that a local band was opening up. They are called The Dallop, and they had only been together a few months, this being their first or second show. A few years ago Italy passed a law requiring that all clubs and pubs have no-smoking areas — and it was a great relief to play in a smoke-free room. What with all the singing and jumping around we were doing on stage, and illness on our heels, it was hard to keep our throats and lungs from getting thrashed. I hope the other nations of Europe follow suit soon — it’s a matter of public health!

The Dallop fans, mostly from the nearby town of Borgonovo, started showing up in droves, excited to see their hom-town heroes playing. Many of them were wearing hand-painted Dallop shirts and hand-made band buttons… oh to be young and in your first band. The Dallop played some great punk rock, with everyone in the band singing great hooks. The lead guitarist broke a string on the first song. I ran up and gave him my guitar, then changed the string on his guitar while they finished out the song. He seemed a little shocked about this — but that’s how we do! How many times have the guys from Mezklah and Fitter done the same for me?

cityhall.JPGMany Dallop fans stayed to check out our set and although half of Madly Pub seemed to be ignoring us, there was a sizable group that was paying close attention. The dancing never really took off, but when we finished playing we managed to unload a grip of CDs! We hung out for a bit, and then were taking to out sleeping quarters: the town hall. piazza.JPGIts a beautiful medieval building whose top floor holds cots for visiting bands and other penniless passers-by. After a lovely morning cappuccino in the piazza with Johnny and his girlfriend, we were on the road back to Switzerland — this time over another impossibly jagged mountain pass.