Rehearsing with Chiara Angelicoa

ChiaraYesterday, the singer-songwriter Chiara Angelicoa came by to rehearse for our July 25 show in Noe Valley (info will be posted soon at this link, drop me a line at if you want info in the meantime).  I have to say I was really impressed both with Chiara’s artistry and her on the fly studiousness.  She’s got a very unique voice with a peaty ambiance that reminds me of a rare single malt; something with a maturity that belies her age.

I discovered Chiara by happenstance while looking for guest vocalists to be part of my “guitar and voice” double bill series. We pulled up her Myspace site and the piece “Come On” took over the auditory backdrop while we were eating breakfast. My wife Maria and I loved her sound right away.

Chiara makes a good first impression. Her diminutive and understated countenance is at odds with her forlorn, stylized voice. But as you spend more time with her, you begin to understand this gal is accomplished musically and very determined to make a go of things. We have some things in common, including an interest in Psychology, and the same alma matar, UCSC. We also have that all important “eclectic musical tastes thing” in common that make for good chemistry on a collaborative level.

When she came over for practice, I was very surprised at how quickly things came together. I felt it might be good particularly for this piece:

Flame Flower, by Brian Gore

Do you want someone to hold you

Even when you cry?

Do you want someone to guide you

When your passion blurs your sight

The love that can transpire

Even when we cry

Transfigures all desire

So its flames blot out the light

The memory of what we had

Appears still quite ideal

The smoke upon the hills have cast

A shadow on what’s real (chorus)

We shared a smoldering flower

Whose flames light up the night

The pattern in the cinders

The memory of your eyes

Combustible power

Re-meet and reignight

How can we catch a fire

If you can’t love your own light (chorus)

I was very excited to hear how she would bring a gritty, bluesy sense to this piece; for sure, she didn’t disappoint. I was also surprised at how quickly that came together. We also came up with renditions of her piece Masquerade and Momentum.

There’s an edginess  in our rendition of these pieces which I have been yearning for; they are psycho-surrealistic in tonality, if you will.  The pieces are rendered in a style close to Nick Drake and Bert Jansch guitar wise, but with a bit of the modern troubadour tinge you might find in acts like Jose Gonzales or Iron and Wine.

It looks to be a pretty intense collaborative set all the way around, and I am thankful for that. I’m often pigeon holed as a pristine player; and that’s only partially true, especially where songwriting and lyrics are concerned. Working with Chiara gives me the chance to play pieces that you wouldn’t hear in International Guitar Night. To add a little levity to the program, we are also working up a very funny piece I wrote with my friend Curt Haworth called Instant Love.

I’ll be posting video clips from some of our collaborative pieces in my next dispatch about Chiara!