LIFE/Hannah Williams: Live Music, Life Music


Live music is my favorite (and practically only) hobby. I could spend days going to different dive bars and small venues finding people who love to share their craft. Back in California, I do spend days seeking out live shows, and here in Viterbo I’ve struggled to find as many as I would like. However, the live music I have found here has been one of the highlights of my whole Italian experience.

It all comes from one bar in the San Pellegrino Quarter of Viterbo. Within the old walls of Al Settantasette, I’ve seen not only the punk music I love, but indie bands I’ve fallen in love with and DJ sets I’ve danced to more than I have ever danced in California. Last weekend I saw a band called KuTso, and although they’ve opened for some pretty big names they came to do a free show at the small bar. After the show I talked to the lead singer about being a smaller band in Italy and he said that most bigger Italian bands also do small shows when they tour. He told me about a giant festival his band had played where they opened for Calcutta, who I saw last night. Two nights ago Etruschi from Lakota played and danced their way through an amazing set, and after the show the band gave me a CD and we talked in broken English and Italian for hours about the hardships of the live music life.

I’ve always called live music a cure-all. Watching a group on stage having as much fun as the people dancing to their music is unlike any other form of shared art, and in Italy it’s no different. Talented musicians reside everywhere, from the trio playing violins on the streets of Rome, to the semi-dirty college student playing guitar on Corso Italia with his case almost empty in front of him, or to the traveling band from the seemingly random town outside Siena.

Between a DJ with a saxophonist laughing out loud at the USAC students dancing to their music, an AC/DC cover band who seemed to know the words to “Back in Black” better than most Americans I know, and the numerous encounters with musicians I’ve had over the last few weeks, I’ve come to love the Viterbo music scene. At the end of the day I still can’t understand what they’re singing, but the feeling of music being shared is a universal magic that is undeniably flowing through the streets of every city, no matter how hard it is to find.

My name is Hannah Williams, and I’m an American student from California and Colorado. Viterbo is a big city compared to my hometowns, and I love the language, food, and culture of the ancient community. I speak Spanish and am here to learn to speak Italian, as well as write, read, and understand the beauty of my favorite Romance language. I have worked for multiple magazines and newspapers through my home university, Humboldt State University, and I spend my days managing a band, studying words, and eating all the time.