A three-hour drive through biblical weather, a somewhat dodgy encounter with a man with a very strong grip, and nearly getting locked in the car park were the things that topped and tailed the evening of Saturday 6th Feb 2016 for me, Ria Keen and VIDLA Registrar Cordelia Lewis (aka Givvi Flynn), but what happened in between those two things was sheer joy!
The venue was Coast Italia, an atmospheric, authentic and welcoming Pugliese restaurant / cafe / bar on Swansea High Street, and the occasion was the launch of Unfolding – the first album from singer-songwriters Steve Balsamo (famous for being a Jesus impersonator and one-time frontman of The Storys), and Rosalie Deighton of The Deighton Family (and also ex-Storys)!
We expected some lovely musical moments and we got plenty of them – all tunes from the album, including Light in the Dark, for which Steve sent up a prayer to be put on the hallowed Radio 2 playlist; the lovely Dream Song, which was inspired by a conversation that Steve had with Vicky Lord, wife of the late Jon Lord with whom Steve toured extensively; Long Way Round which for my money is one of the stand-out songs on the album, and of course the glorious title tune Unfolding which starts with Steve’s solo voice, a capella. If you are in any doubt about how wonderful a voice this man has, you only have to put on a pair of headphones and listen to the first 25 seconds of this track. If that tone doesn’t make you want to buy the album, nothing will!
Coast Italia chef Michele de Vincenzo created a glorious buffet that took us and the rest of the diners straight to Puglia (which is another word for Heaven, as anyone who’s been there will know!), and the atmosphere was just perfect for Steve and Rosalie’s easy-going onstage presence.
We were treated to a lot of stories and big ol’ music biz name-drops that of course delighted everyone there. Pick of the bunch of the stories (or maybe that should be Storys…) involved a woeful tale of a massive big deal of a stadium gig supporting Celine Dion with a bemused dep guitarist who should have been marking papers at university but instead found himself staring down the barrel of a 60,000-strong audience, a sound crew who didn’t want to play fair but eventually pretended to, and then the disaster of going onstage only to find that fair play had gone out of the window and none of the band could hear anything through their in-ears. On that subject, I was delighted to hear that Steve hates in-ears as much as I do. I’m old-school like him, and believe in-ear monitoring to be the work of Be’elzebub and all his minions… But back to the point: the very best part of the tale of woe was Steve’s note-to-self, “When in doubt, faint.” Happily on that occasion he decided against that course of action, the band got a standing ovation and lived to fight another day. (Not enough days, sadly – they split up not long after! – but you can still buy their albums and I highly recommend that you do, especially if you’re a fan of country rock/pop and Eagles-style harmonies).
Cordelia and I were lucky enough to be sitting next to Rosalie’s folks, Dave and Josie Deighton of The Deighton Family, a folk ensemble with a touch of the von Trapps about them, who toured the world and released three successful albums back in the day. They were an absolute joy to meet, and many a dressing-room and on-the-road tale was exchanged. Dave hand-makes the guitars that Rosalie plays on all Balsamo Deighton recordings. Be sure to check out his work.
We heard during the evening that the album was already on the charts, and the idea has got to be to get it into the Top 40. So with your help, we can definitely make that happen! The album is available all over the known universe. Well, OK, on iTunes, Amazon, in HMV stores… or just Google it, it’s not difficult to track down. We’d love for this album to be a huge success for Steve because we just love him to bits, for Balsamo Deighton because the music is beautiful, and for the independent music maker in general – all of the musicians out there who are working their butts off to get an album launched. Unfolding took six years to bring to fruition. Let’s make it the success that it fully deserves to be, eh?
Thanks to Steve, Rosalie, the fabulous musos who played alongside them (let me know you are are chaps and I’ll give you a proper mention!), everyone at Coast Italia, and yes, even the chap who accosted us on the way back to the car… such things make a night memorable, no?
Point of blog, in case you’d missed it ;-):
Unfolding, the new album by Balsamo Deighton, available on CD, download, and even on good old-fashioned vinyl should you wish for such a thing. Go fetch. We have.
Photos all taken by Givvi Flynn of Streamline Design, not on her usual super-duper camera but on her trusty iPhone 6!