Talent is just around the corner…

The longer I spend in Rome the more I realize that music is a huge part of the culture. It has become an integral part of life. In the mornings there’s usually someone playing an accordion on the tram to school, walking around town there are all types of street performers dancing or playing some instrument, and hanging out in Trastevere at night there are bars and cafes full of live performances.

One such performance would be the second appearance of Mis(S)take at the Lettere Caffè that a few friends and I had the enjoyment of seeing. Though Nathan and I have only been there a few times the servers recognized us, and the bassist from the band greets Nathan like a friend. They are happy to have their American audience back and we get a shout out during their performance thanking both Italians and Americans for supporting them. Alessia belts out some of my favorite songs, Florence + the Machine Dog Days Are Over and Massive Attack Teardrops, while maintaining her classy 1940’s style and also adds in a few new ones making for a longer set. Nathan compliments her for being more confident and we appreciate the show because these are the pieces of awesome memories we’ll take back home.

However, talent can be found in other places such as a small street in Trastevere full of lights and people as they wonder into restaurants, shops, and stores unique to this side of the river. Nathan and a few friends and I head off in search of live music “music dal vivo” and though we wander for some time come to no results. Nathan detailed this search this in our last post. Along the way though we walk by two guys with a unique style; one jamming on the guitar has a southwest style yet speaks fast Italian and the other has a style all his own. He is playing a make shift upright bass and has quite the whistling talent. Their jazz music causes us to stop and watch and I felt like I could have lingered there all evening for their performance. They play because they love music and that’s something to be envious of.

I hope you enjoy these video clips and I feel inspired to look for more local talent here and once we are back in good ol’ Norman.

The Trastev-Way

Searching out concert times and venue locations has proved to be a more difficult task than I had originally imagined. Funny how not being able to read can really set you back. Simple google searches have turned into a hour long Italian lessons, pushing my iPhone’s translation app to its limits. What’s more, apparently living in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the World does not equate to incredible jazz clubs and smokey rock ‘n roll hole-in-the-walls around every corner. This truth was solidified this weekend in my biweekly hunt for audible excellence.

I’ll start my story with some honesty: First – we students are really pretty busy here in Rome. Fourteen credit hours is a girthy load in any country. Second – I am a world class procrastinator. This trip has furthered my suspicions that my slothful ways are not limited to or generated from longitude or latitude.

Now, with that being said, rewind to Thursday afternoon. The amount of loitering indicates that studio is drawing to a close. People are discussing weekend plans – where they are going, what they’ll be doing, how long they’re staying, and how it’s all probably a terrible idea because we have so much due and to do next week. Meanwhile I sit at my desk, riffling through pages and pages of internet, waiting for Caty to cast light upon my unpreparedness. From across the room she turns to me and out of my periphery I see that the jig is up. “Where are we going this weekend?” A simple enough question, but I had no real answer. I play it cool, “Oh, I figured we could just like, walk around, or something.” Smooth. My response buys me time, allowing me to continue on my web-based quest for entertainment for a few more hours. Friday night rolls around and, surprise, I’ve done nothing. My ploy to deceive had in fact become my Friday night plans.

As a handful of us gather at the corner down the street from my apartment I can feel that all eyes are on me. I am their leader. Their Italian/American Moses. Tasked with rescuing them from the repressive rule of homework and leading them through the urban desert to the promised land. Little did they know the 40 years of wandering would be included. I knew that there was a large portion of Trastevere (our neighborhood) that had yet to be explored. We generally stick to the main road on our trip to and from school, rarely venturing off the beaten path. But tonight, exploration was the name of the game. So (sans staff) we set off to the unknown regions of the north.

After ten minutes of walking we begin to see signs of nightlife. Laughter and music echo through the narrow streets as we blindly make our way towards the source. Eventually we’re engulfed by people. The streets and piazzas are crowded with locals and tourists alike, buying chocolate covered roasted nuts from street venders and watching a belly dancer get down to Flashdance’s She’s A Maniac while her crony used a stick and some rope to create bubbles as big as an 80’s hairdo. I pressed on, perusing each storefront in search of “musica dal vivo.” The sights and sounds of life were a breath of fresh air after being in my apartment all day. The feel and smell of the night was thick as we wove in and out of the crowds.

After forty fives minutes of this two members of my following informed me that it was time for them to turn back. Dustin and Erik had an early wake up call in the morning and could no longer take part in my excursion. I apologized to them for the lack of music they had experienced but they seemed not to mind one bit. As they departed something dawned on me, I had been so concerned with finding a venue for live music and getting good material to write about that I had lost sight of the larger, more important objective of the assignment. I am to write about entertainment in Rome, not just music. And while I had my nose to the ground, trying to sniff out any clue that would lead us to greatness, I had almost completely missed out on the entertainment that my whole group had been experiencing for the past hour. Friends, camaraderie, amazing city, culture, night life…THESE things are truly entertaining.

We did eventually make our way to a venue. We knew “Big Mama” was a staple in Roman clubs but we had avoided it in the past because of the high door charge. It was crowded and the drinks were over priced and worst of all we had apparently stumbled into a Bruce Springsteen tribute night. Ugh. But as I sat in the corner and faced the opposite direction of the stage (Yay.) I found myself feeling already entertained. The streets of Trastevere had provided an array of free amusement and I was satisfied. Aside from paying too much money to Big Mama, I walked home happy, knowing that my friends and I had had a good night but not because of anything I had planned. Entertainment is everywhere in Rome and the difficulty is not in finding it, but in realizing that it’s all around you.

– Nathan Harwell

Even if we are busy we still have fun!

Ciao! Hope everyone enjoyed Nathan’s post about the monks chanting in Florence. It was a blast! However this coming weekend brings several projects for school as we dive deep into our Ara Pacis museum designs, but there’s always time for a little music and entertainment. Just this evening Nathan serenaded Lena and me on the acoustic guitar at studio as we worked away. But if you are looking for something a little more formal check out some of the highlights of this week’s music and entertainment!

Baustelle: “Fantasma” is an indie band from Siena ready to rock it with songs from their third album titled, La Malavita. Showing at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, Sala Santa Cecilia this Wednesday, February 20, 9 pm. Tickets range from €32-22 and save your seats by calling tel 892 982 or checking out this website www.listicket.it


If you like the church performances try the Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minevera
Piazza di Santa Maria Sopra Minvera (near the Pantheon) where they are having a Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro d’Opera di Roma, commemorating the feast of Beato Angelica, patron saint of artists. This will be playing Monday, February 18, 7:45 pm and it’s FREE!


If you like movies ZERO DARK THIRTY will be showing at the Barberini, Piazza Barberini. The 5 Oscar nominated film from the acclaimed director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who collaborated for Hurt Locker, recreates the intensely secretive hunt for Osama Bin Laden in relation to the September 11th attacks. It has been critically acclaimed as one of the best American fiction films in a decade.


If you want to take it classier and enjoy some art, try the Tiffany and Galle’ and Masters of Art Nouveau which showcases blown glass, ceramics, textiles and jewelry from the golden époque of Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau was an international style extending from art and architecture to philosophy and fashion. Located at the Museo Capitoline in the Palazzo Cafarelli the show goes from February 20 through April 28 Tuesday – Sunday, 9 am- 8 pm. It’s bound to be a gorgeous exhibition.

Walkin’ Blues, Sonic Gold

Over the weekend the Sooners in Rome briefly became the Sooners in Florence, spending four days and three nights studying the ways of Renaissance greats, skirting up and along the circumference of an architectural/engineering marvel, and buying clothes that can be filed under the “fabulous” tab in both the price and looks category (I am now distinguished by a new sweater that makes me recognizable in any crowd). While all of this is swell, my blog job, blob, is to write about the cultural happenings that Caty and I think might be of interest to you, the reader. This week we thought it would be good to share with you a free source of historic entertainment that comes in the form of Gregorian chant.

I can’t NOT see a baby chicken with a hat on when I look at this building.


South of the heart of the city and the Arno river, resting atop the Monte hill, the abbey of San Miniato looks out across the endless sea of terracotta that is Florence. Open free to the public daily, visitors can wander the church with little restrictions and enjoy the Romanesque styling of the beautiful marble interior and vast vertical expanses capped by a highly ornate wooden roof structure. In the early evening after a brief mass, the monks assemble themselves in the sub regions of the church and began their celebratory Gregorian chants, filling the large resonating volume of the church with the full gamut of vocal timbre. The twenty minute chant was concluded with the ringing of the church’s bells.


It was amazing to finally hear a space of that kind working to its maker’s design. I can’t count the number of naves and aisles I’ve strolled through, being able to only imagine how it would respond sonically. Making things more acoustically interesting, the chanting also took place within the lower, subset region at the back of the church (the crypt). During the chant I walked around a bit to hear how my perception of sound changed with position, ultimately leading me to a ledge one level above the singing, closer to the middle of the church. It’s from this spot that I sat, sketched, listened, and recorded.

Here’s a crookedly drawn sketch to help visualize:


It was a lot of fun to just sit. Partly because I had been walking all day and my feet felt like they might have been reduced to nubs in my boots, but mainly because of the chants. The sound filled the space all around me in a way no set of speakers or headphones could ever do. It was warm, it was calming, it was a perfect way to spend my last evening in Florence.

If you are ever in the area, put the monks of San Miniato on your “To Listen To” list. The hike, the view, the church…everything is completely worth your time, even though your legs might say otherwise.

Here’s an edited clip of the recording:

AS Roma Alé Alé

Our journey begins with an evening walk to the Piazza Del Popolo to catch a tram to the Stadio Olimpico. The pregame jitters are starting to get to me as I realize I am going to my first European “calcio” match. The opportunity to see AS Roma play against Inter Milan in person is amazing. I watch these two teams play on TV all the time and now I get to scream at them in person. As we near the tram it is evident which one to get on, as a number of fans storm the carts wearing AS Roma scarves and jackets. We are soon dropped off and the entire flock of passengers exits toward the river. We are not sure where to go but they sure did, so we simply follow.  The crowd moves across the river passing sale stand after sale stand full of Roma gear and soon out of nowhere the Stadio Olimpico is in sight. Thousands of fans were gathered around the gates, so we figured out what was happening, and prepared for a series of screenings that would impress TSA and homeland security. The intensity of the atmosphere and the reputation of a European “calcio” match started to live up to the hype at the main gate. With tickets in hand we stood in line in a crowd of hundreds, all trying to get through gates fit for a prison. After about forty-five minutes of squeezing through the crowd of irritated fans, them screaming, banging on the gates, the security guard getting to know my physical posture very well, and thirty feet later we were finally in the stadio. Kickoff had just happened so we ran inside to find our seats. We were greeted with the site of a beautiful green field and thousands of screaming fans bathed in red and orange. We got oriented and ran up the stairs to find our seats. We were seated right in the middle of this amazing energy feeding from the emotional fans. We all looked at each other with great smiles on our faces knowing we finally made it and it was unreal.

A.S. Roma 2-1 Inter Milan.

Great Game

AS Roma Alé AléImageImage

Attenzione, per favore!

Ciao, y’all.

In a recent post pertaining to a concert performed by local band “Mistake,” I completely botched both the band and lead singer’s name. My B’.

Fortunately, said singer found our blog and kindly posted the correct info in the comments!

So, to set the record straight:

Band name – Mis(S)Take
Singer’s name – Alessia
Website – https://www.facebook.com/pages/MisSTake/250803711625407?ref=hl

The act of supporting quality local music is not limited to geography. Check them out! I found at least one song posted on their page! Give them a “Like” and let them know what you think!

Being in a band myself (insert shameless plug here –> http://www.facebook.com/ivymikerock), I know how much of a morale boost a like or two can be.

So, for real, check them out…and if you feel like it, my band as well.


Honest Mistake


It’s becoming apparent that the journey to find live music in Rome is a short one. The high density of life and culture offers exciting sights and sounds with every turn, echoing nightly an almost audible buzz throughout the cobble stone streets. Saturday night Caty and I, along with a handful of fellow Sooners, took a brisk jaunt north up Viale di Trastevere to the Lettere Caffe. Known throughout the week for their local art exhibitions, small library, book readings, and slam poetry events, on the weekends Lettere turns into a standing-room-only venue for local musicians of all genres. I had done a light google search pre-jaunt to verify the venue location and to get the skinny on the evenings entertainment, so after we snaked our way to the back of the room, took our seats, and ordered our respective beverages, we comfortably sat under a red neon glow and waited for the band voxX to take the stage.


One beer later – for some reason it had come as a surprise to me that the band was running late. The web site said 22:00, the waitress said 22:30, but my clock said 22:45.

“Oh yeah, we’re in Italy. A world where there is no translation for the word ‘schedule’.”

Fortunately we were having fun waiting, sipping our drinks, and watching the locals stare at us. After the place had really begun to fill up, a commotion near the stage caught my attention. Band members emerged from the crowd to take up their instruments, an acoustic guitar and upright bass, while the drummer sat atop his cajon. Then, to our surprise, a young red headed gal clad in 1940’s pin-girl style took her place front and center behind a microphone that looked to come from the same era as her garb. This was not voxX. We had no idea who this was.

“Wait, whaaat?” “What’s going on? This isn’t right!” “Oh. Right. Still in Italy.”

Within seconds of the first song I looked over to Caty and she mouthed to me “This. Is. Awesome!” Once again, the rigid Americans had successfully stumbled into greatness. Like so many times before, the mild frustrations with Italy not being America had proven to be better than we could have imagined. Kind of like Gandalf The Grey – Italians are never late, nor are they early. They arrive precisely when they mean to.

The group continued to impress with their broad sound. The dynamic flexibility of the band provided a great foundation for the singer to build on. She easily ramped up and down with both melody and energy, adding an impressive richness and dimension to each song. The group performed an array of tunes that varied in tempo and time signature, which always makes for a more intriguing performance. The set was comprised of a nice blend of covers and what I assume to be originals. Early on we heard an excellent rendition of Blondie’s Heart Of Glass, as well as the Massive Attack song (known widely as the House theme song) Teardrop. It’s always refreshing to hear a band put their own spin on a well known tune and have it work, and these guys continually nailed it. The fun, lighthearted, acoustic tones were at the perfect volume. One could easily focus on the performance and hear the intricacies of each instrument, or turn to their group and have conversation with their friends.

To close out the set the band performed Florence + The Machine’s Dog Days Are Over. The intro of the song seemed to be extended due to some confusion on the singer’s part. It looked like maybe she was trying to find the lyrics in her folder but was having trouble locating them. Her eventual decision to wing it was a good one, seeing that she totally killed it. She had little to no trouble hitting the highs and performed a seemingly difficult song without a hitch. The final applause was warm and accepting and carried on as the band began to vacate the stage. Seeing multiple Italians struggle to carry an upright bass over their heads through the crowded room and out the door was equally as entertaining as the performance itself. The band voxX proceeded to set up and begin performing, but we had heard enough within the first minute or two. It was clear at that point that the mystery band had stolen the show and our assignment to find quality entertainment was complete.

As Caty finished paying (thanks for that, btw) we began to make out way out. Fortunately between us and the door stood the plaid-dress-wearing singer from the first act. I awkwardly asked her if we could take a picture with her and if we could get her name. We were successful with the picture but I failed with her name, immediately forgetting after I shook her hand. Classic. Caty later informed me that it was Alicia. Got ’em! I did, however, remember the name of her group. In an almost poetic conclusion to our night, we were informed that her band’s name was Mistake. A name ripe with irony given our experience leading up to that moment. She was kind and sweet and graciously met us on our linguistically challenged level. From the conversation we also learned that this was Mistake’s first time at the Lettere, and from what I gathered, one of their first shows inside of Rome. I gave her my e-mail address (again, awkwardly) and asked her to let me know the next time they were in the area. We walked home filled with a sense of victory after our first true hunt for entertainment yielded success. And as I mulled over the night’s events, I think I slowly began to understand the true beauty of the old adage “When in Rome.”


P.S. Alicia, if you’re reading this, and if that is actually your name, sorry for my terrible memory. I tried to find information on your band online but was unable to find anything! Feel free to post a link to your site in the comments of this blog! Caty and I would love to know more!

P.P.S. Holla holla to my main man, Minh Tran…my main Minh…for the pictures and for joining us!

I came, I saw, I blogged.


Nathan Harwell here, gearing up to provide you a weekly dose of envy as Miss Townsend and I tender to you all the amazing entertainment of Rome that you more than likely wont get to experience yourself. : (

But envy not, my amici. As Caty and I walk the entertainment beat of Roma, we will find, record, and blog in such a way that you’ll feel the pulse of the city’s cultural heartbeat right through your web device. The force of our prowess will knock your slippers off and activate the recline feature on your La-Z-Boy. The sheer girth of each and every post will take you on a journalistic journey and leave you feeling as though it were you experiencing the greatest trip of your life.

Live vicariously through us every Sunday as we post the latest happs of this rich and vibrant city.

Music and Entertainment


My name is Caty and I am one of the third year architecture students on this adventure. I’ll be writing with Nathan about music and entertainment here in this amazing city. We want to focus on; a mix of cultures, weekly posts about what to do around town, and what to do here in our neighborhood of Trastevere! We will post about what to do but also reviews on things we’ve done including everything from English and Italian movies, to concerts, and soccer games.