When and how did Lynyrd Skynyrd Trybute start
We must go back to when I was 14 (1980), I was just been playing acousting
guitar for two years ; a cousin of me gave me "One more from the road"
as a Christmas present and played me in his room; from the very first
riff of "Workin' for MCA" I knew I had discovered the band of my life.
Four months later came the electric guitar, 1 year later the first band
"Saturday Night Special", already dedicated to Lynyrd Skynyrd, with
my lifetime-friend Roberto Tenore on the other guitar; Antonio Rotta,
the drummer was the third of today's line-up to reach the band - then
called "Tomahawk" - back in 1982 (I remember that we also played the
Italian hymn together when Italy won the football world championship).
More or less three years later the band split off and everybody went
his way, Antonio was the only one to become a professional musician
(he had started playing drums when he was 8).
In 1993 I made a trip to the States, alone : NY (where I bought my first
Gibson guitar), Louisiana (I turned on the tv in the motel and there
comes a live show of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Nashville) , Alabama (I'm crossing
the border and the radio played "Sweet Home Alabama"), Jacksonville,
FLA. When I visited the cemetery and the garden where Ronnie Van Zant
and Steve Gaines rest in peace I decided I had to "re-start" the band
again. Just a matter of two telephone calls and Antonio and Roberto
were "ready to go" (like RVZ says referring to his "boys" in "Whiskey
Tell us about the band members ?
The singer - Ruben Minuto - is our strenght, a very powerful and really
southern vocalist; he can sing 2 and half hours and his voice never
goes away; Ruben is also a very good bass player and a blue-grass style
guitarist and mandolin player;
The piano player - Mirco Maffina - believe me, sometimes makes you feel
like you're listening to Chuck Leavell (one of his beloved influences),
he's graduated at "conservatorio" and he is fond of classical music
as of Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters and Frank Zappa.
Gianni, the bass player is with us since the very first of the new start
- 1995 - and he is a very skilled one, but you must understand of music
to notice him, because he's always hidden somewhere beside the drum
kit, even maybe he is the "only good looking one" of us, not intended
necessary for "Southern Boys", isn't it?
Giuseppe Fugazza is the new entry, from Southern Confort, another Lynyrd
Skynyrd tribute band from Pavia, he's a very nice and kind person and
he plays so good . let me call him our Steve Gaines
I want to remember two guys that played with us and sometimes still
do as "special guests": Alan Minora, the first singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd
Trybute, a very beautiful voice, but more Tim Buckley than RVZ, and
Michael Kostka - "Koss", who, one night, played with . Chuck Berry
Are all members professional or do you have regular jobs ?
Antonio, Mirco, Gianni and Ruben are also professional (with cover band),
the three guitarists are just "passionates"
You're mainly a cover band but do you have some original songs ?
That's a really hard point; I have almost 200 half-songs, but I am never
able to put a complete and finished song together, maybe now, with a
little help from Giuseppe . Influences? Greg Allman, Taj Mahal (the
ethnical side of him), my inner self.
As a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, which line-up do you prefer ? and why ?
So difficult, because I love so much both Steve Gaines (I love even
the person, for what I can guess of him) and Ed King (those fills, and
the "touch" with his fender guitar); in fact my favourite records of
Skynyrd are "One more from the road" and "Second Helping" ; then I like
Artimus Pyle drumming a lot. So, at the end, the line-up of "Nuthin'
Fancy", with Artimus and Ed King, even though it's the worse record,
the only one maybe below 9,5.
What do you think of their latest releases ?
There are some good songs (expecially on "Twenty") and the guitar parts
are always very interesting (expecially with Hughie Thomasson or Ed
King in "Last Rebel"), but I think that special magic of the '70s sound
is somehow lost for some modernity I don't appreciate too much; I understand
they try not to be just a Southern Band. My favourite '90s songs are
"Born To Run" and "Mean Streets"
But Lynyrd Skynyrd for me was Ronnie Van Zant. I think Ronnie Van Zant
now would be like Willie Nelson, or Neil Young or Lou Reed, a real monster,
a man capable of just masterpieces, and the lyrics, and that country-influenced-but-scaring-at-the-same-time
voice. Have you heard "All I Can Do Is Write About It" ? the version
of the box set, and the rediscovered songs of "Collectybles" ? I love
them all and I love his spirit. And Allen Collins, too. Together they
were the blood and soul of Lynyrd Skynyrd. "My" guitar is the "Firebird";
it was my dream since my first-ever look at "One more from the road"
cover, now I have a '63 original one and "she" sounds real good.
What is your major memory as a band ?
Really, every "Freebird" we perform, if there is the right audience
: the guys are happy and really grateful to us.
Then the night we opened for Byther Smith, one of Muddy Waters guitar
palyers; he is 65 but joyful as a child and a smart person, very kind
As a southern rock band, what is your biggest dream ?
Drive by Truckers (I don't have their record anyway) stole the idea
with "Southern Rock Opera", one side of songs describing the life of
a young Lynyrd Skynrd fan, one side of a successful Skynyrd-like Band
; anyway if I make my music it can be quite different from Southern
Rock. I also like Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, Pearl Jam and Lou Reed,
Norah Jones and Ryan Adams.
I have just a simple dream (for a simple man) : playing Lynyrd Skynyrd
till I am 65 (or more), just like Byther Smith.
How is the Milano rock scene ? Is it hard to find gigs ?
I think there are some very good rock-blues performers (age 30 to 40)
; really there is a bunch of musicians that are less in number than
the bands they play in, like our Ruben and Antonio. It's not so hard
to find a gig, but the prices in town are not decent ones, compared
to the quality of the music, that is quite good and well performed.
So if you want to live by this you must play the top 40 in discos, better
if outside Milano; too bad.
Tell us about your projects.
Not more than playing Lynyrd Skynyrd music to the people that love it
and to newcomers, that hear you and the next day go and buy the Skynyrd
cds; that's how I can get satisfaction; it's enough for me. then to
put on cd at least 20 of the 200 half-songs, with the help of Ruben
and Giuseppe, for instance (do you hear me?).
What are your relations with the other southern rock bands in Italy?
I play with Southern Confort, the band of Giuseppe, and I've been playing
with Southern Steel, while I was living in Turin and I'm still in contact
with Leon (the one with Leon Wilkeson thunderbird bass) now with Voodoo
Lake.Then there are other bands and southern guitarists, which I knew
through my web site (www.lynyrdskynyrdtrybute.it by the way), most of
them are real nice and kind persons and enthusiastic to the music and
the spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers Band.
When and how did you start playing guitar ? Who were your main influences
back then ?
The first bending I learned on the guitar was Gary Rossington intro
of Searchin'. My favourite 3 guitar players? Duane Allman, Duane Allman,
How did you start playing slide guitar ?
Same as previous question : when I decided that I had to learn the whole
Fillmore East (age 19). Really back then "Statesboro blues" was enough;
it took me 10 years maybe to succeed learning the whole double album,
note by note ; but now, unlucky me, I've forgotten the most of it.
As a guitar player, who would you like to play with ?
Saying Lynyrd Skynyrd would be too much; my actual guitar hero is undoubtedly
Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule, who looks a little bit more comfortable
and friendly; but listen, I don't know if I am a guitar player or just
a Allen Collins-Gary Rossington-Ed King-Steve Gaines-Hughie Thomasson-Duane
Allman-and-Warren Haynes guitar passionate. By the way I asked HT (Hughie
Thomasson), when they came to Italy, if he gave guitar lessons and he
answered me : "tonight we'll give guitar lessons, at the show". And
that night he was really scaring.
You know, maybe I'd like to play with Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues or
with .Van Morrison, not to talk about Norah Jones, because I have a
wonderful wife (and a little child too).
I've read you're also a member of the "One way out" band, an Allman
Brothers Tribute band. Tell us more about this band.
It was me, Ruben, Antonio and Mirco. We met Ruben while making a couple
of auditions for the singer who had to replace Alan; the other members
of the Skynyrd tribute band chose another singer than Ruben, which I
disagreeded completely, so I put the Allman tribute band together just
to show that they were wrong and Ruben was the best of all. It lasted
just a few months 'till Ruben was "incorporated" in Lynyrd Skynyrd Trybute
and then we had to concentrate just on one project. But like many short
things it was beautiful, those beautiful songs like "Don't want you
no more", "It's not my cross to bear", "Ain't wastin' time no more"
(we always started with those three), "One Way Out", hey you make me
feel like startin' again!
Imagine you have the opportunity of starting the band of your dreams.
Who would be part of that super band ?
Ok, I'm just the producer and Warren (Haynes) makes the arrangements
Drums : Jim Keltner
Bass : Leon Wilkeson
Keyboards : Mirco Maffina (wow!)
Piano : Norah Jones
First guitar : Duane Allman
Second guitar : Steve Gaines
Acoustic guitar : Willie Nelson
Horns : Blood, Sweat and Tears
Vocals : Van Morrison and Ronnie Van Zant (who writes all the new songs,
apart from the covers chosen by Van Morrison)
Then when "Fast train" (the last Van Morrison song) and "Midnight rider"
are ended, Duane gives his Fender guitar (the Muscle Shoals one) and
the bottleneck to me and we play "The Weight".
Last question. If you had to live the rest of your life on a desert
island, which albums would you bring with you?
Rest of my life, with no ship ever passing by? So let me take more than
double of the classic 5 with me , ok?
1. One More From The Road - LYNYRD SKYNYRD (even if I know that album
better than everything else)
2. Fillmore East - ALLMAN BROTHERS
3. An Anthology Vol.1 - DUANE ALLMAN
4. Kind Of Blue - MILES DAVIS
5. Second Helpin' - LYNYRD SKYNYRD
6. Camp del Barça - LLUIS LLACH (a live album of the great storyteller
from Catalunya, Spain)
7. New York - LOU REED
8. The Chess Box Anthology - HOWLIN' WOLF
9. One More Try - GREG ALLMAN (a quite rare anthology)
10. Gris Gris - DR. JOHN
11. Blue - JONI MITCHELL