Passion is the main ingredient of any new project, especially in music, and the story of ZIO LIVE is born almost casually from passion.
Meeting Carlo Forti is like meeting an old friend, or rather his ZIO (uncle), a nickname nicely given by the Milan community’s musicians, who welcomes you with great sympathy and simplicity in his little big house of music.
Who is Carlo Forti?
“I am a 52-year-old ex-musician, an ex-guitarist, who played in the ’80s in Milan’s underground clubs, the ZIO (Uncle) for friends. Today I became the founder and manager of ZIO LIVE, my place where I like to design, propose experimenting, and perhaps even make mistakes without copying anyone.
How was ZIO LIVE born?
It was born almost as a joke, it was a bit improvised because ZIO LIVE was born first of all as a rehearsal room in the hinterland of Milan, and then it gradually became a place where live music is played.
In 2016 we opened the business with the Association.
We started with a larger part of the rehearsal room.
There was an independent entrance, starting to organize unpretentious with the concerts’ friends musicians, where I also played with an approach almost familiar.
In the beginning, we did a lot of Jam Sessions, and then I said to myself: “but why not create a calendar with programming, since I have the knowledge to do it?” … and from there the whole project of the live music venue started; at the beginning, we experimented with a calendar of 1/2 dates per week and then when we saw that it worked, we gradually enlarged the project.
So ZIO LIVE is a young and new place that immediately gained a good name.
Let’s say that I dared, indeed perhaps at the beginning I dared too much. It made it a lot easier for me to work in the music sector and to get to know several musicians and this helped me a lot in the beginning in creating a schedule of a concert calendar; indeed I have to thank several musicians who helped me and believed in this project because I had the opportunity to organize dates with some great artists even though the venue was small and new.
Do you find yourself in the statement that some say that you inherited the place of a Milan local historian such as the Salumeria della Musica?
Honestly not, I think that ZIO LIVE is a different place from the Salumeria della Musica.
Rather, ZIO LIVE is a place more similar to what I represent the music venue “LE SCIMMIE”, do you remember?
That is a place I went to and which unfortunately is gone. It was a famous place where musicians of Pat Metheny, Laurie Andreson where Elio and Storie Tese, Blue Vertigo, Malika Ayane also played, with an environment collected with the same climate the same positive mood where I also played at the time with my Funky band.
What does a place like ZIO LIVE in Milan represent today?
Look I don’t want to answer you with too much presumption, but it has certainly become a beautiful reality in the panorama of live music venues in Milan.
How many concerts do you do per week?
Today’s ZIO LIVE calendar has an average of 3-4 concerts per week, and therefore a schedule that is certainly full of interesting events.
I am delighted with the work done so far, also because starting as a musician today, I have become a manager, and they are very different roles.
How much did you’re a musician serve you in your new role as a live music venue manager?
In my opinion, a lot to manage a place to do concerts you have to have some knowledge of the mechanisms of how the music sector works and how musicians think; you can’t simply improvise at a pub or brewery that tries to offer music evenings.
It is a question of sensitivity so …
Thank you for this emphasis, yes I hope to work with the necessary sensitivity, and this thing you said does me a lot of honour.
I always try to be very careful about what I do, in programming, in the search for musicians, in the quality of the music that I propose.
In some respects, I am of “the old generation” in the choices, because I like beautiful performances, played well, where the musicians manage to transmit with heart and passion.
What are the genres of music offered by ZIO LIVE?
I like all good music, and therefore the proposal is varied from new to funk, from the soul to jazz, from pop to rock.
Lately, we have organized some tribute evenings to great musicians such as the evening tribute to Lucio Dalla or the evening to The Police who have obtained a good public response.
The important thing is that there is quality both in the content and in the musicians’ interpretations.
How does the audience respond?
Sometimes well, sometimes less. There is no magic formula, but surely quality musicians also bring quality and higher-level audience.
Unfortunately, there is often no public response on unpublished projects, and I do not like this because I am a promoter of unpublished projects. Indeed I was born with the proposal of new musicians, new bands and unpublished projects.
OPEN MIC is definitely an exciting event of ZIO LIVE where there is an excellent response both for the quality of the new singers and the audience response!
Yes, OPEN MIC is a format that has been running for just over 1 year with great success for the size of ZIO LIVE.
Every month, a date is planned in which about ten new singers perform on average singing a song selected from a repertoire of over 130 famous songs, interpreted by a band of complete and prepared professional musicians, who contributed decisively to the quality of performance.
The singers register and send their candidacy via email, with their own performance attached to which the selection is made: if it is considered valid, they are put on the lineup with the chosen song.
I have to say that there are several excellent singers, and the quality is overall high, and a nice engaging atmosphere has been created with beautiful audience response.
Tell me 3 Unforgettable Gigs of ZIO LIVE?
Good question … I wouldn’t want to do anyone any harm so I’ll tell you about the concerts to my taste, and therefore I can tell you that I like to remember the evening tribute to Lucio Dalla wonderful and engaging, all the evenings of OPEN MIC, a format that is working very well where there are a really nice family atmosphere and the unforgettable concert of one of my favourite drummers like Dennis Chambers with Frank McComb on keyboards and Marcello Sutera on electric bass.