“Who the hell are you, what are you doing here? Where are your pants? What in the name of god are you doing to that girl’s arm?”
It’s true that you’re never sure what you’re going to hear or what you might encounter in the presence of Carlo Spinazzola. Made up of opposing yet copesetic forces he is a craftsman, a painter, a teacher, a madman, a writer, and a musician. Above all, he is an artist. One might wonder exactly where and when this all began and why the pursuit of art has become a consummate passion. Carlo has been playing music since the age of 12 and says that even then it was obvious that he’d never stop.
“It was apparent then that it would be a main line throughout life. Even then it was a release for a lot of life’s shit,” he states. Whether listening to Carlo through recordings or in live performance or in studying his paintings, release becomes a fitting description. What he tends to present is raw emotion, stripped down, hiding nothing. From the longing of songs like “Gypsy” to the fear and desolation of “The Pugilist”, a larger than life painting which portrays a boxer in mid swing, Carlo lays it down straight.
Lately Carlo has been putting a lot into musical endeavours. Over the years he has been heavily involved in many aspects of music in Cape Breton. From playing countless shows throughout the area, being involved in several recording projects, and writing with people like Gordie Sampson, Tom Fidgen, Ashley MacIsaac and Bruce Guthro, he’s managed to keep busy. In 1999 alone he recorded two cds of his own music and played extensively throughout the Atlantic Provinces while at the same time giving in to frequent painting binges and sanding the occasional floor.
Carlo hopes that all this work will start to pay off with next month’s ECMA 2000 in Sydney. After years of hitchhiking to gigs, not knowing where he was going to sleep or whether he could afford to eat on the road, Carlo is ready to take his career to a new level.
“I/m hoping to find someone to get the show on the road,” he says. “I want to play music every night and I hope there’s someone out there who’s into what I do and can make that happen.”
So what about the art of it all? Can it be compromised in order to attain a certain goal? Carlo sees no conflict here as the right person to work with would be someone with an interest in what he does, and not in what might be marketable at the time.
“As long as I have creative independence everything is cool,” he says, suggesting that he’ll play the game as long as everyone knows the rules.
When asked where he fits in Cape Breton’s diverse musical environment, Carlo simply states, “I may not”. That said, he says that he owes a lot of thanks to the musical community which sustains him.
“I play old school, hardcore blues and there’s not a lot of that around here but still, people support it.” That support should make itself heard in February when Carlo performs at his ECMA 2000 showcase. One of five Cape Breton acts showcasing, Carlo feels that the timing couldn’t be better both in terms of where the market currently sits concerning East Coast talent and in terms of the amount of material he has ready. He’s been doing this for years and is more than ready to crank it up a notch or two. After years of hard work, it’s time to really get busy.