Fiddle Guitar Vocal duo the Summer Januaries– Sean Michael Robinson and Rachel Erin Robinson

Seattle in the Summer

The Summer Januaries at Westlake

Throughout the past year, whether we were in Italy or France or Florida or even Montana, Seattle in the summer was on our minds. Neither of us grew up here, but both of us moved here because of it–clear skies and lovely breeze, the perfect temperature, surrounded by the lush greenery created by the other nine months of rainy misery. It’s the season where we both fell in love with the city, the season where we first started playing together–the season where we fell in love.

After an absence of nine months, we returned to Seattle in May, and it seemed as though we’d beaten the summer weather here. We didn’t have much time to lament the overcast cold days though. There wasn’t much time for anything but playing. But after few weeks of drizzly busking and rained-out events the summer finally arrived.

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Balloons in Napoli

The Summer Januaries busking with Napoli buskers

Every time we told someone we would be traveling to Napoli (i.e. “Naples”) as the last leg of our Italian trip, we received virtually identical responses. “No.” “No, not Napoli.” “Non.” This last remark was said emphatically, with stern face and wagging finger, by a Perugian pizza chef, himself a Neapolitan intensely proud of his incredibly delicious Neapolitan-style pizza, but completely convinced that our traveling to his home town to play would be certain disaster.

Even our friend Vince Conway, an international busker on the hammered dulcimer and a man not prone to exaggeration, told us to watch out for “street kids.” A few nights before our trip to the city I did some ill-advised googling and spent the next three hours reading about Napoli’s problems with petty crime and street theft of all stripes—tales of roving gangs comprised of senior citizen pick pockets, ceramic tiles masquerading as I-Pads and sold to gullible tourists, and bags stolen in drive-by attacks on motorcycle or scooter. Rachel had to accompany me on a long walk so I could calm myself enough to go to sleep.

But of course, if you’re worked up about the thought of getting scammed or robbed, having a midnight stroll around Rome on a Saturday might not be the ideal antidote. I spent the rest of our stay there feeling vaguely uneasy, and spent an awful lot of time thinking about my body and pockets and the people around me.

Fortunately, the train ride was reassuring. The train was almost entirely unoccupied, and one of the few people we did meet was actually another busker. He was a balloon man from Argentina, and he very kindly gave us the rundown on the best places to busk in Napoli. We didn’t take his suggestions as gospel, since a place that’s good for a balloon man is not necessarily good for unamplified music—but just the fact of his existence, his friendly demeanor and his willingness to share a long list of pedestrian streets we could play on, was a tremendous reassurance.

And then we stepped out of the train station. Read More

All Quiet on the Roman Front

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Sean and I arrived in Rome late Monday evening, checked into our hotel, and headed out into the night. Destination: Fontana di Trevi. We had done some research online about busking in Rome, and found evidence of recent legislation that was more restrictive than in the past, as well as tales of police confiscating instruments, CDs, and tips; but we had also seen posts, photos and videos of people who perform on the streets in Rome with varying levels of success. This left us hopeful about the possibility of being able to play, but also ready to resign fully to being tourists for the week if playing wasn’t possible. Read More

Silent City

 

Perugia-- ink drawing by Sean Michael Robinson

Sean Michael Robinson of the Summer Januaries

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A (Miniature) Picturesque Perugian Panorama

Perugia map

On sunny days, Sean and I like to follow up our morning cappuccini at Cafe Duoma with a walk to the park at the end of Corso Pietro Vanucci for a picnic breakfast. We sit on one of the park’s many benches, eat yogurt, biscuits, and oranges, and read or write, soaking in the sun. A curved terrace encircles the park, offering a 180 degree view of the landscape below. Tourists come here to pose for photos in front of the picturesque Perugian panorama, families stroll with their children in their prams, and lovers embrace on benches.

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