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Multiculturalism in Rock - American Musician Puts Lyrics In Italian

01-04-2008 11:27 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Dirk Hamilton

New CD by Dirk Hamilton: The Ghost of Van Gogh.

New CD by Dirk Hamilton: The Ghost of Van Gogh.

San Francisco, Calif. — December 24, 2008 - Dirk Hamilton is back from a month-long tour of Italy. This makes a total of three months there this year. He's been touring in Italy every year since a fan/promoter encouraged him to come over and 'do some shows' more than fifteen years ago – and today his brand of roots-based alternative rock has a sizable italian following there.

The Ghost of Van Gogh is Hamilton's latest CD, and this time the lyrics in the booklet are translated into italian right next to the english. His italian fans buy his music and fill piazzas, clubs and concert halls to see him perform. But the subtle word play in many of his songs must be nearly impossible for italians to decipher. In fact, the italian reviews of his shows seem strange by american standards. Italian writers often describe Hamilton's physical mannerisms and emotive vocals as measures of the depth of his soulfulness, yet don't mention at all the content of the songs –his lyrics– the originality of which he's known for here in America.

Hamilton speaks fairly fluent italian now because of the amount of time he has spent in Italy over the years. And while many of his friends there do understand some english, he knows that even one everyday idiom or colloquialism is enough to throw a non-native speaker off. After all, his layered poetry turns up multiple meanings even for native english speakers. So he rounded up the services of one of his italian friends living in America, Micol Biasetti, and set about translating all twelve new songs. The kind of translation problems to be overcome reveal themselves in titles like "The Magoombies," "I'm the Thug of Love," "All and Nothin'" and the enigmatic "Caterpillars in My Ears". In the song "Meadow" for instance, Hamilton takes a look at the nature of human impact versus the resilience of the planet – and in the very first line, all of the following occur: a nursery rhyme is turned on it's head, words that cannot be looked-up are created, and a familiar idiom is trotted out: "When Lumberjack and Lumberjill go out to play, Mother Nature takes a lickin'." Any meaning-knots such as these were either unraveled by Micol herself, or she flagged them for Hamilton's explanation before proceeding. The result is a CD package that provides italian speakers with close to the same experience of the artistic value of Hamilton's lyrics as english speakers are able to enjoy.

Born in Indiana and raised in California, by the time Hamilton graduated from high school, he'd already been singing and playing guitar for several years. While in college, he supported himself by hitting the nightclub, bar and music festival circuit, making a name for himself with his idiosyncratic style and committed performances. Although he couldn't have known it then, he'd soon have his work compared to Van Morrison, Dylan and Springsteen.

He went to Los Angeles for greater exposure and caught the attention of Steely Dan producer Gary Katz, who became the 'in' which led to Hamilton releasing four critically acclaimed albums in four years. (Two were released with ABC Records and two with Electra). From Hamilton's third album, Meet Me at the Crux, the song "How Do You Fight Fire?" and the title track got enough radio airtime to put him on the map and led to him touring america. The rest is history for one to discover one song at a time, and one album after another.

His new CD, The Ghost of Van Gogh, is released on his own label. and is a concert of intellectually sharp alternative rock. Hamilton's intense howl blends perfectly with what this soaring band puts out. Don Evans on lead guitar, Eric Westphal on Bass and Tim Seifert are The Dirk Hamilton Band. Fans of rock and musical sophistication will be happy to have checked out this musician's body of work.

Dirk Hamilton returns to the Bay Area for a very limited number of shows promoting his latest CD.

In Marin: Saturday, Jan. 5 — 19 BROADWAY Fairfax, CA (415) 459-1091
Show opener: Double Barrel Duo. Doors open at 9 pm
Ages: 21+
Show Details:


55 Marinero Circle 303
Tiburon California 94920

TEL: 415 302 8426


Dirk Hamilton is a singer-songwriter in the genre of blues-rock, or roots-rock, with 13 CDs and 2 double-live CDs. He plays solo shows as well as with 4- or 6-piece bands. The Dirk Hamilton is his band of American players and consists of Dirk Hamilton: lead vocals, acoustic and rhythm guitars, and harmonica; Don Evans: lead guitar and backing vocals; Eric Westphal: bass guitar and backing vocals; and Tim Seifert: drums. (Sometimes also with Steve Shufton on keyboards). Dirk Hamilton is also the front man, singing and playing acoustic guitar and harmonica for a blues-rock band comprised of four to five italian players.

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