Maurizio Russomanno: Sharing the Soul of an Entertainer

Written by on March 28, 2021

Maurizio is very active during the shut-in, and his calm style and meaningful verse, makes you feel at peace, although the world seems to be crumbling around you.

RRX: Do you see yourself as an artist or an entertainer?

Photo by Stephanie Bartik.

MR: Both. For me being an artist and entertainer works hand in hand. As an artist, I’m digging deep inside myself, experimenting, exploring to see what arises and hopefully gets pieced together into a song. Once the song is complete, I have the natural urge to share it and bring it a more actualized life of its own.  Through the process of sharing, I am in a sense an entertainer.

RRX: Do you consider music as alive and vibrant as ever?

MR: Yes, Music is one of the rare true pleasures that a human can experience. There are however so many musical options for people to plug into, it’s watered down the demand for local shows. People will pay between $50
and $1,000 to see a national act at SPAC, The Egg, the Troy Music Hall, Caffe Lena, etc. because there is still a mystique to it-you are for the most part guaranteed a good show. On a local level, it’s very hit or miss and depending on the venue, even a good band/performer can be obscured by the atmosphere.  There was a time when there was no internet, no YouTube, no Spotify, etc., and seeing a local band was the only show in town. Things will always change and best to take advantage of what that change brings.

RRX: Who are your examples and inspirators?

MR:  My musical taste is all over the map and I draw on all of it. Billy Holiday to Johnny Cash to Frank Sinatra to Leonard Cohen to Richard Thompson to Paul Westerberg to John Lennon to David Gray…

RRX: Is there – just like for sportspeople – an age bracket when rock stars are in their prime?

MR: I think there are similarities but there are some artists such as James Taylor that just keep sounding better and better! I definitely don’t feel the same vocal power that I had when I was 26 but overall I’m a far better singer.  If you keep working on your craft, what you lose in youth you gain in maturity, subtlety, and skill.

RRX: What got you to write songs? (childhood trauma, happiness, money?)

MR: I grew up with my mom singing me to sleep and my brother leaving me in his room when I was 3 years old – bouncing on his bed listening to The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys, etc. A sense of melody was something that got ingrained in me at a very early age and I always had a sense of wonder/creativity/curiosity to go with it. For me, it was just a matter of time before I would be completely seduced by songwriting.

RRX: Can you remember the first time you wrote a song? Describe it to me.

MR: I wrote and performed my first song when I was about 4 years old. We had moved into a new house and it was now winter. I wanted it to snow so badly and wouldn’t you believe it… it started snowing. I was so excited, that I dragged my sister and her friend into the playroom (which by the way – that playroom is the same room I record my iPhone videos) and started singing this sad song about a snowman and such… strange that I was happy it was snowing but sang a sad song… maybe it was a harbinger of what was to come…

RRX: Who gave you the support to keep writing in the beginning? Who did you play the early songs for?

MR: I started writing in college, and although my guitar playing wasn’t stellar –I was out and about playing gigs in a year or so after learning how to bang out some chords and write some lyrics with the help of my dear friend Liam O’Brien. Liam was a much better more mature writer, but I had a certain knack for arranging and getting a song to the finish line. I was playing bars by the time I was 19 and those were some of my first audiences. My mom didn’t push me to be anything other than what I was going to be. She did however voice some concern about trying to make living playing music. She did this out of love and always gave me honest feedback on my singing which is the reason why I can sing the way I do today.

A person of note would be Sarah Craig of Caffe Lena. I used to attend the Thursday open mic almost every week (starting in my mid twenty’s), trying out new songs I had written. I was still at that stage of not being super confident about how my songs would be received. After a few years of playing at the open mic and getting to know Sarah –she approached me about playing a Wednesday New Artist Showcase. I was so thrilled! Caffe Lena I would say is the single most important factor in my development as an artist/performing songwriter.

RRX: Tell me about a time when there were equipment issues that occurred during the middle of a song. What was the situation and how did you react?

MR: Oh man, these things happen – you know? But hey –you just roll with it 99% of the time. I have a funny story about a concert I was doing at The Ballston Lake Theatre during the summer. I was in full stride – burning away on my guitar and little by little my guitar volume started getting lower and lower and there were explosive crackling sounds coming through the speakers… The preamp on my guitar was having a meltdown and as the unintended pyrotechnics of my guitar started to come into full bloom – you could see me slowly winding down the tempo of this fast grand finale of a song… it was like a massive steam train coming to a halt lol The audience sort of just stared as if nothing happened.  I wish I still had the video footage-so funny to see it all go down lol

RRX: Tell me about a time when you had to handle an unruly audience member.

MR: These things happen more than you would think. I’ll take you back to my college days – where I was playing a true dive bar in a backroom for some friends and the rugby team (that I was a member of). I was jumping on tables and beating on my guitar and a guy came out of nowhere and took a swing at me – I ducked and the rugby team proceeded to take him outside and deliver a sound beating. What’s funny is that the guy who was beaten up came back in to enjoy the rest of the show – black-eye and all.

RRX: Walk me through the typical setup, warm-up, and break down procedures for your gigs.

MR: I play a fair amount of gigs most years and having a consistent setup –breakdown and storage plan is vital to preserving your equipment/investment and also not having to think about much –since you do it the same way every time. I put new strings on my guitar for every gig/show. Having a good sound is really a make or break. As far as warming up – I just ease into it with a few songs that aren’t very demanding and go from there as I get the blood pumping.

RRX: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MR: Thank you for asking me these questions. This was a great little exercise and I hope the readers find it interesting. I truly love what I do and hope this comes through to my fans.

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