Monday, 20 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Final Thoughts

My blog postings from Italy over the last week have been part travelogue, part diary, part long list of name-dropping and part review of the Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016. I'm not really comfortable, these days, passing judgement on other people's music, or performance, so I've just attempted to give a flavour of what it's like to spend a few days by the Mediterranean, in Livorno, meeting some great people, enjoying good (and not so good) weather, eating and drinking far too much, while listening to and watching some of the finest musicians you could ever wish to encounter. Some days, the music isn't even the main thing; it's the whole ambience of the place, the sheer pleasure that it brings to so many people to just be there, together, enjoying all of this.

I'm lucky; I've been able to do this a number of times and, hopefully, I will be back again next year. If you ever have the chance and this sounds like your kind of fun, then you should go too. You won't regret it. You may meet up with old friends and, if you don't, you WILL make new ones. And the setting and the music will be fabulous.

For those not fortunate enough to be able to attend, this year's festival was covered by both North Sea Surf Radio and the live video stream from KFJC; it's to be hoped that similar coverage will continue in future.

I'll leave you with a few questions for myself.

What were your personal highlights?
Los Oxidados
The Twin Tones
The Surf Coasters
The moment when The Razorblades played so hard they stopped the rain.
The "secret" sets from The Kilaueas and Surfer Joe.
The moment when Bang! Mustang became a five-piece.
The diner now serves vegetarian and vegan burgers. They're pretty good.

What did you miss?
Undoubtedly, Unsteady Freddie. The festival's regular co-host had to stay at home in New York, under Doctor's orders. Jeff and Ralf did a fine job supporting Lorenzo in Freddie's absence, don't get me wrong, while Ralf was, at times, absolutely hilarious. However, I did miss the presence of his Unsteady-ness. Most of all, I missed his professionalism. Not only does Freddie introduce the bands, he's always there when they come off stage, making sure that they get a good reaction from the crowd, making sure we know what is coming up next. Most of all, I've not forgotten Freddie's words to me after Los Fantasticos played at Surfer Joe in 2011. Frankly, we didn't play very well and Freddie, recognising my disappointment, was extremely kind. Get well soon Freddie. I hope to see you next year.

Is there anything you would change?
Thursday leads you into the festival gently, with a late-ish start and only a few bands. Friday and Saturday begin earlier and go on late into the night. By Sunday, I am, quite frankly, shattered. The secret sets at around 1:00 pm worked well this year. Why not begin the music in the early afternoon of the Sunday and aim for a finish at around 8:00pm? After that there will be time to sit and chat, to reflect, to eat with friends and share a few drinks. And we all get to bed at a sensible time.

It's Lorenzo's festival, of course, and he may have many good reasons for thinking that this is a terrible idea, but several people I spoke to seemed to agree that it was at least worthy of consideration.

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 6

All weekend there have been rumours of a secret gig on Sunday afternoon and, at around 1:30pm, those in the know gather upstairs in the Tiki Bar to witness tremendous, Astronauts-themed sets from both The Kilaueas and Surfer Joe and his band. In the absence of Jacques, JonPaul guests on bass for The Kilaueas. He later tells me that, with little time for rehearsal, he was extremely nervous before playing; it doesn't show. The Surfer Joe set features the debut of Lorenzo's new Blue Sparkle Custom-Shop Jazzmaster, which he purchased from GAK in Brighton following his visit to the UK last December. I'm very familiar with this guitar, having lusted after it many's the time, while it hung on the wall in the shop, but in Lorenzo's hands, it looks even more spectacular; shimmering as he moves around the small stage. As for the sound; I don' think I've heard Lorenzo's tone any better than this.

It's almost impossible to see everything that takes place at Surfer Joe, at least if you need to eat and have any rest at all. Thus it is that we miss JonPaul's bass clinic, the seminar on physiotherapy for guitarists and bass players and the set from German band Los Apollos. I'm very glad that we catch Stories From Shamehill, however. I enjoyed their recent EP and they deliver a fine set here, despite the bass player's on-stage admission that she is very nervous (what is it with nervous bassists today?). One song features a trumpeter, who has travelled by car across the Alps to join them and, as listeners to HangNine FM probably know, I love a trumpet. The band have also brought along half of their home village from the Netherlands and they are in fine voice supporting their local heroes. I look forward to hearing more from this band in future.

Over the next couple of hours, we are treated to a kind of heavy-surf/trad-surf sandwich, with the trad filing being provided by The Stingrays, from France, and The Volcanics, from the USA. I am chatting with JonPaul, live on North Sea Surf Radio, for much of The Stingrays' show, but greatly enjoy the part that I do catch, while I love the verve and panache of The Volcanics, who remind me of The Untamed Youth in their prime. Either side of these two bands the audience is treated to something altogether heavier, starting with French band, Demon Vendetta and their horror-show surf. They look terrifying , but the sound, while undeniably heavy and aggressive, is tuneful and I really like their use of samples, both during and between numbers. Brazilians, The Mullet Monster Mafia are even heavier and somewhat less melodic, but this doesn't prevent a sizeable portion of the crowd from moshing in front of the stage and, as their set ends, they are called back for an encore.
Earlier in the day, the threat of further rain has prompted the decision to abandon the use of the main stage for today and all bands play on the Tiki Stage, with the contingency of moving inside to the Tiki Bar, should it prove necessary. Although in the event it remains dry, the change of plans seems sensible, but does have the side effect that proceedings fall somewhat behind schedule as the night progresses.

Bang! Mustang eventually take to the stage sometime after midnight, but it proves to be well worth the wait. The play fantastically well and get a great reception from those of us still standing. Boris plays his customarily spectacular drum solo, but, as he moves in front of the kit to beat out a tattoo on the front skin of the bass drum, Lucas slips into the drum stool and takes over for the remainder of the set. Patrick later explains that Boris is leaving the band to become a, "fucking rich surf musician". This fact doesn't prevent both Payrick and Sven giving the departing drummer a huge hug as he leaves the stage and, in any case, he returns a few minutes later to rejoin the band on percussion, while they are also joined by the guitarist from Los Oxidados for a stunning version on 58 Degrees.

As the guys leave the stage, I really can't take any more. It is 1:00 am on Monday and I can hardly stand. Reluctantly, I admit defeat, and while heading for bed, miss The Charades and the second show of the weekend from El Caminos. For me, The Surfer Joe Summer Festival of 2016 is at an end. Arividerci Livorno. I will be back.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 5

Saturday, shortly after midday, Surfer Joe Diner. Incoming at 3 o'clock, young man in black t-shirt. Correction: black LOS FANTASTICOS t-shirt. This can't be right; we've only sold a few and mostly to people whose birthdays we know. Hold on, Clive has a vague memory of selling one to a young guy at our last gig with Bang! Mustang in Brighton. What a very strange and small world this is.

I later meat this young man and he tells me that he was inspired, upon seeing that Brighton gig, to go home to Chichester and start a surf band. I feel strangely humbled. We chat for a while about the Surfy Bear reverb unit, theremins and other gear related things and I tell him about the gigs we promote and to contact me on Facebook. He promises me that he will and we go our separate ways. Damn! I didn't even get his name.

We eat lunch in the garden of a nearby restaurant and, while it's nice enough, we remember why we usually go to the chicken restaurant.

Back at the Diner, I catch the last part of Mocoto's talk on Brazilian surf music and manage a quick chat with him about the sadly defunct Estrume'n'tal. Next it's the demonstration of the new Surfy Trem pedal, which sounds lovely, although the technical aspects of Bjorn's explanation are somewhat baffling to me. Fortunately, Hastings' own technical genius, Justin, is on hand to give me the layman' version of just what a harmonic tremolo does. I am less baffled by Martin Schmidt's surf guitar clinic. I understand almost everything he says and can even do quite a few of the things he plays. It's only when he puts all of these things together that I understand the cold, hard truth: I will never be able to play guitar like Martin Schmidt.

Today's music begins on the Tiki Stage with two Italian bands. Second are The Psycho Surfers,who I've seen a couple of times before and who I enjoy no less for that and openers, Bad Riders, are also hugely enjoyable, making extremely effective use of their organ player. Third on are Los Venturas, from Belgium, promoting their new album, Miles High. They are great. Bye the album and catch them while you can. We hope to bring them back to England in November.

Next up are Boss Fink and their hot-rod-surf-fuzz mashup proves a hit with the crowd; several people are speak to are particularly wowed by the drummer., who apparently once played with The Monks.

Les Agamemnonz, resplendent I their maroon robes, are the first band on the main stage tonight and I greatly enjoy the portion of their set which I watch with Alex, from Horse Rock, who is a big fan of the Frenchmen. Alex also introduces me to a couple he has just met and who are from Brighton. One of the lives just a few hundred yards from us. As I've already said, it's a very small world. We hope to meet them again when (shameless plug alert) Horse Rock play at The Prince Albert on July 1st, along with The Space Agency and Sir Bald Diddley.

Back at the Tiki Stage, The Razorblades are on next and the boys are in full-on rock'n'roll assault mode. Their infectious energy spreads to the crowd, although they tempt the wrath of the surf-instructions gods with several numbers featuring (gasp!) vocals. The gods respond with a few drops of rain, but, as Martin explains to me later when I interview him on North Sea Surf Radio, The Razorblades just play harder and louder, the gods are appeased and the rain abates.

Unfortunately, my slot on the radio with Martin and Niels, means that I only get to catch a very small part of The Barbwires' set over on the main stage, although what I did see was great. Just as I was finishing up on NSSR, The Bradipos IV hit the Tiki Stage. I first saw this band at the very first Surfer Joe festival in 2003 and this is the fourth time I have seen them in total. They never fail to please and this show is no exception to that; the tunes are great and they play so so well. Bravissimo!

It's been a very long day and I am certainly starting to wilt as Germany's Los Banditos begin their set in the main stage at around half-past midnight. However, their highly original and varied sound keeps me going until the rain returns and we beat a retreat to the shelter of the diner. I would love to see The Surf Coasters' second show, upstairs in the Tiki Bar, but I am shattered and the rain seems to be driving many of the thronging Saturday night crowd up there, meaning it's likely to become rather uncomfortable. We admit defeat and, safe in the knowledge that at least we witnessed their majestic performance on Friday, return to the hotel.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 4

It's Friday and, after Thursday night's thrilling and tempestuous aperitivo, the Surfer Joe Summer Festival is about to hit the ground running. The first thing to report is that there is no rain (and none is forecast until Sunday), although there is still quite a strong breeze and a swell out at sea, sufficient for two brave souls to take to the water and risk crashing their surfboards against the rocks which line this stretch of coast. As they do this, we are finally able to manage a swim in the pool, without the lifeguard finding reason to turf us out.

We lunch at the Diner with the Hastings crowd and spend the afternoon relaxing in preparation for the first band of the night, The Surfing Boars from Sardinia. In the meantime, Keith and Claire, the rest of the Brighton Surf Massive, arrive, We catch up with the marvellous Los Venturas and I chat with Niels, from North Sea Surf Radio, about our schedule for the weekend. A little later I pass an enjoyable half-hour or so chatting on air with Niels, Jeff Big Tiki Dude and JonPaul, about some of our favourite memories of festivals from the recent past. Jeff even hints that Los Fantasticos should consider a trip to California to play at a future Surf Guitar 101 Convention. This is both hugely flattering and a really great idea. I must put it to the band.

The Surfing Boars start proceedings for the day in fine trad-surf style and they're followed by Londoners (via, variously, Canada and Italy), The Shar-Keys, who bring a notably rockabilly influence into play. Specifically, guitarist Conrad di Lanni plays his Gretsch with fingers and a thumb-pick, something I've never before witnessed in surf music and which we discuss a little later, when Niels and I interview the band live on-air. My slot on the radio coincides with The Longboards playing on the Tiki Stage and, consequently, I'm only able to catch a couple of brief parts of their set, although what I do see definitely passes muster and the crowd seem to concur.

Only the very hardiest of souls manage to see everything that happens at a festival like this and the Brighton crowd are eating when Peru's Los Protones become the weekend's first band to perform on the main stage, over on the Terrazza Mascagni. Even from where we are sitting, they sound great and Clarry later confirms for me that they indeed were great. The Razorblades arrive at the end of a twelve-hour drive from Wiesbaden. Martin looks tired, while drummer Andi seems as fresh as a daisy (in fairness, he always does). Guess which one hadn't been driving.

Next on the Tiki Stage are Watang, who I greatly enjoy, although the sound does no favours to the somewhat intricate textures of their music. I have to say that the sound at the festival is generally good, so I suppose we just have to put up with the occasional mis-fire like this. Their are no such problems over on the main stage, though, as Mexicans, The Twin Tones put on a stunning show. I really liked their album, Capello di Marriachi, but wasn't prepared for just how brilliant they would be. The main stage at Surfer Joe is big and occasionally bands struggle to command it. No difficulty for these guys though; they are terrific and feature definitely the best surf flautist I have ever seen.

Alex, from Reading band Horse Rock arrives at this point. His flight to Pisa has been cancelled due to industrial action and he has had to fly via Milan and a somewhat lengthy train journey, but he has arrived and we buy him a beer. He really looks like he needs it. Darren, guitarist with The Waterboarders, has been scuppered by the same strike and has had an even worse journey, taking a flight from Bristol to Rome and spending several hours on the runway before even taking to the air. He will not finally arrive at the festival for another hour.

Two Japanese bands follow. Back at the Tiki Stage Lorenzo is dressed as a Samurai, Ralf is clowning in a huge Sumo suit and Jeff is reassuringly normal, as he introduces us to the splendid trad sounds of The El Caminos, who duly proceed to wow the crowds. They are but a warm up, though, for the Surf Coasters over on the main stage. They are, quite simply, fantastic. Great musicianship, great performance and great, beaming smiles. If The Twin Tones owned the stage,bathe Surf Coasters absolutely dominate it. The crowd love them and they love the crowd. Wow!

It after 1:00 pm now, but there's still time to catch Hell-o-Tiki's great set in the Tiki Bar. Their costumes, burlesque dancing and heavy sound have the crowd bouncing, with Andrew and Alexandra to the fore, in support of Alexandra's Belgian compatriots. Sven is also in the midst of the throng and, as the band take to the stage for their encore, we slope of, exhausted, and head back to the hotel.

There are still two days to go. Will we make it through?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 3

It never rains at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival. I attended the first edition at Marina di Massa in 2003 and this year is my eighth and the eleventh in total. In all of those eight visits, the only rain I have ever witnessed fell as a light shower on the Monday morning after the festival had ended. On the Thursday of the 2016 festival, however, it rained.

After breakfast at our hotel we take a stroll along the sea front to the open air swimming pool. The sky is largely blue, but there are clouds and I quip that, if it should rain, the swimming pool will be the best place to be. After all, you can't get much wetter than totally wet. Mmm... The pool is fed by the sea and the shock of the cold salt water is exhilarating when I climb in, but having swum one fifty metre length, I warm up. We swim some more, but at the end of length number nine the lifeguard comes over and asks if we are Italian. "No, English." "Ah, ok. It is raining, so you have to get out. If it stops, you can come back in." Clearly the swimming pool is NOT the best place to be if it should rain. We clamber out and go to get our stuff, while the lifeguard packs up his parasol and heads inside.

Having returned to our hotel for a quick shower, we meet up with Clive again at the Diner. The sun is shining, the sky blue, almost cloudless. "Can we eat outside?" "No, you have to eat inside, the weather is too unpredictable." We grab some beers and head outside to sit in the shade. In time, the festivalistas start arriving. There's the Hastings crew. There's Ralf Kilauea. There's an American band (in time, I guess, I will know which American band). There's some of The Shar-Keys, although no sign of their drummer, Enzo, who we meet here every year, but who will be visiting family before meeting up with his bandmates later in the day. As the crowd grows and the sun continues to shine, it apparently becomes an acceptable risk for food to be served outside. We eat.

Later we adjourn to an adjacent bar to watch the Battle of Britain. A stunning Gareth Bale free kick gives Wales the lead at half-time and it finally dawns on Roy Hodgson that the Sterling/Kane/Lalana axis isn't working. Sterling and Kane are withdrawn and replaced Vardy and Sturridge. Not long after this, Jamie Vardy does what Jamie Vardy does and it is one apiece. Two get honest a draw seems a fair result, but Daniel Sturridge has other ideas and his twinkle toes dance through a weary Welsh defence to snatch an injury time winner. It strikes me that the Italian commentary adds hitherto unexpected sophistication and allure to common-or-garden British names. Rarely have Rooon-ay, Led-leeee, Varrrrdy and Small-inger sounded so sexy.

We head outside. Oh look, it's Bang! Mustang. With both drummers and the rather disappointing news that, due to an unexpected shortage of drum kits in Tuscany, they will not, as planned, be able to use them both at the same time during their set on Sunday. Instead, Boris will leave the band (for good) in mid-set and his replacement, Lucas (?), will take over.

Back at the hotel, we have a frustrating time attempting to watch Northern Ireland's match against Ukraine. Only some matches are shown on terrestrial television, the majority, including this one, going to Sky. We attempt to purchase access to the game, but no, the hotel no longer offers this service. It seems they have grown tired of Rupert Murdoch's attempts to extort yet more money from them and, frankly, who can blame them? We settle for following the game via the BBC website, but the wi-fi has fallen over and we only regain coverage of Northern Ireland's historic 2-0 victory in the tense closing minutes. Jules is elated.

We eat, once again, at the chicken restaurant and expect the opening band of the festival, M74, to be onstage when we arrive at the Diner. It is 9:45 and they were due on At 9:30. The stage is deserted. In the meantime, we meet up with Enzo, who seems filled with nerves about The Shar-Keys' appearance tomorrow night. We're sure everything will be fine, though. We also catch up with Clarry and Anya, from Streatham, which is always a pleasure. At 10:25, M74 finally take to the stage and, my word, they're worth the wait. This three piece from Livorno, featuring former members of The Ups and The Wadadli riders, have a stripped back, sparse sound. I am reminded of Link Wray. Clive mentions The Cramps. Lean and, at times, savage, they get the 2016 festival off to a great start.

Next up are The Aloha Sluts, with their range of grunged up covers, interspersed with a few originals. They are appreciated by the crowd, but a few drops of rain are falling. At first this seems like nothing, but then the few drops become quite a few drops. I glance round to see Tommi covering the mixing desk with a protective tarpaulin. Quite a few drops become really quite a lot of drops and we head inside. The band seem happy enough to keep banging away, but sanity prevails and they are ushered off-stage to safety. 

In the teeth of a howling gale and pouring rain, the crew heroically secure the stage, while several of the tented stalls take one hell of a battering and one topples over almost completely. Meanwhile, the stage in the tiki bar is quickly prepared and we are ushered upstairs, where The Aloha Sluts resume where they left off, although, quite bafflingly, they elect to play a good part of their set for a second time.

It's late. I'm tired. I quite fancy sloping off back to the hotel for some sleep. But wait. It's Los Oxidados, from Mexico, come to rescue the night and fill the tiki bar with joy. They are fabulous and the storm outside is forgotten for now. They are joined at one point by Sven, from Bang! Mustang, almost unrecognisable behind his bandito mask. Just a hint though; wearing your glasses over your mask gives the game away, Sven. We can tell it's you really. On they go, on and on, the audience dancing wildly, the other Bang! Mustangs circulating joyously (and, in Patrick's case at least, drunkenly) amongst us, delighted at their amigos' wonderful show.

Several encores later, they are done and we head into the night.

Like I say, it never rains at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 2

Well, we're spending our first morning here in Livorno, having arrived by train from Rome yesterday afternoon. Having checked into our usual hotel (the excellent and so friendly Parking Hotel Giardino), we take a stroll down to the Surfer Joe Diner, where we catch up with Luca, Tonio and Tommi, as they prepare the Tiki Stage for the festival. A little later Lorenzo comes over to say hi, bringing with him JonPaul and Jeff Big Tiki Dude. Now what is the collective noun for a bunch of North Sea Surf Radio DJ's?

A little later we are joined by Clive Lung and it really begins to feel as if we have never been away, particularly once we have adjourned to our favourite local eatery, the Chicken Restaurant (so named because of the large model ostrich which stands guard outside the entrance, although it is properly named La Regina Dello Scoglio). Pizza and wine ensue.

Tuesday was spent exploring more of the sights in Rome. This tends to consist largely of studiously avoiding the eye of one of the various hustlers trying to sell you stuff, whilst wading through vast throngs of one's fellow tourists. We see the Spanish Steps, which are probably pretty amazing, but they are also partially covered up, as teams of Roman craftsmen labour under parasols renovating, or cleaning away. From there it's but a short walk to the Trevi Fountain, where we imagine ourselves in La Dolce Vita, although I'm pretty sure no one was trying to flog Marcelo Mastroianni or Anita Ekberg a selfie-stick.

The streets of the city currently contain large numbers of armed troops, patrolling what I must assume are considered to be vulnerable sites. We live, of course, in dangerous times and it may be that this military presence is in response to a specific threat or simply to provide reassurance. I have to say, though, that to me the sight of uniformed men toting automatic weapons on the streets of European cities is somewhat disturbing.

We decide to head across the Tiber towards the Vatican next, accidentally happening upon the Pantheon on our way. If the Pantheon is huge (it is), the size and grandeur of the Vatican is on another scale altogether (and somewhat at odds with the life led by Jesus Christ, I might suggest). The hustlers are here too, with their selfie-sticks and tickets to see the Sistine Chapel. We politely (and sometimes less-than-politely, I admit) decline these offers and head instead to the pleasingly dark and cool shelter of a Trastevere bar for some lunch.

Now, you might just think that there is a time and a place where you might find use for a selfie-stick, but that sitting in a back street bar watching football on the TV is neither that time nor that place. This doesn't stop someone strolling in and trying to sell us one, mind you. I have drawn Austria in the Euros-sweepstake in our local pub, so find myself with a perhaps surprising amount of interest in their game with neighbours Hungary, which we watch in an Irish bar filled with Hungarians, a short walk from our hotel. This is a proper Irish bar too; Irish barmaid, Irish commentary of the match on the TV and lager served in Guiness glasses, which goes instantly flat. Austria are, apparently, some people's dark horses for the tournament and I briefly discover previously unsuspected enthusiasm for the boys in red. They play poorly and Hungary run out deserved 2-0 winners. I am deflated. Still, the sweepstake only cost two quid and I turned down the selfie-stick.

This afternoon, England play Wales, in what someone will no doubt dub The Battle of Britain. And this evening the festival begins. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Part 1

It's that time of year again. The time when thoughts turn to Livorno, on Italy's Tuscan coast. The time when surf music fans from around the world are drawn to the Surfer Joe Diner in that fine city, for one of the world's greatest celebrations of instrumental guitar music. Time for the rekindling of acquaintances and friendships forged, in years past, at former gatherings. Time for sun. Time for eating, drinking and all night dancing. Time for the Surfer Joe Summer Festival.

But before all of that shenanigans, there's time for Jules Deadman and I to snatch a brief couple of days in Rome. We landed yesterday and, upon heading from runway to train station, were accosted by an extremely persuasive gentleman, who convinced us that we would indeed be better off waiting for him to round up a few other unsuspecting souls and then allowing him to drive us to our hotel. The only problem being that, while we waited ("Just two more minutes. Two Italian minutes!"), we missed the train and, in all likelihood, any advantage gained by travelling with this chap. To be fair, once he had amassed the required number of willing souls, he did drive us pretty swiftly to the door of our hotel, so I can't really complain, but next time we might just hop on the train.

After checking in and grabbing a light lunch, accompanied by a rather pleasing glass of Dopio Malto, we took a quick stroll past the Colosseum, the Forum and the Circus Maximus, before heading into the tangle of streets that is Trastevere. Much frustrated walking round in circles ensued, as we discovered that our map seemed to bear little relation to the actual layout of the streets. However, we eventually found the bar we were looking for and watched most of The Republic of Ireland's draw with Sweden, before popping across the road to Bir & Fud, for (unsurprisingly) beer and food. Thanks to Hazel and Ian for the recommendation.

A couple of hours in the charming company of Alexandra, from Speedball Jr, and partner Andrew, of Weirdsville fame, ensued. We drank more beer, while they drank wine served in what appeared to be a large glass chimney and we watched Italy despatch Belgium 2-0, much to Alaxandra's disappointment and the evident delight of the locals.

A brisk stroll back to the hotel and we fell into bed. Today will be another day of exploring ruins and monuments (and, no doubt, bars) and tomorrow we catch the train to Livorno. Unless, of course, a rather persuasive gentleman can persuade us to wait two Italian minutes while he finds four other surf music fans who need a lift straight to the door of the Surfer Joe Diner.