An ‘al fresco’ honeymoon experience for Dirty Cello bandmates and partners
By Rebecca Roudman
Dirty Cello is a San Francisco–based blues/bluegrass band, led by cellist Rebecca Roudman. With Jason Eckl (guitar), Anthony Petrocchi (drums), Paul Smith-Stewart (bass), Jaylene Chung (violin and vocals), and Sterling Spence (mandolin), Dirty Cello has traveled the world performing its unique blend of American music.
Continuing an ongoing series, we caught up with Dirty Cello after their unique tour of Italy.I got married last summer and, when planning for the wedding, there was no question about where I wanted to spend my honeymoon—Italy! Since my new husband [Dirty Cello guitarist Jason Eckl] and I are both in the band, we thought it would be a fun idea to combine our honeymoon with a performance tour.
We like to go with the philosophy that Dirty Cello does it differently. We’ve played everywhere from a flash mob to a hallway in an old speakeasy to a castle in Scotland—and our Italy honeymoon tour was no different. Jason and I began in Florence with a few days of honeymooning, and then found ourselves on a hectic train ride to Milan to meet our tour manager, pick up the band, and get to our first show in Pavia, Lombardy. Our tour spanned from high in the Alps to south of Rome. We played seven big shows and did plenty of sightseeing—and, of course, lots of eating! As we stood onstage getting ready to play our first show in a beautiful historic piazza, we were nervous about how the Italian audiences would receive us.
Our sound is a high energy, in your face, eclectic stylistic mix of American-themed music, all featuring cello. But from the first song the audience reacted with energy and excitement. By the time the first smoke machine kicked in (a new thing for us), we knew we were going to have a great tour. Many of our shows were held in pretty standard venues for Italy, but our booking agent had asked us how willing we were to do shows that were a bit out of the ordinary. Keeping with our philosophy of being open to new experiences, we agreed to do a purely acoustic show in the mountains that bordered Tuscany in the small town of San Severino.
After getting lost and having our tour bus driver navigate by shouting questions at random locals, we pulled into a very crowded parking lot in torrential rain. Our outdoor concert needed to be moved, and the local promoter suggested we go to a nearby church.
We were picturing one of the beautiful cathedrals that we had seen all over Italy, but instead we pulled up to a very small church built from the ruins of a 12th-century abbey.
This small local church had neither electricity nor bathrooms, so we were in for quite an adventure. We did not get a chance to change prior to the show, so we performed in shorts and tank tops. However as we played our music with everyone crowded inside, we had a transcendent moment when we began to connect with the audience in a seemingly magical way.
In the candlelit church, with no amplification, our music echoed through the beautiful space and felt like we were truly sharing a concert with the audience. I felt so privileged that this was what I got to do on my honeymoon.
We had many more adventures during our honeymoon tour—from an alternative-lifestyle festival in a climbing village in the Alps to being treated to drinks at all three of the bars in the small town of Campo di Giove. We even had a true “when in Rome” moment when the local promoter delayed our concert by 45 minutes so that we could finish our elaborate four-course Italian meal.
Before going on our trip, it was hard to explain how we would make it a true honeymoon while driving around Italy as part of a six-piece band. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from being part of Dirty Cello, it is that sometimes doing it differently allows you to see and experience things that you normally wouldn’t get a chance to do.
When I think back on my honeymoon, I not only remember the beautiful moments of sightseeing with my husband, but also the musical moments when I stood onstage, put bow to string, and rocked out for our new friends in Italy.