Stefano “Slidin’ Wolf” Ronchi is an Italian blues guitar player and singer living in Berlin. His way of composing and arranging is grounded in old black folklore music from the 20’s and 30’s, from Delta Blues and Piedmont Blues, through old Spirituals, stomp and “swamp” sounds.
We are totally in love with Stefano’s soulful voice and his humble personality. Let’s find out a bit more about this precious artist and what he has to offer to the dance community.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the style of blues you like to play
I’ve always been in love with blues and black folklore music in general since I was a kid. My father used to listen to blues records and swing big bands and I grew up in a town on the Delta of a river! So I can say that I am officially a Delta blues musician, without any doubt!
My music is a mix of several influences… I studied both classical music and jazz guitar at a Conservatory, and I played for a long time in a bluegrass band, even before falling completely in love with old traditional blues. So it is very difficult for me to give a definition of my musical style… it is a part of “my self”.
How long have you been playing for dancers? How did you get started?
My musical experience for blues dancing began 3 years ago. I was visiting Berlin as a tourist and I went to a famous blues jam session in town, hosted by an outstanding Spanish harmonica player, Marcos Coll.
There was a pretty lady at the dj desk, who was doing dance classes before the jam. I never even knew what blues dancing was. At the end of the night I was talking with the lady/dj and I said “well, I love playing electric, but I am mainly a traditional acoustic blues guitar player”. So she booked me for an house concert for blues dancers. Now she is my girlfriend, and I am playing around Europe for you beautiful dancers!
What do you like most about playing for dancers? Why?
The connection between music and dancing is pure magic to me. I feel really connected to the dancers while I’m playing, it’s like a communication. Information goes in both directions, and we influence each other. That’s why playing for dancers is my favourite and most intense kind of show.
Do you have a favourite song to play at dance events?
My favourite song to play for dancers is my version of St. James Infirmary. During the last three years, I’ve been playing this song in thousands different versions. At the end, I’ve found my own way to play and sing it. I don’t even know how to describe it… someone says it reminds them of a mix of Delta blues and Flamenco… anyway, dancers love it and I love it too!!
Where’s the strangest place you’ve performed?
Once I played as a duo with a violin player in a prehistoric cave deep underground. It was definitely the strangest place but also the most emotional one I have ever performed at. I remember that the organisers gave us the typical hat for speleologists (people who study caves), with the light in front… and I had to play the full concert with that!
Tell us about a memorable moment you have had at a dance event / shared with a dancer.
I remember the first time I felt confident enough to reply “yes!” to the question “you wanna dance?” at a dance event. It was Berlin Blues Explosion, and Dan Nash was doing his magic on stage. It still feels weird sometimes, but I love dancing and my beloved Rosa Lee still does a lot to make me feel comfortable enough against my nature of being super shy.
Do you have a message you would like to say to the blues dancers reading this interview?
Just keep in mind to “share information” with musicians… it’s like a dialogue, we inspire each other.
Your new album “In Close Embrace”, is inspired by blues dancers. In what way?
Since I started playing for dancers I radically changed my way of playing and singing. I’ve been focusing more on slower tempos, and searching for a deeper way of communicating the most important component of blues music: the lyrics.
That’s what “In close embrace” is, an authentic picture of myself right now.
A little note from us (Stefano did not mention this)… Stefano’s album, In Close Embrace, is available to buy online. If you love his music and would like to support him and enable him to make more fabulous albums then purchasing this album would be a great way to do it! Just follow this link!
Find out more about Stefano on his website.
Photo Credits: Catty Rogalski, Catberry Studio Berlin