Q&A with Italian Blues promoter Robert James Ucciero, founder of label Blues Highway, and the Robert James Blues Band

"I believe that blues is way of opening your soul and sharing your feelings, nowadays we all have some blues within us, maybe not like the olden days but in one way or another we all unfortunately has daily issues, especially in these last few years with the co-vid. Blues is a way to share these worries, thoughts and help get through these hard times. I would like music to affect people by connecting them and hopefully increase the respect between people near or far."

Robert James Ucciero: Blues Highway

Italian Blues promoter Robert James Ucciero, is the founder of Blues Highway.it, singer and founder of the Robert James Blues Band. Blues Highway.it was created by Robert James Ucciero in 2019, an Italian based blues musician that made it his aim to help promote the blues band through out Italy, creating ways to give visibility to all bands, big and small. This all started on a Facebook Group that now has over 3000 members, giving a chance for all blues bands to be noticed. In 2021, Blues Highway decided to go that extra step by opening it's doors to blues bands around the world and getting the world to know the Italian Blues bands. 

(Robert James Ucciero / Photo by Riccardo Piccirillo)

Robert James Ucciero, says: "We are now promoting the bands in other countries and helping them to have their albums played on the radios abroad. Blues Highway in 2020 had it's first festival, bringing upcoming blues bands on the stage in the south of Italy."

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Blues and Rock has indeed influenced my way of living life in general, as it isn’t just music but is way of life and I have found that it has a power of uniting people everywhere in the world, creating an automatic connection with people. During my mission of Blues Highway, I have had the honor to meet virtually and in person musicians and blues lovers from various parts of the world and it is really a wonderful feeling to know that there are so many people that share the same passion. One thing is for sure, if there were more blues lovers out there, the world would be a better place.

What were the reasons that you started the "Blues Highway"? What characterize label's philosophy and mission?

The reason I started “Blues Highway”, it’s actually quite funny as I started this mission as a game, I would never have thought that it would grow into what it has become today. Before Blues Highway (and still now) I was just another blues singer based at Naples, Italy with gigs around the south of Italy and thankfully took part in various blues festivals. As for most musicians especially for this genre, it’s not easy to get noticed, so in 2019 I decided to start off with a facebook group to give a chance for all bands to share their videos and events. Bit by bit the group started growing and I found that bands even from the other side of Italy were being discovered. After 2 years, Blues Highway has grown and now present on the main social platforms and of our course it’s own website, and takes part in various blues festivals around Italy and blues radios where I personally participate in the shows talking about the bands and their album. What is the real mission and characterizes Blues Highway? It’s a spotlight for all blues band and blues musicians, present everyday everywhere, ready to help all blues bands to do that extra step and be noticed. I’m actually very proud to say that I “Blues Highway” has managed to help many blues bands in Italy have their tracks played on the radio’s in the UK, France, Brazil, Germany and many other countries. We’re here to help and make opportunities.                                (Robert James Ucciero / Photo by Riccardo Piccirillo)

"Blues and Rock has indeed influenced my way of living life in general, as it isn’t just music but is way of life and I have found that it has a power of uniting people everywhere in the world, creating an automatic connection with people. During my mission of Blues Highway, I have had the honor to meet virtually and in person musicians and blues lovers from various parts of the world and it is really a wonderful feeling to know that there are so many people that share the same passion."

Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Italy?

I believe that blues has a certain power that once you are touched by it, you can’t go without. It’s a music that is sincere and tells a story, even for who maybe doesn’t understand the words, but the way of playing blues is personal, it’s that delicate touch and they hard angry riff that is telling a story. I believe the Italian person in general is a passionate person, so once they find the blues it becomes a part of them.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I do wish there was more space for blues in the venues around Italy, unfortunately the taste of music for the younger generation is very different, but I really do hope that in some way that today’s generation can discover again blues. My fears for sure that the clubs and venues will always choose less blues bands for their gigs, but I hopeful. Blues Highway has selected the best blues clubs in Italy calling them “Top Blues Club – Italy” and these clubs are continuously organizing blues events and Blues Highway helps to advertise the gigs on all the social platforms. I hope that this will inspire other clubs to try blues.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What´s been the highlights in your career so far?

Well, my personal experience as a singer so far has been great, playing at various blues festivals like the Campania Blues Festival, Dogana Blues Festival, South Italy Blues Connection and Calabria Blues Passion all fantastic experiences, but I have to say once I started Blues Highway it opened a totally new vision of it all and so many new experiences. In 2020, Blues Highway had it’s first ever live event as the opening of the Campania Blues Festival, bringing various upcoming blues bands from all of Italy to play on the stage and I must say they were all great!

Then as Blues Highway grew, I also became the presenter of the festivals and it was fantastic to be able to present such great musicians like Kirk Fletcher, Roosevelt Collier, Mighty Mo Rogers and many others. But I think that the actual highway of my carrier so far is seeing some of the bands that I have in some way helped grow not only in Italy but also abroad.               (Robert James Ucciero & Mighty Mo Rodgers / Photo by Riccardo Piccirillo)

"My path has certainly taught me that music is everywhere and in everyone. I have found that there are musicians in the world, I mainly speak for Italy but also other countries that are extremely talented and all it takes is to open your eyes and ears and you can find the best music."

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts, festivals, and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

There are so many wonderful memories, the most recent has to be one of my favorites so far where this summer I has a mini tour with a fantastic blues band from Tuscany called Michele Biondi Blues Band where not only I played with them, but this tour was always to present the festivals as Blues Highway and the reaction of the public was absolutely amazing. It’s great to know that all my efforts are being noticed around Italy.

Another amazing moment was when I organized for Kirk Fletcher and Roosevelt Collier to meet for the first time and I arranged for them to play together on the stage of Campania Blues Festival, it was such a fantastic moment, two great blues men meeting for the first time and once they played both of them said to me “this is all thanks to you”, such a proud moment and honored to be part of this special moment.

What is the impact of Blues and Jazz on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

I believe that blues is way of opening your soul and sharing your feelings, nowadays we all have some blues within us, maybe not like the olden days but in one way or another we all unfortunately has daily issues, especially in these last few years with the co-vid. Blues is a way to share these worries, thoughts and help get through these hard times. I would like music to affect people by connecting them and hopefully increase the respect between people near or far.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

My path has certainly taught me that music is everywhere and in everyone. I have found that there are musicians in the world, I mainly speak for Italy but also other countries that are extremely talented and all it takes is to open your eyes and ears and you can find the best music.

Blues Highway - Home

(Robert James Ucciero / Photo by Riccardo Piccirillo)

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