Art and culture

La Cricca dij Mes-cià Interview with Piedmont folk music band

April 30, 2024

La Cricca dij Mes-cià is a lively folk music group dedicated to reinterpreting traditional Piedmontese songs, enriched with a fast-paced, danceable rhythm .

Founded in 2013, La Cricca began by rearranging ancient folk songs in the footsteps of storytellers, and then evolved and devoted itself to composing original songs as well.

We liked the idea of exploring the topic of cultural repurposing, tradition in the present and future, in a pleasant chat with Daniele “Pera” Ronco, frontman of the group.

From left: Emanuele, Maurizio, Daniele, Davide, Simone and Matteo

Origins and passion: “How did you start playing traditional folk music from Piedmont and what drew you to this genre? How did the group come into being?

Daniele — La Cricca was born as a joke by a group of friends. Each came with different artistic experiences, some from theater, some from other musical groups. We met to “play two” at occasions such as lunches and dinners with friends until we said, “Shall we go to the Cant’e j’euv and have a little shindig?”.

Each song is a story. We make music of the people for the people

Given the enthusiastic response from the audience, we decided to structure ourselves and revisit traditional songs in a modern way. Later we started writing our own songs that embrace the epics of the past with our current values.

We consider ourselves an agricultural group by telling the story of the land in its defense: the preservation of the environment in which we live, farming as toil, but also as an opportunity to be together.

Why is it important to keep the traditional music of the Piedmont alive in contemporary culture?

Daniele — In our small way we try to tell a story to everyone, even those who do not understand Piedmontese. I don’t see dialect as a limitation, on the contrary, often there are contexts, for example when we play for a foreign audience, where the energy, the desire to share and to dance is very strong.

It is about transferring rituals, a tradition of an area where music has incredible power because it makes everything easier, immediate.

What have been your most significant experiences? Can you tell us about your trip to Argentina?

Daniele — In 2019, in collaboration with the Agemaso association of Monticello, we traveled to Argentina to explore and share Piedmontese culture with local communities in the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba and Entre Ríos.

Those who leave, care more about their origins than those who remain. Often those who live here do not have the attachment to tradition that people who live thousands of miles away have

We met people with a very close umbilical cord to Piedmont and a strong sense of belonging despite several generations having passed. The older people know Piedmontese; I still speak and chat via WhatsApp with some of them in dialect.

We met a ton of people, who welcomed us with incredible warmth, the kind that is typical of South America.

The trip was immortalized in a docufilm, which chronicles this fascinating experience of cultural and musical exchange.

Who has inspired your musical journey?

Daniele — Certainly each of us has had our own “baptism” at home. I, for example, remember I used to love singing by going to the mountains in Entracque with my grandfather who was a cantor.

In village festivals among friends then, once we grew up, we always ended up singing. The great thing about Piedmontese folk song is that if you take one of the better-known songs (such as La mia mama veul chi fila), there is someone who pulls out a new verse.

With respect to our references, there are local characters who have written songs and done so much for repurposing such as Gigi Scarsi, Angelo Manzone or Tre Lilu.

La Cricca also writes their own songs: how does the creative process happen in your original songs?

Daniele — Basically, I do the lyrics and my companions write the music. This is not always the case, sometimes on a lyric with a melody I have in my head we develop music all together, other times from a chord turn or melody the song is born.

Our good fortune is that we are friends first and foremost, so there are many opportunities to see each other to get together.

We try to rehearse as much as we can, even though there are six of us, each with our own schedules and lives, so it is not so easy to do this every week.

At Christmas, for example, we always have a “Cricca” dinner to get together and play music accompanied by a good glass of wine.

Do you have future plans, desires and goals that you would like to achieve as a group in the coming months? What’s simmering in the pot?

Daniele — Definitely, record a new album of our own songs. In addition, we are working to return to Argentina, hopefully between the end of this year and the beginning of next year.

Of course then, we have a few concerts during the summer, which is when we are particularly active, between village festivals, food and wine walks and various events throughout Piedmont and Liguria.