By Samson Morfaw
When Music, fun and nocturnal mayhem get boxed up in a magical town you come up with an elixir called ‘Bezawit’: A band whose main purpose is to conjure up a unique Mediterranean African and American style of music.
As I listen to one of their many live rehearsing sessions in the heart of Giardini Margherita, one of Bologna’s most adored outdoor parks, appreciated especially, by those who revel in cheap wine, street busking or simply avoiding boring maths lessons. I nod my head in rhythm unable to avoid smiling.
A musical blessing. Yes, Bologna has Talent! I decide to involve them in a friendly chat between one song and another. “It all started out of fun,” says Lorenzo Guenzi the band’s percussionist and frontman. “Me and my friends would hang out here in this very spot often accompanied with a ‘boccia di vino’ or two to drink and we’d “Strimpellare” guitar rhythms all night long.
The number of curious listeners increase at every one of their performances. “It’s true. It all begun as an excuse just to have fun amongst friends,” chirps in Bethzy Guetch, Bezawit’s adorable lead singer. “At a very early age,” she added, “I loved listening to artists of the 40s, 50s and 60s soul, blues and jazz retro scene. Basically, the whole Stax and Motown scenario. I’d sing in unison with tunes performed by Nina Simone or Sam Cooke all this back home in my home town Addis Abeba.” There’s some kind of positive energy emanating from this 21-year-old Ethiopian sweet heart as she executes each word and phrase in perfect Italian. I marvelled at the dexterity she possessed with English grammar too. “I met Lorenzo and other friends of his during my early Bologna university experience. I enjoyed hanging out with this fun loving group or ‘ragazzi simpatici’ and it was during one occasion that we were all in the middle of a spaghetti digging home gathering. Then one evening we struck up a jam session, playing and singing our lungs out at whilst emptying the usual ‘boccie di vino’ to allow the wine to free our souls. That was when our project commenced. This jam session turned out so satisfying that we decided to boost our talent to a higher level so we called ourselves Bezawit.” Lorenzo interupts, “It’s a name that kind of has a tie to you, Bethzy.”
Bethzy narrates all in such a pleasant prose-like manner that it’s hard to tell whether she is singing or just settling into the interview. So far, Bezawit deals mostly with covers of evergreen songs. Their facebook profile (Bezawit-Musician/band) serves up samples of their repertoire: ‘Ain’t no sunshine’, ‘Rolling in the deep’, ‘Stand by me’ and ‘We are young’. As I scrutinised their material with special focus on Bethzy’s tantalising vocals I figured that a new timbre was on the way to be forged in the music business. I’d call it Lauryn Hill meets Erykah Badu topped with a special Ethiopian quiver accompanied with musical acoustic finesse.
“We let loose the music soul entrapped within us,” Bethzy continued.” True enough, whenever, Bezawit perform live, their team spirit is irresistible. But they aim to approach things in a very Italian style. Nice and slow, at a steady pace, beat by beat. For now, their main objective involves completing university studies even though they are gaining in notoriety. “We are hoping though to get into a studio,” adds Andrea Maurizzi, one of the few Ukulele players I’ve ever met in my life. “We want to experiment with our own style of music.”
Bezawit can seen playing in pubs and live music joints around the usual Bolognese nocturnal outposts. So, check them out as soon as possible before they hit the big time!
BEZAWIT band members: Lorenzo Guenzi – percussion, Ludovico De Bonis – lead guitar, Bethzy Guetch – lead vocals, Andrea Maurizzi – ukelele, Marco Falasca – maracas, Mirko Pasquini – bass.