Florida and gothic music have a long and appropriately tortured relationship. Did you know that SNL's "Goth Talk" skit was set in Tampa? Did you know that Marilyn Manson got his start in South Florida? And now we can lay claim to one more scrap of clove-scented bragging rights. European exile and dark prince crooner Georgio Valentino, an imposing figure who channels Scott Walker by way of Rowland S. Howard, actually hails from West Palm Beach. It's been a long and somewhat circuitous route that took a Damned-obsessed Florida boy from West Palm to Detroit to Brussels and then wandering Europe like a restless ghost, "fumbling toward a certain aesthetic horizon." Along the way, Valentino collaborated and played music with everyone from Mick Harvey (Birthday Party) to David McClymont (Orange Juice) and even members of the enigmatic Tuxedomoon, finding his own melancholic, distinctive sound along the way.
Valentino makes a rare pilgrimage back to Florida this week, playing a few shows along the way. And true to the vampiric lounge singer persona that Valentino has honed to a knifepoint, he will perform a "minimalist Italian crooner set" consisting of a suite of songs by "a cult cantautore from Livorno – one Piero Ciampi – who drank himself to death in 1980." Accompanying Valentino is local pianist/electronic musician Samuel Ciullo. The only hitch is that they've never actually played together before or even met, a motion that doesn't seem to trouble Valentino at all. "We'll bring it all together in person a couple of days before the first show," he sighs.
There's a lost art of singers with a capital "S" throwing themselves into someone else's songs – think of Nick Cave's Kicking Against the Pricks covers album for reference – but Valentino is squarely going down that route and even righting a few wrongs, maybe: "I discovered how unsung this cat is, even in his native Italy. And that makes you want to shout it from the rooftops even more. ... Ciampi needed someone to stand and be counted. Here I am."