Concerts

Georgio Valentino Croons Dark Tunes on New Album Lines of Flight

Georgio Valentino
Georgio Valentino Photo courtesy of the artist
Georgio Valentino thought he had given up on music. After years of trying to make his mark as a modern-day Nick Cave or Berlin-era David Bowie, he settled in as the editor of Jacksonville's alt-weekly publication Folio Weekly. On vacation to Greece in 2020, fate and the pandemic intervened.

"I found myself stranded in Athens with a single carry-on bag when the world's planes were grounded indefinitely. Folio folded a month later, so I figured I might as well stay put and pass the time making music," Valentino tells New Times.

Out of the crisis came his new album, Lines of Flight, an album of dark atmospherics that serves as an eight-song dispatch from the seediest of lounges. Like many of us during the age of COVID, Valentino said he was forced to do the work on the record remotely.

"All my gear was half a world away in Florida, so I asked my old musical co-conspirators in Europe, Australia, and the States to send tracks, which I spliced and treated on my laptop, cobbling songs together, adding verse and voice and a bit of ukulele, the only instrument I had at hand," he says. "A lot of technical limitations but a lot of love, so we let it ride — on ten-inch vinyl, no less."
The sounds he creates aren't what you imagine would come out of South Florida, but that is where Valentino was birthed and spent his formative years. He has a love/hate relationship with his hometown that had him spreading his wings as soon as he could.

"Suburban West Palm Beach wasn't the most stimulating environment for a restless young Phantom Chords fan," he says. "Living music always seemed like something that happened far away, in one of those exotic places with four seasons and viable public transportation. I split at the tender age of 17 in search of such a clime. I did eventually find what I was looking for in Detroit and later Brussels, and have since made peace with my home state — at least the half that votes Democratic."

He'll be making a homecoming when he returns to play Gramps on Sunday, December 11, supported by openers Borri and Pocket of Lollipops. It's part of Valentino's first solo tour in years, though he had been playing with the musical acts Crime & the City Solution and Blaine L. Reininger.

"It's been a minute since I've even thought about my own material, let alone attempted to play any of it. I trust it'll be like riding a bike," Valentino says. "I've roped in two very capable musicians [and former Folio contributors] to join me on stage: Jessica Leigh on bass and Jason Irvin [of Creep City] on drums. We're going to bash out a selection of tunes from the Georgio Valentino songbook, and whatever happens, we're going to have a tremendous amount of fun doing it."

Though his retirement from music turned out to be a mere sabbatical, Valentino thinks his time in journalism has only strengthened his music.

"I was mired in preoccupation with making my definitive statement as an artist. That mostly meant obsessively overthinking every detail in mute nostril agony. To the point of paralysis, really," he says. "The tempo in our newsroom at Folio Weekly was something else entirely. There was no time for pie-in-the-sky perfectionism. But when you're printing at the speed of life, it's never going to be perfect. And that's OK. There's always next week. So I thought, What if cultivating that kind of living document also makes for better artistic practice than agonizing endlessly and alone over my own personal holy bible? It's certainly better for mental health."

Georgio Valentino. With Borri, Pocket of Lollipops, and the Bicentennials. 7 p.m. Sunday, December 11 at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; gramps.com. Tickets cost $8 via eventbrite.com.
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland

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