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The Italian Project

italian-project-cover-artThe Italian Project is the product of a beautiful dream come true; one that embodies love, hope, and the overriding positive message that we can truly achieve anything we set our minds to. In 2009, Lisa Marie Simmons and I, who both attended high school at the same time in Boulder, CO, reconnected by Facebook for the first time in more than 25 years.

This synchronistic virtual meeting resulted in a four-year international music adventure that included performances in Italy and Colorado, and culminated with co-writing (along with Bob Story) the 11 songs on this CD.

We wrote the songs largely via Skype over a two-year period, and recorded tracks both in Italy and Colorado. While the writing and recording process has been lengthy and challenging at times, the journey has been priceless. The Italian Project is a big departure for Lisa Bell and her band, with heavy roots rock, country, bluegrass, pop and blues influences. Throughout the writing process, we used a theme of positive messages and beautiful stories of change, manifestation and empowerment. Some of the songs are uplifting. Others share important stories such as the challenges of homelessness, racism and our societal fears. All are designed to make the listener take heart and take action. The music is fun, fresh, upbeat and thought provoking.

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The Italian Project Track Listings
No. Track Name Original Song Lyrics
01 Bring the Love Read Lyrics
We were having a conversation with a band mate Larry Thompson during a rehearsal one day about how you have to be impeccable with your word, and that the world needs more positive thoughts in action. He said a phrase to me that became the basis for this song: “What you bring to the table is what you eat!” Lisa Simmons immediately said “That’s a song, we can use it!” Larry said “yeah but if you write a hit song you owe me money!” We interpreted that phrase to mean that you have to bring your best to every aspect of your life, and “Bring the Love” to each and every conversation.
02 Come My Way Read Lyrics
I read a statistic that said in the past year, 70% of all marriages came about as a result of people meeting online. I was blown away by that statistic and came to the writing group with the concept of a song that describes what it would be like to meet the “cyber romance figure” in person for the first time. Will the excitement of the online romance continue in person and will true love ensue?
03 One Face, One Race Free Read Lyrics
Over lunch one day last spring in Boulder, Lisa Simmons asked Marco for a phrase we could use in Italian for a song. He told us a story about ancient Greco-Italian relations. From Wikipedia: “Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1861, immediately upon Italy’s unification. More than two millennia of shared heritage and Greco-Italian relations have led to the Italian language statement “Una Faccia Una Razza” (One Face, One Race). We took the phrase and ran with it, creating a song about how we must all respect the vast cultural and physical differences within the world, treating everyone as an equal, as “we are all the same beneath.”
04 A Brighter Day Read Lyrics
Written from the perspective of a person who is in the dark recesses of an illusory world that they have created and in which they feel trapped. What would it be like to take that first step into reality, using faith and love as the modes to transport them into a Brighter Day?
05 Walk With Me Read Lyrics
This song was written with the specific goal in mind to create a music video that showcases my dog Kona’s unique talent of taking his brother Joey for a walk on the leash. Both dogs were adopted from the Humane Society of Boulder County. In writing the song we had a lot of fun with the lyrics to make them applicable to both a woman pursuing a man, or two dogs in hot pursuit. A portion of the download proceeds and ad revenue from the music video go to various local and national non-profits whose mission is to help adopt out wonderful dogs like Joey and Kona.
06 Love Hurts Read Lyrics
For many years my family had the “habit” of taking in someone down on their luck to live with us for months at a time while they got back on their feet. Inevitably the day would come when they would out-welcome their stay, and at that point it was always me who had to bring on the tough love that it required to get them on their way. Be it a family member or a wayward soul, most of us can relate to that feeling when “Love Hurts.”
07 Quilt Read Lyrics
Lisa Simmons came to us with a story about a woman who was mugged in a subway station during the morning rush hour in Milan. The perpetrator snatched her purse, and shoved her to the ground in the process. She hit her head on the hard cement, and laid there bleeding to death while the hurried commuters actually walked over her body for a good 10 minutes. By the time someone came to help, it was too late. The scene had been caught on surveillance cameras and was replayed on the news over, and over again. Quilt takes a look at how society has become so numb to reality that often times we can’t even see a fellow human in need.
08 From the Outside Looking In Read Lyrics
The song was written from the perspective of a newly homeless person who finds himself on the street and full of despair. As many in our nation face financial uncertainty, the number of homeless continues to rise. Many are one step away from losing everything, yet until they face that reality, the judgment of others less fortunate continues. “We face our deepest fears within, from the outside looking in.”
09 The Best of Me Read Lyrics
“I’m gonna live all of my dreams, and feel the power in what they bring. I got permission, time to set them free. I gotta reach for the best of me.” This was written as an empowering anthem for people everywhere who need a reminder that we must overcome the doubts and fears along the way in order to become the best person we can be.
10 I Can Be Anything Read Lyrics
Throughout our lives the road is bumpy and full of twists and turns, sometimes making it seem that our amazing dreams might never come to fruition. This song embodies the sentiment of the entire Italian Project album, that we can truly achieve anything we put our minds to, as long as we believe wholly in ourselves, our dreams and the joy, love and passion required to live our lives to the fullest.
11 Set It Free (The Boomba, Boomba Song) Read Lyrics
This final, fun song was written after the initial visit to Colorado by Lisa Simmons and the Hippie Tendencies band. It was truly a love fest from the first time we all took the stage together. Boomba Boomba was a phrase coined by the HT crew that came up again and again on that trip, and embodies the fun, frivolous, feeling of pure joy we share when performing together. Truly a perfect ending song that recaps the amazing journey of The Italian Project.

Featured Musicians

Bob Story – My longtime co-writer and musical partner who plays electric & acoustic guitar, ukulele and probably a ton of other stringed instruments we haven’t thought of yet! Bob co-produced and edited the CD project. He has been writing and producing music for more than 20 years including his other project Martian Acres.

Lisa Marie Simmons – Lisa grew up in my hometown of Boulder, CO and we attended the same high school. But Lisa and I only crossed paths again at the end of 2008 when we found each other on Facebook. Lisa Simmons has performed around the world for the past 25 years, and has lived in the beautiful Lago de Garda region of Northern Italy for the past 10 years, where she fronts her band Hippie Tendencies. Lisa co-wrote all of the songs on the CD and provides backup vocals.

Mario Pagliarulo
– Born in Naples, Italy, Mario is a kick-ass bass player who currently does session work and tours internationally with artists including Serj Tankian’s System Of A Down and Trevor Hall. Mario recently moved to Denver from LA, and through yet another amazing synchronicity, we were fortunate enough to meet on Facebook. Mario co-produced the CD, bringing additional flavor of Italy and serving as a translator for some of our colleagues in Italy!

Cesare Valbussa – The amazing drummer from Verona, Italy who also plays with Hippie Tendencies. Cesare plays with a variety of well-known bands in Northern Italy, and tours throughout Europe. We welcomed him to Colorado along with the rest of Hippie Tendencies in 2010, and fell in love with his amazing sense of backbeat and stylistic percussion.

Marco Cremaschini – Marco also resides in the Lago de Garda region of Italy and is the co-leader and co-composer along with Lisa Simmons of Hippie Tendencies original music. Marco is a fantastic keyboard player and lent his talent on the keys.

Christian Codenotti – Christian also lives in the Lago de Garda region, where he is constantly fending off the droves of women who flock due to his velvet vocals and model-like features! Christian is also a member of Hippie Tendencies and joined the group for the Colorado tour in 2010. Christian added his beautiful voice and loving essence to the CD.

Other amazing musicians who lent their talent to the project include:

Christian Teele, Percussion
Chris Malley, Mandolin on “Walk with Me”
Chris Sheldon, Percussion on “Walk with Me”
Linda Lawson, Background Vocals
Robert Johnson, Background Vocals on “Set it Free”
Kelly Shanefelt, Viola and Nyckelharpa
Thomas Heinrich, Cello