It may be difficult to find an Italian pop-rock band that enjoys touring and sharing their upbeat messages more than the group known as I Rio. Although they are celebrating ten years of recording in 2014, their roots date back to 2001. A chance encounter that year between vocalist Fabio Mora and guitarist Marco Ligabue in Las Vegas at a concert of the pioneer Mexican rock-n-roll group Los Locos, set the stage for a partnership that would endure for well over a decade. The pair found an immediate and mutual admiration for Tex-Mex culture and music. This is evident in some of their early song writing, which featured elements of this style interspersed with guitar-rock, electronica and hip-hop sonorities. Returning back to Italy to their native Emilia-Romagna region, they would spend extensive amounts of time along the banks of the Po River in northern Italy composing new material. The duo soon decided to form a band, and christened their new outfit, Del Rio, which is Spanish for "river." They recruited bassist Tony Farinelli, drummer Cesare Barbi and digital sampling specialist DJ Bart to round out the group. Their first live exhibition was a sold-out concert at the Fuori Orario Nightclub in nearby Parma, and was followed by triumphant performances throughout the region.
In 2003, Del Rio successfully premiered their first single, "Strega," at the Ragno d'Oro Discobar in Milan, earning both popular and critical acclaim. Emboldened by their success, Del Rio would become Rio and enlist the services of composer Luca Pernici to help produce their debut full-length recording "Mariachi Hotel" (2004) on the fledgling Riservarossa Records music label. The album's first single, "Sei quella per me," became an instant summer hit and allowed the group to expand their touring schedule to include stops all throughout the Italian peninsula, including the prestigious Festivalbar Music Competition. The release also yielded two more successful singles, "La mia città" and "Mariachi Hotel," which were also released in video format to capitalize on this new emerging market. Rio was selected as the opening act for Luciano Ligabue (Marco's older brother) on his legendary 2005 Campovolo Concert Event at Reggio-Emilia Airport November 25, drawing an amazing 180,000 spectators. Their second album "Terra Luna e Margarita" (2007) was produced by Saro Cosentino and contained the hit singles "Come ti va," "La vita perfetta" and "Il movimento dell'aria," all of which were again produced with accompanying videos, introducing the group to larger and more diverse audiences. They were selected as the opening act for Elisa Toffoli's successful "Soundtrack 96/06" European Tour. They made a return appearance at the Festivalbar Music Competition and realized their dream of traveling to Mexico to appear on an MTV special broadcast to introduce their new release to the Latin market and featured their performing in genuine Mariachi outfits. Since the group was not signed on to a major label, they had the luxury of choosing a relaxed recording schedule, but instead chose to continuously tour in support of their efforts. This intense pace would come at a price, however, as two founding members, Tony Farinelli and Cesare Barbi, would leave the band for personal reasons. They were replaced by Fabio "Bronski" Ferraboschi and Alberto "Paddo" Paderni.
Their third release, "Il Sognatore," (2010) saw the band expanding their horizons as their musical subject matter became more socially-conscious. They recorded their album under the auspices of LifeGate "Impatto Zero," which is a communication network project assisting individuals and businesses reduce and offset their carbon monoxide emissions, contributing to the creation and protection of forests in Italy and throughout the world. The recording yielded three hit singles/videos including "Pezzo di cielo," "Voglio di te" and "Il gigante"; the last of which dealt with ecological themes and featured vocal contributions from Italian female recording legend, Fiorella Mannoia. Rio was also chosen to accompany 700 students on a memorial and reflective tour of the Auschwitz Nazi Death Camps on the "Treno Della Memoria" (Train of Memories) educational project. They finished out the year becoming the first-ever rock band to perform inside the European Union Parliament Building in Brussels, Belgium.
2011 was a landmark year for not only this band but for Italy as a whole as it celebrated the 150th anniversary of the unification of the individual kingdoms into the country we know today. Rio joined in on the celebration as their fourth album, "Mediterraneo" (2011) contained the song "150," a tribute to this historical event. The hit singles/videos "Hai qualcosa per me," "Gioia nel cuore" and "Mediterraneo" all received substantial airtime and helped the recordings to remain on the charts and in high demand on iTunes digital download services. Their burgeoning popularity saw them performing in sold-out "arene" and "piazze" all throughout Italy for the remainder of the year.
2012 was another important year for the group. On June 12, Marco Ligabue, key founding member, announced his departure from the group he helped build, to begin a solo career. Undaunted, Rio procured the services of seasoned musician, Gio Stefani to assume the guitar and songwriting duties. Rio immediately released two new successful singles/videos with their new line-up, "Banditi, Pirati e Mariachi" and "Suegiu." The ensuing positive reception encouraged them to release their fifth album, "Fiori" (2013) which continued their collaboration with LifeGate and allowed them to join forces with the Terre Mosse initiative, a network of corporations that sought to help rebuild and sustain the economy of the Emilia-Romagna region, stricken by several devastating earthquakes in May 2012. They dedicated the proceeds from the sales of Terre Mosse towards these efforts. The group's first official single from the recording "Un giorno alla volta" reflected the groups evolution into new international music styles as it featured Caribbean melodies and rhythms. Rio enters 2014 celebrating their tenth anniversary of recording and touring. You can visit their website at www.rioofficial.it
Photo courtesy of www.rioofficial.it