What is "No Funny Stuff?"...and Who is the "Other Mike Botula?
Here’s No Funny Stuff!
Ever since he was a mere tyke, my son Michael has always displayed a love of music. As proud as I am for what he has accomplished, I would have to give credit for his musical genes to his mother’s side of the family. I quickly learned during our courtship that a visit to any of Donna’s relatives was like an invitation to a jam session. All of the Caspers and Franceours sang or played a musical instrument. Michael’s grandmother, Mitzi learned to play the piano by ear. And she and her husband Don, had a band – Mitzi’s Night Owls-that had a big following around Kankakee, Illinois in the late 1930s and 40s. Even though I got into radio as a teenager, my claim to fame was playing records on the radio as a disc jockey.
Starting at around the age of 7 as he accompanied his grandma’s piano playing with his toy guitar, Mikey, as he is still called started on his road to fame and fortune as a performer. As he cruised through his teen years the neighbors’ garages rocked on their foundations as he and his cousins and his buddies formed a series of bands that seemed to morph as they played into their 20’s. There was Blue Dye Fire and Deep Shag, (a title which I belatedly discovered had nothing whatsoever to do with carpet!).
Fast forward to the new millennium. By now Michael has embarked on a new life in Europe, far from the California music scene. About the time he moved to London to help his high school buddy, Jason Loadsman build a recording studio, he met a dark haired Italian beauty with flashing dark eyes named Laura. Next thing I know he’s in Rome getting a degree at the American University of Rome and playing guitar and singing with local bands in Rome. By the time I went to Rome for my first visit, he and some close friends had formed up Inbred Knucklehead, and played their sounds not only in Rome and other Italian cities but at music festivals from Scandinavia to Slovenia. Mike’s buddy, Jason, painted his face green, donned a top silk hat and began touring with The Urban Voodoo Machine as J. Roni Moe!
By 2013 when I returned to Rome, Inbred Knucklehead was still going strong, but Michael was also jamming with another group of musicians. By now, he was playing ukulele as his main instrument and only occasionally picking up his acoustic guitar. This group is all acoustic, dad, he told me. They’re closer to my roots! By the time I got to hear the band at one of their pub dates, I began to realize that my son was describing his new endeavor as a down-home bluegrass jug band! Yee Haw! I got to hear the new band at the art and music festa in the medieval town of Tolfa. For me, it was love at the first note. No Funny Stuff! Beppe, Seppe, Gabbo and Michael! Giuseppe Cassa (Guitar, Mandoline, Dobro, Saw, Watering Can-o-Fone, Glock), Giuseppe Petti (Washboard, Bells and Whistles), Gabbo Hintermann (Double Bass, Cello) and Michael Botula (voice Ukulele, Kazoo).
At first, No Funny Stuff, was just one of the itinerant musical groups known as Buskers, that grace the street scene all over Italy. When I first asked Michael if the band had to get permits for performing in public like that, he told me, Sometimes we get permits, Pop. But mostly we just set up and play until one of the neighbors tells us that the cops are coming. Then we pick up our stuff and beat it out of there. These days, No Funny Stuff is so popular among the Italian music fans that they are booked into established pubs, clubs and concert venues all over Rome and other cities. Here’s a link to their Facebook page:
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