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. Beginning at the age of 7 he was accompanying his grandma’s piano playing on his toy guitar. 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 Laura, a dark haired Italian beauty. Next thing I know he’s 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 in 2005, Michael and his friends had formed up Inbred Knucklehead, and were playing in Rome and other cities up and down the boot of Italy.
By 2013 when I returned to Rome, Inbred Knucklehead was still going, but Michael was also jamming with another group of musicians – No Funny Stuff! 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 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). Beppe Cassa writes a lot of the original songs that the band performs, and he plays a wide variety of his own unique instruments.
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.
Apart from the Tolfa Buskers Festa, No Funny Stuff has performed for the past two years at the Festa in Ferrara, in Northern Italy, and the band did a series of outdoor concerts in Sicily. They’ve done radio guest appearances on RAI, and recently were chosen to appear on RAI-TV’s Italy’s Got Talent! A number of their songs are posted on YouTube! and, of course No Funny Stuff has a page on Facebook!
If you have occasion to visit Rome, you can check out No Funny Stuff! for yourself. They play regularly at clubs all around the Eternal City, AND the band is available for private parties.
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