It's Carnivale Time!

Happy almost New Year everybody! I have three tracks for you today from New Jersey’s Damian and the Criterions.

Damian is Damian Vecchioli, and he and his ‘band’ the Criterions released at least three self-funded albums – Versatility, Giglio Carnivale and Avant Garde - and one 45 of low-fi nonsense in the early 1980s. I use parentheses for the word ‘band’ as it appears that Damian was pretty much a solo artist. 

Damian also recorded as Damian and the Street People, issuing a pair of 45s, Witches Brew (a re-issue of the Avant Garde album track included here) and Funk With a Punk (a re-titled issue of another Avant Garde track The Slam). Any money earned from the latter 45 was to be donated to a ‘non-denominational mission fund’.

Judging by his obsession with the Neapolitan giglio feast (a festival held to honour the fifth century bishop St. Paulinus of Nola), it’s a safe bet to suggest that his family may have Italian ancestry. Vecchioli is not a common name, but I can find no record of a Damian Vecchioli living in New York or New Jersey at any time. Also, Damian isn’t a very Italian-sounding name, which leads me to believe that it was, in fact a pseudonym. Of all the Vecchiolis I have found listed, only two fit the time frame - Peter Paul Vecchioli, who was born in New Jersey in 1946 and died in 2004, and John Vecchioli, born in New York but died in Florida in 2013. If anyone out there knows anything about Damian and/or his career please do get in touch.

Here are both sides of Damian’s first 45, Giglio Carnivale and La Barca, issued on Dorell Records (both tracks later turned up on the Versatility album), plus Witches Brew and the Slam from his third album Avant Garde.


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