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Pittsburgh-area band's songs heard in 'Eat Pray Love'

| Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010

When putting together music for the Italian scenes in "Eat Pray Love," the music director looked toward ... Pittsburgh.

The local band We Three has two songs featured in the film -- "Tarantella Americana" and "Tarantella Napoletana/Quadriglia Abruzzese."

This is not the band's first high-profile inclusion. Their "Wedding Waltz" was featured in an episode of HBO's "The Sopranos." And their music is heard throughout the United States at Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill and Buca di Beppo restaurants.

We Three is known primarily for its Italian music, much of it composed by band founder Vito DiSalvo, of South Park. The group has recorded 10 Italian albums over its 45 years. DiSalvo formed the band at age 14 in 1965.

"At that time, rock 'n roll bands were proliferating," DiSalvo says. "But my father said to me, 'If you want to make money in the music business, you should play this music.' And this music was the big band music of Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey that people my father's age were out dancing to."

So, Vito -- an accordionist since age 4 -- found two classmates, a drummer and a saxophonist, willing to play this type of music. The drummer's father worked at Cochran Pontiac in Braddock, and got the band their first gig -- playing at the dealership's unveiling of the 1966 models.

After the show, a man came up to them and asked whether they played weddings. Since then, says DiSalvo, "We've played, without exaggeration, about 3,000 weddings."

We Three was a logical inclusion for the Italian portion of "Eat Pray Love." The film centers on journalist Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, who painfully realizes that she does not want the traditional domestic life. After her divorce, she embarks on a travel experience that she believes will help her rediscover a passion for life.

We Three's songs in "Eat Pray Love" will easily be heard.

"They are not background music behind people talking. The music is quite loud and in your face," DiSalvo says.

"Tarantella Americana" plays for 45 seconds in the scene in which Gilbert and her friends are discussing the word for Rome. "Tarantella Napoletana/Quadriglia Abruzzese" plays for 25 seconds when Gilbert and her friend, Sofi, arrive in Naples.

"The music is supporting the action of people having a great time in Italy, just enjoying life," DiSalvo says.

The night he heard his music in the film was a thrilling experience.

"I'm sitting in this theater watching this movie, and then I hear music that I penned, arranged, composed, produced, and now I'm hearing it on a big silver screen in a major motion picture," he says. "That's a real kick."

Both songs are from We Three's first album, recorded in 1987, titled "Bravo Italia." "Tarantella Americana" was composed by DiSalvo. Both songs feature Greg Grenek on soprano saxophone, DiSalvo on accordion and keyboards, and former band member Ken DelVecchio on drums. DiSalvo produced both tracks.

We Three is composed of DiSalvo (accordion, piano, vocals); Greg Grenek of Avalon (saxophone, flute, clarinet, percussion, vocals); Ernie Pontiere of Mars (vocals, trombone, percussion); Tim Milko of West Mifflin (guitar, vocals); Rob Roehn of Wexford (piano, synthesizer, vocals); Brandon Barnes of West Mifflin (drums, percussion); Daniela Pasquini of Eighty Four (lead vocalist); and Paul Smith of Shadyside (sound engineer).

"Over the years, We Three became We Four, We Five, and so on. The more musicians you have, the more musical and fun it is," DiSalvo says.

Some might recognize band member Ernie Pontiere from his time in The Lettermen.

Grenek is the band's current leader, as DiSalvo is busy these days directing national and international singers like Matt Morgan -- known for his roles in the Pittsburgh Opera and Symphony Orchestra -- and Tuscan-born Giorgia Fumanti, whose songs have reached No. 1 on international billboards. DiSalvo joins the band whenever he is able.

The group will release a new album in September. Details: www.wethreeband.com .

Upcoming performances

3 p.m. Saturday : Vito DiSalvo with We Three lead singer Daniela Pasquini, Bocce Tournament and Festival, Heinz History Center, Strip District. www.heinzhistorycenter.org .

Aug. 28-29: We Three, Italian Heritage Festival, Uniontown. www.italianfestivaluniontown.com .

Sept. 10: Matt Morgan with Vito DiSalvo and guest appearance by We Three Lead Vocalist, Daniela Pasquini, Alpine Club in Bridgeville. 412-653-4838.

Sept. 12: Matt Morgan with Vito DiSalvo and guest appearance by We Three Lead Vocalist, Daniela Pasquini, Valley High School, New Kensington. 724-337-4536.

Sept. 24: We Three, Mt. Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival. www.mtpleasantglassandethnicfestival.com .

Oct. 9: We Three, Evening of Italian food and dancing, Churchill Country Club. 412-371-6353.

Additional Information:

The music

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