The Silver Tongues


The members of "The No. 1 Band in the Alps." From left, guitarist Alberto "the Good," lead singer Alex, drummer Alex "the Bad" and bassist Riccardo "the Grandfather."

This morning I woke up fully clothed on the spare bad in Barry Svrluga's Alpine ski chalet, with a beer cozy for something called "Rip It Energy Fuel" on my wrist and a CD for a band called "The Silver Tongues" on the table next to me. It was snowing outside.

There's a lede I've never used for a George Washington game story.

I was supposed to go to that party at the Canada House in Turin with my soccer-watching Canadian and Italian friends last night, but I didn't want Barry to vacate his ski chalet without my having seen it. (Barry is our Washington Nationals beat writer and has been covering skiing thus far in these Games; I hadn't seen him since he left for a ski trip in January).

So I somewhat impulsively decided to head up to the mountains, a two-plus hour bus ride involving a transfer in Oulx, with just my computer, my notebook, a piece of pizza and a chunk of Bra cheese, which is still in my computer bag as I type. Office mother Jill would not let me leave the media center without four sets of foot warmers and two sets of hand warmers.

Anyhow, I arrived at Sestriere, site of the slalom, giant slalom men's downhill and men's Super G competitions, at around 10:20 p.m. I arrived at the USA House, known the rest of the year as the Irish Igloo, around 10:25 p.m. By about 10:30 p.m., some ski bums from Colorado were attempting to buy me Jagermeister shots.

The Irish Igloo is a British-owned pub featuring largely British waitresses and, during the Olympics, a largely English-speaking crowd. It is the official pub of the U.S. ski and snowboard team, which means it is invitation-only from 5-9 every night, and sometimes after that as well. On Tuesday night, after Ligety's surprising gold medal in the combined, the party lasted until at least 5:30 a.m.

Last night featured live entertainment from a foursome called "The Silver Tongues," billed as "The No. 1 Band in the Alps." If my largely unreadable notebook can be trusted, 33-year-old Alex Negro, who studied gospel music with a reverend from Kansas, leads a Baptist choir in Italy and includes gospel stars T.D. Jakes and Kirk Franklin among his biggest influences, is the lead singer of the Silver Tongues.

The band travels all over the French and Italian Alps during ski season, playing virtually every night, largely for foreigners. They write some of their own stuff, but they would not be breaking out the originals on this night.

"Here, we are paid to do covers," Alex said. "It is what we are going to do. English people, if they don't like you, they throw you away."

Guitarist Alberto Vacchiotti (known in the band as Alberto "the Good") looks incredibly like Constantine from last year's American Idol, is a classical guitar teacher in a music conservatory and lists Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen as his musical heroes. The other members of the band are drummer Alberto "the Bad" and a bassist known as "Nonno" ("The Grandfather"). The band formed about 10 years ago and only two of the original members remain, but still, they're the No. 1 Band in the Alps.

I got a look at The Silver Tongue's set list, which included "Wild Horses," "Honky Talk Woman," "Losing My Religion," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Like A Rolling Stone," "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "Sweet Child of Mine." Clearly, this would be a good night.

By Dan Steinberg |  February 16, 2006; 11:29 AM ET
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