Villa Palagonia’s core members are guitarist Joe Ravo and multi-instrumentalist Allison Scola.
About The Duo
Eclectic acoustic brushed with hues from Mediterranean folk is the avenue on which the band Villa Palagonia perches—yet the side streets and dusty alleyways that these musicians travel offer engaging timbres that are woven together by songs imparting tales of the old world and the new.
Founded in 2013 by multifaceted guitarist Joe Ravo and multi-instrumentalist and singer Allison Scola, Villa Palagonia calls upon its members’ southern Italian roots and American know-how to create original music peppered with elements from traditional Sicilian and Italian folk songs. Joe Ravo is a versatile guitarist who has performed alongside the likes of Dave Brubeck and Stanley Turrentine and traveled around the world as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Allison Scola is most familiar to folk audiences because of her performance as part of Chicks with Dip’s Joni Mitchell’s Blue Celebration. As a solo artist, she has performed at venues as grand as Shea Stadium, as kitschy as CBS Morning News’ Living Room Live, and as intimate as her cousin’s patio in Bagheria, Sicily where the world-renowned chateau Villa Palagonia exists.
Allison’s paternal grandmother, who immigrated to New York in the 1920s, grew up in Bagheria in the shadow of Villa Palagonia. It’s a place she and Joe have visited many times; and the villa, a place that they find intriguing and inspirational because of the 72 odd and mystical monster-statues that line the estate’s grounds. Bagheria is at the crossroads—between barons and peasants, between lemon orchards and fig orchards, between mountains and sea, between Europe and Africa, and between ancient mysteries and modern realities. Both the historic site and the band capture a unique essence—capture a place: where north, south, east, west, and humanity collide.
Joe Ravo | Guitar
A native New Yorker, multifaceted guitarist and composer Joe Ravo has performed with jazz greats Dave Brubeck, Stanley Turrentine, and Gerry Mulligan and traveled around the world as a cultural ambassador for the US Department of State. For many years he worked in the orchestras of various hit Broadway shows including, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Secret Garden, City of Angels, and Dancin’.
Recently, as the guitarist of Johnny Rodgers Band (JRB), Joe has toured around the globe as a cultural ambassador for the United States. In 2010, as part of the US Department of State-Jazz at Lincoln Center Rhythm Road American Music Abroad cultural diplomacy initiative, JRB traveled to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. In 2011, on the heels of the Arab Spring, along with JRB, Joe toured Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, and Bahrain as part of the Musical Overtures Program, a unique cultural diplomacy mission administered by the US Department of State’s Office of Cultural Programs that promotes mutual understanding and strengthens America’s ties with nations involved in, or recovering from conflict.
In 2012, Johnny Rodgers Band returned to Malyasia to headline the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival, and in 2013 the band toured Russia, which included a concert-collaboration with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Joe performed with JRB as the headlining act of the Miri Country Music Festival in Miri, Borneo, Malaysia.
Joe has recorded alongside Liza Minelli, Randy Brecker, Anne Hampton Callaway, Michael Feinstein, and Tom Harrell, as well as with the Johnny Rodgers Band (Box of Photographs – PS Classics, Richard Barrone, producer; Bound Together – Melody Thread; Legends of American Music, Volume One), Lee Lessack (In Good Company – LML Music), and Brain Lane Green (Waiting for the Glaciers to Melt – LML Music). He also appears on the PS Classics releases Maury Yeston Songbook and Jule Styne in Hollywood.
In addition to earning a degree in electrical engineering from New York University, Joe studied guitar with Alexander Bellow and participated in the Master Class of Oscar Gighlia at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He studied composition with Rudolph Schramm.
When MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was introduced, Joe exploited his engineering background to develop software for Korg USA as a contract programmer. He has served as director of technology for Mannes College the New School for Music for over decade.
Joe has served on the guitar faculties of Columbia University and New York University. He is currently on the faculties of the Preparatory and Extension Divisions of Mannes College the New School for Music. In addition to lending his artistry to commercial jingles and film scores, Joe also performs with Villa Palagonia with Allison Scola, Dodo Orchestra, and in his instrumental guitar trio BeBimBop with Danny Mallon and Brian Glassman.
Allison Scola | Voice, Guitar, Southern Italian Frame Drums, Percussion, Clarinet
After months of working 12 -14 hour days at a top New York advertising agency, songwriter and singer Allison Scola realized that she had missed her true destination by just a few hundred yards: That moment was when she discovered that day in and day out on her way to the office, she had been walking right past the Brill Building, the songwriting headquarters of the 1940s to 1970s. Within hours she quit her job, and since has thrown herself into crafting songs and performing.
Allison’s dedication and talent shows – her 2004 Song Sampler received rave reviews from CollectedSounds.com and Musesmuse.com and landed her a place in the national Chick Singer Night showcase, the On Stage Italian American Artists showcase, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Writers showcase. In addition, her song “Something Better Waiting” reaped a Finalist Position in the 2005 Hank Williams Songwriting Contest, and “Risking a Fall” won her a 3rd Place prize in the 2005 SolarFest Singer-Songwriter Competition.
In 2006, Scola performed in New York’s Columbus Day Parade, and in 2007 she wooed audiences during her Italian Day pre-game performance at the New York Met’s Shea Stadium and Staten Island Yankees Stadium. In the summer of 2007, her band, Allison Scola Project, was voted a finalist in the CBS News Early Show “Living Room Live! Battle of the Bands Contest.”
Scola creates songs that weave hues of her Italian heritage and fascination with Mediterranean folk culture together with personal accounts of her experience as a modern American artist taking risks in love and life. Her latest album, A Braver Kind, produced by Janie Barnett and engineered and mixed by Jon Gordon, illustrates her power as a songwriter and musician–as confirmed by an Honorable Mention Award in the 2009 Billboard Magazine World Song Competition for her song “My Naked Heart.”
Since January 2012, Scola has been performing alongside her colleagues in Chicks with Dip, a New York City women’s songwriting collective, a group of which she is a founding member, in Joni Mitchell’s Blue: A 40th Anniversary Celebration. Together with pianist Anna Dagmar, she performs “This Flight Tonight.” Chicks with Dip’s recording of Joni Mitchell’s landmark album was named as a Best of 2012 Top Ten Albums by WFUV’s John Platt. Chicks with Dip has performed Blue at numerous venues throughout the northeast and beyond.
In 2013, Scola formed Villa Palagonia with guitarist Joe Ravo. Named for the world-famous, historic palace in Bagheria, Sicily, Villa Palagonia performs eclectic acoustic pop infused with Mediterranean folk–combining the sounds of Scola and Ravo’s American roots with their southern Italian heritages.
With a voice that’s been described by Music-Reviewer.com as “comforting and all-embracing, like being in the presence of your long lost best friend,” Allison transports listeners to a world where hearts are bursting and dreams come true.