Faith and music

This coming Friday, October 18, Petaluma's St. Vincent De Paul High School, will host a Christian music concert. Featured will be local artists, Streets of Rome, opening for Jesse Manibusan, an internationally acclaimed Christian pop/rock musician and storyteller. The show is being presented by the Diocese of Santa Rosa Office of Youth Ministry. The doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will kick off at 6:30.

Founding members of Streets of Rome, Edward Mooney and Ana Azore, have put in more than 16 hours of rehearsal during the past couple of weeks, preparing their material for the show. Only together for a little over 18 months, their group has grown to a five-piece featuring Mooney on guitar, bass, and vocals, and Azore on 12-string guitar, banjo, ukulele, and vocals.

Mooney attempted to clear up some of the mystery about the all-too-many Christian categories of music that seem to have taken on ever-widening definitions over the past decade.

He explained, "I'm not real comfortable having our music tagged as Contemporary Christian. This is faith-based music. But, for a lot of Christian bands, their songs are meant to be played as part of a church service or would fit into part of a shared religious experience. And, much of their music is largely focused on a youth audience, 12 to 18 years of age. That's not what I set out to do and Streets of Rome would hopefully not be typecast as such by our listening audience." With influences such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and even '60s pop singer, Bobby Goldsboro, Mooney has developed his songwriting to target a much wider bandwidth of listener demographic than much of what is regularly filling the Christian radio airwaves.

Mooney and Azore first met as musicians at Petaluma's St. James Parish and became participants in a Cursillo (a Christian interdenominational spiritual retreat). Azore had been performing at Adobe House, a local Alzheimer's Memory Care center.

Mooney joined her to form a duo and they both became fascinated with the experience, performing a wide variety of folk songs, Mooney's originals, and even tunes from the Johnny Cash song book.

Azore originally studied classical guitar starting at age 10. Commenting on her return to music after a 25-year hiatus she says, "Performing is something I had always wanted to do. I love the interaction with the audience. When I see a little old lady smile at something we've created, and she starts to sing along, it's the best feeling in the world."

Stu Manzano was brought on as a keyboard player and arranger. Mooney said, "The group of songs I'm currently working on will allow more room for Stu's virtuosity to shine." John Reed is the drummer and Bob Gibson handles the rhythm guitar duties, setting Azore free to play her many stringed instruments while keeping a full band sound.

Despite their short-time existence as a group, Streets of Rome have already brought their music into two local studios to record.

Engineers John Farey of Bluestone Studios and Jamie Bridges of Room with a View were hired for back-to-back projects, each with the production experience to bring Mooney and Azore's musical vision to life. Their latest release is entitled Fifty Years Before the Mast. The press release describes the material as being about love, hope, loss, and redemption.

Mooney, at 54, has a background in finance and investment. Azore, by day, is a dental hygienist. Those careers have taken care of the day-to-day/family/survival cost-of-living. But with Streets of Rome, they hope to feed their souls while sending a universal message out to listeners, much like a line from one of their recent offerings, "Cause I've got all these things to do, and so many songs to play."

For more information contact: Armando Garcia, Director of Youth Ministry, at (707) 541-7504.