2017 Music Award Winning Profiles

AMERICANA

Ian Fitzgerald – Winner, Best Act-Americana, Americana Singer-Songwriter, Americana Breakthrough Act, Folk Act

winner1Ian Fitzgerald has been working hard in music for many years. When he first started out he was known for his lyric driven songs, dry wit, Buddy Holly glasses and Lyle Lovett hair. Now, years later, Ian is known for his lyric driven songs, dry wit, and wild salt and pepper hair and beard. This year he took home the awards for Best Singer-Songwriter, Best Act-Americana, Best Breakthrough Act, and Best Folk Act. He ran all the categories with his name in them and this is all well-deserved.

Fitzgerald has released five CDs including his current, You Won’t Even Know When I’m Gone. He has appeared at the Newport Folk Festival and shared the stage with artists such as Jonathan Edwards, Iris Dement, Mark Erelli, Tracy Grammar and more. He’s been a regular performer at the Newport Folk Fest the past few years.

He is constantly touring and playing music and destined for bigger things. Catch him when you can and while he is still local! He’ll be at the Pump House Sat, May 6 (1464 Kingstown Road, Wakefield) and the Columbus Theatre Fri, May 12 (270 Broadway, PVD). After that, he’ll be on a national tour for the summer!

ianfitzgerald.com

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

Bryan Minto

How long have you been performing?

A dozen years or so; full-time since September 2015

Where did the name come from?

Scotland, I think

What’s your favorite venue?

The Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Whatever is in the Banana Fluffernutter Smoothie at the mid-Atlantic convenience store Sheetz

How do you like to kick back after a show?

With a tall glass of coffee milk

On stage drink of choice?

Water or cola

Weirdest fan encounter?

While Dan Blakeslee was recording at Eyeland Studio, an old metal fan with exposed blades was vainly attempting to cool the control room. I worried the whole time I was there that someone was going to get too close and lose a finger.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

I love the Neko Case lyric “humming helicopters through the blades of a fan.”

Least favorite color M&M?

Blue (Johnny-come-lately)

Dream venue to perform in?

The Newport Folk Festival again; the Ryman Auditorium; Shawn Schillberg’s house again

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

I’d like to go Dutch on dinner with Ollie Williams; nothing fancy, just a nice night out. And I’d like both of us to be living.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

For solo shows, I wait for Dylan Sevey to let me know, via a thumbs-up or thumbs-down text, how my set that night is going to go. For shows with my band Something Else, I try to track down my bandmates.

Amanda Salemi (Consuelo’s Revenge) – Americana Female Vocalist

Amanda Salemi is a free spirit and the powerhouse vocalist who fronts the band Consuelo’s Revenge. She is no stranger to winning Motif Awards. Her band has won and she was also involved with the Spot in Providence which also won open mic awards.

Consuelo’s musical influences include Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Bruce Springsteen, and they describe themselves as: “We are the sound that the midnight storm makes outside your door when you’re alone and you’ve had one too many glasses of bourbon.”

Her behind-the-scenes support of local musicians is a well-known quality around Providence, and she’s also served behind many a local bar. Recently, she’s also taken up fire dancing. No word yet on whether she’ll attempt to sing while fire dancing.

Currently, when she’s not singing you can find her slinging drinks at Dusk or The Parlour.

For more about Amanda, wake up to: fb.com/wakeupyourface or www.consuelosrevenge.com

Nate Cozzolino – Americana Male Vocalist

Nate CozzolinoNate Cozzolino is a musical force. One of his many projects is a collective known as The Lost Arts. He is also the man behind Madcap Mondays (now at Firehouse 13, after many years at The Spot). He settled back in Rhode Island after a decade in Japan, where he honed his musical craft in the smoky cocktail lounges and perpetually open bars of the Japanese urban sprawl. Nate has become an important player in the Rhode Island music scene. Armed with a catalogue of both original songs and re-imagined covers, Nate’s performances serve to tell the ongoing story of the highs and lows of a gypsy life very much examined.

PROFILE

How long have you been performing?

20+ years. Sheesh, I’m old!

Where did the name come from?

It’s a secret but go ahead and try to get it out of me. You never know 😀

What’s your favorite venue?

Way too hard to choose. I love so many of them in so many different ways ❤️

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Peanut butter and I are no longer on speaking terms…

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Sit around with my friends and listen to their feedback on how the show was. Everyone has to say one thing they liked about it and one thing they thought could have been better. RISD habits die hard!

On stage drink of choice?

Anything by Revival Brewing Co ❤️

Weirdest fan encounter?

Yet to come, methinks 😜

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Having a fan/friend ( frand?? ) of mind tell me that they had “Legions” playing on repeat on their stereo for the past week. Even when they weren’t home!

Least favorite color M&M?

I dislike them all equally. Especially because the colors all taste the same. That pisses me off.

Dream venue to perform in?

PPAC!

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star)

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Clown around with my bandmates and act like we’re about to take the stage at the biggest venue in the world. And the smaller the show, the more over the top we get!

Lizzie James & The Greystone Rail – Favorite Bluegrass Band

Defending their 2016 title in this category, Lizzie James and the Greystone Rail are a five-piece bluegrass outfit that handles mournful ballads and kickin’ two-step numbers like it’s their job. Anyone who says Yankees can’t pick is a fool in my book, and this crew trades off impressive solos easily. They’ve also got a great sense of humor (Motif featured part of their fictional back story in last year’s Awards article).

Lead vocal duties are shared by guitarist Lizzie James and mandolinist Sal Sauco, but all members contribute sturdy backing vocal. The rest of the Greyston Rail: fiddle player Tom Pritchard, bassist Steve Caraccia, and banjoist Ron Tabele, who according to his website bio, once worked as a hostage negotiator for the YMCA. Check out Centerdale, RI’s finest pickers on May 27th at the Village Tavern in Situate.

Neal Vitullo and the Vipers – Favorite Blues Act

One of the area’s most respected and longest-running blues outfits. Their history is impressive; Atlantic Record founder Ahmet Ertegun signed them to his label in 1989, and they have shared the stage with the likes of B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughn. In 2010 , Dave Howard (vocals) and Steve Bigelow (bass) rejoined the Vipers after leaving in the early ‘90s, and they’ve been at it ever since.

Unsurprisingly for a winner in this category, Vitello can really rip it up on the axe (Check out the band playing Little Wing in 2015), and the decades of practice are apparent in every member’s playing. It’s not strictly blues – The Vipers can also rock some serious surf and rockabilly tunes, thanks in no small part to the steady hands of drummer Mike LaBelle.

The Vipers keep up an impressive 1-2 shows per week. See them Friday, May 5 at the Maple Tree Café in Simsbury, CT or Sat, May 6 at The Last Resort in Smithfield.

Providence Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) – Favorite Choral Act

The Providence Gay Men’s Chorus was founded in a living room in 1995 when a few guys thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a gay men’s chorus in Providence?” They placed a letter in the RI publication Options, announcing the formation of the group. The first rehearsals, with just twelve members, were held at a member’s house until they found their first musical home, St. James’ Episcopal Church in North Providence. After only a few months, they knew they had found something good. And now, here they are twenty-one years later, still making music.

The Providence Gay Men’s Chorus has performed in large and small venues all over the Ocean State – from the Blithewold Mansion and Linden Place in Bristol to St Anne’s Cultural Center and the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket. They have sung for LGBTQ nights for the PawSox, URI Women’s Soccer team, and Brown University Men’s Basketball team (at the first Ivy-League LGBTQ event ever!). They have performed before a crowd of 2,000 LGBTQ chorus members for the GALA choral festival in Denver and will be performing in that festival again in 2020 in Minneapolis. Their two “homes” are Beneficent Congregational Church for holiday concerts and the Greenwich Odeum Theatre for spring concerts.

The words in the first Providence Gay Men’s Chorus program still echo true today: “Our choice of music is purposefully diverse. We concentrate on favorite pieces of all eras, including rock and show tunes. We also incorporate pieces of a more formal nature. This diversity helps us grow musically and please the tastes of audiences and chorus members alike. Rehearsals are run in a non-threatening, humorous atmosphere. There are no auditions: All are welcome!”

Artistic Director Kim Kuda has been involved with the PGMC since 2008. Her responsibilities encompass musical direction, musical arranging, composition and programming.

“I love the diversity of the group,” says Kuda. “We are people of all different professions, different nationalities, and different educational levels. It’s all about inclusion. We’re all welcome and we take really good care of each other … and to that end, it results in some really great music.”

Because of the difficulty in finding quality choral music written for only male voices, Kuda creates many of the musical arrangements herself. In fact, of the 17 numbers featured on the next concert, 14 arrangements were penned by Kuda. Kuda has also composed original music for this group, including its theme song “Out On The Bay,” and “Imagine and Believe,” written to honor and remember the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

Catch the upcoming concert at the Greenwich Odeum, Friday June 2 at 7pm, Saturday June 3 at 7pm, or Sunday June 4 at 4pm. This concert features songs from the “Rat Pack” era of the 1940s, with a homegrown PGMC spin on the music.

provgmc.org

Greg Abate – Favorite Jazz Act

Steve Smith & The Nakeds – Favorite R&B Act

Steve Smith and the Nakeds used to be The Naked Truth Band way back in the day. I used to see the green truck parked in Steve’s backyard. He is a Smithfield High School alumnus, just like me. I can remember Steve jumping up on our table at prom and singing while his band played on the stage. For over forty years Steve Smith and the Nakeds have been making music in RI. They are an RI institution and recent inductees in the RI Music Hall of Fame. The late Clarence Clemons used the members as his backing band while the E Street Band was on hiatus, and their energy has never waivered.

Steve Smith and The Nakeds’ music has been heard on “Family Guy” (complete with an animated version of the band) and in conjunction with Benny’s and Narragansett Beer. How Rhode Island is that? Steve claims he will keep playing until the phone stops ringing. They’re still HUGE and the babes still go wild…

Santa Mamba – tie – Favorite World Music

Pendragon – tie – Favorite World Music

New England has long had a rich tradition of Celtic-inspired music. Heading into their 35th year together, Pendragon has embraced that tradition and created a timeless sound of their own, performing roots music with an unmistakable contemporary edge.

Pendragon’s music celebrates the lives and lore of generations of New Englanders who brought traditions from Ireland, Scotland, French Canada and other distant shores to the banks of the Blackstone River.

While drawing on the ethnic music of the Blackstone River Valley, Pendragon fashions the music of tradition into the music of tomorrow. The band seamlessly blends lively jigs and reels with Mary Lee Partington’s original songs depicting the experiences of the immigrants who settled here.

Pendragon performs their original songs and dance tunes on a combination of fiddle, flute, bouzouki, concertina, banjo, guitar, whistle, and percussion. The band’s members are step dancer and percussionist Kevin Doyle, Bob Drouin on fiddle, bouzouki and tenor banjo, Russell Gusetti on guitar and concertinas, Josh Kane on flute and whistles, and Mary Lee Partington on vocals.

Catch them June 17 at the Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival, Diamond Hill Park, Rte. 114, Cumberland.

For more, quest to www.PendragonCelticMusic.com

The Parlour – Best Open Mic

It’s an open minded, open hearted open mic. If you want to put yourself out there, this is a spot that’s both comfortable (a decent share of the audience will ignore you) and extremely supportive (a decent share of the audience will encourage you. Some will dance. Almost everybody will clap, even if you sucked.) Basically, it’s everything you’d want in an open mic. You can pull your friends up with you, or showboat among the crowd (if you know your song well enough to go off book) and there’s a little bit of a stage but not enough to be really intimidating.

There are a couple of pretty horrible singers here (to maintain balance), and there are some seriously professional grade voices in the mix too. The crowd will vary of course, but generally there’s a wait of about a half hour between submitting and singing – time to get your liquid courage up with the help of exceptionally responsive bartenders, who also produce really good bar food.

We spoke with one woman from Framingham. Despite having an amazing voice and serious performance chops, part of her explanation for regularly coming so far for a few rounds on the stage was that she didn’t want to run into any coworkers. But she also singled out the Parlour as her favorite place in Providence, because of the vibe and the people – “Accepting, not judgy, attentive, yet not stalkery.”

The regular caller is DJ someshit, and he’ll occasionally do one himself that includes calling out specific moves, creating a sort of hip-hop square dance / much cooler Macarena. It’s the kind of karaoke that makes you want to sing, which is probably why Motif readers have voted it up three years running now.

theparlourri.com

The Quahogs – Sunny Waste – Favorite Americana CD

The Quahogs began their meteoric rise to Motif stardom in 2011.  Steve Delmonico is the lead singer of the band and their songwriter. His lyrics are witty, wise, and delivered with a “mentholated authority.” The balance of the band includes Ryan Gould on bass, Chaz Weber & Steve Donovan on lead guitar and John Faraone playing drums. The Quahogs have a blend of sound ranging from Dylan, Nirvana, Ernest Tubb, Hank Willams, and Townes Van Zandt – to whom they dedicate a song on their debut album Traveler’s Log. They also cite Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blaze Foley, John Prine, The Animals, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Elliott Smith as among their influences.

Their most recent release, an eleven song LP titled Sunny Waste, was recorded at the Columbus Theatre in Providence. Sunny Waste “highlights their eclectic vision of rock-and-roll – think of Townes Van Zandt shaking hands with The Meat Puppets and ‘70s era Rolling Stones.”

For more, shuck to: thequahogs.bandcamp.com

PROFILE

What are your musical influences?

Nirvana, Elliott Smith, Creedence, Big Star, and Blaze Foley.

How long have you been performing?

6 years as The Quahogs

Where did the name come from?

I used to dig up Clams.

What’s your favorite venue?

That’s a tough one. Can’t decide.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Snickers, yo!

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Sit at the bar usually

On stage drink of choice?

Water or Sierra Nevada

Weirdest fan encounter?

One kid walking up on the stage and making weird comments as I was tuning. Kinda creeped me out.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Someone telling me that they’ve been following us for a while and look forward to seeing us succeed, along with many other kind words.

Least favorite color M&M?

Orange sucks

Dream venue to perform in?

Newport Folk/Red Rock

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Sir Douglas Quintet

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

I usually just pace around like I have something to do before the show. All the nerves.

Providence Folk Festival (PVD FF) – Best Folk Festival

This event is produced by Hear In RI (HearInRhodeIsland.com). HIRI produced the Hear In RI Music Festival from 1994-2001, produced a stage at the Newport Folk Festival for nine years, worked with the Providence Waterfront Festival, the Sustainable Living Festival and much more, gaining lots of experience putting fests and shows together.

The Providence Folk Festival began in 2014, making this year its fourth anniversary. It’s different from other festivals in a few key ways. It is held at Roger Williams National Memorial in Downtown Providence – outdoors, and completely free. The last few years have had a two-stage system, and the festival is presented, “with support from the National Parks Service, crowd sourced funding and donations from businesses, and with the vital help of volunteers, including Ian Thresher, Greg Bass, Maha Janik, Stephen Miles, Melissa and John Mangili, Paul Bedard, Annie Kennedy, Autumn Franscesca, Ranger John McNiff, Shelly Jackson, Dianne & Tony Fuzek, and Lori Mars,” says primary organizer and Motif contributor John Fuzek.

“We hope to have it up to three stages this summer,” says Fuzek. “Unlike a lot of ‘folk’ festivals, this is real folk,” he adds. His greatest success has lain in booking artists who bring the folk at an intimate level, with an emphasis on storytelling and original work by local, regional and some national performers. This year’s festival will be help on August 27.

providencefolkfestival.com

ALT

VulGarrity – Favorite Alt Act

Since siblings Shawn and Tracy Garrity started VulGarrity in 2008, they’ve never failed to consistently impress live music fanatics locally and beyond. The duo plays a unique brand of rock that loops together drums, guitar, bass and keys to create a fantastic array of sounds. They have stellar original material with songs like “Victorious,” “Boogeyman,” “Middle Finger Machine Gun” and “Don’t Go Into The House” along with the ability to unleash fantastic covers of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock The Monkey” and U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Shawn and Tracy’s influences range from post punk staples like The Cure and Joy Division, rock legends  Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and contemporary acts like Death From Above 1979 and The Strokes. Those influences each have a place in the band’s sound and it’s an amazing melding of styles.

Vulgarrity’s artistic versatility is unrivaled and their originality is unmatched. They also have a laid back attitude and they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s very apparent that both of them have a lot of fun either on stage in front of a crowd or in the studio writing new songs. Both of their personalities come out in their music and it’s contagious to the fans. It’s very difficult to not have fun while Shawn and Tracy are performing live.

With a resume that includes four kickass albums, numerous captivating music videos and being the only band to win both the 95.5 WBRU and 90.7 WXIN Rock Hunts, VulGarrity has established themselves as one of the top acts to see around Providence. Usually, after nearly a decade a band will try other things or just fade away, but that won’t be happening with Shawn and Tracy anytime soon. Their passion for music is immense and it fuels them to create more and more amazing tunes.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

We love almost every type of music there is, literally.  My brother listens to Polka music ritualistically every Saturday driving to the School of Rock to teach kids. Must be from our Gram playing it in her home when we were kids (yes, we’re Polish)!  And I will come home from Church Sunday mornings listening to thrash metal. That’s just the way it is and always has been with a family that was born and raised with the start of MTV and it literally being on 24/7 as we grew up.

How long have you been performing?

Since we could. Shawn and I were dancing and singing and acting since we could walk. We started a band together when I was just 14 years old.  We were playing bars and clubs on Thursday nights and going into Catholic High School the following day for our Friday exams.

Where did the name come from?

Our last name is Garrity. My brother got caught swearing when he was in grammar school by his best friend’s mother. She nicknamed him Garbage Mouth Garrity. We laughed about it for years and when we started this project together as a two piece, I remembered that name and it morphed into VulGarrity.

What’s your favorite venue?

There are so many great venues around us it’s tough to pick one. Some of our best shows have been at Fete, Dusk, The Met and Lupo’s. Playing with The Heavy and Ra Ra Riot at the Alex and Ani Center last year was pretty amazing.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Um… Obviously chocolate.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Dos Equis and Chex Mix. It’s how we do. Followed by our wacko sense of humor.

On stage drink of choice?

Uh. Anything. We’re also obviously Irish.

Weirdest fan encounter?

This wasn’t weird, but pretty cool. One time on tour, this woman came out to see us because she saw in her local newspaper a story about us and noticed we had the same last name. There aren’t many Garritys in the states that spell it the same way. We’re still wondering if we’re related somehow.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

I think it never gets old to hear from a new fan that they’ve never seen anything like us before.

Least favorite color M&M?

They taste different?  I never even noticed.  As you can see, I’m not good at paying attention to detail. I actually have that disorder where I forget faces. No joke.

Dream venue to perform in?

Umm… The Super Bowl?

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Prince and MJ. One day in heaven, if we get in!

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

We try and go somewhere whether it be in the back of the room or back stage (if there is one) and crack jokes. Humor is the quickest way we can find ourselves being our most authentic. And giving praise to God. After all, he gave us these talents, and the least we can do is continue using them to thank him for all that he’s done for us.

Sasquatch and The Sick-A-Billys – Favorite Live Act

The Copacetics – Favorite Reggae/Ska Act

Who are your musical influences?  

Our musical influences start with The Skatalites and pretty much grow up through 1960’s and 70’s Jamaica. Motown, Doo Wop, Soul, and Jazz also play a huge part as well as early Rock & Roll and R&B.

How long have you been performing?

We have been playing together since 2011.

Where did the name come from?

“Copacetic” is old slang for “very good” or “excellent.” Then, in classic fashion, we added a “The” to the front and an “s” to the back.

What’s your favorite venue?

That’s a tough one … like, REAL tough. But The Parlour in Providence has to come out on top!

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Chocolate! Sometimes grape jelly or marshmallow Fluff.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Complain about moving gear and getting old.

On stage drink of choice?

Water for me, but I’m sure the rest of the guys would agree that Free Beer is best.

Weirdest fan encounter?

Most times, playing bar gigs, there isn’t a stage to speak of and any drunk patron can just meander into the “zone” and start conversing, singing, groping, etc, while you are in the middle of performing. It’s never NOT weird.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Every time I look out over the crowd and see people singing along and dancing. That … That always gets me right in the feels.

Least favorite color M&M?

Yellow? They all taste the same. Except for the Green ones. They taste the best.

Dream venue to perform in?

All of them. We just like to play!

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were my introduction to Ska back in 1992. Sharing the bill with them would complete my bucket list. But the band as a whole are always thrilled to open for our idols.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Complain about moving gear and getting old.

Tai Chi Funk Squad – Favorite Jam Band

The Tai Chi Funk Squad wanted up to thank everyone who voted them and supports the band. You can check them out on Facebook, Instagram and their new album, Chronix of Gnarlia on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Plus.

As a Jam band, they’re all about spreading the love and keeping it funky.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

We have musical influences from almost every corner of the musical kingdom. From Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, The Meters, Kool & The Gang, Slightly Stoopid, Tribe Called Quest, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Steely Dan, James Brown, Vulfpeck, Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Twiddle, Anderson Paak, and many more. We like to think that music is fluid and inspiration can come from almost any genre.

How long have you been performing?

As a group, 3 years. Pat and Joe have been performing in various bands since 2007 – ’08, such as Banzai Drop, The Gentlemen, and Joe Z and the Zippers.

Where did the name come from?

Well, we had our first gig, and didn’t have a name. So after practice, and a couple brewchevski’s (aka beers) and various names such as The John Brewchevski Trio, Jakey T Bone and the Beef Wellingtons, and Dimple Dot and the Thot Trot Jambalaya, we landed on Tai Chi Funk Squad and laughed harder than at any of the other names we had come up with. Jake is a huge fan of all martial arts movies, and we had been learning a lot of funk tunes at the time. In regards to the “Squad,” we thought it was funny because we’re a trio.

What’s your favorite venue?

The best venues are backyards or weddings! But The Spot had been our top choice since we started playing there in 2015. Also Alchemy. We just did our album release party for Chronix of Gnarlia there and that venue is awesome sauce!

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Toast, sardines, or in a Thai chili sauce! Also on Joe’s nu…… nevermind.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Depending on the show, we will usually get back to the crib, unload, have another beer, and hit up a late night breakfast spot called Avenue Grill in North Providence. It’s relatively close to where we all live.

On stage drink of choice?

Jake – Scotch/lemon hibiscus water; Joe – Any local craft beer in a glass, or any drink that someone may hand him whilst on stage; Pat – two ice cold Narragansett’s, and a glass of warm milk.

Weirdest fan encounter?

We played St. Patrick’s Day at Jimmy’s Saloon, and we did a mixture of covers and originals, which the crowd dug. We had one guy yelling “I was promised funk!” in a very aggressive manner. He then decided after our set to tell us how good we were, but also sucked for our song selections. We took it with a grain of salt, and a shot of Jameson.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Jake was helping his cousin move into a new apartment in Providence and she had a bunch of her friends to help out too. After the move, they were hanging in the kitchen, and his cousin Rachel said how Jake was in a band called Tai Chi Funk Squad. Her friend goes, “NO WAY! I heard you guys on 95.5 WBRU for the Home BRU’d Sessions last week and I downloaded the whole album, and my favorite song is ‘Mornin’ Love.’” That was pretty cool!

Least favorite color M&M?

We don’t discriminate in regard to color when it comes to M&M’s. There’s a real big problem in the M&M community with that and we don’t want to be a part of that negativity. We feel that every color has positive attributes, and we always focus on positivity.

Dream venue to perform in?

We would love to get a chance to play at Lupos one day, maybe open up for a national touring act. Or on an oil rig in the Caspian Sea with the crowd all floating on tubes.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

There are a ton of killer bands out there, and it’s safe to say that we would want to share the stage with any group who are good people and love music! If he was alive, Bob Marley, or Sublime (with Bradly, no offense to Rome, cuz he’s dope!)

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

We usually do some group Tai Chi, blaze the chalice, check all our gear (although we usually forget something trivial) and get to the venue early. Jake always has to play video games and have an iced coffee. Pat usually has a seltzer water or two. Joe usually does some finger push-ups to get his fingers loose to slap de bass, mon.

Eric and the Nothing – Favorite Garage Band

Those Eric and the Nothing boys are really something! The band had another very successful year, after winning last year’s Breakthrough Act Motif award. Their sound is kind of like alt-rock for old souls, influenced by Buddy Holly-style early rock ‘n’ roll of the ’50s and ’60s. It’s un-fooled-around-with garage music that cuts straight to the point with just the right amount of edge. They describe it as “dreamy sexy cigarette music.”

Eric Shane steers the ship on vocals and guitar and is backed up by a solid rhythm section in Joe Principe on bass and Billy Moretti (former Denver Boot frontman) on drums. A big moment came last summer when EATN opened a WBRU Summer Concert Series show at Waterplace Park.

The lyrics are heart-on-sleeve – celebrations of romance, or an elegy for love that could’ve been. EATN are the band that takes you back to simpler times, when it didn’t seem like the world was going to implode at any second.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

The Beatles, T-Rex, Roy Orbison, The Pixies, Prom Queen, The Toadies, Sabbath, Deftones, Weezer, Barbara Lynn, King Khan and BBQ, The Growlers, Shannon and the Clams, Pavement.

How long have you been performing?

We’ve been playing for about three years now as Eric & the Nothing, but we’ve all been playing out for some time. Joe Principe (on bass) recently was in Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons and is currently in at least 9 bands. Billy lead a killer folk band called The Denver Boot prior to this, and I (Eric) used to play in a Providence band named Treestar.

Where did the name come from?

Most people don’t realize it (understandably), but it’s a reference to The Neverending Story. “The Nothing” is the force destroying Fantasia. Also its just a nod with a twist to all the bands using an “X and the X” format, ie. Shannon and the Clams, one of our influences.

What’s your favorite venue?

The Parlour – we played our very first show there, and those sliders … oof. Aaron [Jaehnig, of the Parlour] also coined our nickname ‘E and the 0’ on his marquee sign, and now that’s our Twitter handle.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Just straight peanut butter, heaving fistfulls of it.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Usually just hanging around after and talking to friends and family and people that came to hang out, people in other bands. Meeting new people is always interesting. Other than that, just hanging with the guys and celebrating the night.

On stage drink of choice?

Seven and Sevens for me! A gentlemen’s drink for like 93-year-olds. Love ‘em. Billy likes straight whiskey.

Weirdest fan encounter?

Don’t really have any weird ones yet — all of our fans are great (so far?).  We did have someone just randomly take over a soundbooth and board during our set once which was really weird. I don’t know if that was a fan though. I think it was just … I don’t even know.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Eli from Waterplace Park! Just a really nice kid who wanted a signed CD — was a really cool moment. I think we turned this kid into a drummer! I think we still need to get a CD out to him.

Least favorite color M&M?

They all taste the same!?

Dream venue to perform in?

I want to perform on a rooftop.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Living – The Growlers or Shannon and the Clams. Posthumously – T-Rex.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Feats of strength, bloodletting, fire-walking, various ancient rituals.

Hairspray Queen – Favorite Noise

The Noise category was a new one this year. Hairspray Queen have been around less than a year, but have already made themselves heard, playing a high-profile opening slot for Sheer Mag. Their tunes are definitely loud and in-your-face, but it’s not just a wall of commotion. Under all the chaos, guitarists Ian Benoit and Nathan Phrathep create a cool interplay that’s reminiscent of a post-punk sound like The Cure.

Check out their live videos for the real experience, especially frontman Raymond Fernandez’s awesome stage antics. Their recent EP was recorded at Converse’s Rubber Tracks studio, and includes quick gut-punch songs that are over before you know what happened. Look out for more in the future from these up-and-comers.

Senior Discount – Favorite Pop Punk Band

Senior Discount, which has been taking PVD by storm this year, is Chuck Staton (lead singer and rhythm guitarist), Christian Staton (drummer), Eric Macksoud ( lead guitarist and back-up vocals) and Abe Correia (bassist)

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

Christian: My taste in music has expanded vastly in the past several years. This is such a hard question!!

Chuck: blink-182 has gotta be number one. Definitely Against Me, NOFX, Less Than Jake, Green Day. I love the art of pop music in general, so there’s a lot of random influences in the way I think about writing a song. Dance Hall Crashers and Reel Big Fish are a big influence on how I look at composing vocal harmonies.

Macksoud: The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, Green Day, Nirvana, The Replacements, Led Zeppelin.

Abe: I’ve always looked up to Roger from LTJ and Chris #2 from anti-aging, despite playing like neither of them.

How long have you been performing?

Christian: Almost 15 years!

Chuck: First show was 2003 so yeah, over 14 years.

Macksoud: I’ve been performing in bands for about 12 years.

Abe: I started playing in high school, and joined senior discount around 2012, I believe.

Where did the name come from?

Chuck: Our original bassist saw it on a Newport Creamery advertisement and thought the name just worked alone. I agree! People always laugh in a happy way when they hear our name. What the hell are they laughing at?

Abe: My name came from my parents.

What’s your favorite venue?

Chuck: Gotta be Lupo’s. It’s our home. I always considered the Living Room to be our home – but eventually we played at Lupo’s more times than we played at the Living Room. So I think that’s the place I love the most.

Macksoud: Firehouse 13

Abe: I loved the Living Room, and I have wonderful memories from Club Hell, especially since that’s where I first spent time with my beautiful wife!

Christian: Any venue that is packed with music lovers who are having a good time!

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Chuck: I’m going to just throw in a “Fluffernutter” mention here because it is underappreciated. I love a peanut butter and banana sandwich though.

Macksoud: Anything tastes good with peanut butter!

Abe: Oreos. But not peanut butter Oreos.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Macksound: After I’m done playing I like to just hang out with my friends who came out to the show and watch the other bands play. After the entire show, however, I like to either go out to Antonio’s or Baja’s with said friends, or go home and sleep.

Christian: Sleep!

Chuck: I also like to go eat with friends after a show. That’s my favorite way to relax – probably because I never eat remotely close to the beginning of a show, so I’m always way hungry after.

Abe: Going home and going to bed.

On-stage drink of choice?

Chuck: Water, in a Swirly Gig, which is a cup holder that attaches to the microphone stand. So convenient!

Christian: Beer!

Macksoud: My onstage drink of choice is either water or a ‘Gansett Tall Boy.

Abe: Water, or a Red Bull and cranberry, so people think I’m cool and drinking a cocktail.

Weirdest fan encounter?

Chuck: If we’re going to put aside all the sex ones (my favorites!), then I’d say it was when a young fan came to see us practice and our old bassist (who very well may be Satan) whipped the kid with a guitar cord so hard that he drew blood. The child was 14. He grew up to be in the nationally touring DJ/drummer act, Scratch and Bang.

Christian: Signed a chick’s upper boob (boob right).

Macksoud: I don’t have any weird fan encounters, but my favorite fan moments are whenever people from the audience come onstage and sing along with the band.

Abe: The only time I’ve ever been recognized was in line at a Chipotle. Someone came from the counter and said, “Holy shit, you’re Abe from Senior Discount!” I didn’t know how to react and sorta ended up accidentally big timing the dude. I still feel awful.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Chuck: One time a kid said he hated us so much in Boston that he was going to assault us with a wrench outside after the show. That counts, right? P.S. That’s why Christian is the way he is now. :(

Abe: See above

Christian: A kid started talking to me like he knew me. I said, “How do you know me?” He said, “Because you’re Christian Staton!”

Least favorite color M&M?

Macksoud: How can you have a least favorite color M&M? They all taste the same.

Chuck: I kind of agree with Macksoud, but man – blue or green is definitely more fun than brown. Brown is my least favorite.

Abe: Tan. That’s why they got rid of them. I had an intense letter writing campaign in the mid 90s.

Christian: None.

Dream venue to perform in?

Chuck: I think somewhere huge and local would be the coolest because of the relationship with the community. Dunkin Donuts Center / PPAC maybe.

Macksoud: My dream venue to perform in would have to be either 924 Gilman St. in Berkely, CA or The Roundhouse in London.

Abe: MSG. Just because I’m a wrestling fan.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Christian: blink-182!

Chuck: blink-182 would be the top for me.

Macksoud: I would love to share a bill with either Green Day or if the Sex Pistols ever reunited.

Abe: I would love to see The Clash play, even if we weren’t playing with them.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Christian: Warm Up. Think about the New England Patriots!

Chuck: If the show was a comfortable situation, I’d love to be able to play guitar a little first to myself, put on my sweatband (I use one to protect my arm), get my picks all ready and accessible, make sure my set list and petals are perfectly set up, and have a water ready. I know that sounds pretty boring but the organization of all the comfortable stuff would be really calming to me. Usually I’m racing to get set up, and I’m asking my beautiful girlfriend Gina to get me a water from the bar.

Macksoud: I don’t know if this counts as a ritual, but whenever I’m about to play a show I make sure to play some hard rock riffs onstage during sound check, like “Funk #49” or “Limelight,” just stuff that’ll get the crowd pumped.

Abe: My pre-show ritual is usually driving as quickly as I can from work so I can get on stage on time. 

Party Pigs – Favorite Punk Act

Party Pigs is a band that sticks to the classic rock & roll mantras of having a good time and living life to the fullest. Originally a two-piece started by guitarist Chris Annunziato and drummer Matt Trap in the summer of 2010, they’ve delved into a few collaborations and they’ve grown musically in numerous ways. From writing songs with hip-hop artist Ill Will to, more recently, bringing in Zack Brines on keys, the evolution of Party Pigs has been a treasure to witness. The band’s sound harks back to punk’s ‘70s glory days of grit, amplification and shredding – an unbridled mix of styles reminiscent of The Ramones, Bon Scott-era AC/DC and Thin Lizzy.

Riding high on top of the release of their debut full-length that came out on cassette March 30, they’ve been tearing up the music scene in Providence on a continuous basis and they’re one of the acts at the forefront of the city’s rock & roll revolution. When Party Pigs perform live, everyone knows that something crazy is bound to happen. Beer will be drunk and people will be dancing – or the other way around. The energy they exude is infectious and people can’t help but act a bit rowdy when this trio takes the stage.

It’s going to be special to see what the future holds for Party Pigs, and their next record is bound to be one of the most anticipated local releases whenever it comes out. They’ve never been into the idea of having a bass player so seeing them become a quartet is very unlikely. What’s a given is that they will rock whatever place they play, be it a venue like Dusk or Aurora or a kid’s basement in the depths of Olneyville. When Party Pigs perform, you can guarantee that they’ll live up to their name while bringing it loud and heavy.

PROFILE (by Matt of Party Pigs)

Who are your musical influences?

Love anyone that’s kickin’ it rugged and raw.

How long have we been performing?

As Party Pigs? Maybe 6 years? 5? 7?

Name origin:

We had a couple of ideas but ended up going with the most accurate description of our lives. A Party Pig is your buddy that’s taking it to the next level at the party – the loudest dude, the one that climbs up a building and steals a keg. It’s a chick who’s gettin’ dirty on the dance floor ‘cause, fuck you, it’s her night. Or the ones smokin’ with you at 3am ‘cause all the booze is gone, but the coke and bad ideas aren’t yet. You can’t always be a pig, but once in a while it’s fantastic. PARTY PIG UNTIL I DIE!!!

What’s your favorite venue?

Anyone/place that distributes inebriates is a friend of Party Pigs. But, DUSK is home base. They are the coolest people and Rick [Sunderland] is a true friend to the local music scene. Invaluable.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Pussy goes with anything. Don’t you misquote me.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Drink, smoke, laugh my ass off, repeat until it all goes dark.

On-stage drink of choice?

Cheap beer. Except Budweiser and Narragansett. They make me poop.

Weird fan encounter:

If someone identifies themselves as a fan of ours, they’re not weird, to me. Weirdos welcome.

Favorite fan encounter:

Anytime I got laid because I play in a local punk garage band, that is my favorite.

Least favorite M&M:

Party Pigs don’t give a shit about no M&Ms.

Dream venue:

Small stage, low ceiling, smokey, free beer, cool people. Very realistic and obtainable.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Butthole Surfers, when they were freaking people the fuck out. Charlie Feathers, a shining example of how twang can be cool in a sea of shitty rockabilly bands. The Penetrators, kings of basement rock! I know Chris would love a Thin Lizzy show and Zack deserves a gig with RUN DMC. Although none of those would have anything to do with us. Well, maybe the Penetrators.
If the Oblivians, Tweens or Thee Oh Sees wanna book a gig, I’m easy to find.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

We find meditation really centers our chi. Pffffttt … we drink. We are Party Pigs!

Teazer – Favorite Hardcore/Metal Act

Sometimes there’s a band that comes along that’s a blast from the past and they rekindle an artform that was thought to have died on the local level a long time ago. Bringing hair metal back to Providence with reckless abandon is Teazer. Denny Palmari is a charismatic frontman with screeching vocals that evoke Judas Priest’s Rob Halford. Guitarist Ray Manzera brings spine-tingling riffs and a flair for serious swagger. Scotti “The Hammer” DeLuca lives up to his nickname on drums with seismic beats that resonate genuine power. His brother from another mother, Bobby “Bobbi” DeLuca holds it down on bass while making an effort to be the best dressed of the bunch.

Formed as a response to Providence’s Americana and folk music movement that’s been booming during the decade, Teazer is a metal act that’s as timeless as they are contemporary. Palmari is very animated when he grabs the mic with high kicks and a wide range of theatrics. They also have a knack for being pretty funny between songs in live performances. Anyone who dug Ratt, Cinderella, Autograph and a bunch of other similar acts from the ‘80s will dig this fearsome foursome. Any young kid will also appreciate the electrifying syncopation Palmari, Manzera and the DeLuca brothers have live.

In a scene chock full of musical variety, Teazer stands alone by presenting a style of music that no one else is tapping into. Their own personality shines through with each song, and the band is exemplary in how they stick to their guns, not afraid to be themselves. These guys also know how to put on a party at the drop of a hat. All they have to do is plug in their instruments and take fans for a wild ride.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

Rocky IV, Bloodsport, Alien, Terminator, Blade Runner, 2001, First Blood, Weekend at Bernie’s. Stuff with balls, kid.

How long have you been performing?

We’ve been bangin’ em out hot & heavy for 37-something years now.

Where did the name come from?

TEAZER

What’s your favorite venue?

You mean like a club?

Yeah.

We like Dusk ‘cuz they let us crank it up as loud as we want. We like the Parlour on North Main too. They got a great quesadilla in there. It has beets in it, so you wouldn’t think it would taste too good, but it’s like an explosion of flavor in your mouth, kid.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Straight outta the jar with a spoon. Bobby Bobbi’s always sticking his fingers in there.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

That depends on which girls are working at Fantasies that night, really.

On stage drink of choice?

Denny likes that muscle milk. Coats the throat and strengthens the vocal chords, he says.

Weirdest fan encounter?

One time Scotti took his fan and yelled into it. Sounded like the grim reaper.

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

We played a show two/three weeks back and this one dude was like, “Hey, you guys were awesome!”

Least favorite color M&M?

There was this contest a few years back where, if you opened up a bag of all purple M&Ms, you’d win $100 large. The boys opened up a bunch of packs and put all the purples in there to trick me. They then glued the bag back together and I fell for it. The broad at Cumberland Farms laughed at me. I really thought I had won and that I’d be able to quit my day job making the rolls at Bertucci’s. I don’t like purple M&Ms. – Denny.

Dream venue to perform in?

We still haven’t played Mardi Gras in Cranston. Ray almost got to play the civic center back in ’86. That’s the Dunk now.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Rather they just pay the bill, no? But seriously, we’d like to rip a gig with all the other bands named TEAZER from around the world. “Calling all Teazers” would be the name of the festival.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Find out where Bobby Bobbi is and tell him to get ready ‘cuz we’re about to go on.

Roz Raskin – Favorite Female Alt Vocalist

Starting out as a solo artist and releasing her first album The Ecotones while a student at Classical High in 2006, Raskin has risen to be one of the most important people in the Providence music scene. Her band Roz and The Rice Cakes are one of the most sought after live acts in the city and they relentlessly tour in DIY fashion on a yearly basis. She has also spoken out fearlessly on social and political issues and is an enthusiastic supporter of her local contemporaries, while introducing bands she’s friends with from all over the country to the numerous venues in Providence.

Her music always touches upon emotional subjects. She pours her heart into every song she writes and she does it with pure, poetic honesty. Raskin also has a knack for writing a chorus that’ll stay in your head for weeks on end. With Providence’s music resurgence at the start of the 2010’s, Raskin and her band became leaders of a growing appreciation and following for local music. When they won 95.5 WBRU’s Rock Hunt in 2012, Roz and The Rice Cakes’ following grew even beyond the state. Raskin’s hard work, along with that of drummer Casey Belisle and bassist and guitarist Justin Foster, has gained them much deserved recognition.

Raskin’s latest solo effort goes under the name of Nova. She writes music as she plays her custom six string (courtesy of Holcomb Guitars) that sounds like a dream. It’s another outlet for her to release her emotions and inner being in a musical sense. Her evolution as an artist has been astounding to say the least and Providence is lucky to have her.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

Too many to say without making one of them feel left out.

How long have you been performing?

Since I did a sweet dance to “Sometimes” by Britney Spears at 10 years old.

Where did the name come from?

We were almost called Ralph and the Rice Cripsy Treats…

What’s your favorite venue?

Too many to name without one of them feeling left out.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Rice … crackers

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Eat some rice crackers.

On stage drink of choice?

A water and a whiskey.

Weirdest fan encounter?

A very strange phone call from a person that somehow got my number 🙈

Least favorite color M&M?

Skittles

Dream venue to perform in?

We have played in some crazy locations, but I would really love to play on a boat.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

It would be cool to get our dads playing a tune with us again at some point.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

Most people don’t know I’m a bit of a shy person. Five minutes of silence by myself gets me feeling centered and stoked.

Mark Cutler – Favorite Male Vocalist

Mark Cutler has been winning Motif awards consistently for years. We had to come up with what we call the “Cutler Rule” at one point – that no single artist could win more than 4 awards – to avoid giving most of the awards to him; his diverse body of work has lead to many nominations in both Americana and Alt categories.

He’s one of the most generous local musicians, helping other bands and assisting with projects like scoring a documentary made by filmmakers with Downs Syndrome. He is a constant, patient teacher. His bands, including The Schemers and the Raindogs, have performed on the national stage, and he was an inductee into the RI Music Hall of Fame years ago. But you can still catch him out, performing prolifically for home town audiences in Mark Cutler and Men of Great Courage.

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

Hank Williams, Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Jimi, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, guitar players galore…

How long have you been performing?

I’ve been performing since the late ‘70s and it’s still a thrill to play.

Where did the name come from?

My friend, Dizzy said that it takes courage to play music with me ‘cuz sometimes I’ll play songs that I don’t know and drag my band along for the ride.

What’s your favorite venue?

The Narrows in Fall River is a jewel.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

Toast.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Go to bed, I’m not a kid anymore.

On stage drink of choice?

Water.

Weirdest fan encounter?

Met Mickey Dolenz (I’m his fan).

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

Someone told me that I saved their life one time.

Dream venue to perform in?

The Filmore East

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

I’ve shared the bill with most of my idols.

Any rituals you do for luck or to get psyched up before a show?

When I was in the Raindogs, we used to chant, “I don’t know, I just don’t know. There’s no end. There is no end.”\ 

Wolfman & the Brimstone Boys – Favorite Breakthrough Alt Act

To fans of comically over-the-top horror-punk music, Wolfman and the Brimstone boys are indeed a breakthrough. Their musical offerings are definitely not for everybody, and a good primer is their Firehouse 13 set from September of last year. From the moment they take the stage, when frontman “Wolfman Chuck” says, “Thank you all for coming out … f%^& you all,” it’s a non-stop onslaught of brutality, complete with fake bloody limbs thrown at the audience.

Their music is mostly fast, hardcore punk, but the band occasionally forays into doomy, Sabbath-style riffs. The aural assault is bolstered by ludicrously offensive lyrics in the spirit of GWAR, possibly even worse. Or better, if that’s your cup of tea. From what I can decipher, most of the songs revolve around killing, some sort of violent sexuality, or a combination of the two. The majority of their lyrics are way too outrageous to print (one of the tamer lines: “We’re Wolfman and the Brimstone Boys / We’re gonna f%^& you ‘till you die”).  One song details a lewd act with a pumpkin.

Are the Brimstone Boys trying to craft an elaborate satire of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle? Or perhaps they’re all high-level corporate lawyers, and this is their way of unwinding on the weekends? When asked for comment, Chuck politely responded, “No thanks.” The world may never know. The origins of Wolfman & the Brimstone Boys remain a mystery for now, but what’s for sure is that they’re here, and they want to … well, see the sample lyric above.

Tall Teenagers – Tall Teenagers – Best Alt Album

winner8The nine-song debut album from Tall Teenagers is Motif’s well-deserved album of the year, and hit the scene last year like a splash of cold water. They’ve been written about in these pages multiple times for good reason, and have a sound unlike anything in the area. TTs take X’s male/female disjointed harmonies style with off-kilter Pixies-style riffs and roll it all into their own thing.

The tight, two-three minute tunes are the kind you want to replay and reabsorb, and the songs kind of build to slinking hooks that creep up your spine (in a good way). The lyrics are not exactly feel-good material either, with morose characters and depressing imagery. From the menacing grind of opener “Gone, Gone, Gone,” to the garage-y vibe of “Falling Next to Me,” there really isn’t any “skippable” track in the bunch. The key to their sound is the way Damian Puerini and Chelsea Paulhus’ guitar work and vocals play off each other, balanced out by the humping rhythm section of Shaun Chevalier (drums) and Shannon Puerini (bass).

Tall Teenagers’ next gig is May 11 at AS220, and the band is already following up this auspicious debut with a second album, All in a Day’s Waste, to be released on June 24 at a release party at Dusk in Providence. Here’s hoping they keep up the momentum.

Dirty Deeds (AC/DC) – Favorite Tribute Band

Sybil Disobediance – Favorite Cover Band

Foo Fest – Best Alt Music Fest

I was at Foo fest when it was just a sparkle in Empire Street’s eye. It’s earlies incarnation was as a Fool’s Ball – an indoor gala/fundraiser AS220 style, taking place on April Fool’s Day. If you can find photos from the mid ‘90s, you’ll see a spokescharacter, the Fool, and Buddy Cianci officiating as the event moved outdoors a little.

Over the years, it’s crept later and later in year, pursuing that elusive will-o-the-whisp, Rhode Island good weather. Most year’s, the Foo (lost the “l” along the way somewhere) has found good weather, good times, an eclectic assemblage of random fun and games, and remarkably great music.

The fest’s choices over the years have been a carefully balanced mix of power and comfort, with national headliners and a strong local presence. They pack their outdoor stage from 1pm to 1am, and are likely to introduce you to some of the best music you hadn’t heard of yet, sneaking in around and between the better known draws.

Like AS220’s usual shows, the line-up skews indi, a bit on the hard/punk/alt side (but not entirely), and steeped in attitude. Wanting to change the world is absolutely a great thing on this stage. Surrealism is so standard it starts to feel like realism; ambient multimedia and giant talking TVs may wander across the stage like refugees from alternate realities.

It’s the year-after-year consistency of discovery and revelation that probably led fans and Motif readers to vote this one up; last year, Dan Deacon headlined with acts like Harry and the Potters upping the magic. Arc Iris turned in an inspiringly weird and engagingly energetic set, and Hussy hit the stage hard with feminist punk, while the Quahogs brought their RI-folk to calm things down a bit. And with 12 hours of rapidly rotating performers, there were another 20 bands we don’t have space to mention.

This year’s event promises, as always, to go just a little bigger and better, without losing the elements fans rely on. Headliner will Sharon Needles, best known as part of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but also the headliner of a national punk-like band. They’ll be cohosted local Jewish drag queen Annie B Frank. Greg Cook and his partner Kari Percival will bring their design sense to bear on unique activities for kids and families to take part in, including a lot more hands-on maker activity.

as220.org

Scribe – Favorite Hip Hop Act

DJ Venom – Favorite EDM DJ

This year’s “Best EDM DJ” award goes to David Robert Schifino, better known to everyone in the EDM community as DJ Venom. More than two decades ago, Venom first sunk his fangs into the Northeast’s rave and hard dance music scenes by dedicating himself to being a full-time electronic music DJ and producer. Before that, he had been working as a hip-hop DJ for a local radio station. In 1991, his interest was piqued by electronic music and events featuring it, so he shifted gears. Since then, Venom has garnered plenty of experience touring – often internationally – with performances ranging from intimate local EDM nights to raves and events with crowds of over 12,000.

It’s safe to say that DJ Venom has come a long way since 1991, fully realizing himself as an artist, performer, and producer of hardstyle dance music. What’s most impressive is his ability to consistently foster and maintain a loyal fanbase over all this time, while still putting out original mixes and compilations and delivering intensely impassioned sets.

Venom currently heads up FReQ, a weekly dance night at Providence nightclub Alchemy. He also runs Morlock Music, an artist collective and production company. As if dropping over 80 hardstyle projects during his career wasn’t enough, Venom has even (on occasion) tipped his toes into drum and bass, a slightly more subdued sub-genre of EDM. He’s put out that music using the name DJ Eddie Brock.

Venom doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. He currently produces once-monthly “Hard Dance Nation” podcast episodes on Soundcloud, unique long-form hardstyle mixes. Clearly, the effort that he puts into regularly creating and sharing high-quality music is working for Venom, as his appeal is felt by all types of EDM fans, not just hardstyle aficionados.

Ty Jesso & John O’Laughlin – Favorite Club DJ

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not too surprising to witness a DJ of many hats pull off such a fabulous hat trick. But it is pretty honorable and inspiring nonetheless. For the third year in a row, DJ Ty Jesso is being honored by Motif music award voters as the best local club DJ around … and for good reason. Jesso is responsible for sending everyone on the dance floor back in time, most notably back to when Motown reigned supreme.

Indeed, many elements of Jesso’s signature sound might have been plucked from a Johnny Rocket’s music catalogue. For the past 11+ years, he has also fronted and organized a weekly “Soul Power” event that features some of the best vintage rock ‘n’ roll vinyl being spun, along with special guest DJs and sometimes even a live band. Soul Power is currently held at Dusk in Providence. On Saturdays, Ty Jesso throws a similar club/dance night for Bostonians called “Soulelujah,” which is held at The Middle East in Cambridge. Aside from DJing, Ty Jesso is the frontman of Thee Itchies, a rock ‘n’ roll band with a flair for – you guessed it – music straight from the ’60s.

2017’s Best Club DJ is in the unique position of being the go-to guy for all sorts of events, ranging from retro nights at local hot spots all the way to father-daughter dances. No matter where you may catch this Soul-powered super-DJ, you’d definitely be in for a treat: think classically crafted rock ‘n’ roll meets jazzy, soulful R&B (including sub-genres like funk and boogaloo, oldies, go-go, and garage).

With all of that in mind, it’s obvious why Ty Jesso is (for the third consecutive year) Motif’s Best Club DJ.

FReQ Fridays at Alchemy – Favorite Dance Night

Alchemy’s been open less than a year, dedicating itself to being an “artist friendly” club, with no pay-to-play or other financial arrangements that sometimes prey on musicians. With pizza from next door’s Sajo’s Pizza, comfy couches, pool, darts and a full bar, this dance night has the amenities. But FReQ Fridays are a resurrection of a previously retired popular PVD night, now pulling dancers old and new to its reincarnation at Alchemy.

As the owner of Midday Records with his ear to the ground when it comes to up and coming acts – and his reputation for full-on support of local music – head Alchemist Davey  Moore has booked some of the strongest EDM and Club DJs in the area, including phenoms like DJ Venom and Tight Crew, accustomed to much larger venues.

Social media abounds with tales of FReQ fans banding together to help performers reach the venue, or to ride share for inebriative safety, adding a sense of community that’s keeping this event strong, while the DJs keep it fresh.

Alchemyri.com

Greg Abate – Favorite Jazz Act

Greg Abate, jazz saxophonist, flutist, composer, is an International Jazz Artist who tours the globe. In the mid 70’s, after finishing a four year program at Berklee College Of Music, Greg played lead alto sax for the Ray Charles Orchestra as well as the Artie Shaw Orchestra. In 1978 Greg formed his group Channel One which was a favorite in the New England area. Following this experience Greg ventured out as post hard bop soloist playing Jazz Festivals, Jazz Societies and Jazz Clubs throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Moscow. He has recorded over seventeen albums and he is an inductee of the RI Music Hall of Fame. Abate’s latest release is a double live CD recorded with Phil Woods at Chan’s in Woonsocket. You can catch him at Chan’s on May 27. gregabate.com

PROFILE

Who are your musical influences?

All the greats on all instruments!

How long have you been performing?

40 years.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter?

If you must know this I guess it would be pork chops!

How do you like to kick back after a show?

Meditate.

On stage drink of choice?

Perrier no ice with lime.

Weirdest fan encounter?

“How do you remember all those notes”

Favorite fan encounter/moment?

All moments.

Least favorite color M&M?

Black is the color for me mainly so there you go.

Dream venue to perform in?

The next one.

Who do you most want to share a bill with (living or dead)?

Charlie Parker.

Dirty Deeds – Best Tribute Band

Some day, when historians talk of the great dynasties of the early millennium, Dirty Deeds will no doubt be in the conversation. Since 2014, Dirty Deeds has had a stranglehold on the Best Tribute Act award. Sometimes it almost seems unfair as Dirty Deeds dominance has made them like the New England Patriots of tribute bands. Dirty Deeds are and have always been a hard working group dedicated to reproducing the no frills rock ‘n’ rolls of AC/DC.

These days the lines between Dirty Deeds and AC/DC have been blurred from a series of things that have afflicted members of AC/DC in recent years, including: An attempted murder charge, dementia, hearing loss and retirement. AC/DC is starting to look as if guitarist Angus Young started his own AC/DC tribute band with Axl Rose. In fact, now Dirty Deeds has only one fewer original member of AC/DC than AC/DC themselves. I can’t imagine it is easy continuing on as an AC/DC tribute band in the Axl Rose era of AC/DC, but somehow Dirty Deeds makes it work while avoiding the potential Rose pitfalls (like showing up 2 hours late or inciting a riot after leaving the stage 15 minutes into a show). Dirty Deeds always have a full schedule – upcoming dates include Club Roxx in North Kingstown on May 6, the 140 Pub N Club in Bellingham, MA on May 19, and at JR’s Fastlane in the Mardi Gras MultiClub in Cranston on May 20.

dirtydeedstribute.com

Best live Alt Act Sasquatch & The Sick-A-Billys 

Sasquatch & The Sick-A-Billys started well over a decade ago as a hellfire psychobilly, back when rockabilly was all the rage. Over the years they’ve had strong metal leaningsat times and more recently it has been old country that has had the biggest influence on their sound. They’re older now, but Sasquatch & The Sick-A-Billys still ramble all over the northeast. This year they released a new studio album called Enjoy the Blood. Now twelve years out from their breakthrough win at the 95.5 WBRU Rock Hunt, Sasquatch & The Sick-A-Billys have managed to broaden their sound without sacrificing any of their bite. You can experience the power of Sasquatch & The Sick-A-Billys live at the Ocean Mist on May 6 with GlowBox, Viking Jesus, and Young Rust.

sickabilly.com

Best Cover Band  Sybil Disobedience

For the second year in a row, Sybil Disobedience won the crown of Best Cover Band. Sybil Disobedience are a high energy band that skillfully tackles the genres of dance, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, and even adds a touch of country to top it off. Frontwomen Sybil commands the stage while the band is spot-on in tackling whatever hit they attempt. This is the band to catch when one is looking for a good time, or just to dance the night away. One can catch Sybil Disobedience next at The Last Resort in Smithfield on May 27.

sybildisobedience.com

Who are your musical influences? 

As a Band Everything ranging from R&B to Rock& Roll to Progressive Rock.

How long have you been performing?

About 5 years as a group (and a combined over 100 years total).

Where did the name come from? 

Sybil is the lead singer and only original member. We were going to go with Sybilized Behavior but we realized we would be living a lie.

What’s your favorite venue?

We are fortunate to have a great following but wherever  we are playing and the fans are dancing then that’s our favorite.

Favorite food to eat with peanut butter? 
Chocolate, of course.

How do you like to kick back after a show?

That’s a bit of a loaded question but let’s just say depending on the member those activities range from fast food to fast women (and we like them both hot and cheap).

On stage drink of choice?

Narragansett or Kettle One & soda (It’s a tough choice so we usually choose both).

Best Jam Band – Tai Chi Funk Squad

Tai Chi Funk Squad are a straight funk-fueled power trio. From funk to reggae and a little of everything in between, Tai City Funk Squad are an original band but have a stocked arsenal of covers from all genres. Some upcoming dates where you can catch Tai Chi Funk Squad next are May 5 (Cinco De) at Escada Bar in Johnston and on May 13 at Wheel House in Narragansett.

Best Pop-Punk Band – Senior Discount

It is sometimes tough to remember the genre of pop-punk back before Senior Discount existed.  They have been around for at least a decade and have always been in contention for either Best Punk Band or Best Pop-Punk band. Live they bring it with spiking but sweet, high-energy anthems. Senior Discount have released two albums — This is Not the End and There Were Four Who Tried. Singer/guitarist Chuck Staton is one half of the popular “Agreeing to Disagree: The Chuck and Brad Podcast.” They will be doing their 300th podcast live at Fete on May 7.

Copacetics

Now four-time winners of the Best Reggae/Ska Award, the Copacetics are pretty much the end-all to local ska. They’re an eight-piece outfit with guitars, brass and at least two types of saxophone, plus and dapper red-black attire. Their high-energy shows include reggae, ska and soul with the best Jamaican rhythms.

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