Alt-Nation: Keeping It Simple

petePicked up the pieces while waiting for The $3 Bar to re-open and figured I’d recap the Newport Folk Festival. To attempt to recap the state’s biggest annual music event that featured three seven-hour days of live music happening concurrently on four stages in one paragraph is probably foolish, but I’m going to do it anyway. We all know the saying that it isn’t a “folk” fest till a metal band plays, right? Thankfully there wasn’t a long wait for that as Reignwolf took over the Quad Stage Friday to unleash a barrage of Sabbath-infused stoner rock riffs. It was like all the folk traditionalists’ who were upset by Dylan going electric worst nightmares coming to fruition. In other words, Reignwolf were awesome! Saturday’s non-headliner highlight was a tossup between the gritty southern fish and grits folk of Shovels & Rope and local heroes Deer Tick’s debut on the main stage. In addition to Deer Tick, locals featured on stages and tents included Death Vessel and Joe Fletcher. It’s good to see some of our own featured in the festival. The festival closed with the birthday girl, Mavis Staples, bringing out the sun while leading the crowd and as many musicians as they could get on stage in a sing-a-long of “I’ll Take You There” and the Pete Seeger tribute rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”

Festivals can be overwhelming. Sometimes there are three different acts playing at the same time that you want to see and apparently they frown against sprinting through the crowd stiff arming anyone in your way. Who knew? To bring things back to normal and simplify things, I’m going to start with a review. Of one song. Think of it as an online cassingle. Then I’m going to review an EP. The artist has two EPs coming out but we’ll only talk about one to, again, keep it simple. Then I’ll build up to an entire album review, some shows, and then wham bam and off we go.

Boo City – “Tiny Daggers” Single Release

Providence’s go-to for original old school soul infused reggae R&B, Boo City, have come out with a new single, “Tiny Daggers.” In a sign of the times, the song is only available online for download. “Tiny Daggers” kicks off with an acoustic guitar and Andrew Moon Bain singing the blues with lines like “going to take this heartache and start an earthquake” then the fabled Boo City Horn Section kicks in to provide a Stax soul vibe. Boo City’s horn section is top notch and recently performed on the main stage of the Newport Folk Fest with Deer Tick. Boo City is making “Tiny Daggers” available for a free download to you, the readers of the Motif (and everybody else) right now at If one song is not enough Boo City, older selections from Boo City’s catalog can also be streamed from the site.

Boo City will be doing an acoustic set at The Parlor in Newport on August 9 and Bain will be doing a solo set as part of Conserfest that goes down on Block Island August 9 – 10 that includes the likes of Roz Raskin & The Rice Cakes and The Low Anthem.

Ravi Shavi – Dual EP Release Show
I can only think of two times where a band has released two separate releases on the same day and those would be Gun ‘N’ Roses and The Cure. Those were full albums, but Ravi Shavi is about to join them by releasing two EPs in the same day. I’m not sure the rationale of why one would release two EPs instead of one full-length but hey, at least Ravi Shavi is in great company. For those unfamiliar with Ravi Shavi, they mix garage, new wave, and indie rock into a blender, pour it in a pan, and bring it to a sweaty boil. The first EP is titled Independent and was produced by Eric Aguiar of Atlantic Thrills. The second EP is titled Courage and was produced by Jesse McFadden. Independent kicks off with “Boys in Blue” that comes off as a cross between a The Clash meets Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs. Ravi Shavi ease up on the throttle on “Device,” which plays off as 60’s garage rock ballad. It’s an odd marriage of doo-wop high school number with Velvet Underground like guitars that works in the end. The title track here is my favorite that showcases those infectious hooks and mammoth chorus. The Independent EP goes for a straight garage rock feel, which is a little surprising because that is just one side of Ravi Shavi. Perhaps the Courage EP (which was being mastered as this issue was going to press) will have a different feel, but Independent does serve as a serviceable introduction to the fuzz-drenched old time rock ‘n’ roll side of Ravi Shavi.

Ravi Shavi celebrates the release of their EPs Independent and Courage with a party at the Columbus Theatre in Providence on August 16. The doors are at 9pm with the show kicking off at 10pm. Ravi Shavi will be doing two sets performing both EPs in their entirety. In between sets there will be a DJ spinning old school Pakistani, Indian, and rock ‘n’ roll music. Dress to impress is encouraged as there will be a photo booth set up.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
Tom Petty hasn’t made a good record since 1999’s Echo, so needless to say I didn’t have the highest of hopes for Hypnotic Eye. The band that used to say “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” recent releases suffered from incessant jamming and a scarcity of hooks. Hypnotic Eye serves notice off the bat with the crunching guitars “American Dream Plan B” and the refrain of “I have a dream and I’m going to fight till I get it” that the Heartbreakers aren’t here to mail it in this time. “Fault Lines” is a strong follow-up that maintains the urgency, which is something that had been absent on previous release. Petty is going to gather the Roger McGuinn/Byrds comparisons and that’s no exception here. The difference here is at least on tunes like “Red River” and “U Get Me High” it’s happening on tunes that would fit comfortably on earlier classic releases like You’re Gonna Get It and Into The Great Wide Open. Hypnotic Eye is definitely more socially concerned than most Petty records. Rather than advocate, it has more the feel of Petty watching from the sidelines and expressing his discontent with lyrics like “I ain’t on the left and I ain’t on the right. I’m not even sure that I have a dog in this fight” on “Shadow People.” Petty might not have a dog in that fight, but both he and the Heartbreakers show on Hypnotic Eye that they have plenty of fight left in them.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will play Fenway Park on August 30.

Foo Fest
It’s wouldn’t be summer in the city without AS220’s annual Foo Fest that showcases art and music all day and all night. The national headliner this year is psychedelic art punks, Psychic TV, who will close out the festivities on the outdoor stage. In addition there is plenty of talent that will be performing throughout the day both indoors and outdoors. Local talent that I recommend checking out includes Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores, Ask The Dead, Tapestries, and Keith Munslow. Foo Fest is about more than the music. There will be family-orientated events like workshops and activities geared to children, all different kinds of artists, political activists, and various food vendors setting up shop. Stop by during the day or at night; there is always something for everyone at Foo Fest.
Foo Fest takes over Empire St in Providence from 1pm to 1am on August 7.

Rebirth Brass Band
Formed in 1983, Rebirth Brass Band is a New Orleans institution. Rebirth Brass Band fuses traditional brass band with modern influences to create a funky undertow that draws the masses out to shake it on the dance floor. In recent years, Rebirth Brass Band has attracted more national attention thanks to the HBO show “Treme” that featured the band. The increased spotlight has only fueled the band, and their shows are more packed, intense, and crazier each night. If NOLA style brass and funk is your bag, don’t miss the Rebirth Brass Band.

Rebirth Brass Band come to The Spot in Providence on August 15. The Background Orcs and Electric Church are also on the bill. Advance tickets are a good idea here.

Scurvy Dog Mega Show
Leave it to the punk rock bar that at any given time, blasts their stereo at louder decibels than bands down the road playing in a club to put on one of the top shows this summer! The party features performances by local stalwarts Swan Point, Hope Anchor, Atlantic Thrills as well as acts like Round Eye who are coming all the way from Shanghai, China, to play the show. Louisiana Hayride is a local Elvis tribute act that will be performing for the first time in four years and are not to be missed! M.O.T.O. will serve up punk rock that is more contagious than the Ebola virus. Boston’s White Dynomite were born out of boredom and bourbon are  composed of veterans from such bands as Roadsaw, Wrecking Crew, Fast Actin’ Fuses, and Random Road Mother and belt out sleazy ’70s Stooges style punk. Another band Daikaiju is from parts unknown and their bio reads – “Who Is The Daikaiju?  “Premium Action Heroes Deliver Most High Rocket Attack! Special Reverb Skill Combo For Full Impact! Loud Sonic Boom For Earful Pleasure! Beautiful Radiation Of Hyper-Dimensional Springy Sound Making Divine Psychic Wind For Your Special Defense! Worship Daikaiju Daily For Good Luck And Health!”

I don’t know what any of that means but who would want to miss that? The Scurvy will have food for sale as they are now open every day at 4pm for barbecue. I highly recommend their burgers, which are marinated in a secret sauce.

Scurvy Dog Mega Show will take place on August 16 in the parking lot of the Scurvy Dog in Providence. The bar will open at 1pm with the music kicking off at 2pm with Holy Roller High and running to 10:30pm.  The bands performing (in the order from first to last on) include Holy Roller High, Swan Point, Hope Anchor, M.O.T.O., Round Eye, Daikaiju, Louisiana Hayride, Beta Motel, White Dynomite, and Atlantic Thrills. The show is free of charge!

Handsome Pete’s Birthday Shitshow
Every year in late August local musician and DJ Handsome Pete Lima puts together a fun show that features a combination of original and tribute music. Past tribute bands have included Iggy & The Stooges, Misfits, and Jonathan Richman. This year the Handsome One has decided to put together a New York Dolls tribute act and to do that he’s recruited members of Providence legendary ’90s glam rockers, The L.U.V.s, to form Mystery Girls. TEAZER will do an original set that will pay homage to ’80s hair metal and Swan Point are also on the bill — they’re kind of like a cross between Ween and early ’70s rock. Handsome Pete’s Birthday Shitshow will go down at The Met Café on August 29.

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