Alt-Nation: Here Comes the Summer!

The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Still “Tuff Enuff” after all these years, you can bet that when The Fabulous Thunderbirds roll into town they’ll be ready to preach the blues. They may be in their 43rd year as a band, with only singer Kim Wilson remaining from the original lineup, but Wilson has always had a knack for identifying upcoming guitarists. Things get hot and heavy on the dance floor when the T-Birds come to throw down.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds belt out the blues at the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich on June 1.


Hartford’s McLovins return for a night of freewheeling jazzy indie rock. McLovins have honed their live show down to a science from years living out of their van and touring the world. McLovins drawn from an eclectic palette, and I hear elements of Phish, indie rock, R&B and even a little jazz in their sound.

McLovins rock The Met Café on June 2.


The first of the many folk fests coming this summer is headlined by Portland’s Muddy Ruckus. Muddy Ruckus remind me of a cross between a stripped-down version of Dylan in the Basement Tapes era, and a poor man’s Shovels & Rope. For more to get lit on before the show, check out Muddy Ruckus’ 2016 full-length whammer jammer, Pretty Bones. The always incomparable Michael Graham and his band also will be a’rocking and a’folking through the night. The event starts at 6pm with a cookout with the live music getting cranked out at 8pm. Come early and stay late, or just stop by on your time. This Folkfest is all about you be being you.

Folkfest, featuring performances by Muddy Ruckus, Michael Graham Band, Man & Wife, Jeff Byrd, John Coltain, David Begin, SeatBelt and Josh Grabert engulfs Dusk in Providence on June 3.  


All the shows I’m mentioning are good, but there are few that I’m as stoked for as the Hurdy Gurdy man himself, Donovan, coming to New London. I got into Donovan big time many moons ago in college when most of my friends smoked a shit ton of pot and listened to Donovan records all night. Those platters still matter, as tunes like “Mello Yellow,” Epistle to Dippy,” and of course “Season of the Witch” are classics.

Donovan comes to enchant the Garde Center of the Arts in New London, Conn, on June 3.

The B-52s

What happens when the “Rock Lobster” struts into the Whaling City? Why a pure new wave dance party, of course, as The B-52s march into New Bedford. The B-52s aren’t roaming around to not play the hits. Expect to be dragged down to the “Love Shack” on your “Private Idaho” to shake your ass and you’ll love every minute of it!

The B-52s rock the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford on June 3.

Southern Culture on the Skids

Southern Culture on the Skids come barreling into town for what promises to be a rockabilly romp. They keep things trashy by mixing in surf and garage rock with some humorous lyrics about fried chicken and other stuff of that ilk.  This show promises to be a swinging hoe down!

Southern Culture on the Skids and Thee Fabulous Itchies rock The Met Café on June 8.

Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Oyster Cult must be really feeling the Rhode island vibe lately because after not coming to these lands in years, they are back for the second time in a matter of months. I caught them in Woonsocket a few months ago and they were majestic. They play the hits one would expect like “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” (albeit with no big cowbell showoff), “Burnin’ For You” and “Godzilla.” Hopefully they change up the set a little and add “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” and their cover of “Kick Out the Jams” because their version outkicks the MC5’s.

Blue Oyster Cult rock the Greenwich Odeum on June 8.

The New Darkbuster

I don’t like calling this “The New Darkbuster” because if one is going to use the name Darkbuster, it should just be called Darkbuster even if the band is just Lenny Lashley and his hired guns. Calling names aside, I have caught this version of Darkbuster and all the sing-a-long pub punk thrills of old are still there. By the end of the night, I ended up in the pit with arms around the shoulders of two friends singing along to “Hometown Zero,” just like a Darkbuster show of old.

The New Darkbuster, The Worried, and Brunt of It bring the punk rock to The Café at Parlor in Newport on June 9.

Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka’s new album, Heart-Shaped Mountain (Bloodshot Records) was shaped by a hardware crash that forced them to essentially abandon everything and start from scratch. We’ll never know if the original cuts were some lost masterpiece, but the resulting Heart-Shaped Mountain has some alt-country jams with the best of them being “Race to the Bottom,” “The Party” and the Springsteen-like refrain of “Arkansas.”

Ha Ha Tonka rocks Firehouse 13 on June 9.

The Worried – You Deserve This… (Release Show)

It has been a long time coming for the first official release from punk rock pushers, The Worried, which may be why it is titled You Deserve This… for sticking it out. You Deserve This… is like a bomb of up-tempo gritty punk ‘n’ roll.  Highlights include the stompers “Hey Sailor” and “Didn’t Get This Far,” and they sound like Angry Samoans and The Queers hookup-ed at the prom. “Worried Man Boogie” and my favorite, “Fire in The Hole,” are the dance floor bangers on this record.

The Worried celebrate the release of You Deserve This… with a show with Party Pigs and Pyramid at The Parlour in Providence Firehouse 13 on June 10.

Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile comes to town to blast out a barrel of low-grade, psychedelic-tinged rock ‘n’ roll. I caught Vile a couple of years ago at the Newport Folk Fest and didn’t really get the appeal, but the person next to me was going ape shit over him. I’m going to give Vile another chance when he hits the Columbus, and recommend you do the same.

Kurt Vile and Julie Byrne rock the Columbus Theatre on June 22. 

David J (Bauhaus & Love & Rockets)

David J returns to Firehouse 13 for another intimate living room show. The format is usually David J does a set and then DJs as everyone hangs out together and has a grand ole time. The word on the street is that Firehouse 13 is closing at the end of June so this will be one of your last experiences to soak up those great memories from all the shows, art exhibits, darts leagues, and swinger’s nights (Ed. See Open and Closed for an alternative theory). Advance tickets are usually necessary for these shows, and you can get yours here

David J performs an intimate Living Room show at Firehouse 13 on June 23.

The Schemers

It is always news when The Schemers play, but this show is a little extra because it is a benefit for The Same Thing Project workshop. The Same Thing Project is a songwriting workshop at The Artist Exchange in Cranston started by Schemers vocalist/guitarist Mark Cutler and Ray Memery from Avatar. The workshop includes musicians, non-musicians, developmentally challenged and people from the general population. Participants engage in writing and recording songs together with a plan to release a CD at some point down the road. In addition to the very cool cause, this night will feature great rock ‘n’ roll from The Schemers and Hope Anchor.

The Schemers and Hope Anchor rock The Parlour in Providence on June 24 to benefit The Same Thing Project.

Tall Teenagers – CD Release Show

Tall Teenagers will release their sophomore album with a show packed with some of my favorite local bands. I heard rough mixes of two tracks, “Lights Out “and “The Bottom,” a couple of months ago, and both featured the fuzzed-out guitars that are Tall Teenagers’ calling card.

Tall Teenagers, Pyramid, Eric & The Nothing and Party Pigs rock Dusk on June 24.

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats have a new biscuit titled Goths (Merge Records), which is a pretty hysterical name for an album from an indie folk band. I only just got an advance copy of the record, but I’m so digging with “Rain in Soho” in particular jumping out. I recommend getting advance tickets because The Mountain Goats sold out the Columbus last year when they came to town.

The Mountain Goats come to the Columbus Theatre on June 28.

Wailing Souls

The Wailing Souls are part of the small surviving group of reggae and roots originators that date back to the late 1960s. The Wailing Souls members got their start learning from reggae icon Joe Higgs in Jamaica’s Trench Town yards and sung alongside other emerging groups at the time, including Bob Marley & The Wailers. By the ’70s, The Wailing Souls attracted interest from preeminent reggae producer Coxson Dodd, and began a recording career that has earned three Grammy nominations.

Wailing Souls bring the reggae to The Café at Parlor in Newport on July 2. 

Revival Festival

I guess now it is safe to say that Liberty Fest is officially dead. Long live Liberty and long live Revival Fest. For the third year, Revival Fest takes Dusk, and the bands I’m excited to see include The Z-Boys, Bad Motherfucker, Civility, Atlantic Thrills and Beta Motel.

The third annual Revival Festival returns to Dusk on July 4.  The music kicks off at 1pm and runs all day and night. 

Swamp Stomp 10

Swamp Stomp turns 10 this year with a wallop of show headlined by The Waco Brothers. The Waco Brothers do one of my favorite tunes from the last year or so in “DIYBYOB” from their Going Down in History (Bloodshot Records) album. The Waco Brothers have been holding it down for 20 years, belting out three-chord country with a punk rock soul. This is a stacked day that includes the return of a Swamp Stomp favorite, The Sadies, for a third time. Swamp Stomp is a BYO-everything event from beverages to food to whatever turns you on, and enjoy what promises to be a hot day of rock ‘n’ roll at a beautiful property situated in the swampy backwoods of West Kingston. Grounds will open at 1:30pm on the day of the event, with music beginning at 3pm and continuing until 9pm or so.

Swamp Stomp 10 featuring performances by The Waco Brothers, The Sadies, Eric Ambel and Al Scorch takes place in West Kingston near the entrance of The Great Swamp on July 8. Suggested donation to attend Swamp Stomp 10 is $42. Information for Swamp Stomp can be obtained by contacting Roots Hoot House Concerts via email at or by phone at 401-965-0833. Advance tickets are usually mandatory so do not sleep on this!

Electric Six

As I enter my fourth term as mayor of the Providence Electric Six Fan Club, I will once again stress that you need to get your shit together and go see this band. It might have been 16 years since their seminal release of Fire, which gripped a nation (England, not the US), but the Electric Six has continued to pretty much release an album every year. They are up to 13 albums of which the best are Switzerland, Flashy and KILL. Electric Six take the blueprint of the Talking Head and mash it with the PEDs, that include the hard rock of K.I.S.S., the groove of Motown, and the swagger of Captain Beefheart, to create some of the best tunes of the millennium.

Electric Six return to rock Alchemy on July 11.

Crimetown Podcast

The Crimetown Podcasts on the history of corruption in Providence have provided a fascinating look back at corruption from the days of the mob rule under the Patriarca Family and the Cianci administration. I don’t know anyone other than Mayor Jorge (The Parking Meter) Elorza that hasn’t loved listening to them. It is, of course, understandable that the mayor does not want to shine a light on the city’s corrupt past. It was just odd that he chose to speak out against it the same week the president of the city council was being indicted. Anyway, the creators of Crimetown come to the Columbus Theatre for two nights to discuss all things Crimetown, and it should be a hoot!

Crimetown comes to the Columbus Theatre on July 13 and 14.

WBRU Summer Concert Series

WBRU’s Summer Concert Series returns to Waterplace Park for four shows this summer. On July 21, Unlikely Candidates and Cannibal Ramblers kick off the series. Dreamerz and The Beardogz play on July 28. Marian Hill and Call Security rock the city on August 4. SWMRS and Neutral Nation close out the series with a bang on August 11.

WBRU Summer Concert Series returns to Waterplace Park in Providence for four concerts starting with Unlikely Candidates and Cannibal Ramblers on July 21.  All shows begin at 7:15pm and best of all, are free!

Newport Folk Fest

Newport Folk Fest returns with another stacked lineup the last weekend of July. Acts are still being announced, but so far the acts I’m looking for to seeing the most are Shovels & Rope, Angel Olsen,  Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Dr. Dog, John Prine and of course, the Deer Tick after-parties!

Newport Folk Fest will once again take over Fort Adams State Park in Newport from July 28 through July 30.

Foo Fest

Foo Fest may be over two months away, but so far it has been a complete disaster. Their initial choice of American Drag performer and recording artist Sharon Needles was panned for everything from being insensitive to the opioid crisis to racism because of past Needles comments to the simple argument that Needles is a reality television creation who has never been artistically relevant. The latter is supported by the low streams of Needles’ work on Spotify for someone with a sizeable social media presence. Whatever your opinion, once AS220 encountered any public pressure they caved and cancelled Needles’ performance with a bizarre statement that they support free speech, just not in this case. I don’t know why people can’t just admit they screwed up, but anyways, as of press time a replacement headliner has not been announced. Thankfully local music will bail Foo Fest out with acts like Hott Boyz, Minibeast, Neutrinos, and Jodi Jolt and The Volt all scheduled to perform.

Foo Fest will take place outside and inside AS220 on Empire Street on August 12.

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