The Roots Report: Bringing the Music to You!

Okee dokee folks… The other night I went to a house concert in Connecticut where my friend Michelle Malone from Georgia was playing. Michelle has been been performing for about 30 years, toured all over the world, has over 17 CDs in her catalog and collaborated with artists such as Indigo Girls, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle and many others. For more about her, moan over to MichelleMalone.com.

If you’ve never been to a house concert, you should give it a try or have your own. It doesn’t require anything fancy or complicated, though I have been to house concerts where they have full sound and lights set up. It can be as simple as having a bunch of friends over and listening to someone play music in the living room. It’s kind of like a Tupperware party with music. At the concert the other night, there was a pot luck dinner, a fire pit outside, lots of friends, adult beverages, four dogs and even a cat!

There are plenty of sites to guide you through the house concert prep process; a popular one is concertsinyourhome.com. Most touring performers are open to the idea of house concerts, but there are plenty of locals willing to do so as well. (Me!) Check out RISongwriters.com for other locals who are available. Some hosts pay a flat rate to the performer while others use a donation/ticket structure. This whole scene is sort of underground. The shows are not publicly advertised, but are invitation only. You have to be conscious of parking in your neighborhood, but it is no more nuisance than a regular house or Tupperware party. Most often the musician will play “unplugged,” but not all performers are comfortable with that. In that case, a small set-up is all you will need and the performer may have their own or you can rent or borrow one. Volume should be kept at a reasonable level — you don’t want to piss off the neighbors or make your guests’ ears ring!

These shows are relaxed and personal and may turn into sing-a-longs or even musical jams. Seating is whatever you can find — couches, comfy chairs, stools, folding chairs, lawn chairs, or the floor. It is amazing how many folks can squeeze into an average size living room. There are no real rules, just guidelines and whatever works. The lesson? You don’t have to wait for your favorite performer to play at a local venue. Invite them up for a house concert! Now for some stuff you will have to leave your house for.

The Church Street Coffeehouse presents “Rockin’ Out Against Domestic Violence II” on Saturday, October 24 at 7pm. The line-up features Jan Luby, Elliot Ricci, Andrew Lewis, Mark Greenbaum with Tom Farley, and Kala Farnham. All proceeds will benefit The Women’s Resource Center in Warren. This domestic violence advocacy group serves both Bristol and Newport Counties. If you are unable to attend this event but would like to make a donation, send a check payable to WRC with memo line CSCH Benefit to: The Church Street Coffeehouse, C/O First United Methodist Church, 25 Church Street, Warren, RI, 02885, which is also where the show will be held. You can’t miss it, it’s the big white church! For more, steeple to churchstreetcoffeehouse.net

At Manchester 65 in West Warwick it’s “Sirens: RI Pride Mini Fest” with performances by Cheryl Wheeler, the Mary Day Band, Reece Cotton, Bridie Jurasevich, Kiki DJs, and the Sweet Little Variety Show. Cheryl Wheeler headlines a day-long event on Sunday, October 25, with proceeds helping to fund Rhode Island Pride. Nothing you read or hear from Wheeler’s album prepares you for how good a performer she is. From her albums you can tell that she is a gifted songwriter with a beautiful voice. From other people’s comments, you can learn that she is a natural storyteller with a fantastic sense of humor. But until you see her in person, you never really believe what you’ve been told. Also coming to Manchester 65 is Wreck Of The Day’s Anna Nalick. Her song “Breathe 2am” was a big pop hit about 10 years ago. She makes her return to Manchester 65 on Friday, November 11. Also appearing will be Christina Holmes and Gracelyn Rennick. For more about both shows, unite over to manchester65.com

The folk-pop duo Pete and Maura Kennedy, known as the couple who bring energy and excitement to the New Bedford Folk Festival each year, open the Music in the Gallery series on Thursday, October 29 in New Bedford. The Music in the Gallery concert series is the newest project for the music directors of the New Bedford Folk Festival. The concert venue is the 1821 James Arnold Mansion on Union Street in New Bedford. Now owned by the Wamsutta Club, the mansion provides ample parking, easy access into the building and the charm of great music, food and company in an historic setting. Music in the Gallery will be presented in the South Lounge and will offer monthly concerts in the fall and spring. Upcoming shows include The Hanneke Cassel Band on November 19 and the Boxcar Lilies on December 17. For more, e-lectronic mail korolenko8523@charter.net.

Blackstone River Theatre is celebrating their 15th anniversary this fall and is in the middle of an eclectic season. The rest of October features Celtic harp and storytelling, Chicago blues and dixieland music. On the 17th, Patrick Ball – one of the premier Celtic harp players in the world and a captivating spoken word artist – returns to BRT. He not only brings new life to two cherished traditions, but blends them to create a theatrical, hauntingly beautiful performance. On the 24th, Chicago blues masters Sugar Ray and the Bluetones hit the stage. BRT ends the month with a 2pm show on the 31st featuring the 9-piece Dixie Diehards Jazz Band. For more, paddle to riverfolk.org

Now to squeeze even more in. The Fall Waterfront Reggae Festival will take place at India Point Park on Friday, October 16 featuring DJ Paul Michael and DJ Matik, The Ravers, and Collie Buddz. General admission tix are available by visiting  the Half Way Tree Jamaican Restaurant at 150 Chestnut Street or RIWaterfrontevents.com. Over at the Grange on Broadway in PVD you can hear great music while you eat some yummy food! On October 16 is The Red Pennys, October 21 is Vudu Sister, October 23 is Time Toss, October 25 is Comedy Night with Vito Lantz, October 28 is Ramblin Dan, October 30 is Little Compton Band, and November 4 is Sianna Plavin/The Sun Flights (ProvidenceGrange.com). The Providence Mandolin Orchestra will play a wide ranging repertoire at Sandywoods in Tiverton on October 30. The Courthouse Center for the Arts will present a Monkees Tribute featuring Dave Tessier and his All Star Band on October 23 (courthousearts.org). At Chan’s in Woonsocket, it’s Anthony Gomes on October 23 & 24 and the Johnny Watson Jr. Blues Band on October 30 (chanseggrollsandjazz.com). Joanne Lurgio hosts the Acoustic open Mic at the Pub on Park in Cranston every Tuesday at 7pm. Don Tassone presents the Open Mic every Thursday at The Mediator Stage 50 Rounds St in PVD. Both have feature acts at the open mic.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

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