Roots Report: On the Road Again

Okee dokee folks … I am on my way back north going 70mph along Route 95. No, I am not driving. My girlfriend is. I have written my column in odd places before, but never in a moving car. We just spent a week at her father’s in South Carolina. It was interesting to be there considering I am not a fan of the south nor am I a fan of the hot weather. The temperature averaged ABOVE 95 degrees the whole time that we were there. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

It took two days of driving to travel the 1,100 miles. We went the long way around and down in order to avoid cities and traffic. No, we weren’t on the lam! Route 95 tends to attract traffic, which we are hitting only 20 miles into our return journey. GRRRRR!!!

It seemed an odd time to be visiting SC in light of the church shootings and Confederate flag controversy. Honestly, other than the news on TV, we didn’t hear anything about those issues. In fact, I didn’t see one Confederate flag anywhere. We were kind of in a bubble. We stayed at a gated community for people 55 and over. It was a HUGE place that felt like a small town. They have their own rules and security force. Oh, and alligators! The gators will just hang out in people’s backyards or along the side of the road depending on the time of day. Unfortunately, I only saw the top of one’s head and another one swimming away along a drainage ditch. I got up too late for them.

This part of SC seems to be under constant construction while they build these communities. They are removed from the reality of southern life and are upscale, air conditioned and have perfectly presented front lawns. Every garage has a car and a golf cart. The cart is the preferred mode of transportation on the miles of maze-like roads in the communities that lead to other “ticky-tacky” houses, swimming pools, golf courses, restaurants, community rooms and whatever else the neighborhood association provides. Even if you have to leave the neighborhood, the businesses in the area are filled with folks from the nearby developments. You are isolated from the real south. Most of the population in these areas are from the north. On the street where we stayed there were four RI couples. I could never live in one of these places, they would bounce me in a heartbeat! Too many rules!

Ok, we are finally moving again, back up to 70 mph after 30 minutes of unexplained standstill traffic. We just passed one of the many, many billboards that are along the 95 corridor in SC for the South Of The Border stop in Dillon, SC. If you have never been, it is the ultimate Southwestern themed tourist trap located at the border of NC and SC. There are almost 200 miles of cheesy signs like, “Pedro says chile today hot tamale.” We have 158 miles until we get to Pedro. I have stopped there a couple of times on previous southern forays but it is hard NOT to stop again. We browsed through the huge souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels, fireworks stores and took goofy photos with the array of dinosaur, gorilla and other animal statues that adorn the area. We may have to stop again, just to use the restrooms, of course. I am aware that you are not here to read about my adventures below the Mason-Dixon line, but I don’t have internet access in the car and have a deadline so I am just trying to entertain you until I get to the motel to connect to the web. Anyway, right now I must get back to being the navigator. Read on for the good stuff…

The Providence Folk Festival is scheduled for Sun, Aug 30 at Roger Williams National Memorial in PVD. The performers are currently being booked, but in the meantime if you are feeling generous and would like to support the festival, an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign is under way. Free events of this nature do need monetary support to be successful. To help out and donate funds, please go to IndieGoGo.com and look up The Providence Folk Festival 2015. Also at Roger Williams National Memorial the Downtown Sundown Series continues Saturday night Jul 11 and Jul 25. On the 11th its Dan Lilley with Amy Bedard and Scatman; Allysen Callery, and Ryan Lee Crosby. The 25th brings in Ed Mcguirl and Mike Fischman (otherwise known as the Folk Support Group), Bethel Steele, and member of the Motif award-winning band The Rank Strangers, Pete Vendettuoli. Shows are free and start at 7pm. Before all the Sundown music starts you can catch a half an hour of very clever skits by the Manton Avenue Project. For more, national park it to HearInRhodeIsland.com

Now more music for ya’ll… (I DID hear that in the south!): Nick-A-Nee’s has a HOT July for ya’ll. This “heavenly dive” on South St presents a Bluegrass Throwdown every Wednesday night. Jul 1 is Dunderhead, Jul 8 is Michelle Canning & Rough Edges, Jul 15 is No Spare Parts, Jul 22 is Gather Rounders and Jul 29 is Ryan Taylor Band (facebook.com/NickaNees). The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River has a wide selection of July shows for ya’ll! On the Jul 9 is Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys, on Jul 10 is Marcia Ball and Shelley King, on Jul 11 is The Slide Brothers and Mark T. Small, on Jul 15 is The Brothers Comatose, on Jul 16 is Dale Watson and The Barley Hoppers, and much more (NarrowsCenter.org)! Hey, ya’ll — one half of one of the greatest duos of all time will be at the Greenwich Odeum on Sat, Jul 11. Art Garfunkel shows why he made Simon’s songs so memorable (TheOdeum.org). Thurs, Jul 16, 1990’s multi-platinum rock powerhouses Smash Mouth and Tonic bring their co-billing summer tour to the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford. Ya’ll can hear the hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star” and “If You Could Only See” (Zeiterion.org). On Fri night, Jul 17 at the Knickerbocker Cafe, The Hoolios bring the mayhem. At Fete Music Hall in Olneyville on Sun, Jul 19, it’s Hawaii’s The Green, with Tobler, and the celebrated “Guitar Masters” tour shows off for ya’ll on Fri, Jul 31 with Andy McKee, Stephen Bennett and Antoine Dufour (FeteMusic.com). If you can get tix, The Newport Folk Festival is Jul 24 – 26 at Fort Adams (newportfolk.org).  The uplifting, raw, ramshackle, backyard country band The Spirit Family Reunion will be at the Columbus Theater for ya’ll on Thurs, Jul 30.

So we didn’t get to a motel. We kept driving all night — 1,000 miles non-stop. I really need some sleep as I did the last 750 miles in the pouring rain and we got in at 7am. Glad to be home in Little Rhody! Hope to see ya’ll at a show sometime soon. Yeah, I know, I am a New Englander, I will stop with the “ya’ll” now. Thanks for reading and for putting up with me. If you have something that you would like me to consider writing about please get it to me. I WANT to know about it! www.JohnFuzek.com

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