ROOTS REPORT: Folk Music Heats up the Summer

Okee dokee folks … I have one foot in the modern era and another still dragging behind me in antiquity. I like the dragging foot; I am stubborn! Last month I wrote my first online column and also recorded an episode of Motif TV. I plan to TRY to keep up with contributing an online column and an episode of Motif TV as well as my monthly print column. If you didn’t get a chance to check either of them out, please do. Hop over to MotifRI.com.
We are just a few days past the unofficial start of summer and a couple of weeks before the solstice, and already things are heating up for a great summer of music. I’m sorry, that was very cliché. Read on as I try to let you know about some of the good stuff happening over the next couple of months. Have I mentioned that summer is my least favorite time of year? It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.

Women of RISA
The Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) presents its 10th annual “Women of RISA” show at the Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren. This show was started by RISA member Jan Luby because I (yes, me) inadvertently booked all MEN at a RISA showcase at Stone Soup the prior spring. This year’s set of lovely sirens spotlights Tammy Laforest, Jenny White, and Colby & Keila with Jan Luby hosting. The Church Street Coffeehouse is located at the First United Methodist Church on Church Street in Warren. For more, worship over to churchstreetcoffeehouse.com.
RISA/AS220 Songwriters in the Round shows continue all summer on the second Sunday of every month from 6 – 8 pm. It’s a unique opportunity to hear four different songwriters’ takes on the same theme. The June 9 program presents host, Joanne Lurgio, with Dawn Kelley, Rick Demers and Meg Braun all penning tunes about “staying the course.” RISA also will be hosting Thursday night music at the Fort Adams Summer Celebration Series. June 20 is Dan Durand, Ronnee Ringquist, Perry Desmond-Davies and Jacob Haller; July 18 is Louis Leeman, Ed McGuirl and Jacqueline Bartlett; August 15 is John McAuliffe, Paul Pasch, Marc Douglas Berardo and Steve Allain; and September 19 is Kala Farnham, Rick Demers, Earl Faria and Kayla Ringelheim. For more about all RISA events, compose your way over to risongwriters.com.

Thursdays at The Towers

Thursday nights are ALWAYS happening during the summer at The Towers in Narragansett. The Towers coordinator, Kate Vivian, has a passion for music and dancing and it shows in the variety and caliber of bands that she books. The Towers in Narragansett was a Mecca for fun in the gay 90s (the 1890s), and it continues to be more than 100 years later. On June 6 is Eight to the Bar, on June 20 is The Revelers, on June 27 is Coastline Swing Band, on July 11 is Reminisce, on July 25 is Sarah and the Tall Boys, on August 1 is Honky Tonk Knights, on August 8 is Roger Ceresi and his All Starz, on August 15 is Superchief Trio, on August 22 is Slippery Sneakers, and on August 29 is Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys w/ special guests. There’ll be lots of sweating and a shimmyin’, so bring your dancin’ shoes and a bandana/towel. The Towers is right across from the ocean and the wall at 35 Ocean Road. Yeah, it’s the building that you drive under. Where else can you dance over a road? For more about The Towers shows and events, promenade over to thetowersri.com.

Summer Solstice Festival
The Blackstone River Theatre (BRT) will present its 3rd annual Summer Solstice Festival at Diamond Hill Park on Route 114 in Cumberland on Saturday, June 22, from 11 am – 7 pm (Rain date: Sunday, June 23). Performing will be Aoife Clancy, Eastern Medicine Singers, Atwater-Donnelly Trio, Cantrip (from Scotland), Core 4, Sheila Falls and Mark Roberts, Genticorum (from Quebec), The Gnomes, Paddy Keenan, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald (from Cape Breton), Robbie O’Connell, Devine’s Diner, The Broad Street Ceili Band, Debbie O’Carroll, Marvelous Marvin’s Circus Arts and Pendragon. This year there are three music stages, as well as stages dedicated to both Irish dance traditions and children’s entertainment, all running continuously throughout the day. If you don’t get enough of the daytime show and want more, or you just would like to hear some of the festival performers in an indoor setting, the music continues from 8:30 – 11:30 pm with a separate admission “After-Festival-Music-Session” in a casual pub-like atmosphere. Many of the day’s performers will head over to the BRT to keep the music going. There will be a cash bar and complimentary food will be available at the Saturday evening event. For more information, ring up 401-725-9272 or step over to riverfolk.org.
Downtown Sundown Series
Bring a lawn chair, a blanket and maybe even a picnic dinner and sit on the lawn at the beautiful Roger Williams National Memorial and enjoy FREE concerts by some of the best songwriters RI has to offer. Hear In Rhode Island and Roger William’s National Memorial will present several evenings of music over the summer as part of the Downtown Sundown Series. Saturday, June 22, (special “Singing About Providence” celebration show) from 4 – 6 pm are WS Monroe, Billy Mitchell, Indigo Bethea, Heather Rose, and Jacob Haller. The remaining concerts start at 7 pm and continue until 9:30 pm.
Scheduled to appear on Saturday, June 29, are Kerri Powers, Kris Hansen, Dan Lilley with Scatman, and Malyssa Bellarosa; on July 13 are Lisa Couto and Ray Cook, Lisa Martin with Brad Willard, Kala Farnum and Tracie Potochnik; on July 27 are Mark Cutler, Bob Kendall, Heather Rose and Jesse Liam; on August 10 are Emma Joy Galvin, Ed McGuirl, Steve Allain and Aoife Clancy; on August 17 are WS Monroe, Dylan Sevey, and the Rank Strangers. There is limited parking available at the park. Lots of street parking and pay parking lots are available. All ages are welcome. Please don’t confuse Roger Williams National Memorial with the Roger Williams Park Zoo. They are totally different parks on opposite sides of the city. Roger Williams National Memorial is located at 282 North Main Street in Providence’s College Hill Historic District. It’s a small park that you have probably driven by hundreds of times. You can get more info by phoning 401-521-7266 or by discovering (does anyone remember the “Discover RI” license plates? If you do, you’re old!) HearInRhodeIsland.com and
nps.gov/rowi.
Sunset Music Series
Every summer, a big white tent transforms the Newport Yachting Center into one of the premier concert venues in Southern New England. The Sunset Music Series is packed with a boatload of music, and the Series and a medley of festivals take the tunes to summer’s end. The gates open early and local performers play the Point Stage until the main stage openers begin. Brandi Carlile is on June 14 while Heather Rose plays the Point Stage; Willie Nelson is on June 15; Chicago is on June 20 while Glenda Luck plays the Point Stage; The B-52s are on June 21 while Motif Award Winner Lisa Couto is on the Point Stage; Moe – JamFest is on June 23 while Steve Allain plays the Point Stage; Foreigner is on June 28 while Lisa Markovich plays the Point Stage; Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are on July 6 while Kala Farnham plays the Point Stage; Chris Isaak is on July 10 while Allysen Callery plays the Point Stage; BB King is on July 12 while Joe Silva plays the Point Stage; the Doobie Brothers are on July 17 while Marc Douglas Berardo plays the Point Stage; One Republic with Mayer Hawthorne and Churchill are on July 30, while Dylan Sevey plays the Point Stage; Smashmouth, Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms are on August 4, while Kris Hansen plays the Point Stage; George Thorogood and Buddy Guy are on August 9 while Ed McGuirl and Mike Fishman play the Point Stage; The Fab Four Beatles Tribute are on August 17 while Billy Mitchell plays the Point Stage; Styx are on August 22 while Emma Joy Galvin plays the Point Stage; Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are on August 31 while Malyssa Bellarosa plays the Point Stage. That big tent is going to hold a lot of music. For more about the entire goings on at the Newport Yachting Center, sail over to newportwaterfrontevents.com/sunset-music-series.

Dig Your Toes Into Sandywoods
The Sandywoods Center for the Arts in Tiverton is providing Tivertonians and beyond with a hub of unique and exciting activity. Located at 43 Muse Way in Tiverton (that’s greater Massachusetts for all you Rhode Islanders – just kidding!) This is just a sampling of the summer schedule. On June 9 are The Jammin’ Divas, on June 28 is Cliff Eberhardt, on July 6 are the Twangtown Paramours, on July 27 are Planet Zydeco, on August 9 is Grace Morrison and the RSO. Oh, yeah, the part that folks really seem to like – it’s BYOB and food. There’s so much more to Sandywoods than just music. Check it out. For more, dig your toes into sandywoodsmusic.com

Music Worth the Drive
Coming in as still one of the best bangs for your festival buck is the 18th Annual New Bedford Folk Festival. Weekend passes are a bargain at $20 in advance. The July 6 and 7 music feast will feature the best in contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music on seven stages. Featured among the nearly 50 nifty musical acts are Roy Book Binder, The Kennedys, Lori McKenna, Ellis Paul, Cheryl Wheeler, Tiffany Rozenas, Antje Duvekot and more. For more info, harpoon over to newbedfordsummerfest.com.
One of my favorite venues to play and to see music is the Narrows in Fall River. I always say that they should open a bed and breakfast there because they have so many back-to-back-to-back great shows! This summer is no exception. Head out across the Big ole Braga Bridge to Fall River for some of the best music anywhere. Here is a sampling of the summer schedule: Julia Sweeney and Jill Sobule perform on July 10, Jimmy LaFave is on August 6, Nick Lowe is on August 17 and Leon Redbone is on August 24. For the amazing and complete summer line-up, taper to ncfta.org
Get your RI passports ready, you will have to cross state lines – a couple – for these. Yes, the next two events are a little bit of an adventure, but just like the donuts, they’re worth the trip. Okay, maybe the donuts aren’t, but the music is! Lots of RI folks head up to these two festivals every year. In the beautiful Catskill Mountains, you can bear witness to a Who’s Who of Bluegrass Music. The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival takes place July 18 through July 21 on the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, NY. Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Infamous Stringdusters, The Duhks, Dry Branch Fire Squad and lots more are on the bill. Get your camping tix early – only 4,000 are available and they go FAST. Day tickets are also limited. For more, sly your way over to greyfoxbluegrass.com.

The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2 through August 4 at Dodds Farm, just off Route 22 in Hillsdale, New York. That’s near the corner of Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. Nerissa and Katryna Nields, Vance Gilbert, Susan Werner, Ellis Paul, The Grand Slambovians and many, many more are slated for this year’s fest. For more, fly over to falconridgefolk.com. Trust me, they’re both an easy drive – it’s mostly Mass Pike all the way!
File this under saving the best for last! On August 31 through September 2, which is Labor Day weekend, the big summer-wrapper-upper is The Rhythm & Roots Festival, held at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Now in its 16th year, the festival features four stages of music, a family tent for kids, dance lessons, all day and evening dancing on two dance floors, gourmet food and drink, and the best that roots music has to offer. Weekend camping is available and parking is free. Scheduled for your listening and dancing pleasure are Steve Earle, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Marcia Ball, Brown Bird, and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. There are special early bird prices on full festival and camping tickets. For more, beat it over to mardigrasri.com.

All of this is just the tip of the musical iceberg. Sorry for yet another cliché. With global warming, icebergs are melting, so hurry and enjoy. Whatever that means! I’ll be keeping you up-to-date about more shows via the print edition, online or video. Thanks for reading. johnfuzek.com

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