The Roots Report: E-nnoying!: Those highway signs should hit the road

Rock History LegendsOkee dokee folks… Have you noticed the illuminated message signs along our major highways and the annoyingly punny sayings on them? Personally, I think that these signs should be used for one thing only: emergencies. Instead, they visually shout stupidity at you as you pass. They are such a turn-off because they never seem to be turned off so I TRY to ignore them, which is exactly the opposite of what they are there for. Last month, with St. Paddy’s approaching, they constantly flashed out messages like, “Make your own luck, drive sober” and “You’re someone’s pot of gold, drive sober.” Yes, I agree, drive sober, but a driver has to take their eyes off the road to read the message. If you don’t know enough to drive sober, I seriously doubt that this electronic conscience is going to influence your imbibing, especially with puerile quips such as these. Other examples read: “Use yah blinkah,” “That seat belt looks good on you” and “Santa sees you when you’re speeding.” Maybe the sign people just aren’t getting enough emergencies to light write about. Maybe they should become songwriters and hit the open mics; they might be less annoying this way. Am I alone? Read on…

Ding, Da-Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding… Does that sound familiar? Ha! Well, it’s the plucking banjo intro of the instrumental “Dueling Banjos” from the motion picture, Deliverance. The film was about four friends taking an ill-fated canoe trip through northern Georgia and starred Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. This marked the movie debut of Ronny Cox who secured the role because he could play guitar. Cox used his guitar skills in the Deliverance “Dueling Banjos” scene that featured that bizarre banjo boy. After this movie, he went on to star in other films including Beverly Hills Cop 1 & 2, Total Recall and RoboCop. Although he spent a good deal of his life acting, he has always been a singer-songwriter. These days he spends most of his time playing music at festivals and concert venues. He captivates his audiences with stories, sometimes spoken, sometimes sung. He likes to connect with his audience and share his original songs as well as those of others. Cox will be performing in RI as part of the Route 44 Music Series at the Harmony Lodge in Glocester on Thursday, April 11 at 7:30pm. Rhode Island’s own Lainey Dionne will be playing a short, mid-show set. Tickets are available in advance at Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. For more about the show, “Slow Train” over to hearinrhodeisland.com

You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish! This was the 1978 breakout album for REO Speedwagon and launched their hits “Time For Me To Fly” and “Roll With The Changes.” Three years later, the multi-platinum Hi-Infidelity recording gave us “Take It On The Run” and “Keep On Loving You” while the Wheels Are Turning album produced the #1 hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Over the years the hits softened, lead guitarist Gary Richrath died and the band’s roster changed many times. For a while, lead singer Kevin Cronin was peddling Time-Life CDs on late night infomercials. The band teamed up with other bands such as Styx, Chicago, Tesla and Def Leppard and embarked on nostalgia-type tours across the country. On April 12, REO Speedwagon rolls into the event Center at Twin River in Lincoln for an evening of their timeless tunes. For more, “Keep Pushin’” to TwinRiver.com

I have watched the rockumentary Chicago: Now More Than Ever many times over. Chicago’s Greatest Hits was one of my early favorite albums. I remember getting it for Christmas in 1975 and having my father complain about their music. Ironically, a few years back I took my parents to see Chicago in concert and they absolutely loved the show! Jimi Hendrix thought the band’s horn section sounded like “one set of lungs” and was wowed by the guitar mastery of Terry Kath. When Kath died of an accidental gunshot in 1978, it was a massive blow to the band. They continued on and had many more hits that tended to feature Peter Cetera, and he exited the band for a solo career in 1985. Chicago was never a one lead vocalist band, nor was the focus meant to be on one, and the line-up has changed over the 50 years of the band’s life. Original members Jimmy Pankow and Robert Lamm, who wrote most of the band’s most enduring songs, are still with Chicago as is trumpet player Lee Loughnane. I have seen them a couple of times over the past few years and the band still has it. Don’t miss your opportunity to hear the legendary sound live when they take the stage at Providence Performing Arts Center on April 19. I spoke with longtime Chicago band member Keith Howland last week, and you can read that interview at motifri.com/howland. For more about the show, go to ppacri.org

We have the School of Rock, now how about the School of Folk? Well, Pump House Music Works in Peacedale now presents Folk Music Night every Tuesday night. At 6pm is a  Clawhammer Banjo Workshop where you can learn to play in the old southern mountain style. At 7pm it’s the Acoustic Guitar Workshop. The Folk Ensemble Workshop starts at 8pm and here you will learn to play music with other people. You can build a song list of folk classics together, one song at a time. Beginners are welcome to them all. There is only one charge of $10 for the entire evening. Take one workshop or all three. For more, vandal the handle to pumphousemusicworks.com

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

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