The Roots Report: Rap Battle: How I learned to stop worrying and love the hip-hop

Okee dokee folks… Last week I was fortunate to attend a production of the musical Hamilton at Providence Performing Arts Center. I knew very little about the show prior other than the fact it was touted as “epic,” so I did a little research by watching a documentary and a few YouTube videos. After digesting what I had seen I thought to myself, “I’m not sure that I am going to like this.” The main reason being that I am not a fan of rap music.

The night of the show, PPAC was the busiest that I have ever experienced. At 7pm the lights went down and the show leaped out of the starting gate and began its three-hour sprint. From the minute it began I was captivated. Right away I realized that rap was used in place of actual dialogue and that it was pretty amazing. This was a high-energy history lesson. It was intense, inventive and inspirational. Revolution, rivalry and romance are the basis of this fact-driven story revolving around Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Washington, Jefferson, Lafayette and King George all have memorable moments in this production as well. The king’s song, “You’ll Be Back,” a serenade for the colonies, told them “And when push comes to shove,  I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!”

Many times their words bridged into today’s social issues, such as when the lyrics pronounced, “Immigrants get things done!” or when Hamilton sang “My Shot,” which encourages people to “Rise up!” This production blows the dust off, shakes things up and defies the typical, white bread, Broadway musical in ways that Jesus Christ Superstar did 50 years ago or Gilbert & Sullivan did in Victorian England.   

Hamilton makes history a happening evening of entertainment! I realize that this show has been reviewed to death, but I included it here because this show needs to be seen by everyone! Young and old alike will be moved by Hamilton. It is seriously going to “make some folk’s heads explode,” but looking at our past through Hamilton is showing us our future! Tickets are still available and well worth every penny. The show runs through August 11. Don’t be singing, “What’d I Miss!” Bounce over to PPACRI.org Read on… 

This past March I caught Jim Messina’s sold-out show at the Narrows Center for the Arts. A four-piece band of stellar musicians backed up Messina (who sang, played guitar and mandolin) with lush harmonies, guitar, violin, sax, flute, bass and drums. His set included classics such as “Watching the River Run,” “Danny’s Song,” “Thinking of You,” “House at Pooh Corner,” “Traveling Blues,” “You Better Think Twice,” “Lovin Me,” “Make Your Woman Feel Wanted,” “Peace of Mind” and “Angry Eyes.” Besides the great music, he told interesting and amusing stories between numbers. I had a long chat with Messina last week about his upcoming show at the Greenwich Odeum on Sunday, August 4. Read it at motifri.com/jimmessina If you are a fan of  Loggins & Messina, Poco, or Buffalo Springfield, you will want to be at the Odeum on August 4. For more, Full Sail to: greenwichodeum.com

The Narrows Center for the Arts offers up a stellar schedule of shows in August. On August 2 is three time Grammy nominee for blues, Ruthie Foster. On August 3 its The Conjuring – Mysterious Items of the Occult. This special event will be hosted by Tony Spera, director of the New England Society for Psychic Research and son-in-law of paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren. August 7 brings Grammy winner Shawn Colvin. August 8 and 9 is a two-night stand with Tab Benoit. August 9 is already sold out, so don’t miss out on tix for the 8th! August 14 brings Robert Earl Keen, on the 16th is Walter Trout and on August 17 it’s the legendary British Blues player John Mayall. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” or you will miss Blue Oyster Cult on Aug 22. You can celebrate the 50th anniversary of that deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard when The Who’s “Tommy” is performed by The Collective. Close out the month with The Zombies on August 27 and Danielle Nicole of Trampled Under Foot on the 29th. Phew! That’s a lot of great entertainment. For more, squeeze over to narrowscenter.org.

That’s it for now. I am always adding to my concert photos at facebook.com/motifri. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

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