The Roots Report: Treat ’em Right

Okee dokee folks… Warning, I am going to rant again. The other night I read a Facebook post about a venue owner who basically told musicians mid-set to stop playing and go home. Not only that, but they were not paid. From what I understand, the owner did not care for the music, but there was an audience there that had come to hear it. I won’t name the venue because I only have second-hand info and one side of the story. But I’m bringing it up to let folks know that in the future, if you screw with musicians and their livelihood I WILL call you out on it and I WILL let people know who you are.

Musicians don’t make a lot of money and the gigs that they get are meaningful to them both financially and artistically. A lot of booking is done with a gentlemen’s agreement and no contracts are rosanne cash copysigned. Venue operators have taken advantage of this, and it usually leaves the musicians in the lurch. In the past I have written about venues canceling music the night of a show to save a buck because they don’t think anyone would come out on that particular night. This tends to happen frequently during baseball and football seasons. It is not fair to the performers. If you book them, honor the agreement and pay them at least. They could have booked that night at another establishment, but now they are out a gig at the last minute and their income takes a hit.

The other night I was talking to a road manager of a national touring act about how hard it is to make money in music. He said the pay for musicians has not changed in about 30 years. I remember doing gigs when I first started 30 years ago and I would get $150 to $200 for a bar gig. The pay rate has not changed, but that $150 to $200 is worth much, much less than it was back then. These days, a four-piece band MAY even get paid that same amount of money for a show. That barely covers expenses. We all know times are tough, but decency and integrity certainly do make things a little better. Please, pay the musicians, pay them fairly and honor the gigs. End of rant. Read on…

The BEST end-of-summer-wrapper-upper festival takes place on Labor Day weekend at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. It’s the 20th annual Rhythm and Roots Festival. This is a REAL Rhode Island festival produced and run by Rhode Islanders. It is a family event in more ways than one. The festival itself is a big family — the musicians, the volunteers, the audience — and it is produced by Chuck Wentworth and HIS family and the Langniappe Productions staff. I have often had people tell me that this is their favorite festival in Rhode Island. It has all the aspects of a great one — music, camping, late-night jamming and multiple stages, including a family stage, dancing, food, arts and crafts, beer, and so much more. There is no pretense at Rhythm and Roots, everyone is just there to have a wonderful time! Wentworth always takes great care in booking the music for the fest. This year is no exception. Artists such as Roseanne Cash, The Mavericks, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Natalie MacMaster, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Marcia Ball, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman, Big Sandy and His Flyrite Boys, and many many more will grace the stages at Ninigret Park. Main stage music goes until 11pm, but the dancing continues until midnight. It doesn’t stop there. Jamming and parties continue in the campground until the wee hours. Sleep? It’s overrated. This is three days of possibly the best time you could ever have. Get out your Crocs, your crazy hats, your wild shirts, your lawn chairs and your tents and and head on down to Ninigret Park this Labor Day weekend and start a tradition that you will surely continue. You can go for the day as well; it is an easy drive down Route 1! For more, “Go Daddy-O” to RhythmandRoots.com

The fourth annual Providence Folk Festival will take place on Sunday, August 27, at Roger Williams National Memorial in Downtown Providence. This is the place where the State of Rhode Island actually began. Roger Williams chose it as his place to settle and Hear In Rhode Island chose it for its festival location. The park is beautiful, grassy, comfortable and located at the foot of Smith Hill. Two stages of music will be presented: a Main Stage where groups will perform and a SongCrafter stage where solo artists will play. The line-up for this year includes Main Stage hosts Cardboard Ox (Steve Allain and Tracie Potochnik), Chris Trapper (of the Push Stars), The Pamela Means Band from Northampton, Massachusetts, former Rhode Islanders Chris and Meredith Thompson, Motif Award Winner Dan Lilley and his band The Keepers with Amy Bedard, Wilbur Hill, The Chris Monti Trio, The Slackwater String Band, Motif Award Winners The Quahog Quire, Motif Award Winner Amanda Salemi, Jenee Halstead and Hugh McGowan from Boston, Motif Award Winner Haunt The House, Emma Joy Galvin, Avi Jacob, Lys Guillhorn and Motif Award Winner Steve Delmonico. The SongCrafter Stage will be hosted by Motif Award Winners Bob Kendall and Allysen Callery. That’s a lot of talent! Admission to the festival is FREE. This doesn’t mean putting it on is cheap by any means. Donations to support the festival will be accepted at the Festival Merch Table. The Providence Folk Festival won the 2017 Motif Award for Best Americana Festival! So bring a lawn chair or blanket and maybe even a picnic basket and enjoy the music at this year’s Providence Folk Festival. Food trucks will be available on the street side of the park. There is plenty of street parking and the lots near the State House are available for use as well. Well-behaved and picked up after dogs are welcomed! For more, folk on over to ProvidenceFolkFestival.com

Last week I performed at the Empire Revue at AS220. I absolutely LOVE this show. I have been fortunate to be a musical guest at these events quite a few times over the past five or six years. Not only do I love to perform as part of it, I love to be an audience member. I have said this before and I will say it again, Empire Revue is one of the BEST things going on in Rhode Island. If you have never been you NEED to check it out. What is it? Well, think “Saturday Night Live,” only Empire Revue is actually funny. Hysterical is more like it. Keith Munslow, Nicky Mariani, Stuart Wilson, Kelly Seigh, Kate Sayles, Dave Rabinow, Kate Teichman, Pamela Murray, John Cote, Joe Potenza and others will entertain the socks off of you! I find myself recycling lines and singing songs that I hear during the performances for weeks after. Every month the show has a different theme. So far this year they have presented The Green Show, The Breakfast Show, The 60s Show, The Cool Show and more. The next one is called The Progress Show and the Beatniks come up with new and original musical numbers and sketches relating to the show topic and they are ALWAYS amazingly funny! Empire Revue also includes guest comedians, musical acts and occasionally some burlesque! The Progress Show will be Sunday, September 3 at 8pm. I am telling you now so you can put it on your calendar and you won’t miss it! For more, giggle over to AS220.org or be awesome and get your tix early at progress-show.brownpapertickets.com

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

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