The Roots Report: Festivals Galore!

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Okee dokee folks… The summer is coming to close (thank goodness, I can’t take much more of it) and some of Rhode Island’s best festivals, produced by Rhode Islanders, are coming up! I am a proud Rhode Islander and unlike the gov, I tend to like it when things are done in Rhode Island by Rhode Islanders. Have I said Rhode Island enough? Read on…

The fifth annual Providence Folk Festival will take place on Sunday, August 26 from noon to 6pm at Roger Williams National Memorial in Downtown Providence (DON’T get confused and go to Roger Williams Park — totally different place!). Roger Williams founded Providence on this very spot, and while you are at the festival, have Ranger John McNiff (or any of the other rangers) tell you some of the history; it is VERY interesting, and these days, the visions of Roger Williams are more important than ever! The Motif Award winning Providence Folk Fest features many local artists as well as regional and national talent. The Songcrafter Stage, again to be hosted by Allysen Callery and Bob Kendall, will spotlight the songwriting talents of Kate Mick, Jenn Lombari, Jodie Treloar Sampson, Lainey Dionne, Morgan Johnston, Daphne Martin, Glenn Kendzia and Dan Blakeslee. On the main stage, music styles range from a cappella to folk pop to Americana, Gypsy Jazz to true folk to some classic ’70s acoustic sounds. This year’s headliner is John Hall, who founded the band Orleans, whose hits “Dance With Me” and “Still The One” continue to get radio play. Hall’s solo career produced the hit “Crazy,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs and was in heavy rotation in the early MTV days. He was also part of the Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) that included Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt and many more, and the legendary No Nukes concert that took place in 1979. He was a co-writer of the song “Power,” which became their anthem. On top of all that John Hall is a community activist and environmentalist, and was a US Congressman from New York. Hall performs solo and occasionally reunites his band Orleans.

Coming in from New Mexico is RI native Jaime Michaels. Though Jaime hasn’t lived in RI for a long time, this is where he started his musical career. I asked Michaels about his RI beginnings, and his reply was, “It’s been a long time since the RI connections. In fact, it’s where I began the 50 years in this stuff. My two important connections were a cat named Alex Arabian (who sold me the ’63 Gibson I still use as my writing guitar and who taught me some cool fingerpicking) and Ken Lyon who casually suggested one night at the RIC coffeehouse in ’68 that I oughta grow my hair out, get a cool hat and get the hell outta here. Seemed like good advice at the time. I played a lot of coffeehouses, then took Ken’s advice … still out here.” Jaime does visit RI every few years and plays a gig or two, but this trip is for the festival. One of the other main stage acts is a trio that plays a mix of Gypsy Jazz and contemporary folk.

Phil and the Flying Leap will be coming in from Boston to perform their quirky Django-tinged tunes. Many of the other acts may be local, but are doing special sets just for the festival. Dan Lilley and the Keepers will have Amy Bedard join in on violin and backing vocals. They have become a PVD Folk Festival favorite over the years. There are two stages of music, food trucks, the Intention Peace Booth by Autumn Francesca, and lots of green grassy spots to sit and listen to music or run and play (kids and well behaved dogs that are picked up after are welcome). You can’t beat FREE and you can’t beat the location. This is one festival you don’t want to miss. For more, “What Cheer, Netop” over to providencefolkfestival.com

Also on August 26 is Sam’s Mill Fest. This one is a free outdoor festival of music, artisan enterprise and industrial history, held at the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution: Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket. SAM’s features 25 artisan sellers, food trucks and vendors; free admission to the Slater Mill museum; and live music under a tent by Sax Gordon Beadle, the Bobby Keyes Trio, Western Caravan featuring Dave Hansen, and the Cliff Goodwin Rhythm and Blues Union. Guitarist Cliff Goodwin has amassed a four-decade legacy on the rock and roll circuit, having been launched onto the ’70s rock scene when his band, the Worcester-based American Standard Band, was selected by English singer Joe Cocker in 1976 as his touring and recording band. Goodwin remained with Cocker for 12 years, playing the biggest stages around the world and recording some of his biggest hits. For more, spin over to slatermill.org

Rhythm and Roots festival, which has to be the BEST festival in this state, will talk place over Labor Day weekend. This one has ALL the ingredients of a perfect festival; great music, dancing, food, crafts, camping, nighttime jamming, and a beautiful location, and you really don’t want to miss it. Besides Steve Earle (keep an eye out for my interview with him), Taj Mahal, Leftover Salmon, Asleep at the Wheel, Hot Rize, Donna the Buffalo, and too many other to name will be there. Get there for a TRUE festival experience! For more, “Copperhead Road” to rhythmandroots.com

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

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