The Roots Report: A Future Curmudgeon

Okee dokee folks … On Black Friday I woke up to find 55 e-mails in my inbox. Out of the 55, only three were from actual people. The others were advertisements. BUY, BUY, BUY!!! I admit that I do like to buy things. I am a musician and we all have what is known as G.A.S. – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Too much is never enough. So when a great deal comes my way I find it hard to pass up. Some of the “Black Friday” deals are insane, but require that you go to the store and face mad hordes of hungry consumers vying for the same items. That is one thing I will not do. People are animals. They lunge at bargains like hungry wolves on the carcass of a freshly felled deer and fight each other for the bits of meat on the bones. I don’t want anything that bad.

If I shop on Black Friday, I do it online. I guess that is why Cyber Monday also has become a thing. People head back to work, get on their computers and shop online. At least this is more civilized. Black Friday shows you what people really are — they’re animals. (I already said that, didn’t I?) Deep down there is no denying it. We claim to be and want to be civilized, but we’re not. If we can’t get along when shopping how are we ever going to get along any other way?

Those of you who have read my column over the years may remember that I don’t celebrate holidays, especially Christmas. I quit over 30 years ago because it all became ridiculous. The aforementioned is part of the problem. ‘Tis the season of greed. A lot of you may disagree, but many people secretly agree with me and wish they could quit Christmas, too. Borrowing a saying from a store that was trashed in a Black Friday stampede, “Just Do It.” Many things in this society need to change, and going along with the status quo doesn’t help. Giving should be a year-round event and not tied to specific dates. And giving is best when done without expectation of reciprocation. That is what I do. I buy something for someone if I think it is something that they would appreciate. Not 10 or 20 things, but one. That way it means something.

If you shop wisely you can make two people happy with your purchase if you buy from a local artisan. The seller/creator is appreciative and it supports their creative endeavors. A gift doesn’t have to be a physical thing; it can be an experience. Take someone to hear music. There are so many ways to make people happy that don’t involve mass consumerism. Think before you shop. If you celebrate this time of year then “Happy Holidays” to you. I still choose “Humbug.” I aspire to “curmudgeonry.” Read on…

The 9th Annual Singing for Shelter Acoustic Christmas Concert for the benefit of Lucy’s Hearth and the McKinney Shelter will be held Thursday, December 8 from 7 to 9:30pm at Channing Memorial Church in Newport. This year’s performers include: Brenda Bennet (of Prince’s Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6), Zanricky Duo, Ray Davis and Mike Purcell, Jack Casey, Chief Noda, Rand Bradbury, Ed Ledwith Dan and Donna O’Neill, Toni and Chuck Cianuy, David Dragone, Jonathan and Chris Myers, Jimmy Winters, Rick Jones, The Slackwater String Band, Al Fresco Flutes, Leslie Grimes and Matt Bruneau and Mike Jackson. For tickets call 401-835-7209, or email A Washburn guitar valued at $1,000 will be auctioned off during the evening.

Over the past week I have been watching Toad The Wet Sprocket videos on YouTube. They were one of my fav bands from the ’90s, but I never saw them live. Whenever I mention Toad nowadays, most people seem to have forgotten them. Even though they broke up in the ’90s, they still get together for the occasional tour. Glen Phillips, the lead singer-songwriter, began Toad The Wet Sprocket in 1986, at the age of 15. By 1988, they had signed with Columbia Records, recorded five albums and embarked on many major tours until they disbanded in 1998. Three years later, Phillips released his first solo album. Since then he has recorded 10 solo albums and been involved with other performing and recording projects with other artists such as the members of Nickel Creek and Grant-Lee Phillips. As I was perusing the Narrow’s press release, “Glen Phillips, singer-songwriter for Toad The Wet Sprocket” caught my eye. The music fairies must have planted that need to watch Toad in my head. After I watched the videos I wondered if I would get a chance to see them live. Though this is not the band, it is the next best thing. He is touring to support his latest release, Swallowed by the New. He will perform as part of a duo, which seems promising as I like stripped-down performances. A quote from his site: “I enjoy the spontaneity of acoustic performance, where I can take the show wherever it needs to go and follow the lead of an audience instead of following a set list. There’s more talking, more stories and more of a loose feel.” Sounds good! I will be there on December 15 for this show. Also at the Narrows on Thursday, December 8 is Richard Buckner with Kevin Connolly, and the Amy Black Band performs Sunday, December 11. For more about these shows, Dulcinea to

The Providence Gay Men’s Chorus presents “Naughty or Nice!” They are making their list and checking it twice because they want everything perfect for this year’s holiday concerts. As the name implies, you can expect both traditional and not-so-traditional holiday fare at their concerts this year. The Providence Gay Men’s Chorus will put you in a holiday mood with their musical exploration of beauty, grace, silliness, lump-in-the-throat, humor and joy. This year’s benefit concert on Friday, December 9 at the Beneficent Church is for the Providence Animal Rescue League (PARL). For a century, PARL has been the haven for hundreds of thousands of unwanted, neglected and abused animals in the Greater Providence area and they are committed to finding solutions that help individuals and families with the resources needed to be successful pet owners. For more, empower over to

Time to squeeze a whole bunch in a little space! First Friday East Bay Contra Dance is at the Warren Armory on Friday, December 2 ( An Evening with Peter Mulvey is December 2 at the Wamsutta Club, 427 County Street in New Bedford. For info: Common Fence Music Presents Tzibeles, An Evening of Klezmer Music on Saturday, December 3, and Aine Minogue’s 23th Annual Winter Solstice Concert on December 17 ( An Evening of Holiday Music with Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem at Slater Mill/Stone Soup Coffeehouse on December 3 ( Nick-A-Nees’ Bluegrass tHrOEDOWN is every Wednesday. On December 7 is Wilbur Hill, December 14 is Ricky Meir and the Ricktones, December 21 is Best Ever Chicken, and December 28 is Gather Rounders. Norah Jones will be at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium on December 8 ( The Fat City Band will be at the Courthouse Center for the Arts Friday, December 9 ( Aurora in PVD has lots of great stuff: On December 8 it’s the Sweet Little Variety Show, December 11 is Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores, The Huntress and Holder of Hands, Death Vessel, and Trois Corbeaux; and on December 12 is Vudu Sister (

That’s it for now. I would like to thank the folks who came out to the Forever Young Tenth Anniversary Show at the Park Theatre last week. Five hundred of you made it extra special for all of us. Wow! THANK YOU and thanks for reading.

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