Roots Report: Are These the Dark Ages?

Okee dokee folks… Welcome back to the Dark Ages. Here is a brief synopsis of what went on then: economic and cultural deterioration, ignorance and lack of reasoning, disease, corrupt religion and superstition, and a general backwardness. The only way to stop this from progressing is to resist and revolt. Why am I putting this in a music column? Among the many moronic decisions that the pompous Oompa-Loompa is making, funding for the arts is threatened.

Some are upset that celebrities are speaking out against Trumplethinskin. They think that artists should just shut up and make art. Wrong. That is part of what being an artist is all about! Picasso said, “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” The great protest singer Phil Ochs said, “There is an urgent need for Americans to look deeply into themselves and their actions, and musical poetry is perhaps the most effective mirror available. Every newspaper headline is a potential song.”

We need more painters, musicians, actors, poets, writers and people to speak out! And listen to music. It educates, rallies and inspires, and it is part of what makes life worthwhile. Read on…

Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland is celebrating its 17th season of presenting top-notch ethnic, traditional and roots music. On February 4 they welcome back The Rhythm Future Quartet, performing dynamic and fiery arrangements of Gypsy jazz standards and original compositions that draw from rhythms heard around the world. February 11 features the Matt Flinner Trio joined by legendary fiddler Bruce Molsky as a special guest, and on February 12 it’s the BRT debut of acclaimed Irish guitarist/singer Donal Clancy of Danu fame. On February 18, local duo The Vox Hunters-Armand Aromin and Benedict Gagliardi will perform a split concert with Mark Roberts, Laurel Martin and dancer Kieran Jordan. To end the month, Mist Covered Mountains makes its debut on February 25. The band features the amazing vocals of Molly Hebert-Wilson, fiddler Donna Hebert of Chanterelle fame, and guitarist/singer Max Cohen. For more, fiddle around to

At Sandywoods in Tiverton, catch the sounds of Colorway on Saturday, February 11. They are a dynamic trio from Northampton, Massachusetts, who play rootsy, pop-rock songs infused with inventive, energetic and melodic lead guitar. The band’s second album, The Black Sky Sequined, has been called one of the finest rock albums of 2015. Colorway has recently opened sold-out shows for Foreigner, The Yardbirds, Delta Deep (members of Def Leppard and Stone Temple Pilots) and Ian Hunter. Colorway is currently writing and rehearsing material for their third album and will be performing the new songs live at all of their upcoming shows. For more, crayon to

If you are a fan of the legendary EC, then this show is for you! Bell Bottom Blues is coming to the Courthouse Center for the Arts. Just in case you haven’t figured it out, BBB is an Eric Clapton Tribute Band that will debut at The Courthouse Center on Saturday, February 18. Bell Bottom Blues was formed in 2007 with the vision of providing an audience with a true Eric Clapton experience. Through its evolution, the band has been carefully constructed to create the essence of the Clapton sound, from his guitar arrangements to his distinctive vocal sound. This is what separates The Bell Bottom Blues from all others and makes them a premier Eric Clapton Tribute Band. It’s been said time and time again by their audiences and fans that if they close their eyes during a show, they could swear that they were actually at a Clapton concert. Lead vocalist Al Caprara was deeply influenced by the guitarists of the late ’60s and ’70s and his vocals and guitar solos are highly evocative of Clapton’s own: deeply emotional and highly technical. If this show sounds tempting, then maybe the other tidbits the CCA has to offer will seduce you as well. February 11 has the comedy of Poppy Champlin and Ray Harrington, The Band Band pays tribute to Bob Dylan and the Band on February 3, and the rescheduled Rex and the Rockabilly Kings Elvis Presley tribute will take place on February 4. For more, slow hand to

At Twin River, find two great shows in one night! Grand Funk Railroad & former Eagles member, Don Felder, will appear at the Twin River Event Center on Friday, February 17. Originating from Flint, Michigan, in 1969, this top selling American band of the ’70s is “Comin’ to your town to help you party it down.” Grand Funk Railroad is best known for their hits “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” “Bad Time,” “Loco-Motion,” “American Band,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home” and many more. Don Felder is renowned as a former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of the most popular and influential rock groups of our time. A member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1998, Felder served as a member of The Eagles for 27 years, putting his mark on numerous Eagles’ songs. Felder originated the music and co-wrote The Eagles’ biggest hit – the iconic “Hotel California” – along with fan favorites like “Victim of Love” and “Those Shoes.”  For more, Choo-Choo to

If you are looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie, try some Heart! Ann Wilson of Heart will perform at Rhode Island’s Park Theatre on April 7 as part of 20-date cross-country solo tour. Tickets are on sale now, and this show WILL SELL OUT. The Park is a wonderful place for an intimate show with a performer of this magnitude. For more, Barracuda to

Here are many, many more shows to fill your month with music. The East Bay Contra Dance happens at the Historic Warren Armory at 11 Jefferson St in Warren on February 3. The caller is Rich Sbardella Chimney Swift with Cecile Leroy on cello, Zoe Madonna on accordion, Daniel Ley on cittern and Yaron Shragai on wind and percussion. The Roll Up the Rug Barn Dance Featuring The East Coast Perma-Rust Model of The Rusty Pick Up String Band takes place on Sunday, February 5, at the Emmanuel Church located at 42 Dearborn St in Newport. This all-ages, toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’ good time for the whole family starts at 3pm. The Nick-A-Nees Bluegrass Throedown happens every Wednesday night. On February 8 is Highway’s End, on February 15 is Rob Flax String Band and on February 22 is Wilbur Hill. On Friday, February 10, The Gnomes bring their dynamic folk rock edge and some original compositions to the First Unitarian Church at 1 Benevolent St in Providence. Coming up on Friday, February 10, is CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band at the German Club in Pawtucket (

The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River ALWAYS has something good going on. If you’re wondering where all the cowboys have gone, then ask Paula Cole on February 11. Local and film score legends John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band (Eddie and the Cruisers) bring the tunes to life on February 18. Fredheads rejoice! Fred Eaglesmith, acclaimed singer, songwriter, bandleader and genuine iconoclast, is at The Narrows on February 23 ( At Bar 88 on 88 Wales St in Taunton, there’s a Celtic-Americana Session from 6 – 8:30pm every Wednesday featuring Rick Olsen on guitar, banjo and voice; Eddie Dillon on guitar and voice; Jack Radcliffe on fiddle, guitar and voice. All are welcome to join with instruments and voices ( The Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren has their weekly open mic every Friday. Features this month are Stephen Redfern on February 17 and Mickey Scotia on February 24.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

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