The Roots Report: Summer Is Bitchin’ and So Am I


Okee dokee folks… Have I mentioned that I #%@*<!@ hate summer? (I am refraining from profanity; Mom was mad that I used it in my column.) The only thing, in my opinion, summer is good for is music festivals. At the END of the summer, which I am looking forward to, is the fifth annual Providence Folk Festival on August 26. So, John, it’s at the end of the summer, why on earth are you bringing it up now? See, it’s so hot I am talking to myself! I am broaching the subject because like most events that are free to attend, the money to produce them has to come from somewhere. The Providence Folk Festival launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help offset some of the costs involved in presenting the festival. On top of the funding that is usually needed are some unexpected costs. Alvin and his merry band of chipmunks spent this past winter destroying some of the tents, carpet and a few other items that the festival already counted on having. To assist in the quest for the capital to pay the performers and such, festival hosts, Cardboard Ox (Tracie Potochnik and Steve Allain), with the help of Matthew Clowney put together a really nice video to encourage folks to open their wallets, release some cash and contribute to the cause. And it’s tax deductible! The Providence Folk Festival is a fun mix of local, regional and national performers, and attendance doubles every year as people discover it and the amazing talent that graces the festival’s stages. If you would like to investigate the donation options and view the video, navigate yourself over to

This summer, don’t miss Concerts Under The Elms at the home of the namesake for Brown University who also is one of the scallywags who set the revolution in motion with the burning of the Gaspee. The John Brown house will hold a half dozen shows on the lawn of the historic mansion in Providence. Catch Duke Robillard on July 5, Motif Award Winners Steve Smith and the Nakeds on July 12, Becky Chace Band on July 19, Nickel Jukebox Band on July 26, and The Diftwoods on August 2. Shows begin at 6:30. For more, ring them up at 401-331-8575 x133

The 23rd Annual New Bedford Folk Festival will take place on Saturday, July 7, and Sunday, July 8, from 11am – 9pm, with an impressive line-up of the best in contemporary, Americana, traditional, blues and Celtic folk music. This year’s artists include folk legend Tom Rush, singer-songwriters Cheryl Wheeler and John Gorka, Americana-bluegrass band The Mammals, Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and many more. In addition to the ticketed stages, the festival features non-ticketed areas open to the public, including six blocks of craft vendors, a gourmet food court & beer garden, the family music and activities park, and the local-performer Southcoast Stage. The festival takes place at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and throughout the 11 blocks of historic downtown New Bedford and the Whaling National Historical Park. Fore more, Moby over to

Music at the Farm is a monthly series held at Grace Note Farm, an historic 1700s horse farm and inn in Burrillville. Over the summer you can catch shows on July 8 with Virginia Sindelar on flute and guitarist Peter Clemente performing the music of Beaser, Piazzolla, Defalla and more; on August 12 with soprano Catherine Psarkis singing arias; on September 9 with David Bernat on violin with pianist Jialong Li playing Ravel, Handel, Mozart, Brahms and others. For more, giddy-up to

Way, way back, in the dark ages, on my first day of school at Rhode Island College I had a memorable music experience. I was not really taking to the whole college experience on that first day and I was sort of wandering around lost. I had entered as a music major, but I quickly learned that I wasn’t fitting into that college’s particular curriculum. As I walked past Robert’s Auditorium I heard loud music coming from inside. It wasn’t the type of music that expected to hear in the RIC Music Department — it was rock! (I do remember the Police playing there, too, soon after that!) Me being the inquisitive 18-year-old I was, I opened the stage door and walked in. I saw a band doing a sound check. I found a road case on the stage, sat down on it and listened. No one seemed to be troubled that I was there, so I just sat there quietly and listened for quite a long time. The group that was playing was the Joe Jackson band, and I learned that they were playing a concert there that night. I was a fan of Jackson at that time and was familiar his hits at the time such as “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. Jackson rode the new wave of music across the Atlantic in the late ’70s and was one of the saving graces of music at the time. I loved the little semi-show-for-one that I got that day. After the sound check was finished, I briefly met Joe Jackson, got his autograph and went home. I laughed when I looked at what he wrote: “To John, love and kisses, Joe Jackson.” Anyway, I remained a fan of his for quite some time and he had more hits like, “Steppin’ Out,” “Breaking Us In Two” and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want).” In 1999, Jackson won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. He has worked with performers and diverse as Joan Armatrading, Suzanne Vega, Todd Rundgren and William Shatner. At 63 years old, Joe Jackson is still making music and his current tour will be making a stop at the Strand in Providence on Monday, July 9. His set will feature songs from across Jackson’s entire catalog, including a mix of songs from his earliest albums as well as 2015’s critically acclaimed Fast Forward. Jackson will also offer an unpredictable selection of covers and brand new, never-before-performed originals.

The Fox Point Folk Fest is coming up on Saturday, July 21 from 2 – 7pm. Wickenden Street will be closed between East and Governor Streets and there will be local food trucks, beer and cocktails, and music by Upright & Sideways — Bluegrass, Fanny & Dani — French Chansons & Tango, Allysen Callery — Ghost Folk, Jamie Craighead Trio — Folkgrass, Quahog Quire — Quorum of Quadlibetic Quoristers. For more, folk on over to

Here are few more to squeeze in: The Narrows Center for the Arts FREE 6th Annual Block-a-Palooza featuring Quinn Sullivan and Kat Wright happens on July 12 ( The genius behind the Beach Boys and such classics as “Surfer Girl” and “I Get Around,” Brian Wilson, will be at the Twin River Event Center on July 20 ( My favorite duo of all time, Aztec Two-Step, will be at the The Courthouse Center for the Arts on Saturday, July 21. Though after 47 years of touring, Neal Schulman will be taking an indefinite period of time off after the passing of his wife. In Neal’s absence, Rex welcomes two friends, Steven Muddy Roues on bass and Dodie Pettit on vocals, guitar and keyboards (

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

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