Roots Report: Hate the Heat, Love the Music

Okee dokee folks … It’s that time of year again. Time for the coffee cups to go in the sink and the folding chairs to be put away for a couple of months. The coffeehouse season comes to a close and the summer events take the lead. Someone already hit the summer switch and the preheat has begun. Have I mentioned that I hate the heat?! I am going to TRY to get you up to speed on what’s up over the next couple of months, but like everything these days there is just TOO MUCH information! It will be best to just stay tuned right here and keep an eye out for the latest.

I am going to kick off this column with a show that is coming to the Z in new Beige on June 29 — Melissa Etheridge. I had the pleasure of talking with her last week when she called me from her LA home. She was very nice and personable. I have done a lot of these interviews in the past and though we only spoke for a short time, I felt that the conversation could have easily gone on.

First, I wanted to find out what kind of show she will be playing in New Bedford, and she told me it will be a solo, acoustic show. Etheridge will be playing guitar, using a looper, playing a little piano, some djembe and maybe even some harmonica. She added, “It will be high energy and the audience will be up and rockin’ by the end!”

I guess I threw her a bit of a curve when I asked her to name her favorite self-penned song. It took her a minute or two and she seemed a little flustered with that question. But eventually she said that although she has written hundreds of songs, if she had to choose it would be that she likes to play “Like The Way I Do” but “You Can Sleep While I Drive” would come out on top.

I knew that she went to Berklee in Boston, so I asked her if she ever played in Providence before she became famous. “No, I was stuck in Boston and pretty much only played in the restaurant across from the Hancock building.”

Etheridge has been performing since she was 10 years old. She started playing in country, cover bands back in her Kansas days, but it wasn’t until she was 27 that she hit it big with her first single, “Bring Me Some Water.” Since then she has become a music icon as well as an environmental and gay rights activist. In 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I asked her about her health and she proudly responded, “Twelve years cancer free…my health is a priority and it helps to have a healthy state of mind.”

I wanted to know about any new CDs that may be available and she told me the last one was about a year and a half ago (This is M.E.), but has a new one coming out in the fall. That album will be a collection of re-imagined songs of some of the Stax records from the Memphis Rock and Soul era like “I’ll Take You There” and “Hold On, I’m Coming.”

We talked a little about Ovation guitars, a little more about today’s health issues and medicine, and, dare I say, politics (she is a Hillary Clinton supporter). She also wanted to talk about was her “Melissa Etheridge and Friends Rock the Boat Cruise” that will be happening October 31 until November 5. They will steam from Florida to Cozumel, Mexico and back. Besides Etheridge, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Delta Rae, Crystal Bowersox, and many others will be along for the ride. Other than the music, the cruise will be about wellness, spirituality and working on self. Though it sounds like it is just for women she told me that “Men are OK, too!” More at

The show at the Zeiterion certainly sounds like something a hardcore Etheridge fan or even a casual listener will enjoy. The Z is a great place for an intimate experience such as this. If I were you I would add this to your summer music plans! For more, “Brave and Crazy” over to

The Rhode Island Pride Festival and Illuminated Night Parade will be celebrated on Saturday, June 18  (see story on page xx). At least 35,000 people are expected to attend.  RI PrideFest operates on South Water Street in Providence with vendors, family-friendly activities and live entertainment from noon to 8pm. The Illuminated Night Parade kicks off after sunset and travels Washington, Empire and Chestnut Streets in downtown Providence. Rhode Island Pride is non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the visibility, equality and diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and provides safe space to come out, express and celebrate all sexual identities and genders. The entertainment features a diverse lineup of local and regional acts including Nina Sky, Sarah Potenza, Glenn Stewart, Joslyn Fox of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” fame, Jodi Jolt and the Volt, and many more. There are also arts and crafts booths, food vendors, and interactive exhibits and services offered. For more, amour-propre to

Block Island is a great summer getaway, but if hearing typical bar cover tunes isn’t your thing, you can hit the Harbor Church on Friday Nights at 6:30pm for a potluck supper and a concert. Coming up on June 10 is Cameron Greenlee paying keyboards, on June 24 is Virginia Dare playing folk and standards, on July 8 is Take 4 singing a capella, on August 12 is Robert Hill playing blues/slide guitar, on August 19 is Carrie and Libbie Johnson playing pop/rock, on August 26 is Snorri’s Variety Show featuring ventriloquist/humor, on September 2 is Jayme Hennessey playing folk, on September 9 is Kala Farnham playing alt-folk and pop, and on September 16 is Britt Connors and Bourbon Renewal playing roots/pop. Donations are accepted for food and performers. For more, block star over to

The Downtown Sundown Series is in its 6th season and presents a Saturday night summer smorgasbords of music at Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and a picnic and enjoy great entertainment starting at 7pm and running until 9:30pm. The schedule is on June 25: Esmeree Skye, Loveday, Nate Cozzolino and Vox Hunters; on July 9 is Krista Baroni, Cardboard Ox and Kala Farnham; on July 23 is Dan Lilley and Scatman, Pete Venndettuoli, Mary Ann Rossoni and Emma Joy Galvin; on August 6 is Alicia Ruggerio, Ed McGuirl, John Faraone and Seamus Galligan; on August 20 is Cowboy and Lady, Chris Daltry, Sara Azriel and Liv Baxter. For more, crow to

Blackstone River Theatre presents the 6th annual Summer Solstice Festival on June 18 at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland. Performing will be the Atwater-Donnelly Trio, Barrule, Mari Black Trio, John Doyle Band, Girsa, The Gnomes, Low Lily, Pendragon, Vox Hunters w/ Torrin Ryan, Will Woodson & Eric McDonald. Also returning will be the popular after-festival Music Session on June 18 at 8:30pm back at Blackstone River Theatre itself, 549 Broad St.,Cumberland. Jig to for more.

The 21st Annual New Bedford Folk Festival happens July 9 and 10 with a lineup of contemporary, Americana, traditional, blues and Celtic folk music. Livingston Taylor, Kate Taylor, Cheryl Wheeler and Rory Block are joined by more than 50 performers and groups including The Stray Birds, John Gorka, RUNA, Bruce Molsky, Ellis Paul, John Doyle, Garnet Rogers, Pat Donohue and many more. The festival runs from 11am to 9pm both days and is located in and around the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Whaling National Historical Park in downtown New Bedford. For more, Ishmael to

The New Bedford Whaling Blues Festival takes place August 13 from 11am – 9pm at Fort Taber. The fest returns after a 10-year hiatus with Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish, Shemekia Copeland, Quinn Sullivan and Kenny Wayne Shepard. For more, Queequeg to

At The Courthouse Center for the Arts they have a busy summer schedule! On June 11 is Jonathan Edwards, on June 17 is Another Tequila Sunrise, an Eagles tribute band, on June 18 is Sailin’ Little Feat tribute, on June 25 is Rita Coolidge, on July 8 is Johnny A, on July 15 is Robert Black, an Elvis impersonator, on July 23 is Chris Jason performing a Sinatra tribute, and on July 24 is Through the Doors, a Doors tribute. For more, appeal to:

Two great variety shows you can enjoy all summer are Empire Revue and The Sweet Little Variety Show. ER is the first Sunday of the month at AS220 ( and SLVS is held every 2nd Thursday of the month at Aurora. This month’s SLVS is June 9 and is a PRIDE fundraiser featuring Gianna Botticelli, Rich Hite, Mary Langlois, Girls 2 Men and more! Empire Revue feature the Inside/Outside show on Sunday, June 5.

The Narrows in Fall River has AIR CONDITIONING so you can beat the heat and hear great music all summer long. On June 9 is Marcia Ball, on June 25 is Jimmy LaFave. Those are just a couple. Squeeze over to for more.

The hottest dancing and music are at one of the coolest venues in RI, The Towers in Narragansett. Thursdays this summer, kick it up near the water over Ocean Road. June 9 is the Coastline Swing Band, June 16 is Superchief Trio, June 23 is Resonant Rogues, June 30 is Neal and the Vipers with Dave Howard, July 7 is Reminisce, July 14 is Roger Ceresi’s All Starz, July 21 TBA, July 28 is Savoy Family Band, August 4 TBA, August 11 is Eight to the Bar, August 18 is Roosevelt Dime, August 25 is Revelers, and September 1 is Orchestre Royal. For more, spire to

On Friday, June 17, Frampton Comes Alive at Twin River. Peter Frampton remains one of the most celebrated artists and guitarists in rock history. From the Herd to Humble Pie to his solo work and the electrifying Frampton Comes Alive! “Show Me The Way” to for more. Music in the Gallery presents Cliff Eberhardt on June 17 at 7:30pm at the Wamsutta Club in New Bedford. For more: On June 18, RI’s own female Nick Drake, Allysen Callery, will be celebrating the release of her new CD The Song The Songbird Sings. Great new stuff from Callery with some tasty atmospheric work by Bob Kendall. Check out the song, “Shoot Me” and the cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown”! Vudu Sister and Allysen’s daughter Ava will open. CDs will be available for free to all who attend. For more, Sandy Denny to: The Sons of Providence, Chris Vachon, Marty Ballou, Larr Anderson and Dickie Reed, join with DD Bastos to play Chan’s on Saturday June 18. Shows are at 7 and 10pm. For more about this and other Chan’s shows, menu to: Country bumpkins Lady Antebellum will be at the Dunkin Donuts Center on June 28. Cruller to The 7th Annual Waterfront Reggae Festival happens on Saturday, August 13, at India Point Park on the Providence Waterfront. The Wailers, Etana, Jesse Royal, The Cornerstone, The Ravers, Omega Sound’s DJ Realm, DJ Matik and more will get you moving. For more, riddim to

The third annual Providence Folk Festival takes place on Sunday, August 28 at Roger Williams National Memorial in downtown PVD. This year’s line-up includes Jen Chapin Trio (daughter of Harry Chapin), Abby Gardner of Red Molly, Marc Douglas Berardo and Seatrail, Alec Redfearn, Rebirth, Dan Lilley and the Keeper with Amy Bedard, Horse-Eyed Men, Warbler’s Roost, Cardboard Ox and others. For more, folk you to

Slater Mill’s S.A.M. Fest happens on August 27 and 28 with Mitch Chakour/Cliff Goodwin Band, Western Caravan, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Troy Gonyea Band, James Montgomery and the Jesse Dee Orchestra. For more, weave over to

This year’s Rhythm & Roots Festival lineup includes Lucinda Williams, Bruce Hornsby and the Knickerbocker All Stars, Duke Robillard, David Grisman, Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur, and much, much more. Hit the Labor Day weekend festival for all the fun. Zydeco-go to for more.

Argh!!! I am out of room. Check back for more. Thanks for reading.

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