The Roots Report: My Missing Chin-Chilla

Okee dokee folks… The other day I was hot, and I get cranky when I am hot (ed. So we’ve heard). So I quit ZZ Top. I removed 99% of my rather lengthy beard that had been growing for the past two years. It was a point of contention with most of my friends and family who either loved it or hated it. I was the butt (beard) of endless jokes about it, but I took it all in stride and didn’t care. It was like having a long furry friend to keep me company and act as a buffer between my face and familiars and strangers. I do admit that there were times that I felt like Han Solo’s sidekick or that I should be leading Hobbits on a journey to Mordor, but still I kept it.

Somewhere along the line I crossed over from just liking the beard to wanting to annoy everyone with it. I am stubborn. The more you tell me to do something the more I will do the opposite. Anyway, I got through last summer with it just fine, but for some reason this year the heat was making my crumb-catching, flavor-saving, mouth-mopping, chin-chilla an unwelcome guest on my face. So I pulled out the Norelco and trimmed the hedge. It was pretty traumatic, but I have to admit I was much cooler!

Now, I have had a beard since I was 16 years old and I will NEVER completely scrape the fur from my face. When I was a kid, I wanted to play guitar and I wanted to grow a beard. I guess all my guitar heroes had beards. As soon as I was able to sneak it by my parents — long story but it involved the Blizzard of ’78 — I grew a beard and I have had one ever since. At this point, other than family, it is my longest relationship. Anyway, I am back to looking like who I used to be and I just ordered some new music promo material sans neck curtain. If you want to witness the less ironic look, you will just have to visit me at a gig because my Motif byline photo has only been changed twice in the past 14 years! Read on…

The Downtown Sundown Series is now in its eighth season. Over that time, many musicians have had the pleasure of performing to a welcoming audience that staked out spots on the green grass of Roger Williams National Memorial — the location where the seeds for this wonderful state were planted. The series comprises five shows over the summer with the first one of the season happening on Saturday, June 23. Ilana Katz Katz Performing at the eighth season inaugural concert will be Ilana Katz Katz, Brianna White, and the Chrissy Stewart Duo. Ilana is a bluesy violinist from Boston who often sits in with RI-based bands and does solo shows up and down the East Coast. Briana White won the Motif Award this year for Best Americana Singer/Songwriter with her perky folk/pop originals. Chrissy Stewart is a tireless promoter of local music in Providence, and she is a wonderful performer as well. Check her out in this rare performance! All shows are free and begin at 7pm. For “new and dangerous ideas,” go to hearinrhodeisland.com 

If any of you don’t know what the Empire Revue is, you should be ashamed of yourselves! It has to be one of the longest running and most entertaining shows around. Think of “Saturday Night Live” back when it was actually good, and that will give you a starting point of what you can expect. Keith Munslow and the Sparkling Beatniks ALWAYS tickle your funny bone and whatever else needs titillating. Every month is a whole new show with new skits, music and guests, all built around a central theme. Last month I had the honor of performing a new song I wrote especially for Empire’s “Casual Show.” I always sit in the audience and try to catch as much of the show as I can before I have to get ready for my spot. Steve Ahlquist does a great job video-documenting every performance, so you can find it all on the Empire Revue YouTube channel. Coming up on July 1 is “The Energy Show.” You never know what to expect other than a LOT OF FUN. This performance will mark 12 years of the Empire Revue, so get there for the celebration. The shows are held at AS220 on Empire Street and they have arctic-level air conditioning, so even on a hot day this is the place to be. Empire Revue happens EVERY first Sunday of the month at AS220. For more, SuperChief to facebook.com/EmpireRevueProvidence or as220.org

Back in the mid ’70s, Fleetwood Mac was one of the biggest bands in the world. I saw them for the first time in July 1977. Then there were no barricades against the stage, and you could get as close as you wanted. I stood right against the stage and watched the entire show from that vantage point. I don’t remember where my real seats were, but we never sat in them anyway. At one point during the concert, Stevie Nicks, who I was smitten with at 16 years old, came to my side of the stage. I put my hand up and she grabbed it. For what seemed like an eternity, I held her grasp. Eventually security started making their way over, so I released her. Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac were favs of mine for quite some time. I actually think that Lindsey was one of my beard inspirations! As the years went, on my adoration of Stevie waned, but I do still appreciate the ’70s Mac. If you are a fan of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, you will want to take note of the show Wild Heart: A Tribute To Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. This will take place at The Courthouse Center for the Arts on Thursday, June 28 at 8pm. The band has taken great pains to replicate the sound and feel of a Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks show. From the quiet and sensually intense charisma of Stevie Nicks’ presence and vocal style, to the powerful and manic technique of Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing. For more, “Landslide” to courthousearts.org

If you live in the side by each section of the state or aren’t opposed to a quick blast past the Rustic Drive-In, then you will want to know about a music series happening in Woooooooooooonsocket. The Levitt AMP Woonsocket Music Series will take place at River Island Art Park every Friday night at 6pm beginning on June 29. They have a full summer of music planned for all the “Woonyfolk”! On June 29 (5pm start) is The Lowdown Brass Band, Julie Rhodes, and Marching Milkman Band; on July 6 is Ehshawnee and Czesare Santana; on July 13 is Steve Smith and the Nakeds and The Lexies; on July 20 is Hudost and Sidy Maiga; on July 27 is The Mallett Brothers Band and SwampBirds; on August 3 is Adaawe and Yesenia Rubio; on August 10 is Bassel & The Supernaturals and O.B. Howard; on August 17 is Kevin “B.F.” Burt and The Taylor Brothers Band; on August 24 is Quincy Mumford, Emily Luther, Grace vs. Gravity; and on August 31 is Boo City and Eastern Medicine Singers. These shows are free to attend! River Island Art Park is located at 95 Bernon Street in Woonsocket. The park offers plenty of open grass for seating and is right along the beautiful Blackstone River. For more, 146 to concerts.levittamp.org/woonsocket or facebook.com/LevittAMPWoonsocket

That’s it for now. Oh, BTW, PLEASE stop thinking that the Bible belongs in government! Remember that we live where the separation of church and state started! Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

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