The Roots Report: Iceberg Straight Ahead!

Okee dokee folks… I am wondering if I should make a New Year’s resolution this year. I never do. I do, however, NEED to get organized. I live in a state of perpetual chaos. Maybe that is good, especially now, because I think things are going to get very chaotic in a few weeks. I am not sure what is going to happen. I don’t think anyone is. But I don’t think smooth sailing is ahead. I feel like we are all about to board the Titanic. I really hope that it doesn’t hit the iceberg! Let’s just hope for the best and stick together. Bon Voyage! Read on…

I know that a lot of folks feel that the winter is LONG, and it hasn’t even started yet! To help you get in the mood for the season, Music at Lily Pads is presenting The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong on Saturday, December 17. Liam Robinson and Jean Rohe have performed the show for the past nine years. Hosted in venues and house concerts throughout the Northeast, this event has become an audience favorite, and a staple of the season. This year, they bring their midwinter music to Peacedale, complete with a  backdrop of a triptych of paper cut light boxes designed by illustrator Andrew Benincasa. Robinson & Rohe go deep into the Christmas repertoire and present the mystical, the melancholic and the soulful. Expect songs you may not know: haunting melodies of old Europe, joyful singalongs of the Southern US and modern takes on the Christmas tale. Jean Rohe (guitar, singing) and Liam Robinson (banjo, accordion, singing) make their selections shine with detailed arrangements and elegant harmonies. For more, yuletide to MusicAtLilyPads.org

Judy Blue Eyes is coming to Craaaaaaaaaaaaaanston. That’s right, the legendary folk performer Judy Collins, inspiration for the Stephen Stills’ song, will be at the Park Theatre on Friday, December 23 at 8pm. For over 50 years Judy Collins has inspired audiences with angelic voice and songs. The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own compositions. Her rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Collins’ version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical A Little Night Music won Song of the Year at the 1975 Grammy Awards. Judy began her music career at 13 as a piano prodigy and dazzled audiences with Mozart’s “Concerto for Two Pianos,” but the folk revival music by artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger seduced her away from a life as a concert pianist. In 1961, she released her debut, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, her interpretations of songs by artists like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton. Later she helped introduce other singer-songwriters such as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and
Randy Newman to a wider audience. Judy Collins, who is now 76, is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. The award winning Cranston East High School Choir will open the show with some holiday music to set the spirit, and they will also accompany Collins for two or three songs in her performance. For more, catch the sparrow at ParkTheatreRI.com

If you were around in the ’70s, then Jonathan Edwards’ first album was probably spinning around endlessly on your turntable. Songs such as “Everybody Knows Her,”  “Emma” and “Train of Glory” were a few of the gems on this recording. “Sunshine” was the catchy, political-pop single that brought him mainstream attention. You may have even put a good buzz on listening to “Shanty.” Back then, FM radio used to play good music and deep cuts so you were able to hear songs besides the hits. Edwards benefited from this and was well played. He has kept writing songs, strumming his guitar and blowing his harp for over 45 years and he is coming to northern RI on Thursday, December 29. Jonathan Edwards will be at The Purple Cat Vineyard & Winery in Chepachet as part of their concert series called Downtown Live. Edwards says, “I’ve been…doing what I do best, which is playing live in front of people. I’ve been concentrating on that and loving it.” Local favorite with the big hair, dry wit and a brandy-new CD, Ian Fitzgerald, will  be opening the show. Doors open for the all ages show, at 6:30pm. Ian Fitzgerald hits the stage at 7pm. The Purple Cat is very easy to get to. It’s just 30 minutes from PVD, about five or six miles off 295’s exit 7B and straight up Route 44. Say hi to the spirit of Betty the elephant as you go over the little bridge in Chepachet. For more, uncork PurpleCatWinery.com

The folks down at Shady Lea Guitars recently moved into the old Pump House and are having a New Year’s Eve Open Mic/Potluck. This truly sounds like a good time. Ariel Rose Bodman and Dan Collins are not only building guitars, they are building community. Besides this cool NYE party, they offer guitar building classes, repair services, custom guitar builds and their own Shady Lea brand guitars. The fun kicks off (or should I say picks off?) at 6pm on Saturday, December 31. For more, get the pluck over to ShadyLeaGuitars.com

If you don’t know this by now then I will tell you again. Aztec Two-Step is one of my biggest musical influences. The duo’s first album is a timeless classic. One half of the folk duo, Rex Fowler, has experimented with many other side projects over the 45 years of his career. His latest endeavor is called Rex and the Rockabilly Kings. They will celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday at The Courthouse Center for the Arts on Saturday, January 7, at 7pm. The show begins with a screening of 200 Cadillacs, an original 48-minute film conceived of and co-produced by Rex Fowler. The film showcases the often forgotten generosity of Elvis. A question ad answer session immediately follows the film, after which Rex and the Rockabilly Kings take the stage to perform a concert of Elvis’ early RCA and SUN Records classics. There will also be a multimedia slide show shown while the band plays! Rex Fowler leads the group on Elvis-style acoustic guitar and lead vocals, and is backed by a three-piece rockabilly band: Billy Roues on electric guitar and vocals, Steven “Muddy” Roues on slap bass, blues harp and vocals, and Joe Geary on drums and percussion. The Roues brothers contribute the stirring Jordanaires-like harmonies that were an intricate part of Elvis’ early sound. Rex Fowler has performed worldwide and toured with scores of notable artists including Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and The Beach Boys. As a most enduring and prolific artist, Rex continues to thrill and engage audiences, whether as Aztec Two-Step, or with one of his other brilliant undertakings. For more, hound dog to CourthouseArts.org

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

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