The Roots Report

Okee dokee folks… I am sitting next to my good friend, sound man extraordinaire, Greg Bass. He handles the sound reinforcement for Common Fence Music. Good sound techs are a vital part of making a concert work and he is one of the best around. As I’m writing this, we are at Common Fence Music for a second night of music at what they are now referring to as the Portsmouth Main Stage. Last night was The Warren Sessions at Hope and Main in Warren. CFM is now in their 25th season and they have expanded their shows with this additional location and a new director, Erin Young. She is a very busy gal; she handles all aspects of running the venue from booking the artists to making the newsletter. She made the wise choice of hiring Bass to provide sound for all of the CFM shows. It took me a bit of nagging to even get her to give me a quote about the season. I’m watching her frantically running around making sure all the pieces of the puzzle for the evening’s concert are in place. She quickly rattled off something to me and said “You can do something with that, right?” Basically she told me that this year is a celebration of the new and old with some familiar Common Fence artists and some artists that she mentioned “need to be seen.” Erin has now taken up a place behind the ticket table at the front door and the concert with Irish fiddler Kevin Burke will soon commence. Last night at Hope and Main was the sold out show featuring the CD release celebration for Huntress and the Holder of Hands.

Both venues are unique. The Portsmouth Main Stage is a community hall located in a fairly residential area of Portsmouth. It is a wide and shallow venue with a centrally located stage and a snack bar. Patrons are seated at long banquet tables with a communal atmosphere or at seats along the inside perimeter of the room. Folks are permitted to bring picnic meals, snacks and adult beverages to the show. The room holds about 230 people. Parking for the venue is located around the building as well as across the street.

Hope and Main is located on the busy Main Street in Warren. It is a large, brick, multi-floor venue that at one time was an elementary school. The Event Room, where the shows are held, is on the second floor and holds about 130 people. The room is narrow and long and has rows of chairs toward the front and a few high tables and chairs in the rear. Strings of tiny lights and party-type, globe lights hang from the ceiling. At last night’s concert, the stage was at the end of the room, but it may be situated in the center for other shows. Just like the Portsmouth venue folks are permitted to bring picnic meals, snacks and adult beverages to the show. Parking for the venue is located in the lot behind the building.

Young has an ambitious schedule of eclectic music for the CFM season. Coming up at the Portsmouth Main Stage: Corey Harris on Sep 30, The Honey Dewdrops on Oct 21, The CFM Full Moon Fest on Nov 4, Rahim Al Haj on Nov 18, Andy Statman Trio on Dec 3, and The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Swing Along Spectacular on Dec 16. The Warren Sessions at Hope and Main will bring in Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards with opener Haunt The House on Oct 20, The Lowest Pair and Greg Forever on Nov 17, The Suitcase Junket and Jodie Treloar Sampson on Dec15, and a New Year’s Folkin’ Eve Party on Dec 31. You owe it to yourself to check out a show at one or BOTH of Common Fence Music’s locations. If any of you would like to volunteer for a wonderful organization, they are always looking for a few good folks at CFM! For more, cornucopia to commonfencemusic.org

On mid ’70s radio you would often hear the sultry voice of Maria Muldaur as she sang, “Midnight as the oasis, send your camel to bed…” That song was, and on some radio still is, a staple of the airwaves. At age 5, Muldaur was already singing “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” with her aunt accompanying her on piano. She later studied bluegrass fiddle with Doc Watson. Maria was part of a few jug bands, but eventually joined one where she met her future husband Geoff Muldaur. After the group disbanded in 1968, Maria and Geoff became a duo and recorded two albums on the Reprise record label. The couple split up both personally and professionally in 1972. Muldaur subsequently embarked on a solo career. In 1974, she scored her biggest and best-known hit with “Midnight at the Oasis.” Maria has since gone on to record and release a slew of well-received albums throughout the years. Muldaur says that she has been told that “Midnight at the Oasis” has been responsible for the conception of more children than any other song of the ’70s.  She will make her debut at The Courthouse Center for the Arts on Saturday, September 30. For more, listen to the cactus, he is your friend, he’ll point the way to courthousearts.org

Last month I has the honor of performing at the Beach Boys concert, the inaugural show of the new Bold Point Park Concert Series in East Providence. Things went very well that night and with a few more shows under their belt the location has proven itself to be a wise move for RI Waterfront Events. Coming up on Friday, September 22, Bold Point Park will host one of the most popular voices of the 1980s: Pat Benatar. She will be joined by her husband Neil Giraldo and (according to their website) a full backing band. Last time they came through RI it was just the two of them doing an acoustic tour. Benatar is a classically trained mezzo-soprano and a four-time Grammy winner who charted with hits such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield.” Benatar and Giraldo remain a rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse couple today, selling out concerts and wowing audiences after more than three decades in music together. See them live under the stars on September 22 at Bold Point Park. Also on the bill are two of RI’s powerhouse women performers, Roz Raskin and Malyssa Bellarosa, so get there early to catch their sets! This venue is stacking up to be the pre-eminent summer music location in RI. For more, surrender all your dreams to riwaterfrontevents.com

If you were at the Providence Folk Festival last month and you caught the last set by headliner Chris Trapper, then you will definitely want to know about this one. Chris’ band, The Push Stars, will be at Fete Music Hall on Thursday, October 5. The Push Stars debuted in 1996 with an album for the now-defunct Imago label, Meet Me at the Fair. From there, they self-released the 1997 EP Tonight and landed a spot on the soundtrack for the popular romantic comedy There’s Something About Mary with the song “Everything Shines.” Since then, they have released three more studio albums, as well as a live compilation album. In subsequent years, their live performances were few and far between. Frontman Chris Trapper recorded and toured as a solo artist and Ryan MacMillan played drums with Matchbox Twenty and Tonic. This year the band is playing reunion shows and announced the recording of a new album that was fully funded via Kickstarter. For more about the band and show, “Meltaway” to fetemusic.com or thepushstars.com

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

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