Roots Report: Making it in Music

Okee dokee folks… Back in 1994 when the folk boom was at its peak and I was performing in the folk duo, Fuzek-Rossoni, Mary Ann Rossoni and I discovered the Folk Alliance. Back in those days there was a magazine called FolkFare that printed all the schedules of coffeehouses and folk performers in the northeast along with a few ads. That is where we first learned of Folk Alliance. We took a chance, wrote a check for the attendance fee and mailed it off. The conference took place in November and it was held at a resort in the Poconos. We didn’t know what to expect as we made the five hour drive to Pennsylvania, but we laughed at the thought of folk singers in heart-shaped bathtubs. What we found were a lot of folks just like ourselves who were trying to make it in the music business. There were workshops, formal showcases, an exhibit hall and lots of jamming in every nook and cranny of the venue. It was like a invigorating shot of inspiration and support.

That particular conference was the very first Northeast Regional (NERFA), but the national conference had been going on for a couple of years already. Over the years I attended about 25 of the regional and national conferences and was a board member of the northeast regional for about 10 years. While I am no longer active with Folk Alliance, I still recognize the opportunities that attending afforded me. I met fellow folk artists, folk DJs and coffeehouse proprietors, and learned a lot about the folk music community in the northeast and nationally. If you are a performer who is just starting out or even someone who has been performing their whole life, this conference is for you. It could energize your career and it is a lot of fun, too. You don’t do a lot of sleeping at these things! So, why am I telling you this? Because I try to impart what I have learned over the years to others so they don’t have to waste time finding it out on their own. Being a musician is tough enough. We are all in this together, it’s not a competition (though “American Idol” made people think it was). The Northeast Regional Folk Alliance is coming up November 10 – 13 and takes place at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut. The sooner you register the cheaper it is. Once you go, you may well be hooked for life. For more about The Northeast Regional Folk Alliance conference, get the folk over to Read on…

Most sane people already know that gun violence is a major issue in this country. While I am not one to infringe on someone’s constitutional rights, I do agree that something must be done to quell gun violence. I am sure that 10 different people could have 10 different opinions on this issue, but talking about it is at least a start. To facilitate this, The Concerts Across America to End Gun Violence will take place on September 25 all over the US. The main concert, featuring artists including Jackson Browne, Roseann Cash and Marc Cohn, will happen at the Beacon Theater in NYC, but Rhode Island will have two shows of its own. Both The Columbus in Providence and Sandywoods in Tiverton will host a Concert to End Gun Violence. These events are presented to help build a momentum to make gun safety a major issue in this upcoming election. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV), which is dedicated to passing common sense laws to end gun violence, is involved in the local events. The common sense laws they want passed are well supported by RI Congressmen and the majority of gun owners and gun-free households in Rhode Island; however, the bills have been killed in committee due to lawmakers’ unwillingness to step up on an issue they that they can table and still get re-elected. This is your chance to let your political leaders know that you are tired of waiting and demand action now. Both RI events take place at 7pm on Sunday, September 25, which is a National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. At the Columbus will be Kristin Hersh, Ian Fitzgerald, Muggs Fogarty and the Providence Poetry Slam, Penn Sultan from Last Good Tooth and the Hott Boyz hosted by by Jeff Prystowsky of The Low Anthem. At Sandywoods the line-up includes Bill Harley, Bay Spring Folk, Ken Lyon, Len Cabral and Kim Trusty. For more about the shows, background check to: or

The New England Acoustic Music Festival (NEAMF) takes place at Rotary Park in Putnam, Connecticut, along the banks of the Quinebaug River on Saturday, October 1, from 11:30am – 9pm. NEAMF is a one-day music festival that celebrates the great musical heritage and tradition of the six-state region by featuring some of the best established and emerging musical acts from around New England performing original music. This year’s festival lineup, which covers genres from blues to Americana to folk and everything in between, features Duke Robillard, Patti Larkin, Kevin So, Ian Fitzgerald, Luke & Will Mallett of The Mallett Brothers Band, Rachel Zamstein, Cardboard Ox, The Rafters, The Meadows Brothers and Andrew O’Keeffe. In addition to the music, there will be plenty of food and drink vendors serving an assortment of New England culinary favorites, and artisans will also be on hand selling their wares. So, what the folk are you waiting for? Get to for more.

Finally, here is a slew of shows worthy of your attendance. Rob Ayres is the feature at the The Mediator Stage Open Mic on Thursday, September 14 ( The Friday Night Open Mic at the Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren kicks off another season on Friday, September 16 at 7pm with Margaret Ferri in the feature slot ( At the Knickerbocker in Westerly it’s the bluegrass of Twisted Pine and The Meadows Brothers duo on Friday, September 16 and singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Midon on Saturday, September 17 ( Enjoy an Evening with Singer-Songwriter Anne Hills on Friday, September 16, at the Wamsutta Club in New Bedford (tix at  The Spindle Rock River Rats are at the Paskamansett Concert Series at the Dartmouth Grange on Saturday, September 17 ( At the Park Theater in Cranston it’s Grammy winning, smooth jazz master and guitarist Earl Klugh with special guest, saxophonist Grace Kelly, on Friday, September 23 ( Nick-a-Nee’s has the Bluegrass Throedown from 8:30 – 11:30pm every Wednesday. On September 21 is Bill Thibodeau and on September 28 is Railroad House ( Stone Soup Coffeehouse launches its 37th Season with Cliff Eberhardt and special guest Louise Mosrie on Saturday, September 24 ( Colby & Keila with Joe Lambiase on drums will perform at the second annual Natural Day at Lees Market in Westport, Massachusetts. Local and organic vendors offer food samples, kids activities and raffles (

If you would like me to write about your event I have to know about it. And let me know the particulars — I am not psychic! Please send your event info to at least three weeks prior. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

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