The Roots Report: Holiday Drop-Out

Okee dokee folks …’tis the season … again. I don my best Ebenezer attitude and try to stay away from stores and holiday gatherings. Shocking (still) to some, I do not celebrate the holidays. This has been going on for over 25 years. Some folks get it, some are envious and some get angry, while others just can’t understand. Ironically, I produced a holiday CD titled The Twelve Steps Of Christmas and other Holiday Faire about 18 years ago and it even included a song that I wrote and recorded for the compilation. It was an alternative type of holiday disc. If you were to pay close attention to the subject matter of the songs, you would understand some of the reasons why I don’t celebrate the holidays. And, by the way, I will refer to them as “the holidays” because many different people celebrate many different things and in many different ways. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable about their choice of observation or lack thereof this time of year. For me, the holidays just got out of hand. The commercialism, the greed, the façade people put on, and the overall insanity of the whole thing is just too much. I know that my views offend some. I am sorry, though I shouldn’t be. This is how I feel and it is my choice, just like it is your choice to celebrate. This is America, we are guaranteed these freedoms and we live in a state where the seed for many of these freedoms was planted.

As I write this, folks are camped outside of department stores waiting to save a few bucks on more crap they really don’t need. Whenever I see news segments about this it makes me think of the Cold War Soviet Union where people stood in lines like that just to get necessities like toilet paper. To these shoppers, waiting in line is a tradition, a sport or even a right of passage. It is a very bizarre thing to do, but to each their own.

I do not give or receive gifts during this time. It’s not that I never give gifts, actually it’s quite the opposite. I do give gifts and enjoy doing so, but as long as it is on my own terms. I give things for no reason other than because it is something that I think the receiver would enjoy, and I don’t expect or even want anything from them in return. There are people who like to use gifting as a source of control or power over someone. That is just wrong. I could go on with my reasons for this rant, but you have probably turned the page to see if The Clapper or The Scooby-Doo Chia Pets are on sale. I guess I am writing this to make people think. You should never just do something because you feel like you have to. This is why people buy gifts like The Clapper or Chia Pets. If everyone thought like me, I think the economy would crash. But who knows? Maybe people would be a lot less insane this time of year. ‘Tis the season. Read on …

Before I get into more rambling, I must include this important bit about a local music legend who needs assistance. Paul Geremia is a Grammy-nominated, internationally recognized blues guitarist, performer and music historian, and has made his living this way for all of his life. In June 2014, Paul suffered a serious stroke and since then he has been unable to play his music. He has incurred some large medical bills and currently cannot perform, which is his sole means of support. Friends and fellow musicians will gather to help Paul on his road to recovery with a fundraising concert, which will take place in Newport at One Pelham East on Sunday, Dec 7 from 2 – 10pm. On the bill thus far are Bob Kendall Band, Honky Tonk Nights, Abbey Rhode, Michael Troy, Otis Reed & Friends, Another Roadside Attraction, Art Manchester & Tony Medeiros, and many others TBA. Dozens of high-value gifts have also been donated by area businesses to be included in a silent auction and raffle. Maybe you can purchase a few great gifts that will give twice! Tickets are $20 in advance/ $25 door. To get tix and more info, ragtime over to itrulycare.com/events/paul-geremia-benefit-concert. You can also donate directly to the fund via the website.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled ramble. One other reason that I am not fond of this time of year is the dwindling of audiences at music events. Folks prefer to go shopping or to holiday parties, or just have no funds left after their shopping binges. If you feel that you must buy things at this time of year, please buy them from small local businesses. Musicians are small local businesses and would love your support. They have CDs, T-shirts and other items available for purchase, and doing so would make a musician happy as well as the receiver of the gifts. So, there’s a holiday two-fer fer ya! Many musicians are also artisans on the side and make interesting items to try to supplement their music income. Check out their websites. You may be able to do all of your shopping while supporting local artists. Big box stores sell things with no souls; artists make things of beauty with a lot of soul.

If you still can’t find a suitable gift from the previous suggestions, then buy tickets to shows for the music lovers on your list. Many, if not all, of the local venues pre-sell concert tix and some even have gift certificates for ticket purchases. Who wouldn’t want to take in some live music at The Narrows, The Met, Sandywoods or Common Fence Music (CFM)? And the list goes on. Speaking of Common Fence Music, the annual Gathering of Fiddlers and Fishermen show is coming up on Saturday, Jan 24, and that is ALWAYS a sell-out show. It just so happens that I will be the MC of the 16th incarnation of this show. The line-up for the show varies, but always includes Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischman who keep the show moving along smoothly, and they close out the night with an always-memorable set of tunes. Now those tix would make a great gift! If you are feeling “solsticey” and want to experience one of the reasons for this holiday season, then head down to CFM for the 21st Annual Winter Solstice Concert with Aine Minoque on Dec 20. For more about CFM, cast over to commonfencemusic.org

Some of the larger venues are a sure thing for getting folks tickets to a concert. You really can’t go wrong with some of the events on Providence Performing Arts Center, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and The Providence Civic Center’s (The Dunk) 2015 schedule. At PPAC, The Indigo Girls are going orchestral! On Feb 13 the girls will be joined by the Providence Philharmonic Orchestra in what promises to be an amazing and memorable evening.

Jazz legend and Mrs. Elvis Costello (they are still married, right?) will be gracing the PPAC stage on March 4. The five time Grammy Award winning Diana Krall will depart a bit from her jazz base and bring her Wallflower Tour of pop hit classics to the theater.

John (Cougar) Mellencamp will bring his Plain Spoken Tour to PPAC on April 16. The Bloomington boy hasn’t been in these parts for a while and the multi-award-winning musician, actor and activist’s stopover should please the most rabid of fans. For more, Dance Naked to ppacri.org.

At the Vets, they will be channeling Queen. On Saturday, Feb 28, Gary Mullen and the Works will bring One Night of Queen to the Veterans Auditorium Stage. There will never be another Freddie, but this show promises to bring you through the music of Queen by recreating the look, sound, pomp and showmanship of one of the greatest bands of all time. Hopefully, I can get to this one! Growing up, I was a huge fan of Queen and saw them many times. It is hard to beat the real thing, but Freddie has been gone for 20 years and the fans need a fix. For more, Seaside Rendezvous to vmari.com.

When I was in my teens, I practically lived at the Providence Civic Center. One of the first shows I saw at the Civic Center was the first time that Fleetwood Mac headlined there. I spent the entire show standing in front of the stage watching Stevie Nicks. I was transfixed. As she swirled by, I put up my hand and Stevie took it. It seemed like an eternity that I held Stevie Nicks’ hand, but eventually I HAD to let go. Some big bodyguard was heading my way. It was all fine and I went on to see them many more times over the years. They make their return to the Civic Center on Jan 28.

You can experience a Hot August Night in March when Neil Diamond brings it to the Dunk. Amazingly I have never seen Neil in concert. Back when I was young, he wasn’t very cool. Secretly I liked his music, but I felt like I was a traitor to my hippie rock ‘n’ roll. As I grew older, I didn’t care what others thought and decided that I liked Neil Diamond. Somewhere along the line he got cool, too. Maybe around the time of the movie Saving Silverman. Either way, I want to get to this show and you should go, too. He is the entertainer of a generation and at 73 years old, who knows how long he is going to keep it up. Neil would make a great stocking stuffer. For more, Longfellow Serenade over to dunkindonutscenter.com

Now I am going to try to cram in as many shows in the space I have left. Ready? Begin!

Saturday, Dec 6, Music at Lily Pads presents Tallahassee with The Sugar Honey Iced Tea — musicatlilypads.org. Don Tassone and The Mediator Stage holds their Open Mic on Thursday, Dec 11 with Kala Farnham and Dec 18 with Hannah Mario. On Dec 13 and 14, Blackstone River Theatre will present their 7th annual BRT Christmas Celebration featuring Pendragon, the Atwater-Donnelly Trio, the Miller Family and many special guests. Each group will perform on their own and also join in on many Christmas and winter-themed pieces together. Guest performers will include The Swamp Meadow Victorian Carolers, Irish bagpiper Torrin Ryan, step dancing by Erika Damiani, and music and step dancing by The Miller Family — riverfolk.org. Sunday, Dec 13, Christine Lavin and Don White will be at Sanddywoods Center for the Arts. Usher in the home stretch of the holiday season on Dec 20 with “A Fine Winter’s Night,” a special holiday concert from Irish husband-and-wife duo Matt and Shannon Heaton — also at Sandywoods —  sandywoodsmusic.com. The Alchemy of Music and Words A Child’s Christmas in Wales at Slater Mill on Monday, Dec 15, features a reading of the Dylan Thomas classic story, with the poetry of Frost, Dickinson and others. Also expect the works of Grainger, Clarke and Handel, and festive English carols. Celebrate the second Annual Last Night Providence! On Wednesday, Dec 17, The Narrows has the coolest holiday show around. Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue arrives in time to sprinkle some much-needed Christmas cheer. Nick will perform a few brand new Christmas Classics from 2013’s Quality Street as well as careful selections from his back catalog of hits and near misses. Nick will appear both solo and backed by the sharp-dressed Los Straitjackets rock ‘n’ roll band who will bring along some yuletide treats of their own — narrowscenter.org. Also on Dec 17, The North Kingston Free Library on Boone Street holds a FREE Music for the Winter Solstice concert at 6:30pm. The musical program will be winter-themed and feature classical, jazz, Celtic, and New Age styles performed by Jane Revkin on flute and Dawn Chung on piano. It’s Last Night Providence — a New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring The Providence Wholebellies, The Gnomes, Sharks Come Cruisin, and Rat Ruckus with the Banished Fools! Wednesday, Dec 31 from 7pm until 3am at The Parlour on North Main St — theparlourri.com

That’s it for now. Humbug! Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

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