The Roots Report: Rocking into the New Year

Okee dokee folks … Here we are again, zipping along to the finish of another year. I know that this is cliché, but time really does fly. And the older you get, the velocity starts to approach light speed. It seemed like it took forever to reach the age of 30. But after 30, well, that time has gone by in a nanosecond. Too many people get bogged down by the minutiae of life and let the good parts pass them by. Stop worrying so much about putting the trash out, washing the dishes, raking the leaves and cleaning the house. Yes, those things need to be done, but they needn’t occupy so much of your life. My rule of thumb: Is it a matter of life or death? You will always be putting the trash out, washing the dishes, raking leaves or cleaning the house – it never really ends. Dial it back a bit and have fun. My parents are in their late 70s and they have a social life that rivals most teenagers’. I think they finally figured out that living life comes first. It only took 70 years for them to do it! Nowadays I get exhausted just thinking about all the things that they are doing. I could never keep up. They go to more theater shows and concerts than people half their age. I call them teenage senior citizens. While I don’t agree with their frequent trips to the casinos, at least they are out having fun. If you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, you should make your it your top priority to enjoy life! Quoting Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while you could miss it.” For the past 10 years I have tried to give you tips to enjoy life with music and art. My resolution, though I really don’t make them, is just to keep on keepin’ on. Now for the fun stuff. Read on…

Helping the hungry is a good New Year’s resolution, and here is a way. Hunger Down is a program designed to mobilize Rhode Island’s music and arts community to strengthen hunger relief efforts in Rhode Island. Its primary mission is to promote the ongoing collection of food and financial donations at all Rhode Island music and entertainment venues and events. Events and venues making this commitment to collect at every event will be designated as “Hunger Down Zones.” The program is supported by the RI Music Hall of Fame, Steve Maciel’s 1 of 52 Hunger Network, MusicTown and RIPULSE, in addition to the more than 50 artists, venues and others that have already signed on. The artist support contingent is being led by Mark Cutler and Rudy Cheeks. More than 80 people from throughout the music community have signed on in support of or to volunteer with the program. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is providing advice, support services and promotion for this effort. Hunger Down is looking for musicians to lend their names in support of their effort and to help promote it. They are seeking support from individual artists and/or bands. It is the hope of Hunger Down that through making food and hunger relief donations an ongoing opportunity at entertainment events, they will increase contributions and create awareness for greater food security in Rhode Island. 100% of all contributions through Hunger Down venues and events will be donated to the RI Community Food Bank or local food organizations. For more, chew to info@hungerdown.com

If you are one to go out on amateur night, aka New Year’s Eve, be careful of the humans who have imbibed too much liquid fun. We used to have First Night, then Bright Night, now it seems we are back to our own devices for NYE activities. Here are a few events you might enjoy. But don’t enjoy them so much you that bob and weave all the way home. The Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston holds their first annual New Year’s Eve Party. Bring along an instrument, your voice and your dancing shoes and help ring in 2015 with the Courthouse Center Open Jam Jamboree! House band members include Al Olsen of the Al Keith Collective, Ray Fogarty on bass, and Joe “Hollywood” Mirra on drums. Tix are $20/adv or $25/door and include hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast at midnight and of course, live music. This event is a fundraiser for the courthouse and they’ll also collect nonperishable food items for the Peace Dale Johnnycake Center. For more, Auld Lang Syne over to courthousearts.org

You can find fun at the Greenwich Hotel year round, but for the eighth year in a row you can wrap it up there. Their annual New Year’s Bash with Pete Gendron and Friends is always a big hit. How can you go wrong with what is billed as the biggest party of the year with no cover and a free buffet, party hats, noise makers? For more, toast to greenwichhotel.com

The Heather Rose In Clover band rocks in 2015 at the Village on 373 Richmond St in PVD at their first annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. Buffet will be provided, as well as a champagne toast. DJ’s Rese and Superior spin a wide selection of hits to keep the party going until closing. For more, M. Night Shyamalan over to TheVillageRI.com.

At Chan’s Restaurant, Jeff Pitchell and Texas Flood will drench you with rock and blues. The Woonsocket soiree includes dinner buffet, entertainment, hats, noise makers and a champagne toast at midnight. For more, Stevie Ray your way to chanseggrollsandjazz.com

Cozy up at the Parlour on North Main and join in the second annual Last Night celebration with The Providence Wholebellies, The Gnomes, Sharks Come A Cruisin’, Rat Rukus and the Banished Fools, and more. The activities kick off at 7pm and you are advised to “wear your dancin’ shoes!” For more, salon to theparlourri.com

How about a double shot of Popovic? You have two chances to see the Serbian guitar-slinging goddess, Ana Popovic. She blends smoking electric funk and slide guitar, jazzy instrumentals and a tight blues groove with soulful, feminine vocals. Add to the mix her incredible stage presence, all of which makes her an irresistible force in the world of contemporary blues music. Ana has appeared on the cover of “Vintage Guitar,” “Guitar Player’s Gear Guide” and “American Blues Scene.” Her album Can You Stand The Heat was a Pick Of The Week by USA Today and featured on NPR Music. Nearly all of Ana’s albums have made it the Top 5 of the Billboard Blues Charts and are being played regularly on US radio. Popovic was added to the All-star Experience Hendrix lineup, a nationwide tour celebrating the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix with Buddy Guy, Bootsy Collins, Brad Whitford, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Zakk Wylde and many more artists. The Belgrade-born Popovic started playing guitar at 15. At 38, Ana has developed into a phenomenal guitarist/vocalist with a growing legion of fans throughout the world. She plays and tours hard, performing an impressive 120 shows per year. Popovic has released nine recordings and has won or been nominated for countless awards. Don’t you think it’s time to find out why? Experience Ana live Jan 7 at Chan’s in Woonsocket and Jan 10 at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. For more, dual to chanseggrollsandjazz.com or narrowscenter.org

The Z in New Beige has some entertainment that you’ll want to go the distance for. The popular New Zealand ensemble The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra creates magic with high-octane solos, heavenly harmonies and outrageous costumes. Impeccable music skills and a canny choice of covers have audiences rolling in the aisles with their on-stage antics. Stunning solos are juxtaposed against comically budget lighting effects and questionable banter. The song choices highlight the musical excellence and comic brilliance of the group. You can get your uke on at 2pm on Jan 11.

If you’re lucky when you’re in New Bedford, you’ll catch a Traffic Jam. Hopefully it will be Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam on Jan 17. Dave Mason is a living rock legend. Join the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, backed by a full band, as he performs hits such as “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Feelin’ Alright,” while relating behind-the-scenes insights on the band’s heyday – a must see retrospective of his band, Traffic.

The Z will present one of their many “Stage Door Live!” shows on Jan 22. This installment will feature Natalia Zuckerman. With diverse influences that include folk, jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, country and even classical, Natalia Zukerman has been described by public radio as “an example of the finest Americana.” “She combines her unique slide guitar playing style with seductive vocals, a painter’s observing eye, unapologetic writing, and sharp wit. Zukerman’s music is as riddled with urban restlessness as it is grounded in rootsy warmth.” If you haven’t figured it out by now, The Z in New Beige is the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford and to find out more, harpoon to zeiterion.org

Now for a host of other shows to get your 2015 off to a great musical start. The Mediator Stage and Don Tassone hit the ground running in 2015 with an Open Mic on Jan 1. There won’t be a feature for the first 2015 open mic but features follow on the 8th with Israeli singer-songwriter Elad Vilk, 15th with Mediator Stage sound engineer, Scott Lewis; and the 22nd with Cardboard Ox, which is the acoustic duo of Tracie Potochnik and Steve Allain. reverbnation.com/ghostudiolive.

Foisy, Minisce & Allain will be reuniting for a special performance together as a trio. FM&A are Garry Foisy, Brian Minisce & Steve Allain and they will rock Quinn’s Irish Pub with jamming acoustics, electrics, lead and harmony vocals at 433 Benefit St in Pawtucket on Jan 2 from 9pm until midnight. facebook.com/QuinnsIrishPub

On Jan 2, The East Bay Contra Dance tries out its new home at the Warren Armory on 11 Jefferson St. The caller will be Joe DePaolo, percussion with Audrey Knuth, Rachel Panitch on fiddles, and Mike Sokolovsky on guitar. No experience necessary and singles are welcome! eastbaycontradance.com.

Flynn Cohen’s newest CD, The Lazy Farmer, will be released on Jan 3 at a concert at the Arnold mansion, home to the Wamsutta Club in New Bedford. wepecket.com.

The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket presents three great tribute acts in January. On Jan 9, it’s Hey Ninteen with a Steely Dan Tribute, The Elvis Experience on the 10th, and the Beatles Tributen “1964” on the 17th. stadiumtheatre.com.

A Narrow’s favorite who easily moves from outrageously funny to achingly beautiful, Cheryl Wheeler, will be on the third floor under the big ole Braga Bridge on Jan 9. Kenny White opens. Also at the Narrows Center for the Arts on the 16th  and 17th is the second annual Narrows Winter Blues Festival. This year it has been expanded to two nights of hot blues to warm your cold winter days. Friday’s show brings Neal McCarthy, Selwyn Birchwood, Delta Generators, and Dana Fuchs. Saturday features Young Neal and the Vipers, Mark T. Small, Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, Mike Zito and the Wheel and Sister Sparrow with the Dirty Birds. NarrowsCenter.org.

For their first concert of 2015, Stone Soup Coffeehouse will present John Roberts and Debra Cowan together in concert. The concert takes place on Jan 10 at Slater Mill in Pawtucket and will begin at 7pm with doors opening at 6:30. John Roberts and Debra Cowan have been presenting their eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary songs for the last five years. Audience participation is not required, but strongly encouraged and it’s immediately apparent that any reluctance to join in on choruses disappears at the sound of the first notes. A Roberts-Cowan performance is sure to bring a smile to the faces of all who attend. stonesoupcoffeehouse.com

At AS220 on Jan 15, at 8pm, The Providence Poetry Slam will present the Winter Semi-Finals Slam. The six top poets of the fall season will compete for spots in the Grand Slam. The finals will be preceded by a short open mic. AS220.org

That’s it for now. Remember, resolve to enjoy life! OK, as I sit here and listen to my computer make noise but not do anything, I think I am actually going to make a resolution to kill my computer and get a new one. I know I keep saying it but it’s really time. I spend way too much time WAITING for this thing to do simple tasks. I am surprised I haven’t smashed it yet. It comes close on a daily basis. What restraint! Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

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