The Roots Report: Sleepless Nights

Okee dokee folks … The other night I watched a couple of music documentaries on Netflix. I have insomnia a lot, so this is what I do — watch Netflix. Anyway, one of them was a four-hour film about Tom Petty and the other was about Twisted “F*cking” Sister. I know, I know, Twisted Sister isn’t really in the scope of my column, but Petty is rootsy enough. Though I am not a huge Petty fan, I did see him in concert about 30 years ago and the movie made me appreciate him a bit more. As for Twisted Sister, I gained a whole new appreciation for them as musicians and performers, though I still really don’t like their music. It was interesting to learn how long and hard they worked, and how they stuck to their vision and didn’t give up on their dream even when success was ripped from their grasp several times. I appreciate stories like this. I can relate to the struggle. If you talk to any local performer they can surely tell you tales of accomplishment and disappointment in the music biz. While many do stick with it, many just get frustrated and give up. It can be VERY frustrating — bad gigs, low attendance, long drives, canceled shows, late nights, aching bodies, a lot of work for little dough and oodles of other fun stuff. The up side is that when you do have a great gig it is one of the best feelings you can have. This is what really drives most of us. Not the fame, not the money, just the love of playing music and the privilege of sharing it with fans. If you appreciate a musician’s work, tell them, it can make their gig great. I know that it perks me up when someone lets me know they like what I am doing! OK, I should stop rambling now and get on with what I should be doing — telling you about the great music out there! Read on…

Saturday, May 21 seems to be quite the busy night. I don’t want anyone complaining that there is nothing to do! It may be okay to say that you can’t decide what to do. Or you could just do what I am doing and go to two of the shows! Chan’s in Woonsocket has a few especially noteworthy concerts coming up, though there is always good stuff to listen to there while chowing on your chow mein! The legendary Commander Cody Hot Rod Lincolns in on Friday, May 20. You can get a quadruple dose of the amazing Samantha Fish when she plays four shows on June 2 and 3! This gal can play! Past shows have sold out so get your tix early. And if you haven’t had enough of girls and guitars, check out Ana Popovic when she plays two shows on June 7. Get to Chan’s to fill up on some incredible rock and blues! For more, won-ton your way to

Levon has left us, but he did leave us with his daughter, the very talented Amy Helm. On Saturday, May 21, she will be bringing her band to the Knickerbocker in Westerly. Amy Helm began connecting with audiences early in life, playing her first gig in her early teens in a Manhattan bar and drifting informally through a series of combos before her father recruited her to join his live band. She also absorbed musical and personal inspiration from her mother, noted singer/songwriter Libby Titus, and her stepfather, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen. Amy’s vocal and songwriting talents found a home in the New York-based Ollabelle, whose three acclaimed albums and countless live gigs saw her evolve into a confident, charismatic performer. She now fronts her own band and here is a wonderful opportunity to catch them in an intimate environment. For more, “Roll The Stone” to

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo’s 35th Anniversary Tour rolls into Twin River in Lincoln for an intimate evening of music on Saturday, May 21. Benatar is best known for hits such as “Heartbreaker,” “Shadows Of The Night,” “Love Is A Battlefield” and ”Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” She is acknowledged as one of the leading female rock vocalists of the 1980s, but Benatar and Giraldo remain rock powerhouses today, selling out concerts and wowing audiences after over three decades in music together. Theirs is a chemistry that will, undoubtedly, be thrilling music-lovers for years to come. The show starts at 8pm and all ages are welcome. Frampton Comes Alive on June 17 at Twin River! For more, notch your lipstick case to

Redfearn to Renaissonics brings an extraordinary evening of alternative chamber music with the heralded Boston-area ensemble, Renaissonics, and noted RI composer and accordion genius, Alec K. Redfearn. The concert will be held in the newly refurbished large Gallery at 30 Cutler Street in Warren on Saturday, May 21. Renaissonics explores elegant melodies, amazing rhythms and thrilling improvisations that blend into a musical experience that defies the boundaries of classical. Internationally acclaimed for their artistry, virtuosity and improvisations, Renaissonics performances blend chamber music, dance music and improvisations. Alec K. Redfearn is a composer, accordionist, songwriter, improviser, videographer/video editor, audio engineer and performance artist who has developed a unique style of playing the accordion, introducing elements commonly associated with the guitar such as distortion, drone and noise. His current ensemble, Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, performs all original Redfearn compositions that genre-bend unorthodox instrumentation and span old-time Americana, folk and Eastern European styles. Alec is recognized on both sides of the Atlantic for his originality, falling somewhere between psych-folk revival and free jazz.

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford welcomes fifth-generation mariachi master Jose Hernandez and his Grammy-nominated, 13-member folk ensemble Mariachi Sol de Mexico on Saturday, May 21, at 8pm. For 35 years, their bright, splashy celebrations incorporate traditional Mexican folk, classical and pop music. They have become a traveling cultural icon that symbolizes electric musicianship and a premiere mariachi ensemble. Hernandez comes from a family that has been performing mariachi music for five generations, and he has shared the stage with his five brothers since the age of 3. His fluent mastery of the medium has led him to contribute to more than 20 film soundtracks, including Rango, Seabiscuit, and Don Juan De Marco. For more, Guadalajara to

At the Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston on Saturday, May 28, it’s The Barley Hoppers. Reaching back in time, The Barley Hoppers offer their audience an eclectic blend of roots music featuring authentic renditions of songs from numerous genres. Formed by Stan Kozlowski and Ray Reniere after discovering a mutual interest in old time and Sun Records music, they have been performing their unique blend of music not normally found in New England, but in the roadhouses of Texas and Tennessee. In their bag of tricks you will find old honky tonk and country, early rock ‘n’ roll, surf, rockabilly, blues, swing and sometimes even a little Tex-Mex and Cajun thrown in — all played with the spirit and energy of the original masters of good ole’, down-home American music. For more, Hordeum Vulgare to

Over at AS220, it’s Empire Revue on Sunday, June 5. This month’s show is called “The Inside, Outside Show.” You never know what those Sparkling Beatniks have cooked up. Keith Munslow and crew will certainly keep your funny bone tickled. Music, comedy, satirical skits and more. If you have never been, what the hell are you waiting for? For more, revue to

Just wanted to add that RI Music Hall of Famer Brenda Bennnett and her all-star RI band put on a great show at Common Fence Music the other night.  It was nice to see that she not only included the performance talents of Ed McGuirl and Betsy Listenfelt, but played original songs by the two and had them front a couple of their own numbers as well. Kudos to Brenda for sharing the spotlight! That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. 

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