This year’s Motif Music Awards were a tremendously exciting experience and we would like to thank the over 250 musicians and fans who attended, the acts who performed and everyone who helped and contributed. We’ll have more on all of that soon … Below is a list of this year’s winners by category. Congrats!
Favorite Americana Act: Man and Wife
Man and Wife are a folk duo from PVD. The group is a man and a woman, true to its name; they are Kris and Tara Hansen. The name was a quick choice when they booked one of their first gigs. They describe themselves as “two Singers, an acoustic guitar and love.” Tara & Kris have been friends since they were 15 years old and married for more than 15 years.
Kris is a staple in the RI music scene. He is the founder and songwriter of the award winning band, Viking Jesus. Like his (other) band’s name, Kris is big and tall with long blonde locks like a Viking and Tara appears as a flower-wearing, Mother Nature goddess that he has snatched from some forest temple. They obviously make beautiful music together! Kris Hansen can also be found twiddling the soundboard knobs for many other local bands.
Favorite R&B Act, Favorite Americana Live Act: Steve Smith & the Nakeds
Steve Smith & the Nakeds began as Naked Truth back in 1973. They are coming up on FIFTY years of playing R&B and Rock music all over the world and have been featured on MTV as well as “Family Guy.” If you haven’t seen Steve Smith & the Nakeds, can you really call yourself a Rhode Islander? Smith danced and sang on my table at my junior prom in 1978! And even today, with his striking white hair and frequently bared chest, he is characterized by his insanely high energy and his ability to get an audience up and moving, sometimes to avoid being stepped on, but usually to get up and dance.
The ten-man unit consists of a four-piece rhythm section, a five-piece brass section, and its lead vocalist, Steve Smith. Throughout their history, the band has shared the touring stage and recording studio with Bruce Springsteen’s saxophonist, Clarence Clemons in a series of critically acclaimed performances.
The Nakeds are Steve Smith – Vocals/Harmonica, Steven “The Kid” Decurtis – Trumpet/Tambourine, Josh Kane – Trombone, Mark Legault – Alto Saxophone, Bobby “Guido” Decurtis – Tenor Saxophone, Jaime Rodrigues – Baritone Saxophone, Mike Marra – Bass/Vocals, Joe Groves – Drums, John Lavallee – Key/Vocals, and Jon Pelzman – Guitar/Vocals. Steve Smith & the Nakeds were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2013. “Hi neighbor, have a ‘Gansett!”
Favorite Country Act, Favorite Singer/Songwriter: Lauren King
A singer/songwriter from the apple town of Smithfield, Lauren began her musical journey with the guitar at age nine and continued at Stonehill College where she studied music and philosophy, both of which are evident in her nuanced songwriting.
King has a presence and performance skills far beyond her 25 years. Her music has been featured in films such as “Where Were You?” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Her CD, The Wolf is Back features 9 songs written by Lauren and features guest appearances by Chris Trapper (solo, The Push Stars), Gurf Morlix (solo, Lucinda Williams, Blaze Foley), Dan Hochhalter (Dierks Bentley) and Sasha Ostrovsky (Darius Rucker). In addition to performing and recording Lauren is a music instructor at Let’s Rock School of Music.
Favorite Open Mic, Favorite Karaoke Night: The Parlour
Once upon a time, The Parlour was The Penalty Box, a real-deal sports bar that was appropriately named due to its proximity to the old RI Arena that hosted the RI Reds Hockey team. The RI Arena is now a parking lot and The Penalty Box is now the Parlour, which is known statewide for presenting music with care, appreciation and gusto.
Located near the edge of PVD and Pawtucket, The Parlour hosts concerts of all genres multiple nights a week (almost every night, really). Its open mic night on Wednesdays has become a regular destination for a surprising number of serious musicians from RI and MA who just want to kick it, experiment or have some less-rehearsed fun. It’s a black musician and sound engineer -owned and -operated venue featuring local, national & international talent in a small room with a big heart. Good vibes, delicious drinks, great food and even better company characterize the spot. The interior features a stage, a bar, and various high top tables. The night is hosted by Steve Donovan of the Quahogs, who creates a gracious, friendly atmosphere. If you are a member of the RI music community, you have played there. If you haven’t, then the open mic is a perfect way to start.
Karaoke night at The Parlour is every Friday night. That’s a big night for a performance-oriented music club to dedicate to the vocal cords of its patrons, and shows how seriously The Parlour takes it, without taking it, you know, too seriously. DJ Ron keeps keeps the mood on and the flow going, knowing when to turn up the mic and when to let the backup music do more of the lifting. You’ll find some of the best voices around at this night, but no judgment for the rest of us.
Favorite Americana Vocalist: Tara Hansen
Tara Hansen is a Cranston native and half of the duo, Man & Wife. She performs with her Viking Jesus husband of 17 years, Kris Hansen. Tara sings and is accompanied by Kris on guitar and vocals. You can not only hear the love in their music, but you can even see it in their performance. Tara is often clad in flowing gowns and floral headpieces, giving her a Mother Nature or a goddess-like presence. A quote from her Facebook page reads, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow: the more knowledge, the more grief…Jack of all trades, student of the world, pincher of pennies, she-hulk, insomniac.” These words are the seeds of a true artist.
Favorite Bluegrass Band: Ocean State Ramblers
The Ocean State Ramblers wander throughout New England playing bluegrass, with their sets often featuring a mixture of bluegrass and country standards, as well as original music. The four members met at various bluegrass jams and events before deciding to form a band. The members are Stephen Dyer (guitar, vocals), Anne-Marie Forer (fiddle, violin, guitar, vocals), Dave O’Connell (upright bass, mandolin, vocals), and Diane Petit (guitar, vocals).
Favorite Jazz Act: Leland Baker Trio
A jazz saxophonist as well as a music educator, Baker teaches privately and leads his own project/lecture series, Bridging Gaps. He lived and spent time honing his craft in New Orleans and New York City before moving to RI. While living in New York, he has had the opportunity to perform and study with artists such as Lawrence Clark, Kahlil Bell, Tim Green, and Roy Hargrove. He attended Loyola University in New Orleans, LA, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies. While an undergraduate, he studied with world acclaimed saxophonists Tony Dagradi, John Ellis and George Garzone. He later attended URI, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Music Performance. Baker continues to perform, record, and teach throughout New England and NYC, and you can find him at many a local jazz night, including the one he hosts at Courtland Club on Sundays from 6 to 8:30pm, SoulPocket at Union Station Brewery on Wednesdays and at Macelino’s in PVD on Thursdays. Marcus Grant on drums and Kweku Aggrey on bass round out the trio.
Favorite Concert Photographer: Eric Johnson (write in)
Well, he wasn’t on the ballot, but he won. His photo fans wrote him in. East Providence’s own Eric Johnson has added another accolade to his already lengthy list. You can find him at the clubs around Rhode Island photographing his favorite local bands. He calls his service AOK Photography, and lots of folks must think it’s so because he is now a MULTIPLEMultiple Motif Award Winner. Maybe you will be next to “say cheese” for Eric.
Favorite Blues Act: Neal and the Vipers
He used to be “Young Neal,” but time has passed. However, it has been kind to Neal as he is still making great music and wowing audiences with his guitar chops. For over 30 years, the Vipers have been playing blues, roots, rockabilly and surf music around Rhode Island and beyond. Neal Vitullo and the Vipers have shared the stage with several music legends such as B.B. King, Roy Buchanan, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Albert Collins, Greg Allman, Jimmy Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Dixon, Johnny Copeland, Robert Plant, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The Vipers are Steve Bigelow on bass, Dave Howard on vocals & harmonica, and Mike LaBelle on drums. They have released nine albums over the years and been recognized with many other honors in addition to their Motif Music awards.You can always find them gigging somewhere; if you haven’t seen them, the time is now!
Favorite Folk Act: Allysen Callery
Allysen began her performing career as a poet before picking up a guitar and becoming a self taught singer-songwriter. Callery has a unique style of music and her tagline is “quiet music for a loud world.” Her music has also been called “Ghost Folk,” which is a fitting description: her guitar serves as a gentle background to her ethereal singing.
She has been compared to and influenced by Nick Drake and Sandy Denny. Over the years, Allysen has won multiple awards and recorded many albums. On top of this, she has a big following in Europe and tours there as often as she can. However, at the end of the day, she is a Rockin’ Rhode Island Folk Star and the RI music community is fortunate to have her as one of their own. In addition to performing, she curates and hosts the Songbird Stage at the annual RI Folk Festival.
Favorite Street Band: Providence Drum Troupe
The Drum Troupe formed organically during the pandemic, when various musicians began congregating, at safe distances, at the Pedestrian Bridge in PVD and just started jamming together. These Thursday gatherings soon brought together a mixture of musicians and street performers to put on a vibrant, one of a kind show.
They are an assortment of musicians, acrobats, fire-spinners, life-size puppets, stilt-walkers, hoopers, and dancers who create funky beats with positive interactive energy, demonstrating that living together in harmony is not an antiquated notion. Members include: Larisa “Vegas”, GEM, Rock Paint, Mark, Doc, The Wind, GMC Suede, Jessica Rabbit, DLB, Cocktail Cote, and Patman, though the membership is fluid. They are sometimes joined by The Yuranians from the Big Nazo Lab. You can often find them wherever people gather, and as they mentioned when accepting the award, “Sometimes we are invited, sometimes we just show up!”
The PVD Pedestrian Bridge is a favorite performance spot of theirs. Take a walk, maybe you will be amazed.
Favorite Americana Festival: Rhythm and Roots
The festival has been happening now for over 20 years, delivering great music and a fully immersive camping-lifestyle experience. But we almost lost it this year. Festival founder and producer Chuck Wentworth decided, reluctantly, that it was time to retire and canceled this year’s festival, much to the disappointment of its loyal fans.
However, after a bit of thought, he decided to sell the festival to someone who could “keep the vibe alive” properly. After screening potential buyers, he finally selected a fitting organization to continue the festival’s legacy. Now the festival will be produced by a Connecticut company, but Wentworth will consult during the transition. So many great acts have graced the stage at RR Fest it is hard to list them all, but some highlights have included Susan Tedeschi, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, Little Feat, Taj Mahal, Steve Riley and so many more. This year’s music will only add to the legacy. Little Feat returns, and joining them will be Grace Potter, Samantha Fish, Cowboy Mouth, North Mississippi All Stars, Anders Osborne & Jackie Greene, Steve Riley, Donna The Buffalo, Los Texmaniacs, the list goes on. Experience it for yourself this Labor Day Weekend!
Favorite Americana Album: High Planes – Ghost Town
Ghost Town was only released this past April, but it has already garnered enough steam to claim positive attention and buzz. High Planes is “a messy blend of Country, Bluegrass, and Blues,’’ with members Christian Caldarone (vocals, acoustic guitar); Annie Jaehnig (vocals), Greg Johnson (viola), Jason Layne (piano), Frankie “Ranks” Moniz (electric guitar), Jeremy Spencer (bass), and James Toomey (drums).
Additional musicians on the recording include Paul Dube (accordion), Joe Lusi (harmonica), and Paul Yates (piano). All of the songs were written by Christian Caldarone, except “Minnesota,” which was written by Jeremy Sencer.
This was posted to their Facebook page after the win: “High Planes won an award for our album ‘Ghost Town’ which is pretty cool. It was a very unique experience making this record and such a collaborative effort from some mighty fine folks. Thanks again to everyone that has listened, bought the CD, it was a lot of work putting this out… so double thumbs up to you all…It does honestly mean a lot…”
Favorite Music Video: Big Nazo – Space Transformation Station
The video from the Space Transformation Station features two members of Big Nazo, IVOR-E and MarzTwin, intermingling with the Earthlings at Kennedy Plaza Bus Station. The video includes funkadelic back beats and some stunning zooming drone footage of DownCity. There are various clips of the two aliens interacting with amused pedestrians, taking “selfies” with an extraterrestrial device and even hugging trees. With this video, the cosmic members of Big Nazo prove that they know how to spice up an afternoon in Kennedy Plaza, and that they truly do come in peace.
Favorite Rock Band: SEXCoffee
Favorite Alt Album: SEXCoffee – Devilish Kiss
This kinky caffeination band was formed in 2007 by vocalist Ruth Charbonneau and bassist Sharlene DeNardo, both of whom were originally in the band 5FOX4. The current lineup is completed by Robert Dumont on guitar and Al Diaz on drums.
Asked where the band name came from, Ruth and Sharlene cited the Maroon 5 line “the sex you slipped into my coffee,” as well as the idea that inviting someone out for coffee often implies that you want to have intercourse with them. Over the past fifteen years, the band has released multiple EPs and a full-length album, The Drink You Paid For. Their most recent release, the EP Devilish Kiss, came out on April 4th. During this time, the band has received multiple accolades, including being chosen to open for Candlebox back in 2011 and signing a multimedia deal with Audiosocket.
Favorite Alt Act: Viking Jesus
Viking Jesus is the creative baby of the previously mentioned Kris Hansen. The band’s racked up over 11,000 plays on ReverbNation alone, where they’re described as playing “epic, short attention span songs. We make albums, play gigs and live on kindness!” Their influences are eclectic, ranging from The Cure and Elliott Smith to The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
Themes in Viking Jesus’s songs vary, with lyrics tackling political issues and Hansen’s thoughts on having defied death after an aneurysm in 2001. Other members of the band include his wife, Tara Hansen, on vocals, and the late Nick Iddon on drums.
Favorite Jam Band: Guess Method
A dance band out of Southern RI, the band’s original four members, Miles Duhamel (guitar), Christian Cerrone (guitar), Matt Fuller (bass), and Chris Grady (drums), met in 2018 on campus at URI. Later on, Luca Simeone joined the band on trumpet. The band is known for their enthusiastic and engaging performances, and they have brought up many guest musicians to enhance their shows, once having as many as 10 people on stage at once. Because you can do that with a jam band.
As of right now, the band has four singles out, including “Indifferent,” which dropped this year. They also have multiple EPs in the works. Rather than release all their new songs on a single album, the band intends to release them as multiple EPs in order to get the songs out faster. Vulfpeck is the group that Guess Method considers their biggest influence. Later this summer, the band will continue to play shows in the area as well as travel all the way up to Maine for The Homie Collective Campout.
Indie Rock: NOVA ONE
NOVA ONE is the latest project by Roz Raskin, featuring a rotating plethora of other musicians. Their latest album, lovable, came out in April 2020 and was released by Community Records. Before then, Raskin had released NOVA’s debut EP, secret princess, in 2018.
Since then, Raskin has received attention from publications such as The FADER, Stereogum, BrooklynVegan and Gold Flake Paint. Their style has been described as ’60s girl group structures with a wall of sound production and modern slacker indie vibes. Their songs often explore topics of gender and queerness. NOVA ONE is locally active, most recently playing Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT. They have also played the Columbus many times.
Favorite Live Alt Act, Favorite Garage Band: David Tessier’s All-Star Stars
The All-Star Stars are award-winning RI-based composer/actor/guitarist David Tessier’s performance ensemble. This year alone, the band has appeared in a host of shows in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Each set is composed of original songs and covers of all genres; their repertoire consists of numbers from “the prog-rock sounds of early Genesis and King Crimson, to the joyful sounds of The Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, David Bowie or The Cars, to the favorite tunes you remember from Glen Campbell and The James Gang.”
They also note with pride that they don’t just play the hits from each of these artists – they dig deep into their catalogs for lost classics and hidden gems, each one presented in a new and fresh way to reflect the new millennium. In the past, they have covered David Bowie’s sweeping sci-fi epic Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, as well as epic performances of Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert, and Pink Floyd’s Animals, among other classics.
Favorite Reggae Act: SoulShot
Formed in 2003, SoulShot got their start playing in New England and New York. Two years later, they recorded their debut album, The Echobass Sessions, on ¼ inch tape. Five years after that, the group issued their next album, The Shot Heard Round the World. Since then, they’ve released two albums: SoulShot and Friends, released in 2016, and Liars and Thieves, released in 2021.
The band has performed on the main stage of the Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica, along with Lionel Ritchie, The O’Jays, and Chicago. They have also performed as the backing band for Jamaican musician Ernie Smith, Alton Ellis at the Rhode Island Reggae Festival, and many more renowned musicians. SoulShot is made up of David “Daveydread” Turano on bass, Rob Liguori alto, Mark Berney on trumpet, Thom O’Brien rhythm guitar and vocals, Rider McCoy on Keys, Krys Jackson on drums ,and Zeke Carlson on percussion.
Favorite Ska Band: The Copacetics
The Copacetics have been a band for around ten years. While they often play songs that date back throughout the multiple waves of ska music, they are also known for their original music. The band released their self-titled debut album back in 2015 to rapturous praise from sites such as Boston Ska (dot) net and Ska-Boom.com. Riding this wave, the band followed up with the 2016 album Ska Royale. Since then, they’ve released A Very Copacetic Christmas (2018) and Jump For Joy (2020).
During the course of their career, the band has shared the stage with such legends as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone, Badfish, The English Beat, and members of The Specials, among many others. The Copacetics have become a staple of the RI wedding scene, in case ballroom dancing with your mother was just a little too boring, and they are a popular squad to make any occasion a danceable treat, which has led to a legacy of Motif award wins over the last several years.
The members of The Copacetics include Chris Mitchell (Keys, Vocals); Stephen Grueb (Tenor Sax, Vocals); Nick Zambrotta (Alto Sax), Matt Di Chiara (Pictured: Lead Vocals, Trombone); Mike Cerenova (Guitar, Vocals); Aaron Abrahamson Cote (Drums/SteelPan/Percussion) and Brad Thibodeaux (Bass).
Favorite Alt Vocalist: Dan St Jacques
This RI native was surprised to be nominated for his vocals. “I think of myself as an extreme performance style punk-rock front person,” says the lead vocalist from Hammer Party. “We don’t color inside the lines or look or sound pretty. We’re drawing, in broad strokes, coloring in existing outlines.”
St. Jacques is also a bassist in the recently intermittent Olneyville Sound System and has performed or toured with about a dozen other bands over his career, perhaps most notably with the bicoastal band Landed, which still performs after decades of music making. “We don’t really tour any more. If you want to break a band up, make them drive around in a sweaty van for 12 hours a day,” he says, “Now we do strategic strikes – we’ll fly out for a specific show.”
He started as a bassist for that band in 1990, but switched to vocals in 1997. “I had busted up my hand the night before, and was using a digital sound system instead, that stopped working. So I had nothing else to do while I was up on stage. So I started making vocal noises, and we kept doing that. It landed us a record deal.” St. Jacques is also known for accidentally setting himself on fire during one show that year. Vocally, he’s still on fire, and you can catch him around RI, including as a sometimes sound engineer at Dusk.
Breakthrough Act: Beauquet
“Wordie mcbirdie music” is how Beauquet describes themselves, which is far more interesting and eye-catching than “fuzzy indie rock.” The band is a trio fronted by Ava Callery on guitar and vocals, a young musician who has been earning her solo chops at various local shows for some time, with Tessa Young on bass and Joe Krapf on drums.
They released their debut self-titled album in 2021, and since then they have caught the attention of many an ear in and around Rhode Island, opening for nationally touring bands such as Grocer. The band’s overall vibe is one of positivity and joy, and hopefully we see more of this from the band moving forward.
Favorite Tribute Band: Dirty Deeds
Dirty Deeds is an AC/DC tribute band that has been playing shows all over the country for over 20 years, sharing their love of the Australian hard rockers with thousands of people. The band has been lauded for their attention to detail, not only echoing the band members’ mannerisms and appearance but also making sure that their instruments sound just like those in the band.
Their shows are known to involve theatrical props and interactive video, fully enveloping the crowd in the concert experience. Each set consists of the band’s signature hits, as well as deep cuts from before and after they became famous. All in all, a current way to channel the original’s electrifying presence.
Favorite Alt Festival: PVDfest
PVDfest is the free, three day long festival that takes place throughout downtown PVD, typically held during the middle of June. It has been hosted by Mayor Jorge Elorza, the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture+ Tourism and founding partner FirstWorks the past few years.
Although the festival had to be canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and had an odd, stretched-out existence over several weekends in 2021, it is building itself back up, and this past June, it was back in full force. The acts on display during this festival come from all over the world as well as right here in PVD, with national and local stages popping up all over the city as it becomes a big pedestrian zone. The fest brings with it multiple genres of music, art, dance, food, and more.
Favorite Sound Person: Vinnie Bellows
A lot of great professionals were nominated for this award, and since the role is generally invisible to the public, we were counting on the local musicians and bands to make informed votes. The quality of the sound engineer can make or break a show, no matter how great the band may be, so musician rely heavily on the skills and knowledge of these outside-the-limelight heroes, and we’re very glad to shine a little light on some of them.
Many a local band has performed at Dusk, one of Bellows’ primary stomping grounds. He approaches each show with speed, energy and good humor. One hallmark of great sound people is calmness under pressure – they do everyday what bands generally do much less often, and there can be a lot of nerves to sooth. Bellows is reassuring and always has a backup plan, but also pays close attention during a show and can jump in anywhere he’s needed.
He also covers sound needs at other venues and on the road, and has quickly established a reputation for reliability and flexibility.
Favorite Cover Band: Wicked Rhode
A cover band that came to be during the bleak months of the pandemic in 2020, Wicked Rhode focuses on the rock/dance genre, especially the ’80s and ’90s. The band members are Mike Dussault (lead vocals), Scott Eisner (lead guitar), Alex Takian (bass, vocals); Dave McLoud (drums, with the perfect last name for it), Matt Connell (sound tech extraordinaire and guitar).
Just before the pandemic hit, McLoud put an ad out on Facebook and Craigslist looking for bandmates, and soon the band was born. Each of the members has other jobs outside of the band, but their love of music and performing brings them all together each time. Their stage setup is elaborate, requiring hours of additional time; the band has jokingly stated that they are open to hiring roadie interns.
Favorite Noise Band: Loud Neighbors
Loud Neighbors formed in the cold winter month of December 2020 – a great time to start something loud. Their sound is a mix of old-school punk and alternative inspired by The Stooges, Elvis Costello, The Misfits, The Modern Lovers, and David Bowie. Band members include Colin James on guitar and vocals, Matt Mozzone on bass and vocals and Joey Dubious on drums.
They have a few upcoming shows in PVD including ones at The Parlour in PVD on Aug 4 and Al Dios in Olneyville on Aug 27.
Favorite Pop Punk Act: Never Coming Home
Never Coming Home is a pop punk band that formed at the School of Rock in 2019 through, as the band’s website states, “friendships made from a heartfelt act of kindness, and a hard hitting kick to the face.”
The story is not quite as violent as it might sound, actually: Anthony Hefler, the singer of the band, decided to check in on guitarist Aidan Sullivan, who’d been missing SOR practice. He found that Sullivan’s dad had passed, so in order to cheer him up, he brought him to go see a concert, and the two began to talk about forming a band. Later that week, Hefler was crowd surfing when he accidentally kicked Merritt Cathers in the face. The two began talking and Cathers joined on drums. After this, “resident beard-haver” Derek Lane-Bell was brought on as bass player. Since then, the band has built a loyal following, recently going on tour with fellow Rhode Islanders, Sporting. The band has released a handful of singles over the last couple of years, and more music is on the way.
Post Punk/Gothic Act: Hope Anchor
Hope Anchor has won for the third time in a row for best punk/gothic act. They are a post-punk/goth/shoe gaze band started in 2006 by Terry Linehan and Paul Pip Everett. Their current lineup is Paulie Myers on drums, who has been with the band since day one, and newer members Robbie Shaggs on Bass and Steve Demers on guitar.
Hope Anchor encapsulates the spirit of timeless songs like “The Killing Moon” in a modern way. One of their upcoming shows will be headlining the Scurvy Dog Parking Lot Mega Show on Sunday, Oct 9, and they’ll have a new album out this fall as well.
Favorite Punk Act: The McGunks
Some of the nicest-in-real-life, loudest-on-stage rockers you might ever meet, The McGunks know how to liven up an event or a music hall. Repeat award winners in Motif’s pages, their fans have beenencouraging their head banging success for well over a decade. The four-piece band has 10 releases.
Their most recent, Going Out Early, has gone out to positive reviews for hitting all the right punk notes. They are currently soliciting radios, which we suspect will get treatment similar to the printer in Office Space, as well as pics of old radios.
Favorite Hardcore Act: Bullet Proof Backpack
Bullet Proof Backpack formed in the year 2020, created by siblings Alex (vocals) and Aidan Simmons (bass). The two recorded a couple of EPs with Trevor Vaughn on drums, garnering much attention in the local hardcore scene in the process. As the pandemic began to subside, guitarist Marie CS and drummer Travis Garrahan were brought on to complete the lineup.
Since then, the band has released more tapes, including their 2022 debut album Corrosive and Flammable. They have also opened for hardcore legends such as Verbal Assault, 7 Seconds, and Negative Approach. This summer, they are venturing out and playing shows in New Jersey and New York, and more music is in the works.
Favorite Metal Act: RHODE KILL
James Adams (guitar, vocals) and James Fague (bass) have been in bands together for practically their whole lives and are the founding members of RHODE KILL, joined by drummer Marco Leva. They aim for “shotgun to head,” sound and have been banging skulls for decades before creating Rhode Kill in 2005. They are previous winners from 2018, and their aggressive combination of everything from thrash to blues to “dino-punk” has left a deep mark on the genre locally and through tours around the country. At the time of this writing, Adams is unable to tour for health reasons and we all send the strongest healing vibes possible.
Favorite PROG / Emo Act: Sleep Mode
Sleep Mode was formed 3 years ago in the summer of 2019 by guitarist Dan Medeiros. The band includes Alex Durand on drums and Derek Smith on bass. The band takes influence from alt. rock, shoegaze and punk and warps into its own unique sound. They have a few shows scattered throughout the summer and fall. The “Punks for Pets” fundraiser show at the News Café in Pawtucket is their most anticipated show.
Favorite Promoter: Rob Duguay
Duguay has been promoting shows around PVD for as long as we can remember. He goes everywhere, and writes prolifically for any number of periodicals. His Top-5 Fiend promotions puts together shows regularly at many local venues and is perhaps best known for his annual three-part birthday party non-profit fundraisers that manage to book nearly half the great bands in town. He is also a regular contributor toward the shenanigans in the Facebook group “Providence, but on Facebook.”
Favorite Hip Hop Act: Jesse The Tree
One of Rhode Island’s favorite hip hop acts, Jesse The Tree rose to fame with his debut album Space Tomatoes (the winner of Motifs 2021 best hip hop album) capturing people’s attention with his killer flows, vintage samples and edgy lyrics. He’s not an act for delicate sensibilities, but he keeps feet dancing throughout the region with regular shows and headlines and a following that’s growing like a well-watered tree.
Favorite DJ: DJ Pauly Danger
Pauly Danger has been spinning music since 2002 when he had his first radio show as an undergrad at UVM. He started playing in clubs in Burlington around 2006. His biggest inspirations include local DJs and radio personalities DJ A-Dog, Melo Grant, Nastee, Big Dog & Demus, DJ Cr-8, Fattie B and Selector Dubee. Mr. Danger, as he’s known to some fans, is easy going and seems to know just what to spin for any occasion. He hosts and has hosted many regular nights around PVD, including, currently, the Upsetta International reggae night every Monday at The Parlour PVD. He also produces records and mixes, primarily reggae, under the Upsetta label.
Favorite Dance Night: Soul Power
Ty Jesso has bright blue eyes that seem like they can bore into your soul, but you’ll rarely see them because he works his magic from behind a DJ set up that’s become legendary in local circles. Soul Power is strongly painted with ‘70s and ‘80s nostalgia, but it’s really all about getting bodies moving, and its danceability has made the night a must-dance at Dusk, where it was weekly for a long time and is currently, post-COVID, happening monthly, often with a vital assist from John O’Leary. Each musician also plays in a number of local bands and has been known to fill in on a few different instruments.
Favorite Electronica Act: Artist Jackie and the Wizard
The Artist Jackie and her frequent cohort, The Wizard, have been ripping it up across multiple venues and media for the last few years. She brings the pop in electropop, he brings a truely epic beard that would make Gandalf jealous, and they both bring exciting DJ skills to the creation of original electronic music.
First inspired by her older brother’s guitar skills as a child, The Artist Jackie wanted to bring down the house, Van Halen style, but with an early love for Prince and Iggy Pop. That’s led to “about 75 free downloads on Bandcamp, and a select awesome amount on Spotify,” with a Jackie and the Wizard Live Album coming up shortly, there’s no sign of this musical flow slowing any time soon.