2024 Motif RI Music Awards Recap

Jake Hunsinger and The Rock Bottom Band. (Photo: Zack Koehler)

On Monday night, March 19, Motif threw the RI music community’s version of the Oscars, the 2024 RI Music Awards. A record crowd of over 600 musicians and music lovers came and went throughout the evening, which was filled with live performances and awards for over 50 different categories. Food from Burrito Bowl formed a cushion for drinks from Fête Music Hall, who lent their massive, two-level ballroom to the effort. If you ever wanted to see a hip-hot artist compare notes (pun intended) with a folk-singer-songwriter and an aging lead singer of an established metal band, this was your chance. Mix and match those with six hundred more musicheads – everyone from club bookers to harmonica specialists – and you have a feel for what the evening was like.


“Can I get a mic check? Audio check?” In characteristic style, much of the event was improvised, including an audio outage for consummate professional Slim Goody, and a broken audio cable for Christiana Guglietti of the also consummately professional band Meridian, but it also inspired many unexpected moments that brought life and joy to the night.


  • “The Voice” superstar Billy Gilman singing the name of country music category favorite Jake Hunsinger and the Rock Bottom Band to co-presenter Barbara Morse (of NBC 10).
  • Barbara Morse made a joke about “morning wood” – you won’t see that on Channel 10!
  • Based on name recognition, Corrinne Southern disrupted the country music presentation to challenge fan favorite Hunsinger WWE-style to some kind of future music-off, pointing out that she was the real queen of Southern music.
  • Music columnist Marc Clarkin, known more for spelling band names than for pronouncing them, presented the eco-unfriendly award to People Eating Plastic, in between mutilating the names of other nominees.
  • A special award was presented to performance artist Erik Leone for “Favorite Disruptor.” Not only does Leone seem to play a different instrument in almost half the bands in the region, he specializes in shock-and-awe performance art, ranging from lurking naked in a pit at a festival, to storming stages during award shows. His acceptance speech was drowned out by the creative disruption of musical stylings by the Providence Drum Troupe.
  • Favorite Hip-Hop Act Big Lux shouted out, “Y’all chose a violinist as your favorite hip-hop artist, which has probably not happened before anywhere in the world.” Another barrier broken!
  • Alison Rose thanked the crowd with, “Thank you for liking sad songs,” accepting the award for Favorite Singer-Songwriter. She also took home an award for Favorite Americana Album, showing just how much readers really really like sad songs.
  • We even had our own LaLa-esq moment, when the non-existent Zonks were announced as the winner of Favorite Alt Act. Actual winners YONKS graciously forgave all involved.

That’s just a sampling of the highpoints. The event was made possible by countless volunteers and contributors, with special thanks to showrunner Tess Lyons, MCs John Fuzek and Anjel Newmann, Presenters Greg Rourke and The Parlour Fam, Natalie Vanlandingham, Corinne Wahlberg, Noah Donnelly, Barbara Morse, Billy Gilman, Chip Doug, Marc Clarkin, Al Gomes, Janay Pina, Dana Schneider, Eric Barao, Michael Bilow, Lee Adrain, Colleen and Steve Mulligan, Jack Downey, Jade Sisti, Alissa Marr, Allie Boyer, Amanda Grafe, Irene Yibirin, Zack Koehler, Lydia Therrien, Burrito Bowl, and of course the newly restaffed Fête Music Hall.

Now let’s take a look at some of the acts you, dear readers (over 6,500 of you!!!) voted as your favorites! We’ve left a few out to cover more in depth in upcoming issues…

2024 motif music award winners

Coma Hole describes themselves as a ‘doom duo,’ a perfectly apt classification seeing as each of their unique, heavy, hard-hitting tracks feels destined to be included in the next Doom video game soundtrack. Said duo is made up of Eryka Fir on vocals/ bass and Steve Anderson on drums. Although they formed in 2018, Coma Hole released their first single, “Old Climb,” in the fall of 2021, which was quickly followed by the release of a self-titled EP in the spring of 2022. The sonic aesthetic of the EP brings with it an unmistakable air of badassery, which is particularly heard on the epic, slow-tempoed “Wind & Bone.” Check out their music on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music. @coma_hole 
– Brydon Conti 

Vudu Sister seems to have done the impossible. Their sound is a genre-mash of opposite ends of various spectrums, a smorgasbord that should mutate into discordant mess, but instead is coupled better and more elegantly than even the best wine and cuisine pairings. Distinctly American, while simultaneously European, Vudu Sister is a mix of the ethereal/fantastical/otherworldly with down-to-earth Southern Gothic. The group, based out of Providence and made up of members Keith J.G. McCurdy, Diane O’Connor, and Isabel Castellvi, has released four albums and one EP — Bastard Children (2012), Household Items (2013), Mortis Nervosa (2016), and Strange Tales (2020). Their EP, Burnt Offerings was released in 2021. Though their most popular album is their debut (with an impressive almost three million Spotify listens to the track “Psalms”), there’s much more to explore in Vudu Sister’s discography. Their B-side album Strange Tales contains some of their most intimate and poppy tracks, while Burnt Offerings offers unique songs written in Latin and Attic Greek, the Greek dialect of the ancient region of Attica. They are currently hard at work on their fifth album. Check out Vudu Sister on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music. @vudusister 
– Brydon Conti

Saddle Up The Chicken is a southern Rhode Island institution. They are less well known in other parts of the state, but in Wakefield, Narragansett, South Kingstown, Peace Dale, Exeter, etc. people break out in a smile at the mere mention of their name and tales of rollicking good times at their concerts pour forth. John O’Malley has been singing and playing harmonica, accordion, and guitar in Saddle Up The Chicken for 14 years. Over the years the group has featured a kaleidoscopic roster of local musicians who take the stage in various combinations of six, seven, or eight players. O’Malley estimates that “a total of 15 to 16 people have been part of the group and if we have been judged ‘the best’, credit is due to all of them.” O’Malley has an idea for why the group is so much fun. He says, “We make a point of not taking ourselves too seriously. We’re having a good time, even when we fuck up, and that is contagious for the audience. There are no extreme egos in the group. We love music. That’s the glue.” O’Malley goes on to describe his process of taking the stage, “I love a full audience! The more people there are the more my stage fright ratchets up and the only way to overcome that is to ratchet up my performance until it's at the same level as my stage fright.” 
– John Kotula

If you scroll through James Lastowski’s Facebook page or Smug Mug site you’ll notice it’s a who’s who of the RI music community. Over the years, he’s captured many iconic photos of local musicians. He likes to do “walkabout” shoots with artists, performers, and regular people to creatively capture their essence. He is in it for the love of the art and the community that it represents. You will find him snapping away on the sidelines at venues around Rhode Island. When asked about his award Lastowski says, “Besides how humbling it was to win, it was wonderful for my wife to meet and chat with some of my friends.” He wanted to make sure that folks know his photos are available in hi-res to download. There are also options to buy “real-world prints and such.” He sets the price at just one dollar — the rest of the pricing is for shipping. For more, visit and 
– John Fuzek 

When asked what this award means to him, Russell Gusetti says, “It’s always gratifying to be honored by members of the industry you work in.” Gusetti is a Judges Pick for his work leading Blackstone River Theatre (BRT), producing BRT’s Summer Solstice Festival for 12 years, and for being a co-founder of the multiple award-winning band, Pendragon who have performed "Music in the Celtic Tradition" regionally for 35 years. While Gusetti has not played much music since Pendragon stopped performing in 2019, he has devoted his life to creating and running BRT, which he has done for the past 28 years. “I am still always surrounded by music,” he says. “I am doing what I love while also getting to support fellow musicians.” Gusetti is also a founding and current board member of the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, and a co-founder and committee co-chair of the Tune In & Tune Up RI Musicians Health Awareness Initiative. Gusetti says this work drives him and adds, “I strive to create a space where an audience and band can interact. No longer as a musician, but as director of an arts venue, I continue to seek to create a space for the possibility of that moment — that feeling every musician gets from being on stage, doing what they love, knowing they sound good, and seeing the joy in the faces of the audience when they make that connection. It’s both fleeting and yet, lasts forever.” For more, visit 
– John Fuzek

In the world of dancehall and reggae, one name rises above the rest: DJ Pauly Danger. This vinyl master has been captivating audiences for over a decade with his incredible skill behind the turntables. 

What instantly strikes you about Pauly is his impeccable selection and flawless mixistry. His sets are a seamless blend of foundational roots reggae anthems, and the hottest, cutting-edge dancehall bangers. Pauly has an uncanny ability to keep the dance craving more with his tight, energetic transitions and improvised turntable wizardry. 

While his technical prowess is unmatched, Pauly's true artistry lies in his deep understanding of reggae's roots and dancehall culture. He knows exactly when to bang that snare or pull for the wheel-up, controlling the vibe of the crowd with his musical intuition. Watching him work a turntable juggle or ride a riddim is like witnessing high art. @paulydanger 
– Jay Dupont 

The Agents offer a refreshingly diverse and eclectic sound that skillfully blends multiple genres. Their music is a vibrant fusion of ska, rock steady, reggae, soul, swing, and surf rock influences. This unique combination creates an energetic and upbeat sound that is both rich and catchy. The Agents pay homage to the traditions of these genres while putting their own innovative spin on them. They have emerged as a band that demands attention with their energetic blend of ska, rock steady, and reggae. Hailing from Providence, a city they fondly refer to as "the small town with the big sound," the band's logo proudly displays the city's skyline, paying homage to their roots. 

Formed in February 1995 by Jason Dalomba (vocals, guitar) and Dawn Maguire (trumpet), The Agents later joined forces with Frank Moniz (sax) and Jason "Deuce" Medeiros (bass). Their lineup was recently completed with the addition of John Letourneau (guitar) and Krys Jackson (drums). Their music is melodic and entertaining. 

The Agents' debut full-length CD, For All The Massive, released on Radical Records, is a grand mixture of traditional ska, reggae, swing, and surf, and showcases their respect for tradition in both their name and sound. Their follow-up album, 401, further displays the group's eclectic influences and their ability to craft a special mixture of styles and sounds that are best described as rich, moving, and catchy. 

By drawing from a wide range of styles, The Agents' music has a broad appeal that satisfies fans of different musical backgrounds. Whether you're a ska enthusiast, a reggae lover, or simply appreciate dynamic, genre-blending sounds, The Agents provide a listening experience that is lively, engaging, and impossible to ignore. Their ability to fuse distinct musical elements into a cohesive and infectious sound, makes their albums, like the acclaimed "Steady Forward," must-listens for anyone seeking fresh, feel-good tunes with substance. 
– Jay Dupont

The Scurvy Dog Parking Lot Mega Show has become a staple of the summer and fall in PVD. It features a full day of bands, day drinking, and friends popping in and out throughout the day to catch bands from all over the globe as they grace the tented pavement at the back of the parking lot. Multiple shows are held from May – October and all are highly anticipated. The variety of genres showcases the breadth of talent in the RI (and beyond) music scene while providing something everyone can enjoy. 

“It’s nice to be recognized for the hardest of your work,” says co-owner Terry Linehan of their win for Favorite Alt Festival. “Those shows are long and grueling on the body but go by pretty quickly. I will quote Wayne from Letterkenny: ‘If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’” 

The Scurvy Dog Parking Lot Mega Show is celebrating their tenth year in 2024. The first show kicks off May 26. 
– Bobby Forand

When asked about their musical inspirations, rock duo YONKS lists Lady Gaga, Paramore, Blondie, No Doubt, and Katy Perry, explaining that, “We’ve been really inspired by powerful female-fronted acts for as long as we can remember.” The parallels to these core influences are evident in their music, with powerful vocals from Bianca Gouveia and danceable drumming by Nate Melanson — the group conjures the technicolor glamour of modern pop-rock while singing earnestly about love and life. The duo reflects on their past year of playing music throughout RI, with notable highlights including, “Having more people listen to our music and come to our live shows,” as well as the opportunity to “meet and play with amazing bands.” Check them out on April 4 at Wes’ Ribhouse or on Instagram @thatbandyonks. 
– Dana Schneider 

While you may have a hard time trying to stream Dusty & The Brakes’ music, their Instagram and TikTok pages will tell you all you need to know: these self-described “psychedelic bluesy space cowboys” were brought together by musician Jamie Doyle (also known as Dusty, lead vocalist and guitarist) in the fall of 2023. Doyle is joined by Brian Fink on guitar, Jake Wasson on bass, and Zack Wedge on drums. Their music is transcendent, yet familiar, with warm chords and twangy strings, reminiscent of The Grateful Dead if Ray LaMontagne was their lead singer (and I’m not just talking about the beard). Who needs streaming, anyway, when you can catch them at a show around Rhode Island, at The Parlour and beyond? A close second is peeping their zany memes on social media – one reads, across a black-and-white photograph of Doyle, “If you see this man, please immediately do the following: give him food, give him water, BOOK HIS BAND Dusty and the Brakes” – who are we to dispute? @dusty_ and_the_brakes 
– Rachna Iyer

It’s really not much of a surprise that Julie Rhodes was awarded Favorite Americana Vocalist: many things are impressive about her music, such as the production and piercing songwriting that create her unmistakable sound. Julie Rhodes is a vocal powerhouse. Her smooth, soulful voice takes listeners on a journey across time and space, with an alto akin to Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. She draws broadly from country, folk, and rock, and makes you proud to exist in this little corner of the Northeast, alive at the same time as her immense talent. Catch Rhodes at a live show in the Providence area and beyond. For show info, music news, and more visit 
– Rachna Iyer

This trio — composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Tammy Laforest, drummer Alvaro Diaz, and bassist Sharlene DeNardo — are known for their harmonies and infectious sound. They draw inspiration from other harmonic groups like Queen, The Mamas & the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, and Pentatonix. In the past, they have dabbled with adding instrumentation to their group like electric guitar but have ultimately stuck with their trio configuration, saying, “We would describe our sound as quieter than most bands, but still bring fun and upbeat energy.” The Dust Ruffles prove you don’t have to be the loudest band to make a blanket impact. Check out their EP Innocent Filth and stay tuned for new music later this year.
– Dana Schneider

The Quahogs are on a roll: the band seems to be doing everything right, and it certainly paid off as they walked out of the 2024 Motif Music Awards with more trophies than band frontrunner Steve DelMonico has hands. With Mike Murdock on drums, Ashish Vyas on bass, and Steve Donovan on lead guitar, their alt-rock music is catchy, groovy, upbeat, real, and palatable, in the best way – there is something for everyone. Still, they stay unique, with DelMonico’s gritty, sharp vocals that make a perfect match for the equally powerful instruments. 

After the tragic passing of band drummer Nick Iddon, The Quahogs wanted their latest album Tasteless (2023) and the music video for track “For What Reason” released as a tribute to Iddon. The music video, which can be found on YouTube, is a charming compilation of the band’s various shows, composed of  clips Iddon shot over 2017 and 2018. The result is a heartwarming and nostalgic display of four guys hanging out and making music, doing what they love and enjoying every minute of it. Watching the video means getting to see the band through the same lens Iddon saw them through and the chance to feel the warmth of their friendship. By the end of the video, you’ll want to hang out with the band and be their friend. 

There is almost any occasion that would benefit from having The Quahogs’ new album Tasteless play: sitting in a coffeeshop people-watching (as I first heard it), taking a walk in the sun, or the rain, or even the snow, or better yet – watching the band play it live. The Quahogs reportedly began making Tasteless in 2018, and after five years of labor, finally released the manifestation of their blood, sweat, and tears. My personal favorite tracks include the aforementioned “For What Reason,” “Where I’m Standing,” “Miriam,” and “I Lost Myself.” You can stream or buy the album and decide for yourself – but beware, these songs will get stuck in your head (I didn’t mind one bit). – Rachna Iyer

Vertigo demonstrates incredible growth with each passing year and we look forward to seeing them continue to develop their original sound while staying true to themselves. 
 – Jack Downey
From the first time the members of How’s About Charlie opened their mouths and harmonized, they knew they had something special — they were meant to sing together. Their enchanting harmonies are their trademark. Songs such as the eerie “Tower” gain the quartet notice whenever they perform. Whether playing their originals or the occasional cover, How’s About Charlie’s sound is prominent. Simple instrumentation accompanies the vocals — just guitar, cajón, and ukulele. Members Nicole Gauthier, Bethany Killian, Amanda Centrella, and Aaron Bedard originally called themselves The Fates, but learned after a year or two later that at least three other The Fates existed. In an attempt to be unique, and anticipating the release of their first album, in 2017 they made the name shift. At AS220 Foo Fest, a young comic book artist at the Providence Comics Consortium kiosk offered them a suggestion, along  with a sketch. The name stuck and they became How's About Charlie. When asked what the award means, Gauthier comments, “Winning the Motif award for Favorite Americana Act means so much to us. We’ve been a band for eight years and counting, and we feel so grateful to our community for consistently showing us appreciation.“ Visit 
– John Fuzek 

Allison Rose is a mom, a woman with a full time career, a jack of all trades, a singer-songwriter, and a multi-instrumentalist. “Alison Rose is who you’d get if Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitrchell, Sara Bareilles, and a Disney princess all had a baby together,” according to her website. Rose has been a fixture in the RI musical community for years and has many awards and accolades to her credit. Her music leaves lasting impressions that stick in your head and evoke an emotional response with every song. She is a positive, friendly, and kind and wonderful human, all of which you realize within seconds of meeting her. Rose genuinely appreciates her fans. When asked about her current Motif awards she replied, “It means the world to be recognized among such a community of talented artists in RI. It’s important to me to create honest music that connects with people, and winning the Motif award makes me feel like that still matters.” For more, visit @allisonrosesings 
– John Fuzek 

David Tessier and the All Star Stars, or ASS as they are affectionately known, delight audiences with an eclectic array of song selections. Tessier will post the band’s set list after every show just so fans know exactly what they played. They perform the “closet hits” that many bands shy away from, and tackle the tough tunes, whether it’s the 17-minute long “Dogs” by Pink Floyd or Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” from the disco era; nothing is out of bounds for ASS. On top of that they’ll occasionally add a few of Tessier’s own prog-rock-flavored compositions. When asked what winning a Motif award meant to him and the band, David replied, “We’re extremely honored to even be nominated because it’s always nice to be noticed, but to be put in such good company is the real reward.” The band recently played their first JustinFest in honor of their late band member Justin Grankewicz who tragically died in a car accident last year. They hope to make this an annual event. Tessier’s own musical résumé runs from regular rock bands to roles in musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar or Hedwig and the Angry Inch and even stints as medieval musicians at King Richard’s Faire. You can find Tessier and the rest of ASS playing somewhere around New England almost every weekend. For more, visit 
– John Fuzek 

While many rap fans look to the major hip-hop hubs like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta for the next big star, those in the know are turning their attention to an unlikely locale — Rhode Island. That's where you'll find Chach, an enigmatic MC with a gift for interweaving intricate wordplay with infectious rhythms and hard-hitting beats. 

At first listen, Chach's flows immediately grab listeners with their catchiness and bounce. His vocals ride the instrumentals with a melodic crispness as he spits bars that stick in your head for days. But don't be fooled by the hypnotic delivery — underneath the surface lies a deep well of lyrical mastery. Chach's complex wordplay and metaphor-laced rhyme patterns reveal themselves more and more with each listen. He's a true student of the craft, combining witty punchlines, dexterous internal rhyming schemes, clever metaphors and elliptical storytelling into an intricate tapestry of vocal artistry. One minute he'll hit you with an ingenious double entendre, the next he'll be painting a vivid narrative scene, all woven together with a dizzying drum of linguistic dexterity. 

While his skills are undeniable, what makes Chach's music so compelling is the ability to blend his lyrical fireworks with legitimately funky, head-nodding production. He has a preternatural sense of how to make even his most elaborate rhyme fireworks mesh seamlessly with an addictive groove that keeps listeners bobbing their heads. It's mic mastery of the highest order from one of rap's most unlikely locales. For those who think real lyricism is a lost art in hip-hop's modern landscape, Chach is here to show that elite penmanship is alive and well — it's just hidden in the humble 401 area code. Make sure you listen to his latest album The Inner Mission available on Spotify and Apple Music. @chach401_  – Jay Dupont 

Big Lux is a talented violinist who has forged an unconventional path, blending music with military service and social activism. Classically trained from a young age, he attended West Point Military Academy and went on to serve in war zones across the world, always keeping his violin by his side. 

His experiences in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Korea shaped his music and evolution as an artist. He wrote the powerful song "Chasing Bombs" about his tour in Iraq, fusing hip-hop with soul. In Korea, he embraced the local performing arts scene, winning a battle of the bands and headlining festivals while also training soldiers. 

After earning his MBA in Miami, Lux made the bold decision to pursue music full-time. His Latin-influenced covers like "Despacito" displayed his versatility across genres. He became an electric, high-energy performer renowned in Miami's club scene. 

Now in Rhode Island, Lux balances his professional gigs with a dedication to activism and fundraising. He has spoken at colleges, led peaceful protests, created a viral protest music video, and organized vigils honoring victims of police brutality through orchestral violin performances. 

With his military discipline and bold spirit, Big Lux continues using his art and platform to inspire change and meaningful dialogue on social justice issues. His unconventional journey has made him a true renaissance man. @bigluxviolin 
– Jay Dupont

Artist Jackie and the Wizard have been wowing audiences for years, hitting legendary status with their third Motif award for Favorite Electronic Act. Not worrying all that much about genres and categories, they let the songs dictate the direction. The pair have a great flow together and an ability to connect with their audience. Their on-stage charisma, which is the same regardless of crowd size, is a sight to be seen and a must-have experience. 

"From backyard family-friendly gatherings and parties throughout the years to massive sound systems and blinding stage lights, you all as a community voted us to be the legends of the music scene as we cross over genre barriers just because we kill it every time," says The Wizard. 
– Bobby Forand 

Before its unfortunate closing at the end of January, Dusk was a lively venue that always had a good crowd inside and a steady of flow of people on the sidewalk conversing and protecting their peers from smash-and-grabs. Venue manager Danielle Tellier was their main promoter and a big reason for their success, which earned her the award for Favorite Promoter. 

“I wasn't expecting to win anything,” Tellier says of her win. “I thought maybe something Dusk-related was getting recognition! I put so much work in, over so many years, to make Dusk special that it's heartwarming to have the community see and appreciate that. I also put a lot of thought into the heavy metal shows I curated and created a place in Providence for touring underground bands that are known worldwide. It means a lot that people see that and have been able to enjoy everything we've done! I'm booking at Wes' upstairs now and some mod-sized events at Fête Lounge, so I hope to continue bringing great music to Providence!” 
– Bobby Forand 

Sourpunch are on a rock and roll, playing shows and engaging crowds all over New England. Their brand of punk infuses rock styles from the ’50s – ’70s and leaves people subconsciously singing while their feet are moving. Led by Jenn Lombari, Sourpunch impresses local and national acts with whom they share the stage, and Lombari’s infectious energy makes every set feel like a party. Her talented bandmates, Doug Metivier, Brian Shovelton, and Bob Kadlec bring the songs to life with their own distinct  energy that engages their crowds. This four-piece has a knack for making memorable music. 
– Bobby Forand 

I had just played a Dusk show and stepped outside to catch some fresh summer air when Artist Jackie showed me a video of the last four songs of our set. I was blown away. Not by the performance but by the cinematography. Jackie has an expert understanding of song structure and uses that knowledge to make single-shot videos that feel like an entire production team are behind them. The camera angles are striking, which is an impressive feat since the shows are being filmed in the moment without much of a plan. 

“Winning Favorite Videographer really meant a lot,” Jackie says of the award. “It's really special to be recognized in that way by the music community. It all started with one band: Nate Cozzolino and The Lost Arts. I started hanging out at MadCap Mondays at Dusk every week starting in 2018 and met Nate, Amanda Salemi, Caleb Ezra, Corrine Southern, Nick Hallenback, Tim Batty, Nicole Purcell, the Wizard, along with so many others. We became a little family and when Nate's band played a bunch of us would go. I loved that version of The Lost Arts and thought, ‘These guys are so good and someone should be documenting them.’ So over the next two years, I attended most of their shows and took video of them. There are probably 80 or so videos of them that I shot out there. I started videoing other bands that I thought were so good that someone should be documenting them. Over the past six years, I've shot around 800 videos of the Providence music scene. In 20 years, it'll be a pretty cool collection to look back on.” 
– Bobby Forand 

In the last few years, I’ve found comfort and connection seeing The Papermoon Jazz Band, composed of musicians John Birt, Dylan Harley, Casey Belisle, and Albert Behar. As Birt and Harley shared in their recent NPR interview, there’s an “immediacy” and “visceral-ness” to the Django Reinhardt-inspired sets they play. When asked about shifting from a duo to a foursome (and sometimes more!) Birt said, “Starting as a duo really got us focused on the core sound of string jazz in Europe. The relationship of the percussive rhythm guitar against the expressive, highly ornamented melody is the main foundation of gypsy jazz. Once we added in drums and accordion it immediately opened new textures and forced us to build new arrangements. There are so many songs that we’ve played for years that I cannot imagine without Casey on drums and Albert on accordion. I also feel that audiences are more engaged because we constantly have new friends sitting in, adding their voices to the group.” 

Reflecting on the award Harley shared, “Winning feels like a real affirmation of all the time and love we’ve poured into playing. We feel so lucky to be part of such a vibrant music scene and especially lucky to have a weekly gig that has helped us build such a solid foundation. It’s made the growing process a natural one. We are so grateful for the recognition of our growth and the dedication by the staff at Motif! Also, we wouldn’t be here without Ellie Coyne who gave us this weekly opportunity when we were starting out. Thank you to the staff at the Royal Bobcat and all the patrons who come in and give us a reason to play.” 
– Mayté Antelo-Ovando 

The Z-Boys, self-described “surfrock band originally from Newport” have won their second Motif Music Award in the Favorite Alt-Rock Live Act category. Since 2014, Greg Burgess (guitar), Zigmond Coffey aka Ziggy (drums), and Amato Zinno (bass), have made everyone (I’d say even the reluctant show-goers) dance and jump around at every single one of their shows. I saw them play recently at a Dusk farewell event and experienced first-hand the high-powered energy they create. When asked what has changed for the band in the last few years, bass player Zinno said, “The biggest change for us was deciding after our last record to become an instrumental band — no more singing! It has allowed us to focus on our strength as players and made us unique compared to many other bands locally.” Zinno went on to say that the band is very grateful to win this award “for the second year in a row. The category is a great fit for us, and we are so glad to have the community’s support. We are fans of the other bands in this category as well (there are a lot of standouts!), so to be recognized among peers that we respect is a great honor.” Right after their win they posted on socials their admiration for other local bands and invited live-music lovers to keep listening. “We hope you’ll take the time to hear them and keep going to see us too, pls.” Next up, go listen and dance at their show on April 5 at the Shaidzon Beer Company. 
– Mayté Antelo-Ovando 

NOVA ONE’s roz raskin is inspired by prolific writer bell hooks. The author, whose given name was Gloria Jean Watkins, used her great-grandmother’s name as a pseudonym and chose not to capitalize it. roz explains that bell hooks did this “to focus more on the message of her writing than herself,” a practice adopted by roz. roz is the kind of vocalist who focuses on the story being shared, the message in the song, not the person singing it. While they may not want the spotlight on them, fans of NOVA ONE have another take. Attending a NOVA ONE show means witnessing an audience captivated by roz’s presence. The message, the vocalist, and the performance resonate with many. 

When asked about the award, roz said, “i think it’s always a treat to have my music acknowledged and appreciated in any way. i’ve spent a good deal of my life singing in my bedroom, shy, slowly developing my range, approach, and confidence. we all know award shows are a bit silly and very subjective, but i’m honestly always moved that anyone cares about my work enough to buy my records, come see my band live, or vote for me for me for favorite anything. i feel very loved.” Moments after winning the award roz expressed their gratitude to their fans via social media, writing, “thanks to everyone who voted for me i do love to sing…” we’re so lucky that they do. 
– Mayté Antelo-Ovando
The Wolff Sisters, regular RI visitors from Boston, are a captivating indie-pop band composed of three talented sisters: Rachael, Rebecca, and Kat. With soulful harmonies that blend seamlessly with their folk-rock sound, the trio delivers emotionally charged performances that resonate deeply with audiences. Their music is characterized by introspective lyrics, catchy melodies, and rich instrumentation, and showcases their versatility and artistry. Drawing inspiration from personal experiences and the world around them, The Wolff Sisters infuse authenticity and passion into every song they create, captivating listeners with their raw honesty and heartfelt storytelling. With their dynamic stage presence and undeniable talent, The Wolff Sisters continue to carve out their unique space in the indie music scene, leaving a lasting impression wherever they go.
– Yaritza Arriaza-Caceres

My first introduction to People Eating Plastic was an oblique one. I take bike rides to the Van Leesten Memorial Bridge sometimes, and on this particular autumn jaunt, a performer was setting up on the lower deck. Oddly, here was a drummer with a full kit, but no accompaniment. He may have been wearing an animal-themed onesie. As a drummer myself, I have always wondered whether one can DO this, that is, just set up somewhere and play, without the buckets-and-cookware busker affect, or a smooth keyboardist to butter up the passers-by. Well, this drummer did exactly that, and the rhythms he jammed on were intense, with double-bass, syncopation, and odd time signatures — I stood transfixed, my musical heart a-flutter...

As you can guess, I saw that drummer, Wesley Evans, again, performing with People Eating Plastic. This time those intensive rhythms were synced up with guitarist Jason Gilooly's mellifluous tap-shredding. PEP draws influence from progressive metal, jazz, hip-hop, progressive post hardcore, and avant garde music. They describe their sound as “progressive mathcore” and enjoy adding emphasis to their music by ramping up and slowing down the tempo in different spots, while also messing around with offbeats, backbeats, and various effects. They’re not out to reinvent the math rock wheel, just to keep it rolling in sonorous cycles of arpeggiated progression. At the intersection of organic flair and practiced precision... they calculate, humbly embodying all the intricate beauty of the genre. Watch their studio session recorded at Dud’s Dungeon, now available on Spotify and YouTube. @peopleeatingplastic
– David Sano

“Olneyville Sound System started in ’96 back when Olneyville was the Wild West,” says bassist Dan St. Jacques. Although nothing but appreciative for the win, St. Jacques readily admits, “OSS is not metal. We don't even have a guitar player. OSS is like free rock, it’s rock music, but very experimental. Adam Autry, the drummer, he's a maniac. He's an old ex-skateboard guy. A maniac. He’s hard core. You know what I mean? You could describe us as ‘Those guys are fucking whack jobs. They're fucking hard core this and that.’ But there's a specific style called hardcore, and we’re an experimental two-piece, you know, improv. A lot of the music is more off the cuff, and it's kind of noisy. You could put it in noise rock, you could put it in experimental, you could put it in post-punk, but we're definitely not metal.”

Categories aside, St. Jacques speaks with gratitude and humility – thankful to be still playing music and thankful for everyone’s show of support. “When I first started out when I was 18, playing music, I didn't think I'd still be doing it at 52. Never mind winning awards and stuff.” Listen to the award-winning (not) metal sounds of OSS on Bandcamp, DistroKid, YouTube, and wherever else you stream your music.
– Meg Coss

“We started, I think, in 2018 as a Halloween one-off. It was a side project, and we were doing covers of a band from the ’80s called Big Black,” says vocalist Dan St. Jacques. “Their first record is called The Hammer Party, so in true cover band form, we took the name of the record and made it a band. But, we ditched the covers and all that.”

Noise rock came about in the ’80s and was popularized by bands like Sonic Youth and Butthole Surfers. “It’s noisy punk,” says St. Jacques. And it’s a category St. Jacques feels comfortable with. Last year, The Hammer Party won Favorite Hardcore Act. “When they interviewed us, I was like, ‘We’re stealing it from the kids!’” The Hammer Party is experimental, noisy punk, noise rock with instrumentation of the traditional rock band — bass, drums, guitar.

Whether playing bass in OSS or on vocals in The Hammer Party, St. Jacques’ influence runs deep. John Dwyer of The Osees credits St. Jacques as the person who showed him how to go on stage and be unconcerned with what people thought.

“John's an old buddy of mine, he always brings us along for the ride. All my different bands have gotten to open for the Osees over the years. It's awesome that he mentions me and I'm humbled by that. It’s true, as a musician you have to have the confidence to go out there and not worry about it. You may think something's ridiculous or silly, but then, all of a sudden, that's the trend, and everybody's copying you. You know what I mean? You should never doubt yourself. Have enough self-doubt to be humble, but not scared to try new things.” Check out The Hammer Party’s new album Tiamat’s Revenge, a Babylonian, sci-fi, apocalyptic horror set now available for purchase on Bandcamp.
– Meg Coss

Plastyc Peachez have a familiar sound. First impression is that they’re a pop-punk band all the way, but a deeper listen shows their indie rock roots. There is a lot of dirt buried under those bubble gum hooks, giving them a heavier feel than some would expect. The vocals keep things sounding light while the music hits hard in the background. It makes sense that they have captured enough ears to win Favorite Pop Punk and Favorite Indie Act.

“It’s a huge honor to win,” says Plastyc Peachez bassist Brian. “We've only been playing out for a year and a half now so to hit the ground running like we did and develop such a close fanbase in a relatively short time feels surreal. Winning both awards makes it feel like what we are doing as a band actually means something to people and that’s the coolest part of it all.”
– Bobby Forand

In the 35 years since moving to RI, Darren Hill founded The Raindogs, and started Ten Pin Management where he took locals Combustible Edison and Amazing Royal Crowns across the nation. Hill also started POP Emporium in PVD which is a gallery, venue, and thrift shop that has hosted many one-of-a-kind performances.
– Marc Clarkin

A combo of jazz, fusion, improv, and progressive styles, this collective of musicians is well-versed in “experimentation and innovation” and offers listeners “a critique of existing aesthetic conventions” and a rejection of the status quo “in favor of unique or original arrangements” that deliberately challenge (or alienate) audiences. Amazing ear candy that will blow your mind. Hear a live recording at

Bringing together singers across RI and southern New England, The Providence Singers is an auditioned choir that continues the tradition of tried-and-true choral compositions, as well as fresh arrangements. Their current season includes the impactful Considering Matthew Shepard, as well as their annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. They exude the power of collective voices giving life to music, both new and old.

A self-described “young blood band of brothers from South Shore Massachusetts,” these rock & rollers distill the New England malaise into something sharper and harder. Their songs are the sweaty basement of thriving, dancing bodies that you descend into from the frigid east coast cold.

Get your blooze fix with these ramblin cannibals who combine disparate interests to produce an act like no other. The Cannibal Ramblers are a chaotic, grooving mix of “death Delta, punk, and country blues” with the energy of a runaway train. Legend has it that when they play, you can smell the bear-shit and motor oil. Give ’em a listen at


In 2006 life-long friends Chachi Carvalho and Edgar “Vertygo” Cruz opened the doors to their Pawtucket recording studio, Beatbox Studios. The duo has been creating music together for over 20 years and produced their first collaboration, Legacy, in 2022, a project they describe as “a goal reached in our musical careers, a check-off of the bucket list, a true milestone. It has become more than just a collection of songs, it is teaching us, in real time, what is most important in life... and that is creating memories with friends and family. Let this be your soundtrack.” Rooted in the vibrant culture of Cabo Verde, their music weaves together the sounds of hiphop, boom-bap, soul, and more.

Thunder, thunder, thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder
Catch a live act, get torn apart, get thunderstruck by an AC/DC experience known for explosive live shows and an “unwavering commitment to delivering an adrenaline-fueled performance that honors the history and legacy of the rock gods themselves.” For tour dates, merch, news, and more visit

Last December, South County reggae rockers known for their progressive reggae rock fusion, released their album Beach Bum In RI, a sonic expansion of the act’s energetic rhythmic sound. Joining vocalist and guitarist Kyle Bell, bassist Keith Kosut, and drummer Jim Plaziak, are saxophonist Joey Ludwig, trumpet player Luca Simeone, trombonist Hogan Zinn, guitarist Matt Lombardi, and organist and pianist Mike Dansereau. Give it a listen on Apple Music and Spotify. And save the date to see the reggae rockers live at Wakefield Reggae Fest on April 20 from 2 - 10pm at 323 Main St, Wakefield. @dudemanbrori

A jazz/roots quartet known for expertly combining the classic elements of jazz, folk, R&B, and country to create a uniquely smooth, rhythmic sound with a spirited, playful approach. Whether reinterpreting classic songs or producing original instrumentals, band members Chris Brooks (pedal steel guitar), Joe Potenza (bass), composer Gino Rosati (guitars), and producer Eric Hastings (drums) are no strangers to experimentation. See them live at their monthly residency at The Parlour in PVD. Upcoming shows include April 13 (The Parlour), April 28 (The Music Mansion, PVD), and May 10 (The Parlour). For news, merch, tour dates, and more visit

This duo punches above their weight class with a full sound that incorporates modern folk elements, solid vocals, and the 12-string guitar of member Matt Nolan. They describe their musical style as “From ethereal spaciness and beauty to foot stomping blistering jams and improvisation.” Put on your silkiest outfit and steel-toed boots and check out their newest album, A Brief and Binding Light.

With oaky vocals and loose, dynamic instrumentals, Jake Hunsinger and the Rock Bottom Band fill the dance floor. Their country sound is authentic yet fresh at the same time, bringing an east coast swagger to a genre typically associated with the southernmost region of the country. They seem to enjoy playing their music just as much as the audience enjoys listening to it, which is a whole toe-tapping lot. Catch ’em live at B’z Community Bar on March 30 or stream their new album Wrapped Around the Axle.