The best of alt rock in Rhode Island all summer
I thought this winter was hard, but this stretch of early April-like weather has been just furthering the frustration of waiting for summer to come again. I’ll let someone else worry about climate change because talking to the people that harp on either side of that debate is just painful. Instead I’m going to crank up my summer playlist, which always starts with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City,” and go through a list of all the shows coming to the area that I’m excited for! So grab your Del’s, iced coffee, sunscreen, crank up the tunes, and get ready to get dirty and gritty!
Stanatron mixes video and music for what should be a night of hypnotic ambient music. The music will be performed by a couple of seasoned veterans, Kraig Jordan and Bob Kendall. The performance includes a 49-minute film as well as Jordan and Kendall performing. The music is a departure from the more conventional songwriting of some their other projects. Think pre-Dark Side of The Moon Pink Floyd but more ambient and less structure. There is a 75-minute LP available now at 75orlessrecords.com.Stanatron will perform June 14 at the Jamestown Art Center.
The English Beat return to play West Warwick. Geez, never thought I’d write those words. The English Beat had one foot in the ‘80s new wave and the other foot in two tone ska. They had top 10 hits with a cover of “Tears Of a Clown,” “Mirror in The Bathroom,” and“Too Nice to Talk to.” It’s always a risk with older bands that don’t have much as far as original members, but having seen them several times in recent years in both conventional (Lupo’s) and unconventional venues (The Foundry building), I’ll vouch that The English Beat are still money for a good time. Fun fact about The English Beat is their name changes depending what continent they are on. In Europe they are known as The Beat and when in Australia they are The British Beat.The English Beat, The Stone Unturned, The Copacetics, and Rad Thursdays at Manchester 65, West Warwick June 21.
Bob Kendall returns with follow up to his last release, Midnight Flower (75orLessRecords). The new record has a decidedly Americana feel. I like the dark atmosphere on the opening track “Stay.” “Pall Mall Days” has kind of a folk feel, which I dig here. “You Can’t Have Everything” has kind of an Irish folk beat that I could see generating some good sing-a-longs at shows. The optimistic “New Day” is probably my favorite on the line, maybe just for the lyric, “If you lose your mind, don’t let it get to you.” Much of the record seems to be bridging ‘60s stuff like The Byrds with more modern influences like Uncle Tupelo and Wilco. This record is also available through the 75orLessRecords website. The CD release show is at one of the best laid back places to catch a show, The Narrows. The venue installed an air conditioning system last year so one no longer has to worry about being trapped in the sweat fest that old factory buildings can become in late June. Bob Kendall Band and Smith&Weeden will rock The Narrows in Fall River on June 20th.
Liberty Fest. The big news here is for the first time ever, Liberty Fest will not be in Smith Hill. Liberty Fest simply had outgrown the neighborhood and the last few years it was touch and go as to whether it would even happen. Not this year, Liberty Fest will happen at… Dusk on Harris Ave. in Providence. The music is scheduled to kick off around 2pm on July 4 and will run all night! The organizers secured some sponsorships that will enable them to continue the tradition of having Liberty Fest completely free! Featuring performances by Cannibal Ramblers, Vudu Sister, Boo City, Denver Boot, Tinsel Teeth, Tapestries, Pixels, Jacques Le Coque. Gym Shorts, Reziztanze, Little Foot, Lolita Black, Paraplegics, M.O.T.O. (no later than 9pm), Thee Fabulous Itchies (after 5pm and no later than 9pm), Swan Point, The Quahogs, Way Out, Beneath the Sphinx, Funeral Advantage, Cavetones, The Frenzy of Tongs, Teazer, Yah beautiful, and Olneyville Sound System.
Swamp Stomp returns for the 7th year to North Kingston near the entrance of The Great Swamp. For legal reasons, we can’t divulge the exact location in print, but all that information can be attained by contacting the kind folks at The Roots Hoot that run Swamp Stomp. I’ve never had the chance to attend Swamp Stomp for one reason or another, but no other event has turned me on to so many great bands without ever attending. A partial list of some of the bands that have played past Swamp Stomps that I later discovered includes The Bottle Rockets, Lydia Loveless, Patrick Sweany, and Toy Soldiers. This year’s lineup promises more great times with Ha Ha Tonka (Springfield, MO) and J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices (Nashville, TN) on board as the national headliners. The grounds open at 1pm and it’s pretty much a twangy rock ‘n’ roll picnic in a gorgeous setting. It is the ultimate backwoods yard party. Swamp Stomp returns to The Great Swamp of North Kingston on July 12. fb.com/events/670579096314750
Queens of the Stone Age. The French celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, which started essentially as a prison riot. This year Providence will have their own stoner metal riot with the return of Queens of the Stone Age. One of the best live bands out there somehow still manages to get airplay given the sorry state of commercial radio. Their last album …Like Clockwork was one of last year’s best. I caught them a few times over the years, most recently last December in Boston, and it’s just an audio mesmerizing assault of sound and precision. It doesn’t hurt that Josh Homme can write a hook in his unique uneasy style. If you are not at the beach and like loud guitars, you’d be a fool to miss this! Don’t be a fool. Queens of the Stone Age will rock the Providence Performing Arts Center like it’s never been rocked before on July 14.
Electric Six have been my favorite band to go see for about the last decade. Mix KISS rocking pomp with disco and throw in some Talking Heads as a chaser. Electric Six exploded onto the scene with their first record, Fire, in 2001 backed by tunes like “Gay Bar” (YouTube the video) and Danger High Voltage (with the infamous “fire in the disco, fire in the Taco Bell” lyrics and Jack White cameo). Since then the world has changed, but Electric Six has stayed the same as far as never gaining or losing popularity. Electric Six continue to release records annually and built up set lists filled with should-have-been-hits like “Down At McDonnelzzz” (celebrating those afterhours takeovers of fast food joints), “Future is in the Future” (commiserating “if money talks then I’m a mime” and celebrating “karaoke all night long, Macarena till the break of dawn”), and “I Buy the Drugs” (where they provide a PO Box address to send your orders). You won’t find a more charismatic front man in rock ‘n roll than Electric Six’s Dick Valentine. You also won’t find a better live band for booty shaking rock ‘n’ roll. Electric Six, Ravi Shavi, VulGarrity, and Satellites Fall bring the fire in the disco to Fête on July 21.
Newport Folk Fest and Deer Tick post-Fest Parties. The last weekend in July is forever reserved on my calendar for the Newport Folk Fest. It’s amazing how the Folk Festival has grown to be so much more than a “folk” festival, incorporating all different types of music. Not to mention adding a third day with a full lineup on Friday. This year I’m picking one non-headliner from each day to check out because there is so much great music going on at once that it helps to have a guide. On Friday I recommend reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. My pick for Saturday is the acoustic barnstorming husband and wife tandem, Shovels & Rope. Sunday’s pick is Lucero, who mix Americana whiskey-soaked blues, rock, and soul to stir the heart. If you can get tickets for Deer Tick’s after party at the Newport Blues Café, grab them! Those are some of the best shows of the weekend. Newport Folk Fest returns to Fort Adams State Park July 25th -27th. Deer Tick parties afterward at the Newport Blues Café.
Beck must have enjoyed his time in RI last summer for the Folk Festival because he’s back after not playing the state for probably 15 years before last year. Heck, Beck even hung around town for a few days after the festival and practiced at Lupo’s before heading out on tour. Beck’s touring behind a new album, Morning Phase, which is more of an acoustic album. Beck is really so talented that he can do whatever the hell he wants up there and I’d still go. He still plays the old hits like “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” as well as songs from throughout his career. It’s going to make for some tough choices with the Folk Festival and Deer Tick all happening the same day. Beck hits the Providence Performing Arts Center on July 26th.
Everlast. Few in music have had a weirder career track than Everlast, who went from rapping as part of House of Pain on the mega hit “Jump Around” to an acoustic singer songwriter winning Grammys for a Carlos Santana collaboration, “Put Your Lights on.” I still think the coolest thing Everlast did was get into a feud with Eminen that had them dissing each other back and forth in song. Expect the acoustic troubadour Everlast at Manchester 65 and the truth is he is pretty good at that. I even own an album or two. Plus, who would have thought when Everlast was winning Grammys that he’d ever be playing West Warwick? Everlast and Kris Hansen & Big Jon Tierney play Manchester 65 on July 27th.
Milltown Fest. This has to be the toughest weekend of choices in RI history. Milltown Fest is rolling into Fête and it makes the list only because Nashville Pussy is playing. Their shows at the old Met Café with their old fire breathing Amazon bassist, Corey Parks, were some of the most memorable I’ve attended. Straight up sleazy white trash rock ‘n’ roll performed to perfection. Nashville Pussy’s newest album, Up The Dosage, stands up to anything in their catalogue. In fact, one of the tracks, “The South is Too Fat to Rise Again” may be my favorite Nashville Pussy tune. Milltown Fest featuring performances by Nashville Pussy, Filth on The Floor and much more will go down at Fête on July 27th.
Supersuckers. The self proclaimed greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll, Supersuckers return for what promises to be another night of raucous mayhem. The Supersuckers act doesn’t really change much from year to year, but they do the punk meets outlaw country act well. I do miss the days when Eddie Spaghetti and the boys were more of an unknown and there was some element of surprise to their set. That said, they don’t exactly suck either. By the end of the night it is a safe bet that everybody will be smiling and swaying while singing along to “Pretty F***ed Up”. Supersuckers, The McGunks, and The Skinny Millionaires rock Manchester 65 on August 2nd.
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