Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Stop, Rock, and Roll! Congratulations, you made it through the first month of the year! Hopefully some local music was the soundtrack to the past month, because there was a plethora of new releases throughout January. Narrowing it down to five entries was a challenge, but here are five recent RI releases that I think you ought to check out!
Nick Duane – “Rain”
Airy synths, laid-back drums, and lilting piano introduce this song by Nick Duane. Eventually, jagged guitar chords cut in with Duane’s voice, which has an authentic 80’s raspiness to it. The song really hits its groove around the minute mark, and doesn’t lose it for the rest of its duration. A heartfelt delivery and accomplished production really knock this track out of the park.
Lucy Coykendall – “Oil Field Girls”
This song is a tale of two cities. The first half or so features watery guitars, ambient synths, and Coykendall’s expressive vocals. However, just as the listener begins to lean back into these vibes, the air erupts with pounding drums, a melodic bass, and a shredding lead guitar. The genre of shoegaze is a tough one to pull off, but Coykendall and her band truly nailed it here.
Planet Mercury – “Helpless”
Planet Mercury are back with a brand new pop-punk anthem. The quartet, who just finished a small run of shows in California, have once again proved their prowess. Starting over sunny acoustic guitar and piano, vocal harmonies tell an honest tale of introspection. The song slowly builds up, almost sounding like surf rock before crescendoing into a speedy cavalcade of pop-punk rhythms.
Chance Emerson – “Angela”
The anticipation for this track was high, since it’s been a live favorite for some time. Opening with vocals wrapped in sonic gauze, Emerson’s unmistakable voice stands triumphantly over acoustic guitar. The chorus kicks in with punchy drums and spacious synths before things get even louder, with jangling, powerful electric guitar sweeping over everything. The dynamic changes kept this listener intrigued.
Marou – “Haunted”
Found on bandcamp, this song immediately invites the listener in with Marou’s softly strummed guitar and distinctive voice. Each word paints a picture, and vocal harmonies add extra weight. The psychedelic sonic landscape is enhanced with a tremolo effect added to the guitar. It is, despite its major key, a haunting song, as the title suggests, and it keeps the listener hooked all the way through.
Stop, Rock and Roll: What’s dropping in the New Year
The Holiday season has come and gone, and with it goes all that Holiday cheer. New England winters can be brutal, so what better way to heat things up than with some new local music! Rhode Island has seen some truly great releases in the past month, so without further ado, here are five songs from RI bands that I think you all should check out!
The Proles – “Urban Legend – Pub on Park – 8.28.22”
The debut single by RI rock trio The Proles is also, as the title suggests, a live recording. Beautifully crunchy guitars, a groovy bassline, and energetic vocals all shine clearly through the no-frills production. With a vibe and sound that harken back to the heyday of the CBGB’s scene, the band’s new live album Real Time is sure to excite.
Kench – “Stop”
Kench first made a name for themselves as the organizers of 2021’s “KenchFest,” which was a huge success. Since then, they have released their debut album KENCH’D. The track “Stop” begins with haunting keys before a groovy bassline, off-kilter drumming, and tense guitar take over, with both whispered and shouted vocals bouncing around as well. Like the rest of the album, it’s a unique listen.
Maddie McGill – “Surrender”
Maddie McGill released her debut album Surrender earlier this month, and it’s a bluesy, soulful treat. The title track is a strutting tune featuring all the best blues ingredients: rumbling bass, cool organ tones, and languid, fluid guitar licks. McGill’s voice is smooth as butter, working well with both the punchy verses and the wider, fuller sounding choruses – a great take on modern blues.
Balloon Thief – “Crok Rock”
As the title suggests, this track by Balloon Thief is a joyously irreverent take on Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” Released solely to Bandcamp, the garage rockers’ latest single fits in well with their previous releases, featuring skittering drum machines, persistent bass, and lo-fi guitars. The band’s stripped down approach to recording is always interesting to hear.
The McAdams Brothers – “Roadside BBQ”
“Roadside BBQ,” one of two tracks released by The McAdams Brothers this past month, starts with vinyl crackle and distant harmonies before the song blooms into a full production. Banjo, slide guitar, and what sounds like mandolin pluck along under the duo’s lyrics detailing their love for the aforementioned Roadside BBQ. It’s an interesting blend of sounds to hear from Rhode Island, of all states.
Stop, Rock and Roll: Chronicling recent local releases
Hello, Motif readers! My name is Jack Downey, and I’m a student at Providence College, a musician, and a former Motif intern. Since I was in high school, I have fully immersed myself in the nearest local music scene, first in the South Shore of Massachusetts, then in Providence. Both music and writing have been my passion since I was young, so I’m very pleased to present my new monthly column: Stop, Rock, and Roll! In each edition, I’ll be listing five new songs released by RI-based bands that I think you all should check out. So, without further ado, here is the inaugural list!
Plastyc Peachez – “Fungi Fieri”
This track kicks off the band’s debut EP, Peach Bumz, with a bang. Featuring vocals that walk the line between Tom Delonge and Dave Grohl, punchy verses followed by spacious choruses, Van Halen-esque harmonics, and a surprising number of bass solos, the song fits quite a lot into its three and a half minute runtime.
The Keegan Turner Band – “Still Burning”
Keegan Turner and his band mix 60’s era pop with modern indie rock on their latest single. Jangling, crunchy guitars blend with resonant bass, skillful drumming, and soaring vocal harmonies as the lyrics detail a love that hasn’t gone down with the summer sun. Their next EP, Promises, releases in January.
Smug Honey – “Yesterday Friend”
From its opening notes, “Yesterday Friend” carries the listener to a tropical beach at the height of summer. Jazzy keys are sprinkled over relaxed guitar, bass, and drums, with dusky horns joining the mix soon after. How a song manages to sound so loose yet feel so tight is a mystery, but the groovy quartet has managed it effortlessly here.
Appala’s Eclipse – “Out My Window”
Having made some serious waves in the past year, Appala’s Eclipse capitalize on the hype with their debut single. The song swaggers with a bluesy feel, yet deftly avoids cliche and stands out in a genre that can easily become tired. The remarkable talent of each musician is also on full display here.
Art Slob – “Who? If Not You?”
One of RI’s most prolific artists continues to get better, including his new album, The Edges of Your Face. This song in particular stands out due to its plaintive vocals, oftentimes woven seamlessly in beautiful harmonies, and its somber electric piano. The lyrics are poetic, and each word aches in a different way.
Fashion is Such a Drag: Three RI drag queens discuss what drag fashion is and what it means to them
While it has gained some more notoriety in recent decades, the culture of drag is still a mystery to many. Despite what some might think, drag is far more than a man putting on a dress and makeup: There are many layers to each outfit, and each carries a different meaning.
I sat down with three RI drag queens: Avery Goodlay, Claire Annette, and LaDiva Jonz. Each of these queens brought a different perspective to what drag fashion is all about, and some of their answers were surprising.
Who are some current fashion inspirations for you?
Claire: It’s a combination of Squidward, Ms. Piggy, Fran Drescher’s Nanny from the ‘90s sitcom and Patrick Nagel, who was a painter in the ‘80s. He painted the Rio album cover. I always love anything that tells a story.
To be honest, I’m not a fashion guru, but I feel that I’m good at putting things together that look good and I know what I like. I stick to ‘80s – ’90s era looks, and I try to stay consistent with my aesthetic and style, my outward vibes and appearance, whatever you’d call it. If you want to have a viable brand, you have to stick with something.
How do you decide what to wear for each event? What is your process?
Avery: I tend to grab inspiration from different things. Sometimes, I’ll google runways for different designers and base it off of that. My outfits often consist of lots of recycled things that other people have used. That’s really what drag is: pulling from things that already exist and making it your own. Rhinestones are a common feature in drag, especially when people perform at night, and I wear a lot of those.
What are some of your favorite drag events to take part in?
Claire: I would say drag shows! I love a good brunch, and on any Saturday there’s always going to be shows going on- though if you wanted to go out every day, you could. Some weeks I’m out every single day. Being relatively new to the Providence drag scene, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of bookings in town at various venues (Dark Lady, Alley Cat, The Stable, EGO, Mirabar). I think as far as the drag community goes in Providence, there is a strong sense of togetherness, and there is always a place to perform if you want to get involved.
I’ve started to think about doing my own karaoke or trivia show within the next few months. I just beta-tested my first karaoke show where I would play my clarinet along to a backing track. There’s a bar opening in Riverside called Union Bar, which is where I will be hosting trivia and karaoke. The goal is to get things up and running by September.
Where are your favorite places to shop for outfits?
Avery: If I’m not having something made for me, I’ll try to find stuff that’s really cheap and kind of pizzazz it a bit and make it more elevated. With rhinestones, I find $6-10 ones on sites such as Shein, as well as different crystal things online. That way, it’s not just a plain dress or swimsuit. At the end of the day, however, it depends on people’s budgets. Drag is expensive.
What is the easiest part of assembling a drag outfit and what is the hardest?
LaDiva: What is the easiest? I think in general with women’s clothing, there’s a lot more freedom of expression than with men’s clothing, so there are a lot more options than with men. If you’re a man going to a formal event, you’re going to wear a tuxedo or a suit. So picking the women’s clothing is the easiest. But fit can definitely be challenging. You need to have a good seamstress in your back pocket because women are all shapes and sizes. Women are big where men are small and women are small where men are big. This is also where custom pieces come in handy.
Do you show your outfits to a small group before showing them to everyone?
Claire: I don’t usually workshop my outfits with other people. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to show their cards. It’s going to be very strategic in all areas. If anyone’s going to see my outfit, it’s going to be my partner, who I live with, and my cats. My partner’s very good about giving honest advice, and I usually trust them with the final word. People typically like what I wear; I usually get good feedback.
How would you say drag fashion has changed since you started taking part?
LaDiva: It’s changed tremendously. Even when I started, it was in the process of changing tremendously. I’ve just seen an evolution over time. As I traveled through the South and the Southwest, pageantry was very big and influenced what people wore. It was never as big here, but it was still an influence. When I started, I had a group and we performed together. We wore club clothing, which was very new, though now I feel like it’s more common. Pop culture informs people a lot more now as well, whereas back then, fashion was more informed by Hollywood. There is also a lot more freedom now; people can dress how they see themselves in their mind’s eye.
For people who are trying to become drag queens or kings, what is your advice to them about how to get started?
Avery: Definitely save your money and experiment a lot. Don’t spend a ton of money just because something looks grand. It doesn’t always cost a lot of money to make something shine. Also, take the time to figure out what you like. Try a lot of things while spending the least amount of money.
Claire: Know yourself. The best thing you can do is know who you are and what you want to communicate – not only to yourself but to those around you. No two people are the same, and it doesn’t do any good to try to copy someone else. If you want to stand out, take some time to really understand the things that make you happy creatively, and maybe some things that you don’t like either. The most fun I have watching someone is when they do something different. Knowing yourself is the best thing you can do.LaDiva: Just get out there and do it. Get out of your bedroom, get out of your basement, just get out and show the world who you are. You have to be bold. At the end of the day, drag is still very subversive, so you have to be creative. Not everyone does this. Drag is weird. We’re men in dresses driving around town. On Sunday morning at 10 AM, there aren’t a lot of people who are doing that (laughs). If you’re just starting out, you have to find out what appeals to you. You have to let your own voice speak.
A Night of Good Spirits: The 2022 Motif Bartender’s Ball celebrated unsung heroes of happy hour*
The 2022 Motif Bartender’s Ball was truly an event to behold. Taking place at R1 Indoor Karting on August 1, the ceremony was a lively and colorful affair that highlighted the best of the alcoholic arts.
Immediately upon entering, guests were wowed by an unusual sight: aerialists, working with Arielle Extreme, gracefully danced and swung through the air, suspended by hoops and white cloth. It was a show-stopping sight, as the awards soon commenced.
With the room packed to the gills, some attendees socialized or took part in games while others waited in anticipation for each award to be revealed. Some awards were more serious, while many were just for fun, like “Best Social Media Presence,” “Best Bartender as Therapist” and “Best Hair.” Each nominee was loudly applauded by the crowd, whose support for every bartender in the room was palpable. MCs Paul Garcia, disguised as the Mad Hatter ringmaster and Bettysioux Tailor, dressed as … something different every 5 minutes … presided over the festivities while presenters Thea Engst, Tammy Laforest, Mike Delehanty, Crimson Al-Khemia and Corinne Southern kept things rolling along with grace and humor. The big winner of the evening, taking the mantle of “favorite bartender” was Danielle Tellier, primarily of Dusk Providence. Congrats, and thanks to all 1,531 local voters!
In addition to the online voted awards, there were awards for the winners of a series of challenges.
All three challenges showcased enthusiasm, energy and passion for the craft of bartending. The first contest was the Guinness pour. Each contestant stepped up to the tap and painstakingly poured Guinness into the glass, trying to get the level of foam just right. If you’ve seen Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, remember the scene where Indiana Jones has to replace the idol with a bag of sand, but he has to make sure the weight is just right? It was similar to that, though the stakes were arguably lower (and more fun!). The elimination bracket competition ended with a heavyweight pouring bout between Sasquatch of the Galactic Theater in Warren and Steve Sharp of PVD bars like The Sports Tap and Kimi’s Bar. We’d had a few Guinness by then, but we’re pretty Sasquatch took the cup with a quality pour and presentation.
Meanwhile, twenty feet away under the colored lights of R1’s Dart Bar, contestants poured a bottle of wine into eight glasses as quickly and evenly as possible while making the smallest mess. Some were very poised about it, while others attacked the job with reckless abandon, completing the task quickly but drenching the table in wine. No matter how it played out, each attempt was a spectacle. Dominique Laren ultimately outpoured the field, passing Kyara Vargas and Bill Laliberty by just a few drops.
The third and final contest of the night was the gin fizz shake competition. The goal of this challenge was to shake up (not stir) the best drink, with taste and, mostly, performance ratings decided by a panel of judges. Each cocktail, using locally distilled Rhodium gin, was shaken with gusto by everyone who stepped up to try it out, and the fun they were having was fully visible on their faces. First place in the shaking went to Max Prussner of Kimi’s Bar, a crowd favorite for coming in second place in online category after online category, but waiting until the very end of the night to actually take home a trophy cup.
Music added another dimension to the good vibes: The Providence Drum Troupe jammed with the ascending and descending aerialists, while the Dust Ruffles and the extraterrestrials at Big Nazo all brought the noise in the best way possible. And to top everything off, there were snacks by Burrito Bowl and cupcakes from Cakes by Eboni!
The event was sponsored by R1 Indoor Karting, Smoke Lab Vodka, Guinness, High Spirits Liquors, RI Spirits, Mancini Beverage and more
Overall, the Bartender’s Ball was a heart-warming and gullet-warming event that proved that original ideas can thrive, alcohol brings people together, and great bartenders can truly make a night special.
You can see all the winners here and a video of the event here.
*Note that the phrase “Happy Hour” is actually illegal in RI. But you know what we mean.
On the Cover: July 2022
Gracing the midsummer edition of our magazine is a cover designed by our very own creative director, Francie Eannarino. Due to this being our annual music issue, the cover portrays a euphoric depiction of a woman listening to music, with the vibe of what she’s hearing radiating all around her. Its eye-catching composition goes deeper than aesthetics, however.
The idea for the cover comes from “the concept of music and what it means to people,” as well as her own love of music, says Eannarino. “It can be anything from something that you listen to for pleasure to a transformative experience.” On top of this, she wanted to echo the transformation sequence seen in the anime Sailor Moon, as she is a big fan of the show. After looking up the scene ourselves, we can agree that she captured its essence.
Naturally, the conversation shifted to what genres of music Eannarino listens to. She mentioned rock and alt rock, although ultimately most of what she listens to falls into the category of “stuff that can’t be classified as a single genre.” Eannarino also gave her two cents on concerts, saying shows where the artist or band interacts extensively with the audience are the best kind. We couldn’t agree more, Francie.
As for the tranquil woman on the cover, Eannarino says she could be anyone, and that she is a woman because women are her favorite subject to draw. When asked what this woman was listening to, Eannarino smiled and simply replied “something that is changing her life.”
Motif’s 2022 Music Awards Nominees: Who will take home the trophy?
With local music beginning to blossom once more following two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Motif is pleased to present our annual Music Awards! These awards compile nominees put forward by local venues, record labels, music writers and radio stations.
For being the smallest state, RI certainly has a never ending supply of fantastic music spanning all genres. This year, our list of nominees is especially exciting, featuring a blend of scene veterans and brand new talent. Every single band, singer, venue and album listed here represents the absolute best that RI music has to offer.
Along with the awards ceremony, which will be hosted at the legendary venue Fete Music Hall, there will be food, drinks and live music provided by Stefan Couture,returning performers School of Rock, and other acts.
No matter who you select in each category, it is important to recognize and appreciate just how much creativity, vitality and talent is present in RI music. Many of these acts have promising futures ahead, and it is always a joy to see how music from this state evolves and captivates ears and hearts worldwide. To all the musicians, venues, labels and audiophiles in RI, we salute you.