Talking Funny: Fuzek catches up with comedian Bobby Collins

Okee dokee folks… In the 1980’s there was a comedy boom. New comedy clubs were opening all over the country and cable television began presenting comedy programming. A relatively new comedian, Bobby Collins, had to make a choice: should he keep his job as vice president at Calvin Klein in NYC or should he take a leap of faith into stand-up comedy? He jumped and never looked back. Almost forty years later Collins has maintained a successful comedy career and regularly performs two hundred shows a year across the country. Collins will be bringing his stand-up to the Greenwich Odeum on Saturday, February 26. I spoke with Bobby via phone from his Santa Monica home.

JF: So I remember when you started back in the 80’s, I used to see you a lot on TV and I even remember the Certs commercial you did!

BC: Oh, God, that was wonderful! They came to me after I did one of them, there were two other comedians that did them as well. They told me that mine did the best and wanted me to do more. Then they wanted to put “Certs Presents: Bobby Collins.” I didn’t say anything but I felt like saying “I will pay you to put that on!”

JF: It’s all about PR!

BC: True, but you always have to be truthful.

JF: Do you have any comedy specials out right now? 

BC: No, but I have a best-selling book and I just finished another book. As a matter of fact, when I was in Denver last week I brought 175 copies with me and they all sold out during the first show, I didn’t have any left for the second show!

JF: What is the book about?

BC: It’s called, On The Inside-Witisms and Wisdomisms. It’s about all the things that I wish someone had sat me down and told me but I learned in life. People love it! I use comedy. I use examples. God first, family second, career third. I do the right thing and it pays off. That’s how I wound up being the host of VH1’s Standup Spotlight. Rosie O’Donnell passed that show onto me.

JF: I haven’t heard about Rosie in a long time. She used to battle with Trump all the time and I figured when he was in power it would have gotten worse but I didn’t hear anything.

BC: Oh, God, Oh, God. Donald Trump. Sometimes I do politics on stage… I make fun of Biden, too, someone get him a shawl or a blanket. But, Trump, I’ve known Donald Trump for over 20 years, but if I sat next to this guy on a plane I’d tap him and say, “you gotta lose the spray tan and your hair is the color of Tang, you look like an emoji, you can’t tell people to drink bleach and put lights up their ass!”

JF: You have had some great gigs over the years, opening for Frank Sinatra is pretty cool!

BC: I opened for Frank, Dolly, Cher, Julio, I put it all in the book! They asked me to open for Sinatra because his usual opener was sick. The guy picked me up at the airport, he said, “Bobby, don’t call him Frank, it’s Mr. Sinatra, don’t talk to him unless he talks to you…” I go into a room and the guys are all answering phones and they’re all named after parts of the body, “this is Tony the foot, this is Billy the arm…”

JF: How is it in comedy now that people have become so delicate?

BC: I just put it out there the way that I see it. For example, the other night I was in Florida and someone hollered, “Yo, we love Donald Trump!” and I looked at the audience, the guy stood up, and I said to him, “when you’re dead you don’t know you’re dead, other people feel the pain. Same thing when you’re stupid!” They all applauded and he sat down and was embarrassed! You have to do it cleverly. 

JF: That’s from all your years of working stand-up.

BC: Exactly!

JF: When I saw that you were going to be at the Odeum I had to talk to you! I used to see you on TV a lot but I haven’t seen you in a bit, what have you been doing? You are still very active, obviously.

BC: I do about 200 shows per year. I have been on all three tonight shows, I am always getting calls, I have a new series coming out from Disney, I’m just taking it easy with it. Some guy wrote a book called The Adventures of Little Billy in The Forest. I am the voice of Bosco the Bear. Disney picked it up and asked me to do the series. That’s pretty cool! I’ve been lucky and I’ve toured with the best. The best compliment I get from venues is that they tell me they get such a variety of age groups when I am there. They get the young, middle-aged and the old! We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Right now people are so anxious and want to come out, they want to laugh! You can feel it; you can see it in their eyes! They just let it out. I look at them after an hour and fifteen-minute show and I said “you really needed to get out, too, didn’t you?”

JF: Yes, people do want to get out, I have seen it as well. You used to say, “I got ca-ca”.  I thought that was funny. Do you still do that?

BC: I got ca-ca? I don’t remember that. (laughs) I do use the one where I am impatient with someone because I am a New Yorker (he makes these weird sounds that I cannot translate into words). I lost my keys, can’t find my car, gimme a gun. Who was the guy in Rhode Island, was it the Mayor, what was his name?

JF: Buddy Cianci.

BC: He used to come to see me perform!

JF: He was an interesting guy, to say the least, but he did change Providence.

BC: My father was brought up in Swansea, MA. My whole life and people still ask me about this. “You’re a New York City kid? But you made the baseball all-stars.” Yeah, but I didn’t play because I was going to Massachusetts to stay in Swansea with my grandparents. I would do work there and then I would go to the private beach club and then we’d run to Providence and eat in some of those great places. Loved it! Loved it!

JF: OK, something else you used to say a lot, maybe you don’t anymore because she got tired of it, was you always joked about having a hairy, Italian wife.

BC: We vacuum a lot! As a matter of fact, people think we have cats.

JF: Doesn’t she get tired of that?

BC: No, she just says, “Why do you tell people I’m so hairy?” I say because you are! I say, “kids, mommy’s off the couch grab the vacuum.” She’s a special lady! I do have a special needs child, my youngest, my favorite. We do everything to accommodate her. She goes to a camp that is up in Vermont. There are 94 of these kids. Nobody pays. Me, Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall we do, three times a year, “Comics For A Cause” to fund it because none of those kids have money. Remember when we were kids? People called them “retarded” or “mongoloids” and their parents would put them in closets, especially in NY. I remember my mother used to say about this one kid Julius, “If anyone makes fun of him, do something” and we did, me and my brother. We stood up for him, and here I am with a special needs daughter and I say “God works in mysterious ways.” She doesn’t walk, she doesn’t talk, but I must be pretty special if God gave her to me. It’s the best but it’s not easy.

JF: I can imagine. It must be tough but she has you and that’s a good thing.

BC: Look at us, we’re circus people! A musician and a comedian. Here we are! What do you play anyway?

JF: I play guitar, solo and in a Neil Young tribute band.

BC: Wow! Very cool! I used to know his manager! What was his name?

JF: He just died. Ugh, I can’t remember.

BC: He wanted to manage me! He hooked me up with ICM years ago. What was his name, John????

JF: Ugh, I can’t remember, let me look, I have my laptop right here, it will drive us crazy!!!

BC: I know, he was a good guy, and we played basketball!

JF: Elliot Roberts!

BC: Elliot Roberts! Yes, lived here in Malibu. And his main guy called me recently. “Bobby, you’re a best seller!” Yeah, I just put down some feelings from my heart, On The Inside, you know, and it worked. It’s a pandemic so I wrote another one!

JF: At least you did more than I did. I hung out in my jammies and binged a lot of Netflix!

BC: Ugh, did you? Ah, Shit! Did you go out and perform? Anytime?

JF: No, it was a year and a half of nothing.

BC: Ugh, John, I would have killed myself!

JF: It was tough. I am getting out now but have had shows cancel again.

BC: I know. Remember we all thought this thing was going to be a month, month and a half? Don’t touch your eyes, don’t touch your nose…I was peeing with my elbows! I tell stories because it lightens people up.

JF: That’s what good comedy is, you hear the truth in a funny way.

BC: And you can change people’s minds about how they look at things, that’s a gift, that’s what I love. That means to me more than anything. You see that staunch Republican talk about money, money, money and then you do this one bit and you realize he never saw The Wizard of Oz, it’s about your heart: if your heart is in the right place that’s gold, no but one ever taught him that.

JF: Some people just don’t get it.

BC: They don’t, they don’t and that’s ok but our goal is to keep trying to change that.

JF: Hopefully you will keep doing it for a long time!

BC: I hope so! They’re all dying now. My two friends died.

JF: Who?

BC: Bob Saget and Louie Anderson, Louie was a great guy, gentle, sweet man.

JF: Evidently they have a seat dedicated to him at The Greenwich Odeum.

BC: I did hear that. He was just a sweet, good guy. He would go out of his way to sit down and have fun with a new comic. Comics ask me all the time, “can you watch my set” if they are opening for me or something, “can you watch my set, Bobby and give me any advice?” Yeah, I’ll tell you but don’t turn it around on me! You know, some of them do!

JF: The only way you will get better is to hear the truth and move on.

BC: Thank You!

JF: If someone tells you that you are great all the time then you never progress.

BC: Right, right! Growth means change. Change doesn’t always mean growth. When you grow you have to change…and look at things…move on. Especially during a pandemic! God’s pushing the reset button for us.

JF: So, what can folks expect at your Odeum show on February 26th?

BC: Oh, we’re going to talk the truth. We’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re going to talk about everything from the pandemic to politics to the pharmaceutical treadmill-what I’ve been through and what I went through, also technology. This call is being recorded, monitored…blah, blah…bullshit, it’s a con job! Anything you do they want to know. You’ve got thirteen e-mails telling you this and that…it’s a game!

JF: Don’t get me started with technology. I have kind of had it with tech!

BC: I am with you on that, John! It’s a joke! You need a password to take a shit now! I had to go to a urologist, I don’t go to doctors, I’m from NY, our attitude is doctors treat the symptoms and we create the causes. So, here I go to a doctor, a urologist, and next thing I know I’ve got a prescription, I’ve never been to CVS, I was on line, there were so many people, I thought people were buying tickets for a Billy Joel concert. And I was behind people and I hear their conversations, “I have restless leg syndrome, then my throat started hurting now I’m taking antibiotics, and then my nipple fell off, then mesothelioma.” Oh my God get me out of here!  Then you read that the pharmaceutical companies made 78 billion dollars during the pandemic. Everything on television is all about drugs.

JF: That’s why I binge Netflix, can’t stand the commercials!

BC: Good boy, good boy!

JF: Well, I should let you go. I am hoping that I am free and can get to your show. So far, no gigs that night!

BC: We’re performers, we hope something comes through! Well, thanks, John. We’re circus people! Let’s change the world!

JF: Always!

BC: We’ll do it! We’ll do it! Keep it up!

JF: Thanks! Fun talk!

Grab your tickets for this show before they’re gone. We all need a good laugh and Bobby Collins will surely fill that prescription. Catch his show on Saturday, February 26 at the Greenwich Odeum. For more about the show, giggle over to: GreenwichOdeum.com

The Sounds of the Bee Gees are Stayin’ Alive!: An interview with Peter Mazzeo of the New York Bee Gees

Okee dokee folks… Back in the mid 70’s when I was in high school, the Bee Gees were riding high off the success of Saturday Night Fever. I used to call it Saturday Night Disease! I was one of the “Down With Disco” folks and was not a fan. What made matters worse for me is that at that time in my life my friends decided that I bore a striking resemblance to Barry Gibb. After high school the comparisons waned and then I began working at Rhode Island College where one person in the programming department next door to my office was convinced that I was Barry Gibb’s twin. He would start singing Bee Gees songs whenever I passed him in the hallway. Once I found a Barry Gibb cassette on my desk and immediately knew who the culprit was. As I got older I got over my Bee Gees issues and actually started to like and appreciate their music. In all honesty, I did like them a bit in the pre-fever days but that was eclipsed by the over exposure of their “Boogie Child” style. Their songs “Nights On Broadway,” “Jive Talking,” “Massachusetts,” “To Love Somebody,” “Fanny,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and so many others were hits long before the disco days. In fact I love the song, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” and often cover it when I play solo gigs. The recent Bee Gees documentary rekindled my interest in the trio and when I watched it I gained a whole new appreciation for them. Of course one of my friends watched it and sent me an e-mail telling me that I look like Barry Gibb.

It’s a “Tragedy” that time has taken it’s toll on the Brothers Gibb. Fraternal twins, Robin and Maurice, passed away at relatively early ages leaving Barry as the sole Bee Gee. Like many folks who may have grown to appreciate them later in life I was never able to see the Bee Gees perform in concert other than the PBS fundraising TV specials. Fortunately tribute bands have filled in the Bee Gees void and will serenade you with somewhat similar harmony styles to enable the sound to keep “Stayin Alive!”   

Bee Gees fans are in luck because the New York Bee Gees are making an area appearance at Bally’s Twin River in Lincoln on Friday, February 11 at 8pm. I spoke with Peter Mazzeo, who sings the “Barry” parts in the New York Bee Gees, via phone from his home in Florida about their upcoming show.

Being in a tribute band myself and wondering why other people get into doing tributes, I asked Mazzeo how he wound up forming a Bee Gees tribute band. He replied, “We are in our 7th year as the NY Bee Gees but we have been playing together over 20 years. We performed around Long Island as Peter Mazzeo and the Hit Squad and I was getting tired of that. We kicked around the idea of doing a tribute and discussed who should the tribute be. Many bands were already doing Beatles and Stones tributes. I have a pretty large vocal range so thought we would give the Bee Gees a try. We were playing hits from the 60’s-90’s. The players in the band are very versatile musicians. Our lead guitarist Mike Flyntz is in the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame with his band Riot. Our keyboard player, Manny, has played with Alan Parsons. Tommy, our bass player, looks a little like Robin Gibb so I thought if I put some round rim glasses on him he’ll look more like Robin! Manny wears a hat and has a beard like Maurice. I grew my hair and a beard to look more like Barry. We all dress up, I do all the stuff for the band, I costume them, book the gigs, you know. Our first gig was at BB King’s in Times Square and it just started growing from there.”

With all this prep and time put into this show I inquired as to where they usually bring the show. Peter told me that, “East coast mostly, but we’ve done a west coast tour, Chicago, all over the states really.” I was curious to know if he had ever seen the Bee Gees live or met any of them. His disappointed answer was no, but went on to say, “When we play in Florida there are many people who know Barry or have been to events that he hosts and they are very complimentary to us, the same in NY where we run into people who used to work with the band and they have high praise for us as well.”

Finally, I quizzed him about the content of the show.  Mazzeo filled me in: “We do a 90-minute set but there’s only so much you can do in that time. They want to hear the high notes and the audience wants to be on their feet! We start off with “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman” to give them a couple of big hits right off the bat and then we go back to the 60’s. We also do a couple of Andy Gibb tunes because Barry and Andy were very close and it just seems right. During the performance we tell anecdotes about the songs as well. The audiences are extremely receptive to our show.”

We went on to discuss how we both are about the same age and both sort of look like Barry. We also talked about how we know the music from growing up with it and understand it more than, as Peter put it, “if we were some young American Idol kid trying to learn it in a week.”

They pull it off. They have the look and most importantly, they have the sound. Hear for yourself on their website: NewYorkBeeGees.com Peter added, “We want people to have the best Bee Gees experience they can!”

The New York Bee Gees will be at Bally’s Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Friday, February 11. For more, use these “Words” and get to: BallysLincoln.com

Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Phone Zombies: Live shows to tear you from your screens

Okee dokee folks… I have no idea what Wordle is, nor do I care! Too much face in the screen time for a lot of you. I understand how a smartphone could be a useful tool, especially being a musician, but the need to be constantly tethered to these devices is just as bad as drug addiction. Because I have a flip phone I feel like the last non-pod person at the end of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. People with smartphones no longer live in the moment and are dangerously situationally unaware. Phone zombies are causing a real apocalypse and they walk among us now. Grrr…Read on…

Stone Soup Coffeehouse has weathered many a storm in its 40-year history. The organization has been uprooted, had to move multiple times and gone through periods of hiatus. Unlike other cherished music venues, Stone Soup has managed to endure the current COVID-19 crisis. On Feb 26, last year’s hosts of the RI Folk Festival’s Songbird Stage, Allysen Callery and Avi Jacob will be sharing the bill at Stone Soup’s current Music Mansion location. Callery’s blend of Sandy Denny and Nike Drake influences produces her own signature “Ghost Folk” sound while Jacobs’ sound merges old and new folk styles with his poignant lyrical touch and sometimes antagonistic point of view. The show starts at 7pm. All seating is first-come, first-served. For more, slurp over to: StoneSoupCoffeehouse.org 

The PumpHouse Music Works in Peacedale is keepin’ on and has a full schedule of February shows for your listening pleasure. The PumpHouse is one of the best LISTENING rooms in Rhode Island. Slated for this shortest month are Peace Collective, Rafay Rashid, Eclipse on Feb 4; Gary Cummings Band with Cross Rhode Blues Feb 5, Jazz with Moretti, Azzolina, Richards and Zinno Feb 6; Poppy Champlin’s Comedy Class Show Feb 11,Atwater-Donnelly Feb 12, Big Boom Daddies Feb 19, and Neal & The Vipers Feb 26. For more, impeller over to PumpHouseMusicWorks.com

When I was in high school one of the most popular songs that floated on the airwaves and through the hallways was “Amy” by Pure Prairie League. PPL was big in the 70’s and had five top 40 albums. Over the years the ever-revolving cast of players included Vince Gill, Fats Kaplin, and Curtis Wright. They disbanded in the late 80’s but regrouped years later and are still performing. Another great 70’s/80’s band, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, is also part of the same show. If you are of a certain age you will remember their hits: “Spooky”, “Imaginary Lover” and “So Into You”. I saw them as an opening act for Alice Cooper back in the 70’s and I remember it was a great set but an odd pairing. PPL and ARS are a better bill and you won’t want to miss this. Besides, isn’t it time you checked out this great Northern RI venue? Pure Prairie League  and The Atlanta Rhythm Section will be at Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on Feb 11. For more, cruise the “Two Lane Highway” to: StadiumTheatre.com     

Tribute bands are big now. They keep the great music of bands that don’t tour enough or bands that no longer exist, alive.The New York Bee Gees tribute band will be at Bally’s Twin River Casino Event Center on Feb 11. The band includes present or former members of The Alan Parsons Project, Happy Together Tour, Meatloaf, Blue Oyster Cult, Herman’s Hermits, Enrique Iglesias and more. Look for my interview with the band at MotifRI.com. For more about this show, “ah, ah, ah, ah” to BallysLincoln.com. 

Arrival from Sweden arrives at The Garde Theatre in New London on Sunday, Mar 6. The band formed in 1995 in Sweden and very soon became one of the world’s most popular ABBA show bands. They have sold-out arenas and theaters in 60 countries, including 58 successful tours in the USA. Arrival is the only group that has been given a previously unreleased ABBA song – “Just A Notion” – directly from Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA. The Garde Theatre is hosting their only area appearance. It’s a quick drive from PVD and parking is a breeze! For more, “Waterloo” to GardeArts.org

Singer-songwriter and member of Cardboard Ox duo (with Tracie Potochnik), Steve Allain, has released a music video for his new single titled “Go To Glory”. The video – filmed and recorded live at Fort Foreclosure in Warren – gives the viewer a glimpse into the beautifully strange world that owner William Schaff has created. “Go to glory means to die, or to be destroyed. Much of Schaff’s art deals with death and loss, so I found it to be a perfect place to record this song, and to film the video,” noted Allain. To learn about Allain and check out the video, “Corner” over to SteveAllain.com

Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Superstar, Schmuperstar: Musical about the son of God falls short

Okee dokee folks… I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination. I fall somewhere between atheist and agnostic but more towards atheism every day. I don’t believe in Bible stories any more than I believe in the Marvel Universe. I honestly think that religions were all created by primitive cultures because they lacked the understanding of the surrounding world and it has simply carried on as a means of control. That all being said, one of my favorite musicals of all time is Jesus Christ Superstar. Go figure.

My mother took us to see the film Jesus Christ Superstar when we were kids. It was 1973 and I was just twelve years old. Back then I was clueless about religion and had already lapsed in catechism attendance but I loved the movie and many of the songs stuck in my head. Since that time I have seen JCS on stage many, many times. Besides the Broadway productions, two of the best JCS shows I experienced were by local theatre groups. One was about ten years ago and included locals such as David Tessier, Ava Callery and the late Sarah Good. Another was at a theatre in Westerly and not surprising David Tessier was part of that one as well and Jesus was portrayed by the lead singer of the local band, The Merchants of Cool. I cannot remember his name but he nailed Jesus! Oops, was that wrong to say?

The Providence Performing Arts Center has hosted many runs of JCS over the years and I have been fortunate to be in the audience for most of them. I was thrilled to have seen the stars of the ’73 film, Ted Neeley as Jesus and Carl Anderson as Judas, reprise their roles in a couple of productions. Now there is a new cast and the fiftieth-anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar pulled into Providence last week for several superstar shows.

The audience at PPAC applauded excitedly as the lights went down and the JCS logo-emblazoned curtain parted exposing a dark stage, save a single spotlight on a hooded guitar player picking the first notes of the JCS overture. A fog machine was hazing the multi-tiered girder-like scenery on stage. I felt a WHOOSH as the cast of the show ran past my seat and down the aisles. They jumped onto the stage and began their dancing. This was not a typical JCS production. It was somewhere between a concert and a musical. 

The JCS overture and the first song, “Heaven On Their Minds” are two of my favorite pieces from the musical. The band, who were spread out across one of the levels of the stage structure, flawlessly and effortlessly tackled the score. “Heaven On Their Minds” by Judas unfortunately didn’t have the raw vocal power and emotion that it needed and the performer who played Judas didn’t seem to fit the role. He seemed too American Idol-ish and clean cut. Happily, halfway through the night, his voice gained more power and edge.

Jesus. Well, Jesus, what can I say? I didn’t care for Jesus at all. The pseudo hipster, man bun, guitar playing Jesus just didn’t work. Certain things are sacred and Jesus shouldn’t be messed with. If a change was going to be made maybe they should have gone with a more ethnically accurate Jesus. One of color? I was mostly disappointed by his weak performance but surprisingly he did rally once and manage to knock “Gethsemane” out of the park. Other than that, the local singer from The Merchants of Cool put him to shame.

I was glad that the rest of the ensemble managed to elevate the show in spite of Jesus. This was generally a high-energy, fast-paced performance that clocked in at 90 minutes with no intermission. There was a lot of dance and movement. When “The Temple” was performed they danced in low light with illuminated crosses as glitter fell from the ceiling. Unfortunately, the ensemble was costumed in grey sweat pants, sneakers, hoodies and some even wore drop crotch, MC Hammer-style pants. This strange, drab attire didn’t detract too much, though it was puzzling. 

The priests were very well cast and Caiaphas’ deep, rich, bass voice contrasted with Annas’ higher tenor range made their presence on stage one of the evening’s stand-out group performances. Their simple, drape costumes and sceptre-like microphone stands were all they needed for their contribution.   

Mary Magdelene was one of the better performers in this production. Her renditions of “Everything’s Alright”, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”, and “Could We Start Again” were immaculate. The latter was sung as a duet with Peter accompanying on guitar. My only criticism of Mary was her costume. Why was she, like most of the cast, trapped in an unflattering grey sweatsuit?     

Simon, Pilot, Peter, and Herod all presented their parts with power and polish. I actually thought the actor who played Simon would have been better in the role of Judas. They all had outstanding voices and presence. Not unexpectedly Herod had the most outlandish entrance and costume of the night. He was decked out in a long gold robe, long eyelashes, and gold headpieces that resembled something Adam Lambert would wear when he sings with Queen. “Herod’s Song” was predictably over the top campy and added a little humor to offset the heavier bits of JCS.   

By the time the BIG song of the night came along, “Superstar,” Judas’ voice was better and meeting expectations though visually he still wasn’t. He was clad in an all-black biker-esque outfit that didn’t quite match the music nor the image of Judas. The ensemble whirled about in white robes, over the sweats, and three soul singers backed Judas from level 3 of the staging. This is always a “bring down the house number” and it didn’t disappoint.

I went into this show with skepticism. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read about this version and saw snippets of a commercial for it. I tend to be a JCS purest. In general, I like productions to stick to the original vision without modernization. The original JCS is a product of the times – 33AD and the late 1960’s/early 1970’s AD. If a producer wants to present a modernized version of something they should find something new and leave the classics alone. I have attended other modernized versions of JCS and they worked but mostly because they stuck with the popular Jesus archetype. This one did not. Overall I would have to give this production a B-. I enjoyed it but when the character of Jesus is weak and given a man bun it is he that betrays, not Judas. Thank goodness for the Apostles.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Goodbye, Love: RENT on Life Support at PPAC

Okee dokee folks… it’s been about 13,665,600 minutes since Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award winning musical, Rent, opened on Broadway in 1996. This weekend the Rent 13,140,000th minute anniversary and farewell tour took over the Providence Performing Arts Center stage for four shows. The 25th anniversary was 525,600 minutes late due to a Covid layover that shifted many tour schedules.

Rent is the story of a group of artists who struggle to live with AIDS, drug addiction and homelessness in the East Village in early 1990’s New York City. The success of the musical prompted a 2005 film adaptation starring many of the original cast members such as Anthony Pascal, Adam Rapp, and Jesse L Martin. Over the years Rent has garnered a steadfast fan base that identify and sympathize with the struggles of the characters as well as just enjoying the music.

I have been fortunate to have seen a few productions of Rent over the years and one tour that featured original cast members, Pascal and Rapp. While I am not a “Rent-head” I do enjoy the music. Having attended some great Rent performances (at PPAC) in the past I do have to say that I am somewhat disappointed in this farewell version of the show.

I generally find that if you love a particular show you are probably going to love any version of the show presented, but maybe in varying degrees. While I am sometimes a fan of a show that I am to review I do have to look at things more critically than others and sometimes the criticism does not align with hardcore fans’ or even an average audience’s opinions.

Overall I found that the Rent 25th anniversary cast’s chemistry was weak if not completely absent. The connection between the characters of Mimi and Roger was especially non-existent. I also thought that many of the roles, mostly the leads, were miscast. This is a show about starving artists, drug addicts and people with AIDS. At one point one of the characters exclaims, “Mimi’s gotten so thin”. It is hard to believe when the actor who plays the Mimi role is somewhat voluptuous. I feel that many of the actors were too well fed for the parts to make them believable. Mimi’s “Out Tonight” which is a rowdy-holwer didn’t quite live up to previous versions I have witnessed. The character that leads the production, Mark the film maker, who should have been the strongest was one of the weakest performers in the show.

The sound seemed to need some tweaking as the song lyrics were often barely audible above the sound of the band which was located on stage along with the performers. This may not have been a technical issue but an issue with the projection of the performers themselves. I noticed that when Maureen sang her songs they were clear. The stage, though it was a somewhat typical Rent set, seemed overly cluttered. The multi-leveled scaffold décor was accented by what I can only describe as looking like hanging debris of a crashed space station. I usually enjoy the band onstage during this type of show but in this case it detracted with more clutter and added nothing.     

While I had overall issues with this production there were some bright moments. The role of Angel, played by Javon King, who has appeared in previous productions of Rent, was perfect. He has the very limber dance moves, good voice and the perfect look and affectations for this role. The audience was very generous in their applause for him. Maureen, played by Lyndie Moe, who also has appeared in previous productions of Rent, confidently captured the character. Her performance art piece had the gentleman behind me in stitches for its duration. She also had a voice that cut through, loud and proud. As always, the song “Seasons of Love” is a show stopper. The female soloist in this number was outstanding.

As I previously mentioned I watched Rent critically and not as a lay person. I have to withdraw any emotional attachments I have to it so I can review properly. The audience gave the show a standing ovation and seemed to love every minute of it. I understood this and expected it. My girlfriend, who had never seen Rent before, loved it. My experience just differs from others. If you have never seen Rent it was an apt production. To me it was like what happens to a Xerox copy when you copy it too many times- it loses quality with every version. The performers in these copies of copies ride the roles into other roles until they land a role that they can create themselves, sometimes it works, other times not.

The 25th Anniversary Rent Farewell show is at PPAC only for one weekend, Jan 14-16 and then it moves on until it is retired.

The strict mask and vaccine mandate at PPAC made for a safe and secure feeling in the wake of the current Covid wave.           

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Bouchard Rocks the Narrows: Blue Oyster Cult’s Bouchard has still got it

Okee dokee folks… Founding member the the 1970’s rock band Blue Oyster Cult Albert Bouchard brought his Imaginos and other Cult Classics Tour to The Narrows Center for the Arts this past Saturday night. BOC was known for such songs as “Burnin’ For You”, “Godzilla”, “Astronomy” and of course, Don’t Fear The Reaper”- one that had Saturday Night Live parodying Bouchard’s cowbell performance. Bouchard took the route of Nirvana/Foo Fighters Dave Grohl, drummer to guitar/singer/bandleader, only a decade earlier than Grohl, when Bouchard left BOC in the early 80’s.

Bouchard made a grand stage entrance dressed in a red sequined jacket and bright red trousers to music performed by his backing band. The line-up included: Cyzon Griffin: drums, Joe Bouchard (brother and also a former BOC member): keys, trumpet, piccolo, and vocals, Mike Fornatale: guitar and vocals and David Hirschberg: bass and vocals. Bouchard laughed, “I paid a hundred bucks for this jacket!” They then attempted to launch into the set but after a false start Bouchard remarked, “We’re going to do that a lot!” They continued with what would be a two-and-a-half hour set of Bouchard’s and Blue Oyster Cult tunes. About 150 very dedicated BOC/Bouchard fans filled the seats of the Narrows Center. Bouchard exclaimed after adjusting his notebook on the floor, “I have to make sure I sing the right words because I know a lot of you are going to be singing along.” The band performed the entire concept album Imaginos in order and in its entirety. Some of the music, they commented, had not yet been performed live. The band was rocking, albeit a bit rough around the edges. The style merged straight ahead rock with a bit of prog rock. A few songs included solos on trumpet and piccolo by brother Joe and he also brought out a Djembe with cowbells during the BOC cut, “Rock and Roll.” He was joined by Albert who strapped on a marching band drum and along with Cyzon Griffin had themselves a drum troupe moment. The drumming signaled set’s end and the band remained onstage to take a three song encore. They invited guitarist/vocalist Joan Levy Hepburn, who had been waiting in the wings all night, to join them. The grand finale was their version of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”

The opening performer, Paul Bielatowicz, was a surprise treat. Bielatowicz, who is best known for touring in Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Band has also performed with YES, Todd Rundgren, John Lodge and The Alan Parsons Project. Before the show Narrows director Patrick Norton had mentioned to me about Paul Bielatowicz’s upcoming set, “This guy is really good.” On stage was an acoustic guitar on a playing stand, a Theremin, a Moog synth, an electric guitar and a computer. There was a movie screen pulled down as a backdrop and Nosferatu was emblazoned in light across it. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Bielatowicz got on stage and remarked, “One can never be sure whether to put the cape or the microphone on first.” He then went on to explain that he had written music for the 1922 silent film Nosferatu and was going to perform the first two acts accompanying the film. Some of the music was looped and some was pre-programmed into the computer and this gave Bielatowicz a full band sound when needed. The style ranged from solo acoustic, finger picked music to Bielatowicz shredding Eddie Van Halen style with the sound of a full band behind him. Only two acts of the film and music were not quite enough. I honestly wanted to hear more. It was very different and quite enjoyable and definitely worth checking out if you have the opportunity.

Bouchard and band as well as Paul Bielatowicz hung out by the merch table and chatted with eager fans afterwards. You can check out my photographs from this show on the Motif Facebook page. Meta over to: Facebook.com/MotifRI. Shows at the Narrows are always a fun and satisfying experience! Check out what is coming up! Bridge over to: NarrowsCenter.org               

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Roots Report January 2022: Another COVID winter

Okee dokee folks… Be prepared. Since so many folks are ignoring vaccine protocols and mask mandates, we are heading into another wave of COVID cancellations, if they haven’t already happened. Those quazy QAnon relatives that you may have had contact with over the holidays are the fool fuel for the virus. Folks don’t seem to understand that just because you are tired of the virus or don’t believe in science doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing. “It takes a village” that COOPERATES to beat it. This time around there probably will not be a total lockdown but events will be postponed or canceled and this will mostly hurt folks who work in the arts: MUSICIANS. Some places like Providence Performing Arts Center, The Greenwich Odeum, The Narrows and Blackstone River Theatre are examples of venues doing it RIGHT. They have strict vaccine and mask mandates and this will work in their favor. Kudos to them! Unfortunately, we have reached the point of impasse with the anti-vax community. They are probably going to die on that hill. PLEASE get vaxxed (to the maxx) and wear a mask. Read on…

A few years ago I wrote a column for the January health edition of Motif about hearing protection. This is a subject that I am very passionate about. As a musician who often deals with sound at a high level, I am careful to protect my hearing. I already deal with tinnitus which was surely caused by years of soaring decibel levels while working as a bartender in a nightclub and a manager of a pinball arcade. INVEST in a pair of good earplugs so you don’t spend your later years constantly saying, “What?” Do your ears a favor and read this! Hammer, anvil and stirrup over to: motifri.com/HearingProtection     

Despite the doom and gloom opener to my column, I am HOPING that music will continue uninterrupted in 2022. But who knows? Regardless, here are a few shows to look forward to. I certainly am. I am borrowing and modifying a line from the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from the rock opera Tommy to remind you how to approach event attendance for the next few months: “Put in your EARPLUGS, put on your MASK, you know where to put the cork!”

At The Providence Performing Arts Center, it’s the 25th Anniversary Farewell tour of the musical RENT Jan 14 – 16, Jesus Christ Superstar is resurrected on Jan 25 – 30, the comedian who takes his shirt off, Bert Kreischer, brings in The Berty Boy Relapse Tour for April Fools Day, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations on April 12, those cerulean painted guys, Blue Man Group, bang things on May 20, and get back with Ringo Starr on Jun 12. At Veterans Memorial Auditorium The Brit Floyd World Tour swings by on Apr 13, and the Nashvillian-comedian Nate Bargatze gives you the giggles on April 28. To find out “What’s The Buzz” about these shows and more: ppacri.org

Blackstone River Theatre has the Celtic tunes of Fellswater on Jan 22, Feb 5 – Mike Block Trio, Feb 19 – Windborne, Mar 6 – TALISK, Mar 18 – Teada, Mar 26 – Mile Twelve, and May 7 – Kevin Doyle’s Roscommon Soles. More shows are coming as well. For more, paddle over to riverfolk.org.

The Greenwich Odeum has blues guy Keb’ Mo’ on Feb 3 and funny guy Todd Barry on Feb 5. Heavy with The Band songs, it’s The Weight Band on Feb 11, Beaver Brown on Feb 12, Marky Ramone and Rock & Roll High School on Feb 18. Bobby Collins tickles your funny bone on Feb  26. You, me and Big Bad VooDoo Daddy make for a swinging good time on Mar 3. The superlative Marty Stuart brings it on Mar 5, and Crash Test Dummies “mmmm mmmm mmmm” on Mar 10. For more shows and info, yo-de-odeum to: greenwichodeum.com

At The Narrows Center on the other side of the big ole Braga Bridge, don’t fear the reaper or Albert Bouchard’s “Imaginos” & other Cult Classics on January 15, Chris Smither slides in on Jan 21, comedy’s cat lady, Paula Poundstone, hits the stage on Jan 22, Donna the Buffalo roams in on Jan 29, “Take The Hard Way” with the James Hunter Six on Feb 10. Tom Rush circles in Feb 18, Marcia Ball bounces her leg and tickles the ivories on Feb 24, Don Felder soars in on March 1, Bruce Cockburn wonders where the lions are on Mar 2. And enjoy some salvation à la mode and a cup of tea on Mar 18 with Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre-Aqualung 50th Anniversary Tour. For more, squeeze into narrowscenter.org

If you haven’t heard, the king of music lampoons, Weird Al Yankovic, will be at the Z in New Beige on April 29. You really don’t want to miss him. I am not kidding when I tell you that he is probably one of the most enjoyable shows I have ever seen. This WILL sell out. Also coming to the Zeiterion: Get The Led Out, Johnny A, Grace Morrison, Enter The Haggis, Rain: Beatles Tribute, Postmodern Jukebox, The Beach Boys, Little Shop of Horrors, Amos Lee, and much, much more. The Z is a quick 20-min drive from PVD and has lots of simple, available parking. Don’t be such a Rhode Islander, check it out! For more X Y over to: zeiterion.org       

That’s it for now. Plan on checking on any show before you head out. Verify that it is happening and what their COVID policy is. Better safe than sorry all around. PLEASE, don’t be a Covidiot! Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

Don’t Miss Your Shot: Hamilton makes a triumphant return to PPAC

Okee dokee folks… I was fortunate to attend a performance of Hamilton for the second time tonight. I first saw the musical when it came to the Providence Performing Arts Center a couple of years ago and I was very moved by the experience. Not being a fan of hip-hop or rap, I was very skeptical that I would enjoy the show. While I still do not like regular rap or hip-hop I do LOVE the music and dance of Hamilton. It is intelligent, clever, inspirational and very entertaining. Yes, some would say that if I like Hamilton, I like hip-hop. Then so be it I guess.

Tonight I got goosebumps as the lights went down and I heard King George make announcements over the PA and then bid the audience to “Enjoy MY show!” The first few minutes of Hamilton really rush over you. It’s like an amusement park ride that just jumps right into the thrill. The energy of the performance draws you in and locks your attention on every word and movement. It takes your breath away and you physically feel like you are trying to keep up with every move they make. The crowd tends to express their excitement at moments of motivation like they do at a sermon. At points in the second act, such as one of Eliza’s final numbers, there is a longer pause in the song and the audience is so transfixed by the emotions of this that the theatre is dead silent: it is amazing. There is so much to this show, so much going on that it truly is an EXPERIENCE like no other.

The current engagement of Hamilton at PPAC is similar to the last run but this time there appears to be MORE energy in the show, a little more “hip-hop-ish-ness” and it seems as though they pushed the characters and interpretations a bit more. As with last time, King George has the show stealing moments and songs that always bring laughter to the audience. George hangs out a bit longer in this production and pops up a little more often to punctuate a scene with his presence.

The star performers of this show are Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr, Eliza Hamilton played by Stephanie Jae Park and Warren Jackson who handles the dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette. Honestly, the entire cast is marvelous and versatile. Their constant, spectacular movement and coordination certainly needs to be commended.

If you have not had a Hamilton experience yet you should really do some pre-show warm ups. Do a little research of the story. Listen to some of the songs. Check out some of the lyrics online. Trust me, you will be glad you did. Just like a Shakespeare play, your ears need to adjust a little to the pattering lyrics so your brain can absorb it all. The musical accompaniment runs the gamut from harpsichord to scratch/hip-hop beats and is heart-pumping at times. It AMAZES me that the performers have the capacity to store and recite the vast amount of words that are in every song. There are a LOT of words in this show. There are two debates that are brilliantly presented as rap battles complete with a (soft) mic drop. At my first Hamilton show I caught a few great lines in the flurry of verse and this time was no different. “Your perfume smells like your daddy has money,” “You married an Icarus who has flown too close to the sun,” “We signed a treaty with a King whose head is now in a basket, would you like to take it out and ask it?” and “We almost died in a trench, while you were off getting high with the French.” My favorite line from Hamilton will always be “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Word!

If you are heading to PPAC you MUST bring a VAX CARD and a MASK. Plan ahead and have them ready but leave extra time to enter the theatre as screening makes entry a little longer. You will be required to wear the mask for the duration of the show. The performance runs two hours and forty five minutes with about twenty for an intermission. Buckle up, it’s a very moving ride but it goes by faster than you think. This is a musical that you can see again and again and never tire of. You pick up more and more with every viewing. Hamilton is history and the show is historic. Lin-Manuel Miranda truly created something, and though I hate to use this word, it is EPIC! There has never been anything like this and it is something that everyone NEEDS to experience live at least once. Rise up. Don’t miss your shot. Get to PPAC and be inspired.

Cold Weather Concerts: December Music Roundup

Okee dokee folks… ‘Tis the season…for the war on Christmas! 

Every year I have to explain to people that I quit Christmas. I did this back in the mid ’80s. It’s obvious that I am all for the war on Christmas. I don’t exchange gifts, I don’t partake in any holiday festivities; in fact I ignore it all as much as possible. It’s the season of greed. It’s the season of excess. It’s a season of depression. Too much pressure is put on people during the holidays: financial, emotional, physical, spiritual. I just got tired of it all and quit. You can, too! This year is the perfect time to renounce the holidays. Opt out of family gatherings over COVID concerns or because the price of gas has made travel too expensive. Maybe suggest a Zoom get together then have your internet “mysteriously” malfunction. Explain that everything you wanted to buy folks is stuck on a container ship off the coast of California. Say that DeJoy has mucked up the postal system so much that he has taken DeJoy out of sending cards. Honestly, you really don’t need a reason at all — you’re an adult and you can just drop out. Save yourself while there is still time! If someone happens to wish you “Merry Christmas,” just do like I do, keep it simple and mumble, “You too” and scurry back into the house! Read on…

On December 4, Common Fence Music presents Hubby Jenkins at the Common Fence Point Center in Portsmouth. Jenkins is a multi-instrumentalist who loves to share his knowledge of old-time American music. He was an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later Rhiannon Giddens’ band. He has performed at festivals and venues around the world, earning both Grammy and Americana award nominations. 

On December 18 at The Casino Theater in Newport, CFM brings in Nellie McKay to close out the fall season. McKay has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera, and her music has been heard on “Mad Men,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Weeds,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion, just to name a few. For more, “Ding Dong” CommonFencemusic.org.

The Pumphouse in Peacedale is back with indoor shows and has buckets of music for your listening pleasure. In December there’s: Paula Clare’s Special Edition — Dec 3, Mark Cutler — Dec 4, Steve DeConti Quartet — Dec 5, a special acoustic show by Forever Young on Dec 10, Eden Casteel and the Pumphouse Piano Bar — Dec 12, The Joint Chiefs, Dan Lilley with Amy Bedard, et moi on Dec 17, Dylan Sevey returns with the Gentlemen on Dec 18, Tish Adams and the Jingle Bell Jazz Jam with a Grocery List Grants benefit for musicians in need on Dec 23. Vandal the handle to PumphouseMusicWorks.com for more.

The 2021 Singing for Shelter will again be 3 weeks of short “living room concerts” on Facebook Live instead of an in person show. Local musicians will zoom their music to you in this telethon-ish music marathon. This all benefits Lucy’s Hearth and The McKinney Shelter. For more, beam over to: fb.com/SingingForShelterNewport

At the Z in New Beige you can deal or no deal to the point of no return. The Zeiterion presents the manic comedy of Howie Mandel on December 2 and the Point of Know Return Anniversary Tour of Kansas on December 10. I saw Kansas a few weeks ago in Connecticut and the band sounded better than ever.  Both shows could make this December worthwhile! Toto to Zeiterion.org for more.  

The annual Stand Up For Animals show at the Knickerbocker in Westerly is back after last year’s COVID cancellation. Help is needed for the critters even more this year. Stand Up For Animals happens on December 12 at 7pm and will feature the music of Marc Douglas Berardo, John Speziale & Friends, and fiddling by Craig Edwards. You can also enjoy the Dancing Santa and a dance contest. All proceeds support our furry friends. For more, woof, woof, meow: KnickMusic.com

The VETS in PVD has quite a few events on their schedule to get you through until the new year. Coming up: Billy Gillman — Dec 5, Black Violin — Dec 9, comedian Brian Regan on Dec 11 and much more. If you haven’t been to Veterans Memorial Auditorium in a while it’s high time you get there! For more, nunchucks and flamethrowers over to: TheVetsRI.com

The month of December and on through the end of February can be tough for local musicians. Between the holidays, football and hockey games, inclement weather, and pandemic concerns, attendance for music events can be light. Be kind to your local musicians this winter: Tip generously and help them out by purchasing a CD, t-shirt or whatever other product they have schlepped to a show! They WILL be grateful.

By the way, BRING YOUR VAX CARD EVERYWHERE! I have seen many people turned away at venues for not having proof of vaccination. If you are vaxxed, be proud and show that thing. If you’re not, stay home!

One more thing. If you have events that you would like to be considered for inclusion in my column PLEASE send them to me at least 3 WEEKS prior in an email, not a flyer, not Facebook. You all think I am a mind reader and instantly know what you are planning! Geez! That’s it for now, thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

The Guitarist with real “Bona” Fides: an interview with Joe Bonamassa

Photo Credit: Sven-Sebastian Sajak

Okee dokee folks… Last night I had a dream and Joe Bonamassa was in it. Weird, I know. I think it was something like a movie that Joe Bonamassa was in or some other odd assemblage of dream scenes. I really can’t remember much else. I don’t know of any Bonamassa movies but according to IMDB he is listed as an actor and has been in a few films. The guitar empire that is Joe Bonamassa has entered my subconscious. Not really sure why I dreamed about him other than the fact that I did do a phone interview with him the other day and have been thinking about what to write. It seems like every YouTube video I watch lately is prefaced by a Joe Bonamassa concert ad. I also received an e-mail for the Joe Bonamassa Blues-Rock Masterclass and In The Jam video series. Usually it’s on PBS that I see Bonamassa, where his performances are played continuously during annual pledge drives. Joe is everywhere and that includes The Providence Performing Arts Center on Saturday, November 20. As I mentioned earlier I spoke with Bonamassa by phone just before he was to take the stage at a show in St. Louis.

Before I talked with Bonamassa I listened to his just released album Time Clocks. It is a collection of songs recorded during the pandemic which required a bit of ingenuity to accomplish due to travel restrictions and safety measures. The songs are riff strong, driving blues-rock with a couple of numbers such as “Notches” and “Curtain Call” that benefit from Middle Eastern influences. The album draws your ears in and keeps you listening until the last note of the last track.

Joe told me this tour is 33 dates and they are just about to finish the first leg. I was told by a friend in the business that Bonamassa handles all of his concerts himself. When asked about it he said, “It’s called the Four Walls… We are the promoter, the agent, and the venue rep…it’s all about betting on yourself.” In addition to doing this he has his own record label for over 20 years that has released 45 Bonamassa projects as well as recordings by other artists. Some of those are Joanna Connor, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimmy Hall, and a new-to-the-label artist Larry McRae, who Bonamassa says, “is so fucking good and no one has ever taken a chance on him!”

Bonamassa has been playing guitar for over 40 yeas now and started playing at young age of 4. I wondered what kind of guitar was small enough for a 4 year old to play. He told me, “It was an Erlewine short scale travel guitar called a Chiquita, just like the banana… It was small enough that I could get my head, and hands around it.” Joe’s father played guitar and had a music store as well. Bonamassa came from a musical household and is a fourth generation musician. His parents were very encouraging about playing and he says, “I always wanted to play guitar, that is until very recently.” I asked why that is so. His response was, “I have been growing weary of it by the day… But it’s ok.” I told him that I have been playing for over 45 years years and he replied, “You’re a lifer like me!” I also mentioned that I am nowhere as good as him. I asked if he has any hand issues after playing for so long as I am personally dealing with this. He told me that he was blessed with a good natural technique where he doesn’t play hard, he plays loud but not hard. He compared it to a good golf swing: “You don’t have to go up to it and crush it, it’s the economy of the movement, the chances of your hands surviving are greatly increased.”

Early in Joe’s career he met blues legend BB King. He was encouraging to Bonamassa and helped him as well as others with their careers. Joe said, “BB was generous with his music, his time, his stage and so much more.” I managed to make Joe a little jealous of me when I mentioned that I had met the legendary Muddy Waters when I was 16 years old. He commented, “What a thrill! What a lucky dude, man! I did shake Willie Dixon’s hand once, I was a young kid opening for Buddy Guy and he came up to me and said, ‘Hi, my name is Willie’, and I thought to myself, holy shit I know who you are!”   

I was curious to know what the most “awe-inspiring” guitar collaboration he experienced was. He remarked, “I think the night a few years ago when Eric Clapton came out and played a song with me at my first gig at The Royal Albert Hall would be very difficult to top…I’ve gotten to play with a lot of my heroes and gotten to know a lot of them as well.”

I had talked with Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick the day before this interview and we talked about his guitar collection so I had to ask Bonamassa about his stockpile of 6 strings. Joe said, “I know Rick” and continued with, “I have hundreds of guitars, I probably have somewhere around 450, I bought five guitars this week.” I asked him, “You collect guitar amplifiers as well, Fender Tweeds?” Bonamassa expressed, “Yup, about the same number of amps as guitars, I have eighteen lifetimes of musical instruments from the 50’s.” I exclaimed, “You must have a warehouse as well (referring the Rick Nielson’s warehouses of guitars and gear).” Joe came back with, “No, I decorate my houses with them, they are pretty much all on display.” As a guitar player myself I asked what his favorite was to play. He told me, “I am pretty much a Gibson and Fender guy but it very much depends on the song, most of the guitars I will play tonight and in Providence were made between 1951 and 1963, the acoustic I use is an Alvarez Yairi that I use to do this ‘PT Barnum type thing’ for the encores, it needs to be percussive and loud, I like the electronics in them.”

As for the Providence show that is coming up Bonamassa told me, “We’re playing stuff off the new album and stuff that goes back 20 years plus, and stuff we haven’t played live before, some of the brighter stars of the album we put out last year that we didn’t get to tour for, it’s a pretty good show. People who have seen me 25 times or more have told me it’s our best set list so far and that’s a nice compliment! We are looking at a straight 2 hour and ten minute show with no intermission and everyone can be home for the late local news!”

Joe Bonamassa will be at PPAC on Saturday, November 20th. For more about the show “Drive” over to: PPACRI.org. That’s it for now, thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com