A Tangle with the Organizers Behind Providence Wrestle Party

In 2017, Ernie Boch Jr (Jacob Nathan) and Sully Banger wanted to have a wrestling party that would shock and amaze local fans, and Providence Wrestling Party was born. But due to their ardent passion and the fantastic reception, the events continued. So while the name sounds like a single entity, it still accurately describes each event. Nathan explains the logic simply. “The parties kept happening and so we decided to give it a name.”

Every few months in the Black Box theater at as220, mayhem is contained while spectators are riled into a frenzy watching bodies hurled thought the air straining in a sweaty challenge of might. Sully and Jacob maintain a frothy enthusiasm as this progresses, despite the personal time each event requires. Nathan breaks it down, “Building a ring, hanging lighting, a full live band with entrance cues, writing the show, working with over 20 performers and referees to stage the production. Many, many hours are spent in a bar or my living room planning each show.”

A community arts center may seem an odd choice for a wrestling match, but Nathan appreciates the chance as220 took and sees it aligning fairly well. “As a community curator at AS220, the non-profit organization has been phenomenally supportive of this insane venture. It’s really our home base, which has allowed us to be able to run events consistently. It’s great for professional wrestling to be recognized as art and theater by them. In terms of the aesthetics, the Black Box is incredible. The lighting and vibe of the room makes for a one-of-a-kind wrestling as part theater, part basement punk gig, part improv, part comedy, part combat sport, part cabaret, completely frikkin’ insane experience.”

The two organizers still are excited each time an event is executed. Looking back, the boys feel pride and wonder. Nathan reflects, “We’ve worked with so many talented wrestlers and tried out so many different ideas. We really want our shows to be unique, weird, theatrical, funny and just playing dumb sometimes. Over the years I think we’ve grown into being comfortable trying out some insane angles like a choose-your-own adventure fantasy dungeon RPG match, or invaders from Space France speaking through a computer translator trying to take over a very high and lazy earth on 4/20, or a pizza delivery guy interrupting a match and getting involved and then getting fired for being late for his deliveries and then getting a job as an electrician and then interrupting the next month’s match to fix the lights. You know… stuff like that.

“From the get-go the promotion sought to be a safe and inclusive space and we aren’t tolerant of any hate speech, discrimination or macho bullshit that unfortunately can characterize some other parts of the wrestling world. Now that we’ve been running for a while, I think wrestlers have grown to understand that goal further and take that mindset with them to other locker rooms, too. They are part of setting the tone here.”

The next of PWP’s upcoming event will take place on September 1. That day’s event is a continued tradition for crowds to absorb themselves in gritty anticipation. “September’s show is a tournament called the Gansett Cup to determine the number one contender for our Providence Championship. It’s the third time we’ve held the cup and it is one of our signature events. There will be shenanigans and fierce competition for such an illustrious prize. Confirmed participants include the meta-human-super-villain who was built in a lab ‘Insane’ Dick Lane, The ‘Golden Girl’ Corrine Mink, The Notorious and spoiled AJ Phoenix, and the ever smooth Foxy Calvin Campbell and more.”

If this all sounds crazy and overwhelming, well, you may be correct. But you should still come and attend and be absorbed into the frenzy! “You’ll be able to jump right in to the experience without any prior knowledge. Expect to be standing ringside VERY close to the action. Expect a live band playing the ring music. It might feel a bit like a basement punk show, but the people fighting are doing so consensually and for your amusement and bewilderment.” And what does Jacob Nathan and Sully Banger want in return from a crowd? “To party, party, party, party. Yell! Scream! Bring a sign! Just don’t touch the wrestlers or say busted stuff. Not a good idea.”




Raves for Crave: Sample foods from land to sea at this annual culinary event

We Rhode Islanders proudly boast of our home when talking to out-of-staters, and one of our favorite things to talk about is the multitude of culinary options in the state. This year, CVS will once again help us celebrate RI’s many restaurants and food businesses. The CVS Health Charity Classic, which includes a golf tournament, is anchored by CRAVE RI, a two-day food festival curating culinary concoctions from local restaurants, breweries and vineyards. CRAVE RI will take place on June 20 and 21 at Dunkin Donuts Center from 5:30 – 10pm.

CRAVE RI culls samples from 100 local restaurants and provides tastes from more than 150 beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverage makers. Guests can delve into delectable samples from returning stars such as The Aviary, Red Fin Crudo + Kitchen, Matunuck Oyster Bar, Narragansett Beer, Newport Vineyards and Sons of Liberty Spirits. Other notable RI food gastronomic luminaries include Milk Money, The Malted Barley, Granny Squibb’s Tea, Bully Boy Spirits, Providence Bagel, Pasta Beach, Knead Doughnuts, Nettle’s Kettle Corn, Sarcastic Sweets, Kabob & Curry, La Creperie, HG80 food truck and Woods Tavern.

The craft beers of RI will be represented by local titans Revival, Whalers, Grey Sail, Newport Craft, Union Station, Shaidzon and Taproot. Or one can sip on Wise Mouth Tea, Dave’s Coffee, LuLuna Kombucha and others.

A particularly tantalizing aspect of the event is the chef demonstrations, which take place each night on the hour.

Food allows us to celebrate history while exploring new trends. Cultures intertwine while eras of yesterday are reinvented and lauded by exuberant chefs. Whether filling and comfortable or delicate and nuanced, the flavors of RI will lure and please all palates with a stimulating cross-section of the shores and woods and fields of this small yet abundant landscape.

A

 




White Dog Distillery Is a Chemist’s Playground

On a chilly Friday night, a surprisingly large crowd is navigating the concrete and brick labyrinth of 560 Mineral Spring Ave. This old converted mill has held space for DIY businesses Black Grease Bicycles, Mixed Magic Black Box Theater, Mode Merr fashions, Bucket Brewing and many other small arts and crafts spots. It still boasts Ugol Woodworking and B & F Gym facilities. This old factory, now a community evoking Pawtucket’s history of textiles, is a lure to the seekers of Crooked Current ales and now White Dog Distillery.

At the bar, about four stools wide, co-owner Carlo Catucci is mixing and muddling and measuring. Catucci is an excited science teacher, bubbling to explain the dynamic process of distilling and the journey of each spirit. Catucci helps couples and groups who are grappling with the decision of which to sip initially. A handful of regulars, some coming here since White Dog opened in April 2018, are greeted with familiarity as the small but busy space welcomes each to a great way to begin a Friday night.

Carlo owns White Dog Distillery with his wife, Alecia Catucci, and Eric Sylvestre and Vincent Greene. Carlo explains that his spark for the business idea came after he attained unique licenses to distill at home. “Two and a half years ago,” he said, “my wife took me on a brewery tour of Pawtucket.” When the two landed at Crooked Current, “We were blown away by how much Nichole was putting out in such a small space,” Catucci continues, referencing one of the Crooked Current owners, Nichole Pelletier and Jay Lourenco. Pelletier told Catucci, “You should see where we started!” That even smaller space is where I was enjoying a pert and refreshing gin cocktail bursting with citrus flavor. Carlo prodded Alecia, “Maybe we could do what Crooked Current was doing, but as a distillery.”

The space feels like a small speakeasy. The brick décor echoes with the buzz of patrons chattering about their prior sip. The back wall is filled the equipment and elements of distilling along with multicolored liquids in half-filled jars with taped labels. The back closet is where the actual still resides. Catucci explains, “The laws in RI allows us to do tasting and cocktails.” And White Dog jumped at the opportunity to mix and muddle fresh herbs and fruit; the bar is adorned with mason jars of fresh pineapple, limes, cherries and thyme, mint and basil.

Spirits offered include variations on gin, Batch #1, a traditional juniper forward, or batch #3, a scaled-down version compensated with aggressive citrus; rum, white from cane sugar and molasses or spiced, with ginger, cinnamon, spices; Puppy Bourbon, Unaged Corn Whiskey, or a chocolate whiskey. Catucci states, “Some people want a cocktail instead of a neat tasting. It gives them a sense of what they would have at home.” This approach is a proper way to showcase the versatility of a spirit in which they may not indulge normally. And then maybe purchase one of the bottles to enjoy at home. Also available are Lella’s Limoncello (“which is a family recipe”) and moonshine. 

Catucci and the other bartender stir and shake while engaging with customers; I was told it would be a slow night. No such chance. Each time Carlo came to answer a question, he had to ask me to hold, and a new round of customers entered and grabbed a menu. Catucci estimates about 50% are new people each week. Other customers I talked with were excited and had heard about White Dog from word of mouth. White Dog is growing. And delicious.




RI Spirits Celebrates its Grand Opening

When she answered the phone, Cathy Plourde sounded excited and anxious and bewildered that her new Pawtucket distillery will open on March 9. Cathy explained that the idea came as she and her wife, Kara Larson, “honed our love of gin in England for two years.” The couple moved to RI two years ago. Investigating small gins in London, Plourde and Larson discovered, “It was really fun. It was a craft. As craft as beer or scotch.” But Plourde’s palpable enthusiasm erupted when she talked about combining, “my love of foraging and Kara’s love of concocting.”

She was going through the fevered final steps as she explained, “In front of me are 20 jars of herbs. We are working on a vermouth. Usually, I do small, but here I am doing larger batches this afternoon.” She described the space at 59 Blackstone Avenue where her business will join Mad Dog Art Studios, Fight to Fitness, Mad Dog Café and Motif magazine. Rhode Island Spirits will offer a large tasting room at 1600 sq foot with a lovely bar where visitors can sit or stand.

The process of getting the business going was work, but not the daunting, impenetrable task the couple anticipated. “We were skeptical, but at each crossroads everything worked. We wanted to be in Pawtucket.” Plourde cited enormous help from the city locating possible places. The couple loved Blackstone because it sits on the Blackstone River. “Yes, yes. Beautiful views of the river. In England, we missed having a local pub with a fire burning. We aren’t recreating an English pub, but want to build one with comfort and ease of what we like in an English pub.” Plourde offered a beautiful vision, “We will be an extension of Pawtucket’s living room with lots of comfy seats.”

Cathy admired the city’s efforts in helping her get the business off the ground. “Pawtucket bent over backward to help us.” She was unsure what to expect two years ago when “researching others, how others did it. We heard horror stories about codes and buildings.”

The government shutdown impacted their March 9 launch, but now they are ready. Plourde was working on compounding as she put on her headset to explain the process to me, which is all natural. They plan to offer four drinks all the time. “One flagship gin, juniper forward with citrus, coriander, and licorice; a classic gin that you could do what you would classically do with a gin like a martini or tonic.” Plourde is proud of the other gin, a pink gin culminating “from my love of foraging.” The combination stems from an output of adjuncts placed in the still.

Rhode Island Spirits will also offer a smooth vodka and a Rhode Island Red vodka. Plourde listed the ingredients, “Cranberry and cherries. Rosehips, sumac, autumn berries and florals.”

As longtime gin drinker, facing adversarial sneers and upturned noses, the obvious question was why gin? Or more importantly, can you sustain yourself on a product so vehemently maligned? Plourde enjoys this challenge. She noted that whiskey is judged in stages; aroma, tip of the tongue, the finish. She offers that it is the same process with gin. But many people hate gin, often citing its pine tree-like flavor.

Plourde discusses this. “So, in this new craft world, people bury juniper by not featuring it  or go in other direction by punching you in nose.” Eschewing both approaches, Plourde and Larson are doing small batches. “Our pink gin has the juniper but also floral notes and the sharpness of berries. Our botanical gin won’t match as well with a tonic but is designed to be in a cocktail, due to the low juniper.” Also the duo will have a seasonal gin rotating. When they open for March, they’ll offer a winter gin that Plourde described as a classic.

To enhance the comfort and living room atmosphere of their new spot, Plourde and Larson want people happy — meaning fed. So they plan to collaborate with nearby Mad Dog Café, and soon will host local pop-ups and food trucks. And they encourage patrons to BYOF.

RI Spirits’ grand opening on March 9 and 10 will hold lots of fun. The cocktail menu will have standard mixers and more. Plourde said, “We’re crafting cocktails to go with specific spirits. We’ll have coffee milk and some foam on top drinks. Not all things are one day.” Like that tantalizing Bloody Mary bar planned after the first month for Sundays.




Distill My Beating Heart: New, old and everything in between — we haven’t met a distillery we don’t love

From the old guard represented by Sons of Liberty to new kid on the block, RI Spirits, distilleries seem to be having a moment and it’s one we hope lasts and lasts. I recently took a tour through Rhode Island’s four distilleries to bring you all the info you need to know before you plan a tour of your own.

Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling in Newport emerged from a shifting paradigm at Newport Storm Brewery about a year ago. In 2006, Brent Ryan, co-founder and master distiller, leaped into distilling when attaining Rhode Island’s first distilling license since 1872 so that he could make Thomas Tew Rum. Now, under Newport Craft, they are in a large warehouse holding 700 barrels of rum and whiskey.

Newport Craft has more ideas than real estate. Ryan notes, “We can replace what we sell right now, but we don’t have space to do more than that. We are working on solving that. Also, we started to add other products. Vodka, gin and moonshine do not require aging, so we can produce them without storage.”

Ryan is interested in the history of the drinks he makes. Enthusiastic and vibrant when speaking, he captivates  listeners and makes them excited to taste the flavors of these eras and geographies filtered through Newport’s sea and salt.

Bryan Picard, one of four co-founders of Sons of Liberty in South Kingstown, explains that their whiskey stems from beer. Their flagship whiskey, Uprising, started as a stout beer with no hops. And now, Sons of Liberty offers 14 products of various styles of whiskey and beer derived from the same stout mash.

Their latest offering is Battlecry, which is made from a Belgian triple ale. Sons of Liberty uses honey, rye and malts in its creation. Picard says, “It lends more American sweetness from the honey for bourbon. It’s super smooth. It’s my favorite we’ve ever done.” 

Sons of Liberty has a large and comfortable space with pool, darts and board games, and Friday and Saturday nights bring live music. Picard notes, “We’re making an experience with our environment. We have to create. We have to get people here.”

When answering the phone, Cathy Plourde is excited, anxious and bewildered that her new Pawtucket distillery, Rhode Island Spirits, will open on March 9. As Cathy recalls, the idea for the business came as she and her wife, Kara Larson, “honed our love of gin in England for two years.” Her enthusiasm is palpable as she talks about their collaboration. She’s excited about “my love of foraging and Kara’s love of concocting.”

The fevered final steps are taking place as Cathy explains, “In front of me are 20 jars of herbs. We are working on a vermouth.”

Plourde was working on compounding as we discussed their all-natural process. They plan to offer four drinks all the time. “One flagship gin that’s juniper forward with citrus, coriander and licorice.” Plourde is particularly proud of their pink gin. They also will also offer a smooth vodka and their Rhode Island Red vodka. Plourde lists the ingredients, “Cranberry and cherries. Rosehips, sumac, autumn berries and florals.”

They will hold a private event with a caterer for the Association of Fundraising RI on March 7. March 9 and 10 will be the official, open-to-the-public opening. “We are crafting cocktails to go with specific spirits. We’ll have coffee milk and some foam-on-top drinks. Not all things are on one day.” She cites as an example the Sunday Bloody Mary bar planned after the first month.

At the bar, about four stools wide, Carlo Catucci, co-owner of White Dog Distillery, is mixing and muddling and measuring. He owns White Dog Distillery with his wife, Alecia Catucci, and Eric Sylvestre and Vincent Greene. Catucci is an excited science teacher, bubbling to explain the dynamic process of distilling and the journey of each spirit.

The space feels like a small speakeasy. The brick décor echoes with a buzz in the air, and the bar is adorned with mason jars of fresh pineapple, limes, cherries, thyme, mint, and basil ready to be mixed and muddled.

Spirits offered include variations on gin. Batch #1 is a traditional juniper forward and Batch #3 is a scaled-down version that compensates with aggressive citrus. There’s also rum, white from cane sugar and molasses or spiced, with ginger, cinnamon and other spices; Puppy Bourbon; Unaged Corn Whiskey and chocolate whiskey. Catucci states, “Some people want a cocktail instead of a neat tasting. It gives them a sense of what they would have at home.” This approach is a proper way to showcase the versatility of a spirit in which they may not indulge normally, and they might purchase a bottle to enjoy at home. Also available are Lella’s Limoncello (“which is a family recipe”) and moonshine.




Speaking the Same Language: Ulya Aviral seeks to help people in conflict connect through her short films

UlyaAviralUlya Aviral is a New England filmmaker who lives in Cambridge and teaches at CCRI and RISD. She was born in 1991 and grew up in Turkey seeking out theater, film and art in general amid chaos, violence and war. At 17, she moved to the US by herself and settled in the suburbs of Chicago where she soaked up whatever local theater she could.

When she went to college, she began to study sociology but was attracted to studying film through a theoretical lens because it provides a window into people’s cultures. Aviral received a master’s degree in film from Emerson and now creates short films, usually between 10 and 15 minutes. Her Film, My Nature, which was a finalist at the Boston MFA’s Turkish Film Festival, will show on February 24 at CCRI and March 24 at the Emerson Film Festival. 

In her filmmaking, Aviral combines her passion with the knowledge that comes from her peers’ and family’s experience living in a turbulent and violent situation. She says of Ankara, Turkey’s capital where she lived, “People have so many different beliefs, so many different languages that they speak and so many different political views. This causes a lot of wars and battles in the region.”

Aviral continued to reflect, “There have been terrorist attacks, bombs downtown where my parents work. One was by ISIS in my home of Ankara. It was awful for a while. It is exhausting an entire society, exhausting masses of people. Causing a lot of emotional imbalances in people as they get tired of this.”

This incendiary reality informs her reactionary approach to film, which she calls “Magical Realism.” She defines Magical Realism as “bending the boundary between fantasy and the real – incorporating a lot of fantastical or dream elements. It mashes the psychological state and emotions and dreams as visions that one may have onto the real world.”

For My Nature, which explores communication and the different avenues people take when finding their voices, she created a language. To do so, she drew from her language studies, and pieced together parts of Farsi, Arabic, Turkish and other regional languages. She said this new language has “90 characters, which have primal sounds. The grammar structure is simple and it has its own vocabulary.” Her intent was for audiences from different cultures to read and learn this new language so that people from on all sides of conflict could relate to it and use it to breach obstacles. Ulya said, “People on all sides suffer the same traumas and frustrations and pain.” Aviral’s hope is to have people see this truth through any conflict they feel with each other and connect despite it. 




Buy, Buy Baby: Shopping locally gives a gift to your whole community

BigBoxThe “Shop Local” slogan is slapped on bumper stickers and business doors in the hopes that it penetrates consumers’ conscience, especially this time of year. And hopefully, that motivation is maintained the entire year. Purchases become a personal and political statement. Each penny spent becomes a tangible declaration of our values with immediate rewards.

People usually give two main reasons for purchasing from big box stores. The first is low prices, and the second is convenience. We compromise our ideals to save a dollar or two. We trade our privacy and personal data for convenience. We exchange our habits and idiosyncrasies as currency to buy mass-produced items lost in the depths of homogeneity.

When you shop locally, you know where that money is going. It returns to the neighborhood where the store’s employees live. You can be reassured of how the owners are reintroducing that money into the community because the results are within arm’s reach. Abstracts crumble and the word “investment” has a deeper meaning as flourishing neighborhoods recycle your original dollar.

The American Independent Business Alliance (amiba.net) explains three impacts of our spending: direct, indirect and induced. Direct impact refers to the business’ spending in the local economy to stay in operation. As those dollars recirculate, they have an indirect impact. Finally, induced impact refers to employee and business owner spending in the local economy.

New England has a unique landscape and history and we have to support it so it can become a beacon for others. Think of the idyllic shops of Wickford at the Marina on Brown Street. Think of Thames St and Broadway cradling the Bay in Newport or in Jamestown. Bristol and Main St in Warren are perfect examples of our amazingly unique Rhode Island culture.

Wayland Square offers clothing and knick-knack shops and two (2!) independent bookstores, Books on the Square and Paper Nautilus. Wickendon – anchored by Nostalgia at the Brook Street end – offers an entire hillside of restaurants and stores that offer classic New England craftsmanship and personality. Plus, Art Freek or Rock Star let you put some local art on yourself!

Hope Street, right in the middle of the East Side, is bursting with options. You could help someone experience the Hope Street nightlife by giving them a gift certificate, or you could find a unique gift at Frog and Toad or Little Rhody, both of which are full of items made by local artists. Also check out Studio Hop or Stock, or nurture the natural curiosity of the little ones in your life with a gift from Henry Bear’s Park.

Hit the shops on Downcity’s Westminster Street or stroll under the Christmas lights and view the grandeur of the Grace Episcopal Church as you hit Cellar Stories (more books!). The West Side of Westminster has White Electric, October, Torchbearer and Nice Slice. Maybe head up College Hill to see Thayer Street and grab lunch before you meander in and out of Brown Bookstore, Pleasant Surprise, Denali or Spectrum.

If you give gifts this season, make the act special. Don’t succumb to the bloated routine, absent of thought or love, of selecting a plastic product to fulfill holiday obligations. Instead, purchase something local and exponentially increase your act of giving.




What’s New? There’s always room for one more brewery in our little state

Rhode Island is lucky to have some top-notch breweries that call us home. But even in this land of plenty, beer lovers scream for more, more, more! And enterprising brewers are happy to oblige. Check out the newest players that bellied up to the bar since our last beer issue.

Buttonwoods, Cranston

Buttonwoods is located in an old Cranston mill, where among a variety of businesses, an unassuming door leads to the taproom. Buttonwoods is a wonderful space of wood and brick, and the only way to describe the resident dog’s greeting is heartwarming. Nestled against the back wall are the fermenters, still and resting from their daily labor, while the natural, unprocessed wood bar begs for mugs of fresh, delicious beer to adorn it.

Buttonwoods currently offers eight beers – four variations on the IPA and NE IPA – but they also are offering a stout (with peanut butter, fluff and vanilla), a farmhouse saison, a sour and a cream ale.

Apponaug Brewing Company, Warwick (opening soon [motifri.com/apponaug-calling])

Apponaug Brewing is finishing construction and brewing in an old brick mill on the Pawtuxet River. The building has an urban feel that complements its heavily wooded environment. The brewery’s menu leans toward upscale street food, including a variety of tacos, greens and fries; also available are sliders, cheese boards, flatbreads, vegetarian offerings and smoky pulled pork.

Apponaug’s beer is a celebration of different styles. Their version of NE IPA is Interchangeable Parts, a double IPA, which is a brute at 9.5%. A solid but more reasonable sibling is their IPA (Weathering Steel, 6.5%). They also boldly will offer two stouts: an American (Viscosity, ABV unlisted) and 12% seduction with Annie Edson, a Russian Imperial. They’ll also pour a Berliner Weiss (Raw Materials, 3.9%) and a German Festbier (Feast or Famine, 5.4%). In a welcome and magnanimous move, beer seekers also will be able to find Proclamation Derivative pale ale and Shaidzon’s Buffalo Czech Lager.

LineSider, East Greenwich (opening soon [facebook.com/linesiderbrewing] )

About to claim the title of East Greenwich’s first brewery, LineSider is poised to pour in October 2018. The crew is building an ambitious space, and the fermenters, located in a large spacious room, have been busy. The canning machine is unpacked and ready to seal some fresh ale. The hats and shirts are in. The taproom is built. All we need now is an open door and some beer!

Shaidzon Beer CO, West Kingston

As they approach their first anniversary, Shaidzon has been gearing up for their first full fall. Their embracing of the local music scene is exhibited heavily this autumn. Their live music series, linked with Rocktorium Records, kicks off on October 6 at Gary’s Bar Patio with Z-Boys. The tunes continue with Muddy Ruckus on October 13, Gumption and Glory on October 20 and The Copacetics on October 27.

Shaidzon is anxious to celebrate fall with their new Octoberfest, Buffalo Czech and dry hopped blonde ale, Little Bella. Also still available are For No One (Double IPA), Never Tomorrow (IPA) and new Kingston’s Finest, a rendition of classic American corn lager made with corn and barley. Shaizdon is pushing the nostalgia with traditional lagers through October 28 at LAGERFEST. Plus, you’re guaranteed exceptional bites to complement your beer; Shaizdon’s tasting room hosts a rotating selection of local favorites like Tilly’s Cheesesteaks, CUFFS Counter, Food4Good or Ocean Mist wings.

Smug Brewing, Pawtucket

Smug Brewing will soon call the space of the now defunct Bucket Brewery home. Smug is owned and headed by Robert DeRosa, who has a decade of brewery experience (Union Station, Ragged Island) and is ready to do his own thing. DeRosa will be peddling hop-forward IPAs in the blossoming Pawtucket Brewery scene, as well as a traditional Octoberfest and Russian stouts and sours.

Canned Heat, Fall River

Neighboring Fall River welcomes the grand opening of Canned Heat’s tap room on October 5 and 6. Canned Heat’s head brewer, Matt Ellis, whetted the public’s palate with some fun summer events and as we slid into fall, Canned Heat showed the sparging of their pumpkin imperial stout on Instagram. This stout will welcome autumn splendidly on October 5.

Beer on Earth, North Kingstown

Beer on Earth has been charging forward with beer and ideas since their July opening. Their current menu has their Innocuous blonde ale, Season 2 saison, Overtime IPA, Overtime Vic Secret IPA, Double OT DIPA, Up Before the Dog coffee porter, a raspberry donut Berliner Weisse and a blueberry version, and Independence Wheat Ale with honey. They are showcasing a range of styles beyond the IPA-heavy menus many breweries offer, and a pumpkin ale now is available.

Providence Brewing Company, PVD

Tucked in under a tuxedo shop on Mineral Spring Ave in a 1970s-style plaza is the new Providence Brewing Company (PBC). PBC is located in a cozy and small room that feels like a friendly cove (not unlike the tragically lost Custom House). The night I visited, I was (happily!) bathed in the dark notes of the Cramps for 45 minutes. PBC offers four slight variations on the IPA and then – to a stunned palate of this patron – two Mexican lagers, one of which, Cereza Armaga, had cherries, guava, and lemons – and tequila! This is a crisp lager — not sour, but fruity and light. The IPA was a West Coast (California Uber Alles; 8.4%; Vic Secret, Galaxy hops). There was Circus Act (6.5%; Vic Secret, Amarillo, Colombus – dry hopped with Tomahawk, Zeus). Fool’s Trapeze was made with Mosaic and there also was Room 1924 (6.2%; Citra, Msoaic). The fermenters and mash tuns are tucked off to the side, and people can sit at the main bar, topped with copper.




One Room, One Set, One Take: The latest Schwartz/Suher collab is about to hit the big screen

“I discovered several years ago that writing is not my strongest attribute, although bringing stories to life from the page to the screen is something that I have a strong passion for,” Nathan Suher frankly admits. Suher is about to embark on directing his third film based on a Lenny Schwartz script, and The Assassination of Western Civilization once again proves this team’s powerful dynamic. Suher continues, “I think the reason collaborations with Lenny have proven so successful is because I fully involve Lenny in many of the creative decisions on a project. We have very similar points of view on how to tackle issues that arise on a production. Also, Lenny isn’t precious about his scripts. He is in full support of having me re-write scenes and change dialogue that improves the script.”

As strong as a Lenny Schwartz script is, film is a visual medium. And the freedom of a blank page absorbing text quickly finds limitations when those stories meet the logistics of production. Suher relishes this challenge. “Perhaps my favorite part of the movie-making process is interpreting a script and discovering how to bring it to life visually. I’m inherently a very visual person to begin with. What is a bit unusual about adapting The Assassination of Western Civilization to a film is that the script was void of much stage direction. It makes sense when you consider that this used to be a live stage play, so it is left to me to imagine what the location would look like.”

To achieve his vision of this former play, Suher will be filming in a single room, one set. “It allowed us to work extremely efficiently. With only one set to dress, light and block out for all departments, it allowed everyone to become extremely familiar with the space within the movie. Every chair, every piece of furniture, every prop becomes part of the story. However, there are limitations to this style of filmmaking.”

The Assassination of Western Civilization is “about a tabloid magazine writer who believes he may have witnessed the assassination of a US senator. The story takes place in real time as coworkers, his wife and mistress all become players in a game of cat and mouse when the FBI comes knocking on his office door to question his involvement in the assassination.” With this claustrophobic and tense situation, Suher decided to shoot the film as one long take, compounding the stress and reveals into one elongated moment.

That tension stimulated Suher’s creativity, mixing the approach of Hitchcock’s Rope with ’70s classic political films It’s interesting because I had always thought of this story to be an homage to 1970s political dramas. Suher nods to the “paranoia films like All the President’s Men or The Manchurian Candidate with serious, heavy-handed, message-driven scripts.” Suher adds though, “Our cast found a lot of humor in the story, which was a pleasant surprise to me.”

Contemplating the hindrances and advantages of filming a real-time, one-shot film is exciting to Suher. He had to sift through the efficiency and the propulsion of his cast and his camera. “The biggest challenge is figuring out ways to have emotional transitions and create tension without using the one tool that every film takes for granted: the cut. The entire film takes place in one room with nine actors who rotate in and out of the room as the story unfolds. So, much of the dramatic tension is going to have to come from the actors’ performances. Not being able to cut away to an alternate angle means each actor needs to approach the entire film as if they are performing for a small audience, as if they are performers in a live stage production.”

The prior Schwartz-Suher collaboration, Higher Methods, will at last see a screen with its premiere on September 28 at the Orpheum Theater in Foxboro, Mass.




Touching “Randy’s Canvas” to Premiere in September

randySeptember 18 will see the release of a touching Rhode Island film, Randy’s Canvas. Adam Carbone stars as a young man with autism, facing new dynamics in his personal life. Carbone relayed the genus of the idea and the film’s arduous road to production. With a cast of more than 50, the film allows audiences to peer into this unique landscape.

Carbone explains the origin of Randy’s Canvas. “The concept of Randy’s Canvas was created by director Sean Michael Beyer over 10 years ago. Sean brought on writers Matthew Andrews and Kevin G. Schmidt to co-write and really helped make it what it is today. After working with Sean on many other projects, he cast me as Randy against all odds; because he knew I was right for the part. We also ended up shooting it in Rhode Island, which was amazing for the film. (The state) became a character.”

Now using a character’s diagnosis – especially one that is (it hurts to say this, but…) “trendy” — currently, a cause celebre — can become a crutch. The misunderstood disease could easily be a tool to manipulate audience’s sympathies. Beyer and Carbone saw these trappings and decided to roll that into the character. Carbone agrees. “The film is really about an aspiring artist who is trying to find his place in the subjective world of art while falling for a taken girl at the same time. The fact that he has autism is almost a side note. (The film) is about an artist who happens to have autism.”

Approaching this role was a delicate trek for Carbone. He had to open himself to new experiences and visualize through a unique lens that most people do not consider. “Me being able to play Randy was such a humbling and eye opening experience. Before this movie came around, I really wasn’t too versed about the spectrum or the people on it, aside from a couple of friends. I did a whole lot of research and studying with the wonderful people at the Autism Project to help figure out what makes Randy tick.” Those unfamiliar with autism may have a myopic view of autistic behaviors. This makes any writer or actor subject to a labyrinth of tropes and stereotypes. Carbone continued, “I think the most challenging thing was keeping Randy on track to being likable. It was a fine line of him having outbursts and being sometimes selfish, because he has autism, and coming across not likable. I do believe we stayed on track based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction we got for the movie and Randy so far.”

Having shot 18 days in July and August of 2016, the following two years were meticulous and thorough exercises in post-production. Before seeking distribution, Carbone recalls, “Countless flights back and forth to LA for editing, sound designer studios, color correction, music placement, ADR and lots of TLC. I’m very picky with my edits, so I made sure that I sat next to all the different editors to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks.”

After the pre-release screening on August 24 at The Greenwich Odeum, the world will be able to view and ingest the particulars and journey of Randy as he copes with the trials of what every human explores. People have seen it, and Carbone is elated by the response. “The feedback has been nothing but stellar. We’ve had two screenings now and each one we’ve sold out and received standing ovations. We got accepted in to The Autism Society’s Film Festival: Autfest. We were sharing the night with the cast of “The Good Doctor” and “Atypical,” and to our surprise, we won best picture and I won best actor. Such an honor.”