Audio Theatre: Tragedies of Ambitious Men

The Psych Drama Company is offering two audio plays, Macbeth and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, streaming on-demand now through October 25 via OnTheStage.com

These audiostreamed performances mark the 10th anniversary for the Psych Drama Company, which focuses on the psychologically therapeutic aspects for those involved in making theater reality. Headquartered in Braintree, the theater works with artists around the world, and the original score for Macbeth was a collaboration with composers from the Marin Držić Theater in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Put in your headphones to get the full surround sound effect as you traverse the twisted minds of two of Shakespeare’s most infamous characters. Or listen to the love and loss in Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer-prize winning play. The Psych Drama Company has clearly put substantial effort into producing original scores and multilayered soundscapes. Listen in and let us know what you think. Only available through October 25.

CLICK HERE for tickets and info. Check out their Youtube channel for latest trailers.

Motif’s 5 Event Picks of the Week: August 31 – September 6

Thru Sunday, September 4

Sister Act, Theatre by the Sea, 364 Cards Pond Rd, Wakefield. Based on the classic film starring Whoopi Goldberg, a show featuring lots of singing nuns. theatrebythesea.com

Friday, September 2

Rhode Island Peace Fest 6: Promoting Love, Unity and Culture: A forum showcasing local poets, emcees, deejays, musicians, artists and dancers promoting peace in our community by raising awareness about violence in our cities, schools and neighborhoods. 9pm – Midnight, The Met, 1005 Main St, Pawtucket. themetri.com

Friday, September 2 – Sunday, September 4

Rhythm & Roots Music and Dance Festival: This long-running festival is a destination event for thousands of music and dance fans from all of the U.S. and Canada. R&R features award-winning roots music artists on the Main Stage and at two big tented dance floors, plus intimate one-of-a-kind workshops, smaller stages and many family-friendly activities. 9am, Ninigret Park, Rt 1A, Park Ln, Charlestown. rhythmandroots.com

Sunday, September 4

Steve Smith & The Nakeds: Forty years into their career and still going strong, this rhythm and blues powerhouse blends a mixture of rhythm, brass and a whole lot of fun. 3:30pm, Ocean Mist, 895 Matunuck Beach Rd, Wakefield. oceanmist.net


Wednesday, September 7

What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?: Art Spiegelman gives a lecture on the art of the comic book and why it should be celebrated, not ignored. 7pm, Roger Williams University, 1 Ferry Rd, Bristol. rwu.edu



Summer Blockbusters and Beyond

Blockbusters …

by Joshua Gravel

The weather is getting warmer and the movies are getting louder and more exaggerated — summer blockbuster season is here yet again. This year promises cinematic excitement with a new crop of big summer releases — new additions to franchises, children’s animated epics, raunchy comedies and even a handful of horror titles to entertain us.

The blockbusters have already started coming with current hits like Civil War, Neighbors 2, Jungle Book and Batman V Superman. So you may have some catching up to do before the actual summer releases hit.

June starts off with an eclectic mix of projected hits starting with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, the sequel to the 2014 reboot of the ’90s film franchise, and Andy Samberg’s music industry satire Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which chronicles singer Conner4Real who is experiencing his career’s first downturn. The Conjuring 2 takes its story out of RI — Lorraine and Ed Warren investigate a haunting in London — while the highly anticipated Warcraft is an adaptation of the popular World Of Warcraft video game. Finding Dory, the animated sequel to the hit children’s film Finding Nemo (2003) is sure to please fans of the first film. June ends with Independence Day: Resurgence, the long-rumored sequel to Independence Day (1996). It finds Earth facing a threat from another alien force, but this time we have alien technology of our own.

July’s movies are big right from the start with Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, a story about a 10-year-old girl who befriends a Big Friendly Giant. July also sees a return to the screen for one of fiction’s most well-known characters in The Legend Of Tarzan in which Tarzan leaves his new life in London to protect his original home from a mining company. The third film in The Purge series, The Purge: Election Year may not necessarily meet blockbuster standards, but as it was mostly shot at various locations around RI so I’m expecting it to be on a lot of locals’ “must-see” list. This installment is about attempts made on the life of a presidential candidate who wants to end the lawless free-for-all that is purge night. The Secret Life Of Pets is an animated family feature exploring the animosity between owned and stray animals. Ghostbusters aims to reboot the franchise with a group of women while Star Trek Beyond sends the crew of the USS Enterprise on another adventure into deep space. Other franchise offerings are Jason Bourne, the fifth film in the Bourne franchise, which sees Matt Damon returning to the role of the titular assassin / agent, and Ice Age: Collision Course appears to send its animated characters on various travels and adventures, even to space.

In August, summer wraps up with one of the most talked about comic book movies of the year — DC’s Suicide Squad, in which a government agency recruits super villains to work on their behalf in exchange for prison time. Kevin Spacey plays a businessman trapped in the family cat’s body in the family film Nine Lives, while Disney remakes Pete’s Dragon utilizing modern special effects in telling the story of an orphan named Pete and his friend Elliott. The animation and the humor get a little adult in the film Sausage Party about a sausage who discovers what really happens when food leaves the supermarket. But don’t worry, the children’s animation returns with Kubo And The Two Strings, the story of a boy who must find a magical suit of samurai armor to protect his village from monsters. Now we wrap up our summer blockbusters with an epic remake of Ben-Hur, starring Jack Huston in the title role as a man falsely accused of a crime and forced into slavery. He lives only to take vengeance upon his best friend and betrayer.

… and Beyond

Summer in Rhode Island offers a cornucopia of independent film viewing opportunities.

If you need to get your animation or superhero fix but want something other than typical blockbuster fare, Phantom Boy is scheduled to screen at Cable Car Cinema in early August. Written and directed by the Oscar-nominated writers and directors of A Cat in Paris, Phantom Boy takes their vision to a New York City backdrop, telling a supernatural neo-noir about a terminally ill 11-year-old boy who is an unconventional superhero. He can float phantom-like wherever he pleases, yet will it conflict with people he encounters and with his condition?

Speaking of animation, Womanimation!, the premiere showcase in the U.S. of international women’s animated short films, returns to AS220 on Saturday, June 25. Another locally produced event at AS220’s Black Box Theater is Arkham Film Society’s film series, dedicated to “spreading their love of cult horror and exploitation films,” on the second Tuesday of the month, with some pretty obscure selections curated.

Many acclaimed international directors are back with some great additions to our summer independent lineup. Hany Abu-Assad, a Palestinian film director known for Omar and Paradise Now, returns with Idol, a Palestine/UK/Qatar/Netherlands co-production designed as a film without cultural barriers. It is inspired by the true story of Mohammed Assaf, a Palestinian who grew up in Gaza, becoming the voice of the nation when he won the 2013 Arab Idol contest.

Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows, I Wish, and Like Father, Like Son) returns with Our Little Sister, a family drama of three sisters living in their grandmother’s home, and the arrival of a 13-year-old half-sister. French director Michel Gondry, known for crossover films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind returns to his roots with Microbe & Gasoline, about adolescent boys on a summertime road trip across France using a vehicle they built themselves.

On the documentary front, Gasland’s Josh Foxx’s latest, is a mouthful to say, called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. Josh will be at the Cable Car Cinema for a Q&A after one of the screenings on June 18. Josh continues to use his deeply personal style, discovering ways to battle climate change around the world and visiting with communities experiencing its aftermath.

Want both documentary and animation? Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams presents Life, Animated. It’s the story of Owen Suskind, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind. An autistic child who couldn’t speak for years, Owen finally finds a voice as his family role-plays animated characters to communicate with him in animated film dialogue.

Closet Monster is about a creative and driven teenager desperate to escape haunting memories of his traumatic childhood. Disorder, written by Alice Winocour (of Oscar-nominated Mustang fame), is a thriller with a great use of sound about an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD attempting to protect a wealthy Lebanese businessman’s wife and child. Then there’s A Man Called Ove, a Swedish crowdpleaser about a seemingly grumpy older man who gets a new lease on life after neighbors move in.

If you are up for the challenge of making your own film, try the 48 Hour Film Project July 15 – 17 in Providence. Finally, if you want to learn about behind-the-scenes filmmaking, a unique exhibit is running this summer in Sandwich, Massachusetts, at Heritage Museum & Gardens. It is called CUT! Costume and the Cinema, celebrating the role of costumes in film over the years, with 43 different costumes on exhibit.

Kongos made Providence dance with their African inspired upbeat alternative rock

By: Josh Estrella

There are a few bands that stand out when you hear them– bands you know are going to make it big–and Kongos are definitely one of them. Last Friday all those gathered in Waterplace Park for the fifth installment of WBRU’s Summer Concert Series had the opportunity to hear their unique African inspired sound live for free. Judging by all of the singing and dancing in the area, the crowd loved them. The night started off with WBRU 2012 and 2013 Rock Hunt semifinalists and rising local band, Satellites Fall, who got the large crowd moving from the start. Although they are not as well known as Kongos, they were able to keep the crowd jumping around to their music and clearly made some new fans along the way.


Next up was the headliner, Kongos. Kongos are based out of Phoenix, Arizona but first gained popularity in South Africa where the four brothers and bandmates, Dylan, Daniel, Jesse and Johnny grew up. Their first album, Lunatic, showcases a new kind of upbeat alternative rock music that just makes you want to hear more. If you haven’t heard them yet, their hit songs “Come With Me Now” and “I’m Only Joking” epitomize what their catchy sound is all about and show why they have been rising up the charts. After becoming popular in South Africa, Kongos re-released their album in the US in 2013 where it is gaining popularity just as fast.

When the Kongos hit the stage the crowd went crazy. The lucky people in the front rushed to the stage while everyone else in the crowded park stood up and fought to get a glimpse of the band. They played through the entirety of Lunatic, giving off a vibe that made the crowd move with their blend of different rock elements, hints of African rhythms and even an accordion. The Kongos knew how to work the crowd, getting all of Waterplace Park into their music quickly. Towards the end of the set the band heightened the excitement of the crowd with an interesting rendition of “Come Together” by the Beatles which even had some rapping. Finally after putting on one of the longest sets of this Summer Concert Series, the Kongos gave the crowd what they came for and finished the night off with their hit single “Come With Me Now” getting the crowd to sing with them.

This upcoming Friday, August 1, the WBRU 2014 Summer Concert Series will be coming to a close with the last two bands, Sleeper Agent, who once played at Coachella and appeared on Jimmy Fallon, and local Experimental Americana Roots rock band, The ‘Mericans. Make sure you stop by Waterplace Park early for the last free concert of the summer.

Friday, August 1 at Waterplace Park, WBRU hosts its last free concert of the summer @ 7pm.

Get a Taste of the Weekend at the Burnside Park Music Series

By Melanie Rainone and Despina Durand

The weekend starts early if you happen to be in the downcity area on a Thursday afternoon with the Burnside Park Music Series and Beer Garden, put on by Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy. By day, the park hosts activities geared towards children and by night the park is taken over by live music, good food, and local brews.

Jennifer Smith, the programming director with DPPC, expressed excitement for what this event represents. She especially likes the way that people from all walks of life mix to create a vibrant audience at the events in Burnside Park.

“We get politicians down, people from RISD, average joes and joe-elles. And that mix is so awesome for me, I think this is the crossroads of Rhode Island and where it all comes together,” Smith said. “We’re building a lovely, close knit community where we are all in this together.”

Jennifer Smith, Programming Director. Reba Mitchell, Music Director. (photo by Despina Durand)

Smith feels that food trucks, a growing industry in Rhode Island, provide an fantastic way to support entrepreneurship in a growing economy. Local food truck staples like Mama Kim’s, Rocket Fine Street Food, and Mijos Tacos led the way for the food trucks that have now become regulars at the music series. Trinity Brewhouse as a sponsor and partner provides local refreshment. In the spirit of summer, Trinity offers not only beers and wine, but margaritas on tap.

This past Thursday’s programming featured local band The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, an all female vocal quartet with ukulele and guitar accompaniment. Patrons of the event had the opportunity to listen to folk music while enjoying pretzel roll sandwich creations from the Noble Knot and dairy-free, frozen goodness from Like No Udder.

Reba Mitchell, the music series music director, is excited for the upcoming acts, especially their summer blowout to bring the series to a close on Sep. 19 with Grupo Sazon. With another six weeks to go, the opportunities for good food, cold beer, and great music seem nearly endless.

Mitchell summed up the spirit of the event by describing the event as being, “Everything at its best. A city at its best, downtown at its best, and summer at its best.”

The line-up for the upcoming weeks features Girls Rock! ft Gltter Ghost and Neon Boots, Debo Band, Death Vessel, What Cheer Brigade, HomeBody, and M.A.K.U Soundsystem.

Boat Tours Offer a New View of Providence

By: Josh Estrella


Whether you have grown up in Providence or it is your first time visiting the Ocean State, the Providence River Boat Company will give you a chance to view Rhode Island’s historic capitol from a whole new perspective. Starting at 10am the tour guides, led by Captain Tom, give riders the opportunity to traverse down the Providence River in a comfortable pontoon boat for a 45 minute tour of the city’s history.  Even if you don’t care about history all that much the ride can still be a great experience. The tour also offers private charters for groups of 2-14 people, sunset and sunrise cruises, and even rides during Waterfire.


Once you make reservations for a tour, Don Fleck and Captain Tom will be waiting to greet you at the dock outside of the Hot Club where the boat tour will begin. From there the two are very helpful and welcoming, able to answer any questions as they guide you down the river. Starting at the docks, the boat ride travels down the Providence River to Waterplace Park and then even all the way past the Hurricane Barrier at the northern end of the Providence River

IMG_8756During the tour Captain Tom describes the picturesque waterfront scenery around the river as you pass by the iconic landmarks of Providence, pointing out historical facts that many locals may not even know about. Tom was able to describe the history of all of the bridges we passed and even describe to us exactly how Providence looked throughout the many changes of the 20th century. If you were ever curious about your capitol’s history, or even just have questions about the waterfront and modern architecture around the river, this is the boat tour you need to be on.

IMG_8737The boat travels at a slow pace so that it is comfortable, relaxing and can accommodate for any occasion from birthday parties to bachelor parties and more. The tour is very versatile and can accommodate anyone whether you’re an early riser, history buff, or you just want to relax and see Providence. If you’re 21 or older you can even grab a drink from the Hot Club and get on the boat for a fun ride with friends.

The chance to view Providence from a new perspective while floating down the river combined with exceptionally friendly staff make the Providence River Boat Company a great stop for anyone looking for a way to spend their day off.

The Barley Hoppers bring the Southern Heat with their Self-Titled Album

1325202450_BarleyHoppers_TRUCK_CleanBy Kirsten Perry

A “hopper” is a container for a bulk material such as grain, and barley just so happens to be a grain. Place these two words next to each other, they go beyond their literal grainy meanings and create the title of a band that has been said to “burn up” stages playing an infectious country, rockabilly, and a rock ‘n’ roll style of music.

The Barley Hoppers, Stan Kozlowski on vocals and rhythm guitar, Ray Reniere on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Mike Volatile on Upright Bass deliver their red-hot bluegrass styling on their self-titled album. Produced  by Joe Moody at Danger Multitrack Records in Providence, the compilation is a short and sweet twelve track album with only a single song breaking three minutes. However short the tracks may be each one delivers two-stepping tunes that make sitting still nearly impossible. Much of the album offers upbeat foot-tappers, apart from the track “Lonesome Train” which slows things down and shows a softer side of the Barley Hoppers.

Other instruments used in the album include a fiddle, a steel guitar, a harp, a snare drum, and a banana box (yes, a banana box). In contrast to the large repertoire of instruments, the Barley Hoppers lyrics stay simple, yet catchy and cleverly written with lines like, “Well I’m hardly ever broke, but I’m usually always spent, when it comes to lovin’, baby I don’t need a cent” from the third track “Servant of Love”.

Despite their Providence roots, listening to the Barley Hopper’s CD is like traveling through time and space, into the late ‘50s southern music scene during the early days of Johnny Cash and The Tennessee From the beginning of the album the band’s opening track “Ridin’ with My Baby” written by Reniere, exemplifies their instrumental talents and sets the tone for the tracks that follow. Catch the bluegrass party around through the rest of July…

Uncle Ronnie’s Red Tavern, Harrisville – July 18th @ 9:00pm

Duffy’s Tavern, North Kingstown – July 20th @ 8:00pm

Foster Center, Foster  – July 27th @ 3:00pm

The Stadium Pub, Cranston – July 30th @ 7:00pm



“There is really no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than celebrating its music”

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The traditional music of America is being celebrated in one of America’s most historic sites right here in our own backyard. Wednesday marked the launch for the 1st Annual BlueGrass Music Festival. Cranston Mayor, Allan Fung, and Warwick Mayor, Scott Avedisian, were both in attendance. The unveiling took place in historic Pawtuxet Village. The mayors were joined by local residents and band members who will be performing in this week’s festival. This marks the first time that both cities, in association with the Rhode Island Bluegrass Alliance, will come together to put on an event for everyone in the community to enjoy.

The weekend long event begins July 4th and continues throughout the weekend. During the day, Aspray Park in the heart of Pawtuxet will be taken over by local food vendors, farmer’s market, arts and crafts booths and live acoustic performances and jams by local bluegrass artists. In the evening, the festival moves to Rhodes on the Pawtuxet with performances by  Grammy nominated bands Blue Highway and SteelDrivers along with award winning innovator Tony Trischka & Great Big World and many more.

Chris Keenan, who helped plan and organize the music festival, emphasized that even if you do not know anything about Bluegrass it will still be a great experience and you are guaranteed to have a good time. “There is really no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than celebrating its music,” said Keenan.

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Bluegrass with Street Cred

“While we have some of these amazingly talented musicians here,” Keenan added, “We’ll also be conducting a series of master classes.” From seminars on the basics, to workshops for all skill levels, to some serious insider music-tips, these more intimate sessions will focus on Banjo, guitar, vocals, songwriting, the music business, or just Q&A about how to jam, or what it’s like to be on the road.” It’s a chance to get up close and personal with some amazing talent,” says Keenan. Pete Wernick, Mike Kropp, Susahn Fiering, George Harper, as well as members of Blue Highway, SteelDrivers and Tony Trischka will be leading the sessions.

By: Surya Moreira

Photos by: Karin Tavares


Local and National Poets Slam the Mic at AS220

By Despina Durand and Khrysta Ryan


Thursday June 19 the Providence Poetry Slam held an open mic night at AS220 including members from the youth team  as well as new poets stepping up to the mic for the first time. Although this was not an actual slam, the mic was open to not only poets but musicians as well. A traditional slam consists of an elimination competition of poets based on scores from the audience. Instead, this week, artists signed up ahead of the show, with poets getting 3-4 minutes, and musicians getting 8 minutes of stage time.

Judging by the audience’s cheers, the open mic was host to quite a few poetry slam regulars. The artists presented poetry, hip hop music, a hoedown, and pieces that bridged the gap between spoken word and song. The diversity of the night broke the boundaries of what preconceived notions many people may have about slams. With poets of all sizes, gender and race the audience was able to hear from the full gamut of today’s  American. Each poet brought their personal experience to life with relatable metaphors and analogies.


The show featured New York slam poet, Tonya Ingram, and Pennsylvania musician, Kevin Garrett. Ingram, who was born inCincinnati, grew up in the Bronx and attended NYU. She now resides in Los Angeles where she is working towards a Public Practice MFA at the Otis College of Art and Design. Her poetry focussed on her experiences ranging from being diagnosed with Lupus and growing in the Bronx. The range of subject matter is not meant to disturb the audience but to educate them. Ingram speaks from her heart creating a way to use her voice in speaking out about the issues at hand rather than sugar coating an experience.

The Providence Poetry Slam is built and expanded on a set of values which its participants hold very high. The host Laura Brown-Lavoie spoke of respect, safety, diversity, truth and the importance of support of one another.Though the room was filled with regulars, newcomers were welcomed with open arms.

The Providence Poetry Slam not only has a youth group but also holds a creative writing workshop every month. Poetry slams and open mic nights are held every 1st and 3rd thursday of each month, year around at AS220, Providence.


TOP: Vatic performs a poem, part spoken word, part song. (Photo by Despina Durand)
Botton: Tonya Ingram and Kevin Garrett perform. (Photo by Despina Durand)



Phantogram Rocks Waterplace Park

Phantogram headlines the first WBRU concert of the summer

By Josh Estrella, Video by Melissa Conlon

The WBRU summer concert series is back, and this time better than ever. Last Friday, June 20, WBRU hosted its first concert of the season featuring for the first time two bands, a local opener and a headliner. Hitting the stage first was The Brother Kite, an alternative rock band right out of Providence.

Not long after The Brother Kite finished their set, the headliner, Phantogram, came out strong. The duo electronic rock band played a memorable show that got all of Waterplace Park moving with their unique sounds that they describe as, “street beat, psych pop.” Waterplace Park filled up fast, long before the concert began crowds gathered all the way back to the streets. Whether they were sitting on fences eager to get a view of the stage, dancing in the front row, or taking the scenic tactic and watching from a kayak in the basin of the Providence River behind the stage, Providence was excited for the first concert of the summer.

WBRU’s concert series are known for bringing in big bands in the past like Walk the Moon, GROUPLOVE, and the Neighborhood and this year in addition to the headliners they are spicing it up and making the concerts longer with the local bands. As always the concerts are free, and take place most Fridays through the summer. Just be sure to get there early for a good spot because it fills up fast. Be sure to get to Waterplace Park early this Friday, June 27, to see the WBRU 2013 Rock Hunt winners Torn Shorts, and 2014 winners The Rare Occasions.