Okee dokee folks…Sometimes I write that opening phrase and then I stare at the screen for a while waiting for my brain to engage. Sometimes it takes a while… a long while. A lot of times the things I want to write, I can’t. It would rile folks up way too much. Sometimes I write it anyway. Sometimes you may have to read between the lines. I know this is a music column but music goes far beyond the notes and the words. Society, politics, the environment, love, lust, beauty, hate, and much, much more all influence and inspire music.
We are in an election year. We need musicians to take the stage and sing out like they did in the ’60s and ’70s. As I watch the Republican side-show events like the debates and primaries, I note that many want to take us back in time and undo any progress that has been made. I am constantly seeing and reading about historical events that parallel the path they want us to take. We’ve been there before. We don’t need to go there again. It’s 2012 not 1950.
Steve Earle put out a Grammy Award winning CD a few years back entitled, The Revolution Starts Now. These are some of the lyrics to the title cut and they speak volumes: “The revolution starts here; Where you work and where you play; Where you lay your money down; What you do and what you say; The revolution starts now; Yeah the revolution starts now; In your own backyard; In your own hometown; So what you doin’ standin’ around?; Just follow your heart; The revolution starts now.”
But remember, we all have to live in this state, country, and world together, a peaceful revolution works much better. Music can be the peaceful weapon in a revolution. Music can transcend boundaries, change minds and change the world. Start writing, I am.
Squirrel On Over To The Brooklyn
We’re not having much of a real winter so far this year. Should I say that? I do like winter though. In light of the lack of seasonal weather, there should be no excuse to get out and hear music! According to singer-songwriter, Steve Allain (and the internet. I checked) Saturday, Jan 21, is officially squirrel appreciation day. This means you should put the seeds from your bird feeder within easy reach of your neighborhood squirrels and you should also get to the Brooklyn Coffee Tea House for the Saturday Songwriter Sessions. Steve Allain hosts and has put together a fantastic lineup for your listening pleasure — Ray Cooke, Timothy Alexander, and Sarah Blacker. Music starts at8:30pmsharp. $5 suggested donation at the door. If you’re thinking of taking a squirrel with you, this may not be the place, though they would like the music. For more info, scamper over to www.brooklyncoffeeteahouse.com.
Hall of Fame Series
InNewport, the International Tennis Hall of Fame folks are doing more than bouncing bright green balls. Director of Special Events, Colleen Hopkins, has started up a small series with some big names. Unbeknownst to most folks, the Hall of Fame has a 295-seat theatre that has recently gone through a $5 million renovation. The Casino Theater has been restored to the original specs from its 1880 construction. The 24k gold gilding has been reapplied and all of the original seats were redone by the company that made them back then — they are still in business. I peeked in a few times during the renovation. Now that it is completed the theatre will primarily be used for Salve Regina Theatre but the Hall of Fame still has dibs on select dates throughout the year. This is a project that Colleen is very passionate about. She loves music. Years ago she was a volunteer stage manager at my Hear In Rhode Island Festivals and she works with the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals every year.Hopkinshas plans to do four shows per year at the Casino Theatre. Currently she has two shows planned for the Winter/Spring and plans two more for the Fall. The Casino Theatre Concert Series kicks off with theNew Englandsinger-songwriter, best known for her blend of charming melodies and quirky comedy, Cheryl Wheeler. This inaugural concert takes place on Sunday, Feb 19. You can go out, the next day is a holiday. The next scheduled show is the perpetual crowd pleaser, Livingston Taylor on Saturday, April 7. They will have a full bar available at both shows for those who care to imbibe. Tickets are already on sale for the Cheryl Wheeler show. You won’t want to miss the chance to experience Wheeler in this historical venue. For more info about The Casino Theatre Concert Series, bounce over to www.tennisfame.com.
Continuing along on the same island, on the Gold Lamé Stage, on Saturday, Jan 21, Common Fence Music presents singer-songwriter Ellis Paul. Paul was a principle leader in the wave of singer/songwriters that emerged from theBostonfolk scene, with an urban, literate, folk/pop style that helped renew interest in the genre in the 1990s. Ellis’ charismatic performance style has influenced a generation of artists drawing from the appeal of pop blending with the authenticity of folk. Ellis is one of the most pop-friendly of today’s singer-songwriters. The Day After Everything Changed is Paul’s most recent album. Recorded on his label, Black Wolf Records, it was made possible by significant contributions from fans. This is Ellis’ first studio album without a record label in 10 years and is a testament to the relationship Ellis has built with his fans. The performance will take place at the Common Fence Point Community Hall,933 Anthony RoadinPortsmouth. Doors open at7 pmfor the “folk-tailgate party.” Don’t forget your picnic basket. For more, Yogi Bear over to: www.commonfencemusic.org. Oh, yeah, you’ll want to mark your calendars for the Sweetback Sisters on February 4th!
On Saturday, Feb 11, at7pm, The Jes Powers Project presents the one-year anniversary show of “Chanteuse,” a music series that celebrates talented vocalists and musicians, original music, and unique collaborations. In its first year, Chanteuse brought together 25 vocalists in addition to nearly as many additional musicians over the course of six shows in 2011: Michelle Cruz, Tai Awolaju (Boo City), Michaelle Saintil, Amelia Emmet, Abbie Barrett, Caroline Hecht/ Lily McCall Costner (Tig & Bean), Miss Wensday, Kristen Minsky, Tracy Garrity (VulGarrity), Natlaie Markward/Reed Ferenbaugh/Eva Kendrick (Anne’s Cordial), Allysen Callery, Katherine Quinn, Danielle Riley, Anna Shea, Kate Jones/Laila Aukee/Ana Mallozzi/Emily Shaw (The Sugar Honey Iced Tea), Melanie Kramer (SIRSY), Ember Swift, Rachel Sage, and Jess Powers. Chanteuse strives to serve as a catalyst to build relationships between musicians and bands, broaden collective fan bases, as well as inspire both performers and audience members.
This anniversary show will be held at Fête onDike Streetin the Olneyville section ofProvidence. Hosted by Flapper, tapper and gal about town, Kristen Minsky, this installation of Chanteuse will feature a diverse range of vocalists, each performing their own set as well as a few songs together. Performers for this show include Michelle Cruz, Tig & Bean, Miss Wensday, The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, VulGarrity, and Jess Powers. Fore more about this show, sachet over to: www.fetemusic.com
Notes of Note
Finally here are some random shows for you to contemplate. On Friday, Jan 20,6:30-8:30pmsinger-songwriter Jan Luby hosts a brandy-new monthly songwriter series. This one takes place between the books at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library,100 Tinkham Lanein Harrisville. This first show will feature Luby as well as RI favs, Joanne Lurgio and Paul Pasch. For more info ring up 401-710-7800. The next Empire Revue show at AS220 will be held on Sunday, Feb 5, at8pm. The February installation’s theme is “Love and Traffic” in honor of Valentine’s Day, and the imminent two-way-ifying of Empire Street. As usual, the Sparkling Beatniks will be cooking up the comedy, and guests will be comic Langston Kiernan, theatre artist Leigh Hendrix. At only 8 dollars for ticket, this show is definitely going to give you the best bang for your entertainment bucks! For more, laugh track your way to: www.AS220.org. Music at Lily Pads brings in RI’s own blues legend, Paul Geremia on Saturday, Jan 28. John Campbell opens. Music at Lily Pads is located at theUnitarianUniversalistCongregationChurch,27 North Roadin Peacedale. For more, slide over to www.musicatlilypads.org. The Acoustic Open Mic at The Coffee Depot,501 Main StreetinWarrenfeatures Joanne Doherty on Jan 20 and Ed Fagan on January 27th. Open Mic starts about7 pmand follows the featured artist’s8:00-8:40pm performance until9:50pm.
That’s it for now. I just want to thank the all the folks at The Narrows in Fall River for making the Forever Young gig last week one of the most awesome shows we’ve ever played! Thanks for reading. John Fuzek www.johnfuzek.com