Othello: Shakespeare, Straight Up

Mixed Magic Theatre delivers Othello in its classic form


Shakespeare was a rather good playwright. We tend to forget that amidst modern interpretations of the sort done by Kenneth Branagh or Joss Whedon. Trinity Rep a few years ago put on Hamlet as if it was an episode of Downton Abbey. One film version of Othello transfers the story to a high-school basketball court. Such theatrical conceits are common, almost de rigeur, but not at Mixed Magic Theatre who serve their Othello straight up in the classic mode.

This style of performance may seem a bit bombastic to modern tastes attuned to the small television screen, but it is very close to what Shakespeare himself and his audiences saw 400 years ago. With a minimalist set consisting of little more than floorboards painted to look like a map — “Afrika” stage right, “Italia” stage left, and a compass rose dead center — a company of actors proceed to distill to its essence one of the best and most challenging plays in the Shakespearean repertoire, a tale of jealousy, revenge and prejudice.

Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, the patriarch of a theatrical family that is the Rhode Island version of the Barrymores, gives one of the most physically demanding performances of the title role I’ve seen, a man driven mad by his own inner demons although with more than a slight push. At first a swaggering general, Pitts-Wiley’s Othello shrinks throughout the course of the play into a cowering and hesitant weakling, no small feat for an actor whose natural appearance is more the former than the latter. His Othello is not angsty or arrogant, but paranoid. Who can he trust?

Such physicality of the performance can be genuinely unsettling. Desdemona’s final scene is not softened through stage artifice and is shown with all of the violence of the literal text, but in Pitts-Wiley’s hands this makes the contrasting involuntary tenderness of it even more horrifying. Consistent with modern perspective, Stephanie Crugnola plays Desdemona as passively and resignedly accepting whatever her fate may be, rather than as an unknowing innocent.

Alex Duckworth as Iago is faced with one of the most challenging and loquacious roles in all of Shakespeare, a character whose fatal flaw is to equate justice with revenge and who believes he is in the right, no matter how evil his scheming and betrayals, because he has himself been wronged. There is something of a custom in recent decades to see Othello and Iago as twinned, or at least two sides of the same coin, sometimes even with a pair of actors alternating the roles throughout the run of performances, but here Duckworth, thin and serpentine, plays Iago more traditionally as the polar opposite of his boss.

Particularly outstanding in supporting roles are Hannah Lum as Emilia (Iago’s wife), who comes to realize the shocking moral consequences of her own unknowing action, and Bob Colonna as Brabantio (Desdemona’s father), whose vast experience as founder of The Rhode Island Shakespeare Company (TRIST) more than 40 years ago gives him a commanding stage presence. Jordan Greeley as the framed Cassio, Christopher Ferreira as the hapless buffoon Roderigo, and Ottavia De Luca as Bianca round out the core cast.

Mixed Magic’s Othello is a solid version especially well suited to the play-goer who has been turned off by the forced cleverness and gimmickry of hypermodern interpretations. I noted with some regret that there were more than a few seats available for the Saturday evening performance I attended; Pitts-Wiley’s well-acted interpretation is well worth seeing.

Othello at Mixed Magic Theatre, 999 Main St Unit 115, Pawtucket, RI 02860, 401-305-7333 http://mmtri.com/2013/11/01/othello/, Fri (Dec 6, 13) and Sat (Dec 7, 14) at 7:30pm, Sun (Dec 8, 15) at 3:00pm.

Mike D’s Top Five — Can’t Miss Shows of December

Five of the biggest concerts happening in RI this December

1. Saturday, December 7: A Wilhelm Scream (Partycrasher CD release!), Half Hearted Hero, The Holy Mess, The Down and Outs. $12 advance / $14 day of. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. New Bedford’s own A Wilhelm Scream’s new album Partycrasher is their 6th album and is out now! This is the party to celebrate their fantastic record. A Wilhelm Scream have been at it for what feels like forever (16 years? the line between Smacking Isaiah and AWS is blurred in my head) and have been touring the world making a name for themselves as New England’s finest melodic hardcore act and influencing numbers of great bands on the way. Count New Bedford’s Half Hearted Hero and Providence’s The Down and Outs as two of them. Also on the bill, The Holy Mess, a punk rock act from Philly that reminds me of American Steel at times.

2. Monday, December 16: WBRU Birthday Bash with Grouplove, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Bear Hands. $25. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. Lupo’s, 79 Washington St., Providence, RI. It was unfortunate in November when Grouplove postponed (all tickets will be observed, by the way), but the blessing in disguise was the new support! J Roddy Walston & The Business have been cutting their teeth across the country as support with the Drive By Truckers, Shovels and Rope and hometown heroes Deer Tick. They now seem poised to make the jump forward. Check out their video Heavy Bells on YouTube; it’s sort of a mix between a stoner’s idea of the NFL play 60 campaign and a Providence West End cult after party. Brooklyn’s most underrated indie rock ever is Bear Hands. Check out their old album Burning Bush Supper Club or request their new song, “Giants,” on WBRU. Killer show, WBRU!

3. Saturday, December 21: I Am The Avalanche, Hostage Calm, Raindance, Foreign Tongues. $11 advance / $13 day of. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. The Rhode Island return of the pop punk veterans I Am The Avalanche is finally here. The last show was two years ago in a snow storm, right around the release of Avalanche United, their second album. While it took six years to release that, word on the book is that their new album is in the can and should be out early 2014! This show marks the final show of Mike Ireland, who is leaving the band to focus on Brooklyn’s finest bar The Three Diamond Door. If in Bushwick, make sure to stop by and ask Mike how often he parties. CT’s pop punk upstarts Hostage Calm, Ma’s hardcore act Raindance, and NH’s fantastic Foreign Tongues round out the bill.

4. Sunday, December 22: Math The Band, Jeff Rosenstock (of Bomb The Music Industry), Lyra, Malportado Kids. $6. 9 pm doors. All ages. AS220, 15 Empire St, Providence, RI. This show not only celebrates the release of their new record, Stupid and Weird, it’s also their 1,000th show?! By my math, my brain tells me that’s 83 shows a year, and I have only caught two of these. I am going to try to make it three. For those not familiar, the band aptly describes their new album as a vintage analog synth spazz punk odyssey. Jeff Rosenstock, songwriter for DIY punks Bomb The Music Industry is direct support. With the announcement of Bomb breaking up in early 2104, I would expect some new material for this show. Providence’s hardcore act Lyra and casio jamz band Mal Portado open.

5. Tuesday, December 31: New Year’s Eve with Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons, JP Harris & The Tough Choices, Smith & Weeden. $15 advance / $20 day of. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. And Bad Rabbits, Bearstronaut, Brek.One. $30. 8 pm doors / 8 pm show. 21+ only. The Sinclair, 52 Church St. Cambridge MA. These are two great shows. I would go see Joe’s return from Nashville. There is a lot of entertainment going on everywhere, but why go downtown and see balloon animal artists and freeze your ass off looking at fireworks when you can go see live music and dance your ass off? I hear the Silks and Hope Anchor are playing on New Year’s Eve at the Parlour, but I can’t find that anywhere online so it might be fictional. Anyway, have a happy New Year!

Holiday Dance Gets Audiences Into The Spirit

With Christmas right around the corner, local dance companies come bearing a variety of holiday offerings to help get you into the Christmas spirit.

From December 20 through 22, Festival Ballet Providence moves into PPAC for their annual production of The Nutcracker. Composed by Tchaikovsky in 1891, it is the most performed ballet in the world, making its American debut in 1944 with San Francisco Ballet. Since then, it has become a holiday staple with its charming storyline and recognizable music bringing joy to young and old alike.

With stunning choreography, majestic sets, colorful costumes and sparkling Swarovski crystal snowflakes, this marks FBP artistic director Mihailo Djuric’s 16th Nutcracker; the company is currently in the midst of their 36th season. Djuric refers to this performance as FBP’s “annual gift to the city of Providence.”

It is even more special – and memorable – for the 100 plus children selected from area dance schools who share the stage with the company’s professional dancers. In addition, two students from FBP’s Adaptive Dance Program, Sean Muldoon and Alyzabeth Bertrand, will appear in the Act I party scene. This groundbreaking program introduces children with Down Syndrome to dance.

Amazing RI native Jennifer Ricci, now in her 23rd season, will once again reprise her most famous role, Arabian. Each year audiences are mesmerized by her seductive stare, ethereal grace and flexibility. Featuring two casts, Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys and Ruth Witney Brown and Alan Alberto will share the lead roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Her Cavalier. The two couples will also split Snow Queen and Snow King duties during alternating performances.

FBP Center for Dance Education students Jane Schiavone and Lan Pricolo have both earned the honor of portraying Clara, the most coveted role of any young ballerina.

And, be sure not to miss RI’s most famous non-human performer, Archie the Nutcracker Dog as he dashes across the stage during the Prelude. Friday’s opening night performance will represent the 115th time he dons his red Santa suit covered with bells.

For tickets to FBP’s The Nutcracker visit: www.ppacri.org or call 401-421-ARTS.

Now in their 54th season, The State Ballet of Rhode Island will present their traditional holiday production of Coppelia December 20 through 21 at Rhode Island College’s Roberts Hall.

This ballet tells the heartwarming story of Swanhilda, a girl who pretends to be a doll in order to win back the affection of her boyfriend Franz. Set to the energetic music of Leo Delibes, this fun and playful ballet nicely captures the gaiety of European folk dance with a very lively and colorful Czardas and Mazurka.

In a break from past performances, Act III will actually include the wedding between Swanhilda and Franz. For the past 30 years or so, SBRI chose to begin Act III with the wedding already a done deal. But, according to executive director Ana Marsden Fox, in recognition of the winter solstice that will be occurring during the performance “a wedding there will be. To top it off, you may even see a snowflake or two, really getting the audience into that holiday wintery spirit.”

Coppelia will also use two casts. Peg Chobanian and Mark Marsden will dance the lead roles opening night. Kim Najjar and guest artist Eivar Martinez will have the honors for the Saturday matinee. Martinez, a native of Venezuela, currently resides in Providence and brings with him an impressive dance resume, known especially for his gravity defying leaps.

For tickets to SBRI’s Coppelia visit: www.stateballet.com.

For those looking to get an early start on the holiday performances, consider Providence Ballet Theatre’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas December 13 at Rhode Island College’s The Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Set to Samuel Clement Moore’s classic poem, this is a fun and edgy ballet with colorful costumes, dreamlike choreography, moving sets and falling snow, all which make for a magical holiday event. Previous performances have sold-out, so plan accordingly.

Founded in 2008 by Eva Maria Pacheco, a very familiar and accomplished name within RI dance circles, the not-for-profit PBT continues to grow and leave its mark on the local dance community. In the spring of 2014, Ms. Pacheco will partner with winners of RISD’s prestigious Robert Turner Theatrical and Performance Dance Project to present the premier of her new ballet The Magic Box.

For tickets to PBT’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas visit: www.providenceballet.org.


Good People Gets a Positive Judgement

GP3 (2)“You have to be a selfish prick to get anywhere.” (David Lindsay-Abaire, Good People)

We all know someone who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, worked hard and made good. We often congratulate them and praise their achievements. It is at this point that the judging begins. Did the success change them? Are they still in touch with their roots, their family and the old neighborhood? If so, then we often decide that they were always “good people.” If not, they “sold out” and forgot where they came from. And what of the considerably larger number who don’t make it out and continue to struggle for the rest of their lives? That being most of us, we tend to base our character evaluations on actions and demeanor, choices and the maintenance of relationships rather than status. Once again, we bestow the praise, “good people.” The phrase is a value judgment and one that is earned and maintained by a shifting sense of criteria. To be called “good people” – is it what we do, or say, or are private, positive intentions enough? We judge people based on how we relate to them, but under what rules do we judge ourselves?

This character assignation is an inextricable part of our lives and frames the ever increasing divide between the have and the have-nots in Lindsay-Abaire’s look at his own South Boston upbringing. Good People raises many questions, but primarily he asks if hard work and sacrifice is really enough to succeed in life. Where do luck (and often dumb luck at that) and opportunity factor in to the equation? The Gamm, under the astute direction of Rachel Walshe, explore those questions in a play that makes us laugh at ourselves while we re-evaluate how we determine a person’s true character and the meaning of success.

The sound design by Kerry Callery draws us into a blue collar, almost white trash atmosphere even before the show starts, with its WHJY-inspired 70s-80s litany of jukebox heroes, often with a nod to Boston (i.e., Billy Squier and The Cars) and the days of big hair and denim. Clever, as we don’t hear sounds of the present day as much as we are reminded of the place in which our main characters find themselves stuck, treading water sometime in the latter part of the 20th century while the world passes them by. The beautifully designed set by Jessica Hill is a sprawling masterpiece, placing Margaret (Margie) and her folk in a grungy, yet cozy wood-paneled world of bingo and handcrafts while her former neighbor and boyfriend Mike Dillon’s world is white, antiseptic and tastefully pristine.  In the second act, the set fully becomes Mike’s world and panels of white slot into place to obscure Margie’s life and immerse her in the possibility that all of this, her former lover’s 1 percent paradise, is tantalizingly within reach. Margie and her adult, special needs daughter are struggling to pay the rent, keep a job and keep afloat while Mike, “good people” by all accounts, is now a married doctor living in tony Chestnut Hill. At the suggestion of a friend, Jean (played with irascible wit and earthiness by Casey Seymour Kim at her finest), Margie visits Mike, hat in hand, to beg for a job. Mike clearly is uncomfortable, but is eventually guilted by Margie into allowing her to come to a dinner party on the off chance she might meet a wealthy patron who can offer her work. When Margie receives a call that Mike’s party is cancelled, she assumes it’s a lie and is determined to show up anyway, but not before Jean plants the idea in Margie’s head that she ought to tell Mike that her daughter is his in the hopes that he will provide the child support that has been apparently missing from the supposedly absent real father.

It is at this point that the idea of what constitutes “good people” is put to the test. Mike’s wife, Kate, is black, a fact that does not go unnoticed or unmentioned in the course of events as Mike and Margie’s shared past is slowly unraveled. Jeanine Kane never fails to deliver for The Gamm, even if some roles aren’t quite a perfect fit. Here, though, role and actor are a perfect marriage and Kane gives an award-worthy performance, imbuing this edgy denizen of Southie with pathos and fragile beauty. Bill Mootos also shines as Mike, drawing out the layers that Lindsay-Abaire skillfully weaves, ensuring that Mike is neither good nor bad, black nor white, Southie nor Chestnut Hill. It is rare to feel such anger and empathy at once for a character and Walshe has skillfully allowed Mootos to get out of the way of the script and simply be a conduit for this carefully sculpted character. The climactic scene in Mike’s house is one of the finest three-person triangulation of intentions you’ll witness on any stage. Mia Ellis is grounded yet triumphant as Mike’s wife, Kate, struggling to make sense of these two people who have so much past and have such a potential impact on her present.

As much as the three principals carry the show, however, this is often an ensemble piece, evidenced perfectly by the first scene in the bingo hall, where the symbolism of blind luck is deftly explored while Margaret Melozzi and Marc Mancini join Kane and Seymour Kim in a riotous display of comic timing and perfectly handled Boston accents. This is probably one of the best roles Mancini has had to date with The Gamm and a sign of better work to come. We only get to see Margie explore the comic potential of the fish-out-of-water routine that is her visit to Chestnut Hill, but we would love to see the other three in a similar situation, so realized are their characters. A spinoff, perhaps?

Good People could end with the safe ending of ambiguity, leaving us to “answer for ourselves” the questions of character and intentions that are presented by Margie’s visit to Mike’s house, but Lindsay-Abaire takes the challenging route of giving us definitive answers in a stunning and rather unexpected denouement that packs more of a wallop than one would expect as the play trails off. It is these very answers that force us to reexamine Good People over and over. Suspicion and ambiguity only breed more of the same, but hard facts force us to choose a side. Does pride come before a fall or does sticking by our convictions make us, if not better people, at least good ones?

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theater presents Good People, by David Lindsay-Abaire, through December 8th. For more information on show times and tickets, visit http://www.gammtheatre.org/ or call 401-723-4266

Nico Rises Above

SONY DSCThe 95 Empire space, now controlled by AS220, was the home for one of the most formidable productions in RI theater history, Perishable’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a punk rock opera “visiting” Providence and taking up a decadent residency in the black brick room that still has the promise of grimy theatrical possibility hanging in the air.  Counter-Productions Theatre, helmed by Ted Clement and Christine Fox, have made a circuitous route from Watertown, Massachusetts, into Rhode Island (where their noteworthy Speed the Plow played at the new Artists’ Exchange space in Cranston) and have now taken up residence where Alex Platt and team brought Hedwig to life. Fitting then, that Nico Was a Fashion Model, CP’s current effort, dredges up some of those ghosts and, instead of disguising 95 Empire’s grunge, embraces and augments it with a play about punk, identity and belonging.

Drawing comparisons to Hedwig is not meant to make an easy comparison or to imply that Nico resides in those lofty heights, but the mood, the energy and the atmosphere are close enough to make you wish that Hedwig could come back for a double-header with a show that stands comfortably with two feet in that world. J. Julian Christopher’s original script uses the closing of CBGB’s in 2006 as a jumping off point for a story about two friends, both minorities and both punks (to varying degrees that are called into question as the storyline moves along) hoping to snag tickets to see Patti Smith close the legendary Bleecker Street venue.

As we meet Jesse (Ronald Lewis) and Luis (Michael Flowers, who also pulls double duty as Nico’s scenic and projection designer), they are playing a game of “punk alphabet” while hanging out at the dumpsters behind a Babies R Us and debating the merits of their newly purchased fake IDs. The IDs serve as a symbol of the desire to “pass.” Jesse is black, not the stereotypical punk fan, yet clearly more knowledgeable than Luis, who is a white-skinned Latino who knows what he likes, but clearly doesn’t have the depth of fandom that Jesse displays (playwright Christopher also clearly knows his stuff as he rightly has Jesse rattle off a litany of punks of color in order to shut down Luis’ simpleminded argument that punk is a white man’s game, as well as making Jesse curiously Straight Edge). As the conversation turns toward Nico and the Velvet Underground, we begin to explore the notion that sometimes icons, as well as simple everyday identities, are forged and manufactured, not born. Nico was a product, a fashion model that, like Greg Brady’s Johnny Bravo, happened to be in the right place at the right time and fit the suit. That fact makes her no less a punk goddess and, to these boys trying to frame themselves into a picture that they don’t quite fit, the question looms large: is authenticity born or can it be earned through paying dues and believing in both yourself and, more importantly, having people who believe in you? “We matter,” declares Jesse before bemoaning his own timelessness. “I should have been born in Berlin.”

Luis soon meets Christa, who works at the abovementioned retail store, a symbol of suburban white middle class wealth. She is young, pretty and blonde, immediately drawing Luis’ attention as a doppelganger of Nico. It also happens that Christa was born with a tarnished spoon in her mouth as her family has ties to the genuine punk community (“Joey Ramone changed my diapers”) and she has passes to the show that night. Luis compromises his identity in order to win her favor, pronouncing his name as “Louis.” Jesse is overjoyed at the news, but once he meets Christa, her disfavor of Jesse’s color is obvious and the conflict begins.

The show benefits from a great set that feels like somebody threw a bucket of sewer water on a prototype of an old scenic design from Runaways (or a particularly bad version of Rent). Projections give us the sights and sounds of CBGB’s heyday with judicious slices of Patti Smith and Debbie Harry in classic performances. The trio’s performances are mostly solid and Ron Lewis particularly stands out with a steely, edgy performance that complements the sense of comfortable displacement that his character feels. If there are any issues with Nico, they tend to be technical and/or script-related. Some of the elements seem a little forced, such as a monologue by Luis about broken glass that seems almost like it was forced into the script at a later rewrite to make sure there were enough metaphors included to elevate the literacy level. An anticlimactic scene where Luis has an asthma attack seems rushed and slightly ineffective, although this may have improved as the run continued. And, it seems that stage cigarettes are abound in several shows at present, drawing more attention to their magic-shop fakeness than their similarity to actual smoking and, at times, action slowed down while actors looked for proper places to “extinguish” the prop. This is the curse of an intimate space however, and even the clear knowledge that Paige Barry is wigged is not reason enough to want to see this entertaining and unique new script done in any other venue.

Minor distractions aside, Nico delivers in its main pursuit, which is to draw attention to issues of identity and belonging in a setting that can be quite close-minded in its pursuit of anarchy. When Christa, the ostensible antagonist of the piece, tells the boys, “Neither of you know who the hell you are,” we have to agree with her.

Nico was A Fashion Model presents the idea that we have opportunities in life to rise above our preconceptions. For both fans of music in general, punk in particular and all theatergoers, Nico presents an opportunity to revisit a legendary Providence performance space that, not unlike CBGB’s, has some pretty elegant ghosts in its walls. Catch it before it closes this weekend.

Counter-Productions Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Nico Was a Fashion Model at the 95 Empire Black Box Theatre in Providence, RI. Directed by Ted Clement, the play features Paige Barry, Michael Flowers, and Ronald Lewis. Show dates and times are November 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 8:00pm and November 17, 24 at 7:00pm. For further information, visit www.cptcri.com.

Mike D’s Top 5 — Can’t Miss Shows of November

Top November Alt Shows in the greater RI area

1. Friday, November 8: Tim Kasher (of Cursive/The Good Life), Laura Stevenson, Littlefoot. $12 advance / $14 day of. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Tim Kasher is one of my favorite songwriters.  His songwriting themes of love, loss, substance abuse and the pursuit of whatever happiness is while having an amazing amount of self awareness makes him a modern day Bukowski. After splitting his time over the last decade-plus as lead man of Cursive and Good Life, in 2010 he released his first solo record, The Game Of Monogamy, focusing on the nuances of relationships.  His new album, Adult Film, is out now.  Laura Stevenson and one of my favorite new local bands, Littlefoot, round out the bill.
2. Sunday, November 17: Johnny Gates & The Invite. $10 advance / $12 day of.  6 pm doors / 7 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. What a journey for Johnny Gates & The Invite.  Having formed in Rhode Island in 2005 right out of being high school classmates, the band was one of the hardest working bands in the Providence indie / emo music scene, constantly playing The Living Room and Lupo’s.  After flirting with major labels and grinding to get on national tours, the band moved to Nashville in 2008 and retooled. The game changing moment for them was meeting with producer Nathan Chapman (who is known for his production work with Taylor Swift) who took the band under his wing and found them a major label and major booking agency.  Having left the pop element, the band now is a bit more  in the vein of The Wallflowers.  It was a bit of a learning curve for the band, to go from songwriting in their basement to the Nashville big business way of going in a room with a popular songwriter they have never met and collaborating. The show at The Met will be their first New England show in five years since their departure for the south.  Look for their major label debut in 2014 on Warner Records.
3.  Thursday, November 21: Boo City, Ravi Shavi, Ian O’Neil (of Deer Tick). $8. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Here is a co-bill of two of Providence’s funnest and best live acts.  Boo City is self described “Black Country Soul Rock Steady,” in other words an all-the-fuck-over-the-place party band.  While the band’s songs sound great on record (Google Boo City and Bandcamp), vocalists Tai Awolaju and Andrew “Moon” Bain’s songs really come out live. The show will also be Boo City’s world premier of their video “Nobody Knows.”  Ravi Shavi, Providence’s premier upstart garage rock band, are unstoppable when they are on their A-game. And Ian O’Neil, who is currently jetsetting around the world behind his band and Rhode Island’s own Deer Tick’s 5th record Negativity, opens what should be a great night of Providence music in Pawtucket.
4. Saturday, November 23: Bad Swimmers (Record Release Party), Little Big League, Bloodpheasant, Steve Layman, Darklands. $5. 9 pm. All ages. AS220, 115 Empire St., Providence, RI. Sean Murphy (of Rhode Island hardcore vets Verse) new project sounds like a bit more lo-fi and punk Superchunk, and that’s more than fine with me.  This show celebrates the release of See You, a new 10″ record coming out on Atomic Action.  Philly’s Little Big League remind me a lot of a more mellow Pretty Girls Make Graves.  Providence’s Bloodpheasant are on the top of my Providence bands I haven’t seen, but want to, describing themselves aptly as doom folk.  Steve Layman and one of Rhode Island’s several bands called Darklands round out the bill.
5. Saturday November 23: Blowfly, Tinsel Teeth, DJ Dave Public, The New Lewiss and his BIG BANG. $10. 9 pm. All ages. Machine With Magnets, 400 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Where does one start when describing what Blowfly is about? My introduction was laughing at this dude’s outrageous album covers before I knew who he was.  Blowfly (born Clarence Reid) was originally a writer and producer having worked with Sam & Dave, Bobby Byrd, and KC and the Sunshine Band. He would rewrite popular hits with new, not-so-subtle sexual innuendo. What started as a spoof and side project became an underground phenomenon and was definitely an influence on future rappers such as Kool Keith and 2 Live Crew. Worth going to just to see what costume he’s wearing. Providence’s entertaining noise mongers Tinsel Teeth open.

Opened and Closed


It feels like every week we list a new taco joint. Is Mexican food replacing Chinese as Americans’ favorite foreign treat? Decide for yourself at Tacos Don Nacho in Woonsocket. If you find your tacos not nearly spicy enough, drive a few miles south to Sassy Mama Cuisine and pick up a few bottles of their signature sauces. For those with a sweet tooth in the Blackstone Valley, Bake Eat Love and Bad Kat Cupcakes have opened up in Pawtucket selling signature desserts and the kind of specialty cakes one might find in a Food Network special. If you’re looking for something savory, The Stoneacre Pantry is bringing upscale menu items like saucisson sec and duck rillette to Newport. The folks who brought you Kabob and Curry opened Rasa on Main Street in East Greenwich with what is expected to be the same high quality Indian cuisine we’ve come to love. For breakfast lovers, the West Side Diner has arrived in the abandoned diner on Westminster Street (renovated, of course). If you’ve been meaning to grab pizza cooked on “primitive wood fired ovens,” The Flatbread Company is about to open on Thayer Street.The Dean Hotel is coming to Providence this fall where the Sportsman Inn once stood, but they remain incredibly vague as to what we can expect. Whatever it is, it’ll likely be swanky and sophisticated.



And on that note, we say goodbye to …

The Sportsman Inn. Providence’s beloved strip-club-that-you-can-sleep-at has shut its doors. The folks at the Dean Hotel currently are bleaching all surfaces in preparation for their grand opening in its place. On that note, Cheaters has been painted grey and reportedly advertised for sale for $8 million. Cuban Revolution silently closed both of their Providence locations, reopening the void in our hearts that yucca fries once filled. Finally, Liberty Elm Diner is temporarily (thank God) closed until Jan 1

Hot Happenings This Weekend: MotifTV Oct 30 – Nov 3

Hot Happenings This Weekend: MotifTV Oct 24 – 27

Spooky Happenings: Halloween Attractions

Terrifying walk-throughs, haunted hay rides, ghosts and family fun in Rhode Island and Southern New England this Halloween season


A-Mazing Halloween Party, Escobar’s Farm, 255 Middle Rd, Portsmouth. Come in costume and try to find your way through the huge corn maze. Oct 26 11am – 4pm escobarshighlandfarm.com

Boo at the Zoo, Buttonwood Park Zoo, 425 Hawthorne St, New Bedford. A hay maze, wagon rides, arts and crafts, and a “friendly haunted house.” Fri – Sun, Oct 11 – 27; 6 – 9pm bpzoo.org

Charlie the Butler Ghost Party, Gov Sprague Mansion, 1351 Cranston St, Cranston. Mentalist Rory Raven, costumes encouraged. Oct 25, 7pm Icranstonhistoricalsociety.org

In Factory of Terror, 33 Pearl St, Fall River. Bloodworth, 4D Blackout, and Phobia Mayhem; you may leave crying. Thurs – Sun, 6:30 – 10pm factoryofterror.com

Field of Screams, Big John Leyden’s, 179 Plain Meeting House Rd, West Greenwich. The Haunted Insane Asylum, Dead River Haunted Hayride, Cirque du Souls 4D haunted maze. Sun 6:30 – 9pm, Fri & Sat 6:30 – 10pm hauntedhayride.net

Fortress of Nightmares, Fort Adams State Park, 90 Fort Adams Drive, Newport. Tunnels of Terror, Apocalypse Airsoft and a Fortress Ghost Hunt. Fri – Sat. Oct 11 – 27, 7 – 10pm fortressofnightmares.com

Fright Fest, Six Flags, Agawam, Mass. 27 frights around the park from haunted mazes to spooky shows. Plus your favorite thrill rides with a halloween twist. Fri 6 – 10pm, Sat 12 – 10pm, Sun 12 – 9pm frightfest.sixflags.com

The Haunted Graveyard, Lake Compounce, 186 Enterprise Drive, Bristol, Conn. Ride the amusement park’s many thrill rides and head over to the graveyard maze for spooks well worth the drive. Fri – Sun, 5 – 11pm lakecompounce.com

Haunted Hill, Diamond Hill Park, 4092 Diamond Hill Rd, Cumberland. Don’t get lost on this wooded trail– you might never come back. Fri – Sat 7 – 10pm hauntedhill.net

Haunted Labyrinth, CYO Center, 804 Dyer Ave, Cranston. The longest running haunted house walkthrough in New England. Fri – Sun 7-10pm hauntedlabyrinth.com

Haunted Rail Yard, Old Colony and River Railroad Museum, 2 Water St, Fall River. Fri – Sat, 6 – 10pm, Sun 6 – 9pm facebook.com/HauntedRailYardFundraiser

Haunted Tunnel, Slater Park, 401 Newport Ave, Pawtucket.  A 200ft concrete tunnel is host to nine rooms along with an industrial corn maze, pumpkin patch and more. Fri – Sat 6:30 – 9pm facebook.com/hauntedtunnelri

The Haunts of Little Rest Hill, The Old Washington County Jail, 2636 Kingstown Rd, Kingstown. Hear the darker side of history on this 75 minute walking tour. Thurs  – Fri, 8:30pm; Sat, 7:30 & 9:30 pm  washingtoncountyhistory.com

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence. This year’s theme, “Pumpkinville USA,” includes several hundred illuminated pumpkins. Nightly, 6 – 11pm rwpzoo.org

Providence Ghost Tours, East Side of Prov, Tours leave from Prospect Park, 60 Congdon St, Providence.


Scary Acres, Confreda Farms, 2150 Scituate Ave, Cranston. Haunted Hayride and Haunted Corn Maze. Fri – Sun dusk – 10pm scaryacresri.com

Sights and Frights, Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic. A haunted schooner, “The Curse of the Demeter,” and halloween fun for kids too. Oct 19, 25, 26; 6 – 9:30 pm mysticseaport.org

Slater Mill Ghost Tours, 67 Roosevelt Ave, Pawtucket. Visit Slater Mill for a paranormal investigation through three historic buildings. Fridays 8pm; Sat, Oct 19 – 25 8pm slatermill.org

Terror in Rhode Island, Mulligan’s Island, 1000 New London Ave, Cranston.  Festival of Fear, a 3-D adventure,  Devils Playground, and  Darkness Falls, a house of darkness. Fri & Sat 6 – 11pm, Thurs and Sun 6 – 10pm terrorinrhodeisland.com

Trails to Terror, Highland Farm, 4235 Tower Hill Rd, Wakefield. Delemorte’s Haunted Hayride and the Forest of Fear. Fri – Sun 6:30 – 10pm trailstoterror.com