#1 Friday, July 5: 95.5 Summer Concert series featuring The Mowglis, 7:30 pm. All ages. Free! Waterplace Park. Someone recently asked me how I can tell when a band is getting big or going to make it. These days, it seems when the song is either inescapable from social media and commercials or if people I know who aren’t in the music industry keep talking to me about the band randomly. I’m not sure if music of Southern California’s The Mowglis are in any ads, but the hype seems to be building and fast. I went to my first WBRU Summer Concert of the season last week and had a blast. The series is a great way to see a new band at a no-risk cost of free.
#2 Friday, July 19: The Lemonheads, $15 day advance/ $18 day of. 8 pm. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket RI. Evan Dando’s The Lemonheads have been a New England institution for 25 years. Yeah, 25 years. If you are my age, wrap your brain around that. They’ve come a long way during that time, starting from a punkish band on Taang! records and evolving into college rock darlings peaking with It’s a Shame About Ray. While releasing new albums recently, their live sets pick from all over the 25 year span of songs including some jams from Evan’s grossly overlooked solo album Baby I’m Bored. The Lemonheads are always a good time.
#3 Sunday, July 21: Gogol Bordello. $25 advance/ $30 day of. 6:30 pm. All ages. Lupo’s, 79 Washington St., Providence RI. Gogol Bordello is one of the best party bands around. How does one say no to Gypsy Punk? Where else does the NPR base and crust punks dance together and forget about their problems and global problems? I dare you to go and have a bad time. I don’t own any of their albums, but I wouldn’t ever miss one of their live shows. It’s so easy to recommend. You like George Clinton, or The Clash, or The Pogues, or Dexys Midnight Runners, or carnival music? Then go.
#4 Friday through Sunday, July 26, 27, 28: The Newport Folk Festival , Fort Adams, Newport, RI. Every year the festival is announced, I scroll the line-up hoping they land Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace, a bunch of other Palace related wordings) and this is the year!! On Sunday, Bonnie Prince Billy plays Rhode Island for the first time in over 10 years performing with Dawn McCarthy. The line-up also includes curated stages by Providence’s The Low Anthem and Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons with some of Providence and Nashville’s finest upstarts. Other acts to look forward to include Milk Carton Kids, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Justin Townes Earle, The Felice Brothers, Beck, John McCauley, Michael Hurley, and many others. The Festival’s website encourages you to ride your bike to reduce your carbon footprint. I think a 39-mile ride from Providence would dramatically reduce my carbon footprint as it would lead to a dirt nap. Oh, and it’s sold out.
#5 Thursday, August 1: Wavves and The New Highway Hymnal, $17 advance. 9 pm. 21 and up. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave. , Boston, MA. Bands from the 90s that were influenced all seemed insufferable; they all seemed just to not get it (Sliverchair, Vines, etc). Twenty years later, there are bands that were too young to be hung up on Kurt’s lifestyle or discontent, but push forward the sonic buzz that Nirvana revolutionized commercially. Bands like Wavves, Arctic Monkeys, and Dead Confederate just seem to get it, almost accidentally influenced rather than trying to emulate. King of the Beach is my favorite, but the recent album Afraid of Heights has been growing on me and is back in my car rotation. They are a blast live and worth a road trip. Get tickets in advance – it will sell out.