Preserving a Legacy: The Schiavone Festival

After the heartbreaking loss of their dear friend Mike Schiavone, friends Kimi Hallman, Rory Quinn, and Jess Salemi Sinclair embarked on a heartfelt mission to honor their friend by hosting an annual Schiavone Festival. This endeavor began in 2021, shortly after Mike’s passing, and has since evolved into a vibrant celebration of music, community, and giving back. Their nonprofit, the Mike Schiavone Nonprofit, lies at the heart of their efforts, and they are passionate about supporting local schools and students in need. Kimi’s artistic talents, Rory’s band-booking savvy, and Jess’ event management skills form the backbone of their festival operations.

The trio’s fundraising efforts are diverse and grassroots. They host benefit shows, like the recent one featuring Oblivious Fools at The Met on April 27, where proceeds went towards their cause. Local venues like Strange Brew Pub in Norwich CT have generously hosted shows that support their mission — donating more than once. They’ve also received generous donations from musicians like John Ferrara (Mono Means One, Consider the Source), as well as bands that perform at their annual festival in June, which serves as their primary fundraiser.


Jess shared with me how she met Mike: “I met Mike a while back at The Spot Underground. He and Shane Manzi were really into Free Funk Wednesdays at The Spot. We didn’t really become good friends until just before COVID hit. During COVID, I started helping book shows at Platforms, and Mike and I just hit it off because we both love music and our community in Providence. He became my go-to guy for meeting bands and going to shows with friends. My best memories of Mike were when we’d hang out at his place after a show with friends, and he’d be like, ‘Brah, have I shown you this video of me playing with this band on YouTube?’ Before we knew it, we’d spent hours watching loads of great videos of our buddy.”

Over the years, the festival has grown, attracting more vendors, bands, and volunteers to join the cause. It’s truly about the kids, providing them with opportunities to explore music as a profession or creative outlet. They’ve donated music equipment to schools like The Pennfield School in Portsmouth, RI, and The Blackstone Valley Prep in Cumberland, RI, and have contributed to programs at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT, where Mike attended school. Everyone is welcome to join in — vendors, volunteers, supporters of local music and education. All are welcome to participate, just reach out on their nonprofit’s Facebook page to get started. The Schiavone Festival is a family-friendly event, with music and activities for all ages during the day and live music for adults in the evening. Taino Treats will be onsite this year serving up delicious empanadas and treats to add to the festive atmosphere.

Rory, one of Mike’s closest friends and co-founder of the festival, shared his heartfelt testimony about the festival’s origins: “We met at an audition for a band — a buddy from high school. Mike played in his band, and they gave me a shot. Mike ended up living five minutes away from me, and we just clicked. We played in four bands together and became best friends, starting Slurp together. When Mike passed away, I wanted to give back. We talked about donating money to a fund in his honor, but I suggested we start our own thing. We wanted to help the next generation of musicians, inspired by our friend Sheldon who sent instruments to Jamaica. The festival’s dream is to give back, help young musicians, raise money for the community, and showcase local talent — all for Mike and the community. My goal is to keep growing the festival, showcasing local bands, and supporting our community. We contact bands connected to Mike, but we’ve also welcomed bands from Connecticut. I’ve been part of the Rhode Island music scene for 10 years and know everyone. We don’t hold auditions; if musicians reach out, we try to include them. I think Mike would love it, he was my best friend. I know this is exactly what he wanted to do. We want to showcase the kind of person that he was and keep him relevant.”

Kimi met Mike many years ago at The Parlour where people bond over music. They hit it off right away because of their similar tastes in music and humor. “Mike not only accepted my music preferences but also encouraged me to explore more, showing me how awesome musicians can be. Mike was a great friend, giving advice about music and making tough gigs happen. He had a special knack for seeing the talent in people and pushing them to do their best. We want to inspire young people to find what they love to do, something I think Mike would have loved to be a part of. I imagine a summer program where kids can learn about music through fun workshops and classes. To me, the best part of Mike’s love for music is the happiness we share and how it inspires others.”

This year’s Schiavone Festival is set to ignite on June 8 at Platforms (165 Poe St, PVD), promising an unforgettable day filled with music, fun, and a touch of Rhode Island flair. As a special treat, there will be a Nic Cage costume contest, attendees are invited to channel their inner Cage for a chance to win exciting prizes! Get ready to groove to an incredible lineup of bands, including School of Rock, The Office, Kyodie, Grizzly Bear Survivor, The River Provides, Lee Ross, PVD Drum Troupe, Malice in Chains, Guess Method, and Jabbawaukee. These talented musicians are ready to rock the stage and keep the energy high throughout the festival.

The Schiavone Festival is more than a music event; it’s a tribute to Mike’s spirit and a commitment to our community’s future. They envision expanding their reach beyond New England to further support schools in need. Together, we can make a difference, one note at a time. Join us in celebrating Mike’s legacy and empowering the next generation of musicians.

Schiavone Festival takes place June 8 at Platforms, 165 Poe St, PVD. Visit the Mike Schiavone Non-Profit Organization for more information.