Last week I was fortunate enough to be part of the sold out Fiddlers and Fishermen show at Common Fence Point in Portsmouth. I love this show! It’s so much fun to be a part an event like this and to hear all of the other artists as well. Some of the highlights of the show were the a cappella group, Sync or Swim, who did a great rendition of ABBA’s “SOS” and fiddler Tiffany Rozenas’ family band. If you missed it, you can catch highlights of the three-hour show on the local cable interconnect. The one-and-a-half hour program will be aired many times on Channel 18 in Newport County. Dates and times are as follows: Thursday at 6:30pm, Friday at 10:30am, Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 10:30am. Make sure to check out all of the awesome entertainment at CFP this season. commonfencemusic.org.
Here’s some big news for you singer-songwriter and folky types. This goes for fans as well. The Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) has scored big! They have just secured the 2013 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference for June 1 at URI. While many of you may think that I am still the President of RISA and that I had something to do with it, I didn’t. I actually stepped down from RISA last summer. I am still an active member and supporter of the organization, though. The credit goes to Chuck Williams, Jan Luby, Joanne Lurgio, Barbara Lema, Rick Demers, Daniel James Durand, Wyatt Lema, Billy Mitchell, Paul Pasch, Mary Ann Rossoni and Rick Wahlberg.
There will be workshops, panel discussions, special guests, formal showcases and an open mic as well as networking and jamming opportunities throughout the day. Registration will be at the NERFA website on or about March 1. The cost to attend is usually about $25 or so. RISA President, Chuck Williams, says, “We look forward to having you all involved, whether volunteering on a committee or with your participation in the conference.” Nerfa.org.
Some folks have all the luck… and the talent. Some folks have talent and are just named “Luck.” That can be said for Block Island resident Glenda Luck. I first met Glenda at a gig we shared in Coventry a couple of years ago. I was so impressed by her music that she is now on my list of musicians that I like to work with. Luck is a singer-songwriter; she plays guitar, piano, harmonica and is currently working on learning drums. She was just awarded a $5,000 Fellowship Grant for Music Composition from the RI State Council on the Arts.
I spoke with Glenda yesterday by phone. She was in upstate NY visiting family. She told me the RISCA application process was fairly simple. “I just submitted three pieces of recorded material. No bio, no proposal and no name attached to the recording.” Two of the songs that she submitted were “Silver Paddles” and “Little Island.” These were written about Block Island. Her project is a concept album called Manisses and it’s about the Native American tribe that used to inhabit Block Island. She said that she first thought about the concept during a 2011 celebration of Block Island’s history. She noted that it really didn’t involve celebrating the Native Americans and that it seemed that like there was a disconnect from the Manisses’ part of the Island’s legacy. She said, “I almost felt like getting a flat bed truck and joining the parade with Neil Young’s song ‘Pocohantus’ playing!”
Luck has finished the project and included on the forthcoming CD are 12 songs that speak of her perspective of what she learned about the history of the island. She researched BI’s past by speaking with an archeologist, a scholar and by visiting museums. Though she has no tribal roots, Glenda feels that we all should have a little Native American in us so we can live balanced with life and land, so we can care for the earth and realize that we are all one [people]. Luck says, “I was born here so technically I feel like I am a native American.”
She grew up and was schooled in NY. Luck wound up in the Ocean State while she was attending classes at RISD. While she was here she discovered BI and fell in love with the people, the solitude and the nature there. She found that it was a great place to connect to the land and “indulge in creativity,” After her graduation in 1993 she decided to stay in RI and moved to the island. As for her idea of the BI concept album, she says that she took some of the inspiration from a 1960 concept album by Johnny Cash called Ride Through Train. Like this work, Luck will be adding historical narration between the tracks of her own concept disc.
Having a singer-songwriter win a grant is not a very common thing for RISCA. As the panel listened to her work they commented that they found it the most surprising among the submissions and the songs made them curious and want to hear more. Currently she does not have a firm release date for the project; she is in the mixing and mastering stage. In addition to the Manisses CD, Glenda has another near completed CD. That one is also in the final stages. Stay tuned for more information or check out glendaluck.com.
The opening chords to the Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine” are part of one of the more recognized chord progressions that you will hear begin a song. That tune, as well as the other eight on the album, are solid songs on the disc called simply Indigo Girls. The Indigo Girls are Amy Ray and Emily Saliers and they will be stopping by Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Tuesday, February 26 on their 2013 concert tour. After several scheduled and rescheduled interviews, I finally connected with Emily by phone. She had just gotten to Toronto with her girlfriend of six-and-a-half years. Their current tour will coincidentally start in Toronto in a couple of weeks and keep them on the road for the following month or so.
Amy Ray has already been out doing solo shows in the past weeks. Emily told me that she was excited about their support act, The Shadowboxers. She said, “They are an incredible group of guys from Atlanta and not only will they be opening the show, they will be our backing band during our portion of the concert!” While we were on the subject of the show, I asked what songs we can expect. “We’ll be playing 5-6 songs from our 2011 release Beauty Queen Sister; but we will also be playing some of the old favorites like ‘Shed Your Skin,’ ‘Trouble,’ ‘Shame On You,’ ‘Galileo’ and ‘Closer To Fine.’” She mentioned that they will probably play their version of Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” as well.
Since RI had just begun the (hopefully successful) process of passing the marriage reform act in RI, I asked Emily her thoughts about some of the issues of gay rights. She commented that since her girlfriend is Canadian it raises two issues with her: marriage reform and immigration reform. Because they are currently living between Atlanta and Toronto, they often have to deal with both of these problems. Yes, they could get married in Canada legally but it would not be recognized in the US. She says that Federal laws need to be changed in order for this to happen.
As for the future of the band, Emily says, “We’re still having a blast! We are currently recording a version of ‘Fountain Of Sorrow’ for a Jackson Browne tribute album. The Shadowboxers are backing us up on that as well. Also, 19 Indigo Girls songs have been arranged for orchestral accompaniment and we have already done a few shows with orchestra backing and we have more scheduled!” indigogirls.com or lupos.com.
The Towers in Narragansett usually waits until the summer to kick its music schedule into gear but coordinator Kate Vivian has lined up an amazing roster of winter/spring events at this historic, seaside establishment. They also have a brandy-new website! Check it out: thetowersri.com. This winter, Friends of The Towers will present a varied schedule of events including big bands, Latin jazz, chamber music, concerts by solo artists, a string orchestra, dances and dance lessons, a Mad Hatter’s tea party, a celebration of Narragansett’s 125th Anniversary and more.
Pull out your dancing shoes for a fun, fast-paced night of dancing on Saturday, February 9. Tango Milonga will keep you moving until midnight. February 16 features Roger Ceresi’s All Stars Valentine Dance Bash. Experience a Valentine’s celebration in style with dancing, a wine and beer cash bar and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. Guitarist, singer and songwriter Matt Munisteri will enlighten you with little-known songs from the 20s, original numbers and guitar virtuosity on Sunday, February 17 at 2pm. On Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30pm the Berklee World Strings will present a high-energy program of new music for string orchestra from Brazil, Iran, Ireland and America. The ensemble features seventeen of Berklee’s finest players from around the world in stunning, rhythmic music that redefines string playing for the 21st century. The group is directed by Grammy-Award winning cellist Eugene Friesen. There is so much more going on at the Towers. Put it on your to-do list for the season. You’ll be very happy when you discover how cool this venue really is. The Towers is located at 35 Ocean Road in Narragansett.
Oh, and I would love it if you came out to a couple of my shows! This Saturday, Feb 9 I’ll be at Sandywoods in Tiverton doing a show with Dan Lilley, Amy Bedard, Ed McGuirl, Mike Fischman and Mike Sullivan. We’ll all be playing original and traditional tunes. Head to sandywoodsfarm.org for more. Also, please make plans for Forever Young’s two biggest shows ever! On March 8 & 9, we’ll be doing a two-nighter and recording a live CD at the Narrows in Fall River. Check it out at ncfta.org. Now you know. Thanks for reading. johnfuzek.com