Roots Of The Matter

Okee dokee folks…Last week I went to hear Indigo Girls at Lupo’s. While they were in fine form for most of the show, the most successful numbers were the ones that stayed true to their original acoustic based/vocal harmony sound. The familiar songs were often sung with the accompaniment of a thousand or so voices from the audience. The opener, The Shadowboxers, served as a better backing band for Indigo Girls than they did as a warm up act. The group was talented enough but not one song they played captured my full attention. They did try to cover Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” Didn’t do it for me. The surprise of the evening was when Indigo Girls stopped in the middle of their 90-minute set and invited a local performer onto the stage. Amy Ray introduced Dylan Sevey, handed him a guitar, and the entire band left the stage. Sevey, accompanied by only an acoustic guitar, performed the very memorable song, “My Enigma.”
Indigo Girls returned to the stage and performed songs such as “Galileo” and “Closer To Fine.” The encore was a very interesting cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” where the vocal verses were sung by various members of The Shadowboxers as well as Ray and Saliers. The last verse was belted out by Saliers while the band dropped into a thumping blues groove then back to the original feel of the song. After the show I went backstage and briefly talked to Amy Ray. As I was leaving, I ran into Dylan Sevey. I complimented him on his performance and mentioned I would love to talk to him about his music. He was giving me a copy of his CD when the man behind him said, “I know you. John Fuzek, right?” I looked at him and was perplexed for a minute but then when I looked at the woman next to him I put it together. In one of those typical RI moments, I realized that I went to high school with the two of them and that they were Dylan’s parents. Yikes! Yup, I felt old. I talked with them briefly and then told Dylan I would be in touch to find out more about him and his music.
So, here it is. Dylan Sevey is a 21-year-old Wakefield resident who has been playing music since he was eight years old. He has been writing music for just about as long though it didn’t get serious until he was 14 years old. He first started on his musical journey with the drums during his elementary school days and picked up guitar when he was a freshman in high school. Besides guitar and drums, Dylan dabbles with the mandolin as well. I asked him about his music training. His response was, “I took some drum lessons for about a year when I initially started playing, and took them again in college when I was a jazz performance major, but I am mostly self-taught. As for guitar, most everything came from online tabs and Beatles chord books!” I asked Dylan how he was able to score such a cool spot with Indigo Girls at Lupo’s. “My old high school principal is great friends with them, as they attended college together. I give his son drum lessons, and he mentioned to me one day that he was going up to see one of Amy’s solo shows in Boston. I had recently released an EP, so I figured it might be a good chance to get it in the hands of someone big. So we went up and caught the phenomenal show! I met her afterwards and passed the disc off to her. She contacted me a little while later and let me know she really enjoyed it. So we stayed in contact and eventually, she offered me a spot to do a song at the show!”
Though Dylan has played at quite a few area venues, he has never performed at Lupo’s and has never shared the stage with a national act. I asked him if he was nervous. “Nerves actually didn’t really hit me until right before I went on. I probably should have been more nervous, interrupting a set by a major act at a bigger venue… but for the most part, I was relatively fine. It all went by so fast.” The song that Dylan played, “My Enigma,” was memorable. I can’t say that about a lot of songs that I hear. Many times the words and notes of a song will evaporate into thin air seconds after you hear it and leave no lasting impression. That is one of the toughest things about writing a song – the hook, the melody, the lyrics; that elusive combination that resonates with listeners and etches it into their hearts and souls. Sevey sang, “When I feel like there ain’t nowhere left to go, my enigma shakes me up and I know it isn’t so” over the melodic finger picked strings of the acoustic guitar. His two minute and 42 second song did the job. I asked him why he chose this song. “It’s got a melody that seems to resonate well with people. It’s also very personal, which I think people can pick up on and respond to easily.” I think he was right.
Fortunately, “My Enigma” is not an anomaly. The rest of Dylan’s Join The Club CD, which he recorded with his band The Gentlemen, is chockfull of tasty tunes and is one of the best locally produced CDs I have heard in a long time. The band comfortably moves between pop, rock, funk, Americana and country influenced sounds, kind of like The Band meets the Gin Blossoms. If you would like to check out Dylan’s music, indigo-go to: or If you want to check out what he sounds like live then get your butt over to Fete early on March 12 as he’ll be opening for Alternate Routes. Go directly to for more.
It’s March Madness at the Met! March at the Met brings in some of my favorite bands and more. It’s way better than basketball! The Rolling Thunder Revival celebrates the music of Bob Dylan on March 8 (hurry, it’s a “read this and run show!”). Keller Williams is featured on March 14 and the Ides of March brings in Max Creek – that’s the 15th for all you not in the know. One of my biggest musical influences, Aztec Two-Step, will celebrate 42 years of harmony on March 16. ATS is one of acoustic music’s most enduring acts and they continue to impress with intelligent songwriting and inspiring harmonies. The best part is I get to open the show! The band with RI roots, Sarah and the Tall Boys, gives their fans a fix while they satisfy their own “Jonesin’ For Little Rhody” on Friday, March 29. Sarah Potenza Crossman and Ian Crossman certainly make “Little Rhody” proud. The Schemers and Sara Lupo will serve up one of the most entertaining double bills around on March 30. If you are a fan of the Schemers like I have been for the past 30 years, then you don’t want to miss any of their occasional “reunion” concerts. The Schemers are one of the best bands that RI has ever produced. The big added bonus to the night is Sarah Lupo. If you missed her CD release performance a few months back, you missed big. If you don’t already have her CD, by the time you are finished listening to her perform her first song at the show you will want it. Plain and simple: the Met will be the place to be on March 30! For more, bounce over to
Way down in Westerly, greater Connecticut for some Rhode Islanders, Perks and Corks present some great music many nights of the week. On March 9, Sarah Borrello heads down from Boston. The 21-year-old performer draws comparisons to Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin. The Moon and You, a guitar and cello duo from Asheville, NC hits Perks on March 10. A special Tuesday night show on March 12 brings in Josiah Leming, who is said to have a big national following and coast-to-coast recognition. One of Perk’s favorites, Marc Douglas Berardo and possibly (more often than not) Johnny make an appearance on March 23. For more, bubble over to Bringing an end to the mighty month of March at Perks, The For The Sake Of The Song Roadshow cruises in on March 30. For The Sake Of The Song are tribute shows to individual artists performed by several singer-songwriters. They have covered songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, Neil Young and more. You can usually catch For The Sake Of The Song shows monthly in Somerville at Johnny D’s, but in March you can get the experience at Perks and Corks with founder-Patrick Coman, Amy Alvey and John Colvert doing the tributin’. For more, honor over to
Finally, here are some super shows that you really should find your way to!
Sandywoods in Tiverton is host to a concert with Bostonian Lori Diamond, New Yorker Fred Abatelli with special guest Michelle Lewis on Saturday, March 9. “Lori and Fred explore jazz, acoustic, folk, pop, gospel and blues influences and then gently infuse them with a flavorful contemporary style that’s all their own.” Also at Sandywoods, The RI Songwriters Association Songwriters in the Round Showcase gathers Jan Luby, Tracie Potochnik, Paul Pasch, Jane Fallon, Johnny Botelho and Louis Leeman at the Tiverton venue on March 30. Muse over to for more.
Joyce Katzberg and Jimmy Warren invite the public to join them for a live concert and recording session of their show “Jimmy and Joyce love Johnny and June,” a homage to the music, lives and love of Johnny Cash and June Carter on Saturday, March 9 at Wharf Tavern located at 215 Water Street in Warren. Tix are $10 at the door.
Martyn Joseph is on a rare American tour (traveling from Wales) and one of his stops is Stone Soup Coffeehouse. Scott Alarik, author of Revival: A Folk Music Novel, will open the evening with readings from his novel. This is also on March 9 (busy night!). Ladle over to for more.
On March 10, Irish vocalist Karan Casey and guitar virtuoso John Doyle are at Blackstone River Theatre. They were founding members of the traditional super group, Solas, a band known for rousing, furious tunes and striking renditions of traditional songs. Since Solas, each has carved out a unique and acclaimed place in contemporary Irish and folk music. Ceili your way to for more.
On March 14 you can enjoy the “Irish” version of The Sweet Little Variety Show (SLVS). The SLVS strives to get diverse, local acts together once each month so they can “strut their awesome stuff and entertain your cares away.” The show takes place monthly on the second Thursday at The Roots Cultural Center in Downtown Providence.
Common Fence Point has Jesus Andujar and Grupo Sazon with their Afro-Caribbean traditional and pop sounds on Saturday, March 23. Jump over to for more.
On March 15 Andrew Lewis is the featured performer at the Coffee Depot open mic. Coffee Depot is at 501 Main Street in Warren. The open mic starts about 7pm and follows the featured artist’s 8-8:40pm performance until 9:50pm.
Roomful of Blues will be recording a live CD at the Ocean Mist to celebrate their 45th Anniversary on March 15 and 16 at 8pm. They do it again on Sunday, March 17, which also happens to be Saint Patrick’s Day, at 3:30pm. All proceeds from the Sunday show will go to The Rhode Island Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The recording will be a retrospective collection of tunes Roomful has performed over the band’s lengthy life. The CD is slated to be called Roomful of Blues, 45 Live. The Stray Birds and Three Tall Pines do some pickin’ and grinnin’ at Lily Pads in Peacedale on March 16 at 7:30pm. Fly south to for more. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Pendragon! Need I go on? They are on their home field at the Blackstone River Theatre.
The acoustic duo, Treehouse Union, featuring singer-songwriters Stefan Couture and Matt Nolan makes its return to Chan’s in Woonsocket on Saturday March 23 at 8pm. Scorpion bowl over to for more.
My band Forever Young will be doing a “two-nighter” on March 8 & 9 and recording a live CD at the Narrows in Fall River! I would love to see you there! Also, I’ll be starting to write a web version of this column soon for more weekly/up-to-date listings and places I can tell you to go. You’ll find it at the Motif web site:
Time to wrap this up. I have a demanding cat on my lap and I feel like a Bond villain! Thanks for reading.