Roots Report

The guitar stylings of Mr. Humbug (Image generated with DALL-E and edited by Gina Lerman)

Okee dokee folks…’Tis the season once again to NOT celebrate the holidays. I have kept up this tradition for almost 38 years now. For me, and many others, the holidays just bring on anxiety, depression, financial stresses, exhaustion, and hosts of other problems. So I quit. I don’t do anything Christmas-y at all – no gifts, no celebrations or parties; nothing holiday related.


A couple of years ago I had to perform holiday music at a few December gigs. It was not fun. I really despise Christmas music. It’s like someone snipped up about a dozen words related to Christmas, put them in a lottery tumbler and as it spat them out, they wrote them down and called the results a song. Christmas songs are all romanticized versions of holidays that never were.

Believe it or not, I was one of the producers on a Christmas CD about 30 years ago. I had written a Christmas song. It was a sarcastic slant, and it needed a home, so we created a compilation recording called The 12 Steps of Christmas and Other Holiday Faire. This collection of songs by various artists from around New England and a couple of international artists is probably one of the most honest and realistic holiday compilations ever assembled. This CD touched on subjects such as homelessness, loneliness, substance abuse, apathy and aggravation, and commercialism during the season.

When this CD was released it received a lot of airplay on folk radio stations. It sold fairly well and got a lot of press. Unfortunately (in this case) the annual shelf life of holiday music is short and it takes years to build music into holiday classic status. People tend to gravitate towards the fantasized versions of seasonal music just to get by. Once a year I will pull out my copy of The 12 Steps and give it a listen just to remind myself that I was involved in a good project. Maybe someday it will be re-released. Regardless, every year I go through this season like Keanu in The Matrix or Roddy Piper in They Live. I see the reality and it’s not pretty. Humbug. Read on…

The Narrows Center for the Arts always has great music scheduled and this month is no exception. Comedy and beauty are wonderfully intertwined in the performances of Cheryl Wheeler. Her music is heartfelt and clever and her banter and stories between songs will have you laughing. She has plenty of her own recorded material but her songs have also been covered by artists such as Dan Seals; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Kenny Loggins; Garth Brooks; Suzy Boggus; Bette Midler; Maura O’Connell; Sylvia; Kathy Mattea, and many others. If you have never caught her live, you can correct that on Saturday, December 16. Rounding out the rest of the month are The Adam Ezra Group, GA-20, and Quinn Sullivan. More great reasons to visit this wonderful venue!

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I know if I don’t include some actual holiday music listings I will get crap for it so I am opting for Grinchfest at Askew also happening on December 16. I like the name and I couldn’t find a Krampus show. Grinchfest promises “an early evening of Christmasthemed Rock n Roll!” Lined up for the night are Baby Oil, Jets Can’t Land, Karma Rocket, and one of my favorite local bands, David Tessier’s All-Star Stars (ASS). If anything, just get to the show and buy yourself and everyone you know one of David Tessier’s infamous “ASS” band shirts. Talk about the perfect gift.

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On Wednesday, December 20 it’s TIS THE SZN at Dusk. Olivia Dolphin & band, Allison Rose, Jeff Conley, Qwill, and my favorite local folk quartet, How’s About Charlie. I know it’s a Wednesday night and it’s close to that dreaded day, but why not chill out, have a drink or two, and listen to some great music from these talented local folks? I am sure they will have some music or merch you can purchase for yourself or gift to others. Everyone all around will appreciate it if you do! By the way, gifts don’t have to be holiday related, you CAN buy things for other folks just BECAUSE. This is a power packed night of music.

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Finally, if performing in front of an audience for the first time was on your to-do list for 2023 then get to The Stone Soup/Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) Open Mic at The Music Mansion on Thursday, December 14 at 7pm. To play the open mic you will need to submit your name with the hosts by 6:45, so get there early. The evening begins with a couple of scheduled performers playing 12 minute sets. Then names are drawn from the sign-up list for a spot to perform at the open mic. Each performer will get one song or a 5-minute reading. A $10 donation at the door will directly fund future collaborations between RISA and Stone Soup Coffeehouse. Don’t fret, if you don’t make it this time the open mic is held monthly.

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That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can listen to my podcasts at: You can also find my concert photographs at fuzeksfotos. Thanks for reading and listening.