Okee dokee folks … Last week I was thrilled to be included as one of 25 “outstanding alumni” at CCRI’s 50th anniversary celebration. I am not mentioning it here because I would like more praise. I am mentioning it because they left out one of my best achievements –writing a column in Motif for the past 10 and a half years! Maybe they were more interested in things that were related to my art degrees, but my real education in writing came from CCRI. Maybe they do know it, have read my column and are ashamed of me! In college I never openly aspired to be any kind of a writer but a songwriter. Much later I tried my hand at screenwriting and enjoyed it. Someday I WILL finish that script! It was just a fluke that I happened into this writing gig for Motif, and I am very grateful for it.
I took required composition classes at CCRI and had a couple of good instructors, but the one who encouraged me in writing was Charles Sullivan. He would write VERY colorful notes on student’s papers such as, “This is f**king great!” Now that is encouragement. After graduation I ran into him at various arts events throughout RI and he would often come to see my duo, Fuzek-Rossoni, perform. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago. If it wasn’t for him I probably never would have had any confidence at all to write. So, thanks to Charles Sullivan and CCRI. As if getting an award that night wasn’t enough, I had some frosting added on my evening. Livingston Taylor provided the musical entertainment for the event. I’ve opened several times for Livingston, so I popped in to say “hi” to him and he invited me on stage to perform a song. That was great fun. Thank you, Livingston! And I MUST thank Annie Kennedy and my parents, Dianne and Tony Fuzek. Alright, enough about me, read on…
A few years ago I wrote a piece about a performer who was going to appear at the Newport Folk Festival on the third stage and wasn’t a big name at the time. That performer’s name was Abigail Washburn. I met Abby at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival where she was playing in an all female band named Uncle Earl. One of the members of the G’earls was KC Groves, a mandolin player I met at a Folk Alliance conference many years before. This connection made me take a bit more interest in the band, and I really enjoyed Uncle Earl’s music. Each of the members of the band were quite talented and they also performed solo or in other groups. Abigail Washburn played a solo set at one of the side stages at Grey Fox that year. I was in a trailer nearby and heard some very interesting music coming from that stage. It was banjo playing and a female voice singing in a language that I couldn’t identify. That voice belonged to Washburn and the language was Mandarin. It was amazing. Of all the acts I had to write about at that year’s Newport Folk Festival I chose Abigail because she was the most interesting. I still feel that way. Over the past few years Uncle Earl (as far as I know) disbanded and Abby married banjo legend Bela Fleck. Bela and Abby performed together in an ensemble called the Sparrow Quartet, which was also quite good. Currently Bela and Abigail are on tour and will bring their banjo-licious music to the Zeiterion in New Bedford on April 12. I know that banjo players worship at the temple of the multiple award-winning Bela Fleck, but I find Abigail the more interesting of the pair. You make the call. Check out the show. See what two of the best banjo players around will do with bluegrass, American old-time, jazz and classical music with a little Chinese culture added. Whatever they do it will be good. Pick on over to Zeiterion.org By the way, David Crosby and Joan Armatrading were just added to the Z’s schedule.
I am a HUGE fan of Aztec-Two-Step — they were one of my biggest musical influences. I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them on several occasions and I try to get out to see them whenever they are in town. Rex Fowler and Neal Schulman have been doing the Aztec-Two-Step for over 40 years. Their music is timeless and far better than most of the stuff that people pass off as folk music today. This year they celebrate the 40th anniversary of Second Step, the duo’s second album. They will perform the album in its entirety, along with other Aztec favorites. If you are a fan of acoustic guitars, vocal harmony and folk-pop music, you will love this show. Their music and sound is right up there in caliber with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers and Indigo Girls. Get your butt across the Braga because they are “Going On Saturday,” April 18 at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. “Cosmos Lady” over to NarrowsCenter.org
Now I will try to squeeze a whole lot more into a little bit o’ space! After spending a year in the studio, Dylan Sevey and the Gentlemen will release their second album, New Mischief on Sat, April 4 with a party at The Spot. Joining the Gentlemen will be The Cranston Dean Band, The Julie Rhodes Band, Hayley Jane and Justin Hancock, Alderwick, Steve Volkmann, and Dave Anthony (thespotunderground.com). Grammy award winner Rick Nestler and Rik Palieri join forces and present an evening filled with song in the “Hudson River School of Music” tradition at the Wamsutta Club in New Bedford on April 4 (wepecket.com). On Thurs, April 9, head downtown to Aurora on Westminster for The Sweet Little Variety Show. This month’s features include Chifferobe, comic Rhodes Pierre, music from Chris Monti, B-Mor7, Eric Telfort, Ups and Downs, and dance by Meg Sullivan & Steph Turner. All proceeds go to support STEAM programming at Mt. Hope Learning Center (facebook.com/sweetlittlevarietyshow). Master folk-artist Gordon Bok returns to the Stone Soup Coffeehouse Stage at Slater Mill on April 11 (StoneSoupCoffeehouse.org). John Cougar Mellencamp (yes, I will always use the “Cougar”) will be at the Providence Performing Arts Center on Thurs, April 16. “Dance Naked” over to PPAC to hear that Bloomington boy belt out his best (PPACRI.org). Joanne Lurgio celebrates the release of her third disc on Sun, April 19 at the Pub On Park in Cranston. Rise From The Storm includes the instrumental handywork of players such as Duke Robillard, Cathy Clasper-Torch, Juxo, Joe Lurgio, Mike “Scatman” Sullivan, Marty Ballou, Joe Potenza, Mike Dequattro, and Dan Hann. Marc Douglas Berardo, Vance Gilbert, and Lara Herscovitch added harmony vocals to Lurgio’s songs. Musical guests for the “Storm Bash” will be Marc Douglas Berardo, Jesse Liam & Jack Gauthier, and other surprise performers (joannelurgio.com). Lay around the shanty and put a good buzz on at the Courthouse Center for the Arts when Jonathan Edwards sunshines in on April 18 (CourthouseCenter.org). The Roots Caboose, an evening of music related to the topic of sustainable living, pulls into Common Fence Point on Sat, April 18. The Gnomes will be the engineers and you can choo-choo along with their Global-Folk-Fusion. There is nothing more important to The Gnomes than the community activism that ripples out across Providence and RI (CommonFenceMusic.org).
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com