Roots Report

Okee dokee folks… I am one of the few people who will say it: I am happy summer is over! The time of year has arrived when I am comfortable and not feeling like death!

I thought I would wrap up summer with things to look forward to for next summer. This includes two festivals: Rhythm and Roots and Newport Folk. All year I see folks posting their drama about Newport Folk. Can’t get tickets! Who’s playing? What do I do, who do I see? Blah, blah, blah… OMG! A lot of these postings require having a cultish, blind faith in something without knowing what you will actually receive. In case you haven’t guessed yet, I am not a fan of Newport Folk Festival. I used to be. Back when it was an actual folk festival, it was great. Over the past ten years, with its new producer, it has turned into an indie music fest. That is fine, but please change the name and don’t sully the name of a legendary event. I am not alone in these thoughts.


I’ve spoken with people who used to go to the festival but are not thrilled with the current version. I know we are in a minority and most people have been brainwashed into thinking Newport Folk is the greatest festival in the world. Well, it’s not. Not being able to get tickets and buying tickets for unannounced acts is ridiculous. Folks lose their shit over this. It is expensive and it is a nightmare to get in and out of. What used to be folks relaxing on blankets listening to music has turned into a “stand in front of the stage in the hot sun and try to look cool” concert. I could go on.

May I offer a better festival experience? Rhythm and Roots festival. It is an actual festival and getting tickets is easy. Plus, the music is great, the venue is so much nicer, it’s not terribly expensive, parking and getting in and out is easy, it’s a relaxed environment, and – best of all – there is camping! To some, this is the part that they love the most – the opportunity to go back to the campground throughout the day and chill at your home base. You get much more bang for your buck with this fest as well, and it’s longer. The schedule goes until 11pm. If you have a hankering for more music after that, there are all-night jams throughout the campground, and you can play in them! Some of the festival performers are occasionally part of these jams.

The quality of acts at Rhythm and Roots is usually just as good, if not better, and you know who is playing before you buy tickets. Ninigret Park is a beautiful area for a festival and there is plenty of room to stretch out, relax, and enjoy the music. There are three stages of music and one of them is dedicated to dancing which is a big draw for many. I have never seen any stress about Rhythm and Roots, just total enjoyment.

So next year, when the ticket drama starts, avoid an ulcer, save your money and your sanity and get tix for the best 3-day music festival in Rhode Island. Oh, one more thing, there are many Rhode Islanders involved in the production of this festival. No carpet-baggers here! Read on…

Beth Barron, the Energizer Bunny of the RI music community, is hosting another Ladies of Folk Show. This time in conjunction with Stone Soup Coffeehouse. Stone Soup has been picking up a bit of steam again and trying to regain its footing as a serious music presenter. They are hosting more local and regional folk artists this incarnation. Besides Barron, the bill includes RI’s own “ghost folk” singer and internationally acclaimed songwriter, Allysen Callery; singer-songwriter and recording artist of Celtic/folk music, Mary Pierce; and singer-songwriters, Jane Hesser (aka Ground Weather) and Michelle Saylors. Shows are held at The Music Mansion, 88 Meeting St, PVD, Stone Soup hosts shows on the second Saturday and third Thursday of the month.

For more, ladle over to

Another Rhode Islander whose energy for production seems indefatigable is Russell Gusetti of Blackstone River Theatre. He has been the beating heart of this venue for almost a quarter of a century. I actually think it is more (than a venue) but I will stick with this for now. BRT consistently presents great music. Russell brings in the best music in the Celtic/Irish, Canadian, British Isles, folk genres, and more. And they present classes in folk traditions, instruments, dance, and arts. The music schedule at BRT features: Eileen Ivers/Universal Roots (10/1), Niamh Parsons and Graham Dunne (10/7), Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (10/14), Ed Sweeney and Cathy Clasper-Torch (10/15), Mari Black Trio (10/21), and more into the fall.

For more, row, row, row over to

Another driving force in Southern New England music is Patrick Norton and the Narrows Center in Fall River. Catch Amythyst Kiah with opener Jon Muq on October 5. Patrick only brings in the best.
Bridge on over to

That’s it for now. You can listen to my podcasts at: You can also find my concert photographs at Thanks for reading and listening.