Roots Report

Roots Report: August 15 – 31, 2023

Okee dokee folks… NINETEEN YEARS! Wow! I have now been writing columns in Motif for a little more than 19 years! I started writing for Motif an issue or two after it was born. At first I thought it was crazy that I was asked to write for the magazine, as the closest thing I was to a writer was a songwriter, but after a while I got the hang of it. I am eternally grateful to Motif for the opportunities that being affiliated with the publication has given me. I have been very fortunate to be included on press lists for many, many events. I also have been able to achieve my early aspirations of being a concert photographer and use my college degrees for something besides wall hangings. On top of that it allowed me to start my Roots Report Podcast, something that I never even imagined doing! In the past 19 years I have probably written close to 500 columns and reviews, photographed many, many concerts, and recorded 75 podcasts. I am not sure I can say, “Here’s to the next nineteen years” because that puts me past my expiration date, but I do plan to keep at this as long as humanly possible. Music is my life – playing it, presenting it, writing about it, talking about it, and photographing it. I do hope you all will keep reading and listening! THANK YOU MOTIF!!! Read on…    

The ninth annual Rhode Island Folk Festival will take place at Crescent Park, formerly known as Rose Larisa Park, in East Providence on Sunday, August 27 from noon until 6pm. The City of East Providence recently voted for the name change to the park. Honestly, I prefer Crescent Park as I have many fond memories of going there as a kid, now as an adult I can make more fond memories at Crescent Park and you can, too! This free festival includes three stages of music, a songwriter workshop, a young folks area, food, arts and crafts, and so much more. This year’s Bandshell Stage line up includes, Aztec-Two-Step, Charlie Farren, How’s About Charlie, Turas, Burkina Yacouba, Alexus Lee, Western Stars, the festival host band, as always Dan Lilley and the Keepers with Amy Bedard, Pete Vendettuoli, and Sean Finnerty; and stage hosts, Lisa Couto and Erik Peterson. The Songbird Stage, hosted by Allysen and Ava Callery, has Kate Mick, Bill Bartholomew, Undercover Cameo, Brian Dolzani, Redfish, Haunt the House, Meridian, Hawk in the Nest, Noah B Harley, and Mark Cutler. Cutler will also run the songwriter workshop where a song will be written by the attendees and Mark will perform it during his set later in the day. The Emerging Artist Gazebo Stage, hosted by Beth Barron and Anthony Loffredio, will present 15-minute mini-sets with up-and-coming performers. The Young Folks area was introduced last year and provides a place where kids can handle and play instruments as well as other activities. The RIFF wants to introduce young folks to instruments at an early age. A free raffle will happen at the end of the festival where the instruments used in the Young Folks area will be given away as raffle prizes. This festival is steadily becoming a favorite among music fans and has been awarded two Motif Music Awards over the past few years. Crescent Park is located along the bike path so cycling is encouraged. There will be free parking at the elementary school, which is a quarter mile from the park, and a free shuttle bus runs all day. As much as this is a free festival, free means that there is no ticket or admission charge. RIFF runs completely on grants and donations. RIFF relies on the generosity of those who choose to support the event (Full disclosure: John is a founder and board member of RIFF). 

If you would like to contribute please click over to: To learn more about RIFF, get the folk on over to  


The Warren Folks Festival is another festival taking place in the East Bay at the end of August. This one, the seventh annual, happens on August 19, 1 – 7pm, and is also a free festival. In step with their tagline: “Seven Years of Bringing the Fest to the Folks,” the Folks Fest offers “free, or low-cost, family-friendly venues to create, learn, and have fun. This annual food, music, and art festival not only highlights local creatives, but is proud to host Recycle-a-Bike…” The Folks Fest features performances by Julie Rhodes, Yonks, Tish Adams and Evening Sky, Z-Boys, Atticus Allen and Company, The War in Kids, Ben Shaw, Grizzlies, and MAU all on their two stages. There are lots of food and craft vendors as well. This all takes place at 30 Cutler Street in Warren. On-leash dogs that do well in crowds are welcome, but keep in mind it can be hot, loud, and as the Folks say, crowdy. Folks Fest is fun for the whole family, there’s even a free arts and crafts tent for the kids. The festival is located right off the East Bay bike path, so biking and walking are strongly encouraged. If you’re driving in, there’s parking nearby on Railroad Avenue, and at the Park + Ride off Franklin. For more about this fest, stay weird and get to: Oh, btw, please remember that FREE means you don’t have to buy a ticket but donations are encouraged!   •

That’s it for now. Listen to my podcasts at: Find my concert photographs at Thanks for reading and listening.