Roots Report: Graham Nash Review and Music From the World

Okee dokee folks … I can’t believe that I have been writing this column for nine years now. OK, not this very column, though sometimes it seems like it takes me that long to finish it and get it in. I am never on time! Anyway, in the past nine years we have changed the paper’s format-several times, changed logos a few times and even changed owners, but we have always stuck with our main mission of letting you know about the great stuff in and around Rhode Island! Read on …

Graham Nash Still Has It!

Last week I went to see Graham Nash at the Park Theatre in Cranston. My band mate, Dan Lilley, joined me for the show. We are still talking about it! Graham played a two hour, two set show that included hits from the Hollies, CSN(Y) and his past and current solo releases such as “Wild Tales,” “Our House,” “Cathedral,” “Just a Song Before I Go,” and “Teach Your Children.” He also performed the Beatles’ “Blackbird” as well as Neil Young’s “Ohio.” The songs were presented simply by Nash and two back-up musicians. His voice was in fine form and he didn’t miss a note. At 71 years old, Nash still has it, unlike his sometimes band mates, David Crosby and Steven Stills, who are visibly past the time that they should retire. Graham was quite chatty between songs and spoke of times with CSNY, his life, politics and even referenced his ex-girlfriend, Joni Mitchell. The between song banter alone made the concert memorable!


The performance wasn’t quite sold out, but should have been. It’s not often you get to see a performer of Nash’s stature in such an intimate venue. The Park Theatre was a wonderful setting for this event. For some reason, this venue still hasn’t registered on many Rhode Islanders’ radar. It is a VERY comfortable venue – seriously, the seats are like recliners. It is also VERY easy to get to and (usually) parking isn’t an issue. There is plenty of free parking allowed in the lot behind the high school/town hall, which is right across the street. Unfortunately, that night there was an open house at the high school and the lots were pretty full.

There are many good shows coming up at the Park Theatre, Ani DiFranco being one of them. You really should give the Park a shot. Hopefully they keep up the good work! For more, parallel over to

Josie Down Under

Australia really seems to agree with Josie Crosby. The former south county resident and part of the local music scene headed down under four years ago. She met a physicist from Oz, fell in love and decided to join the Aussie when he returned home. Josie was a big part of the community (solo performer, member of the band, Signs Of Life, worked at PM Recording Studios and South County Music Exchange) and when she left, she left many folks missing her, myself included. Fortunately, we have the internet and keeping in touch is fairly easy via e-mail, Skype and the occasional phone call.

The reason that I say that “Australia must agree with her” is because I was floored by her newest CD, For The Win. From the first notes I liked it, and the more I heard, the more I liked it. All of the time she has been in Australia Josie has been playing music. It took her a while to fit in and meet people, but it is clear she has met the right musicians. These musicians make up her current band, The Lucky Numbers. She says, “I got invited to play at a benefit for a wonderful lady by a fellow songwriter I met here. We rehearsed with a band a few times and that is how I met some of the guys I play with now. Through them and playing open mics and solo gigs, I met the others.” I always enjoyed Josie’s music when she was here, but since her “expatriotation,” her music has grown and developed into something that is distinctly Josie. To make it easier for you all to grasp her sound, imagine a vocal blend of Sinead O’ Connor and Dolores O’Riordan (Cranberries) with the backing of a solid, clean rhythm section. Add to that a bluesy, rock sound with a touch of Texas swing, country, folk and a very slight reggae edge. Layer in some great harmonica, violin/fiddle, keys, banjo and mandolin and you have the ingredients that make For The Win such an enjoyable listen. All of the songs were written or co-written by Crosby. She says, “Some of them are older, like ’Waiting On The Rain,’ ‘Blood on my Door,’ ‘Are you Happy.’ ‘Blue Light’ was one I wrote about PM Recording (remember the blue lights in there?) Some of them are Australian songs and some American.” Josie’s favorite songs from the CD are “Rise” and “Take Me Down.” “Rise” is my favorite. I am a sucker for those inspirational type songs that have hand claps. When I told Josie that “Rise” was my favorite, she said, “I’m glad you like that song. It’s kind of for you. I wrote it after talking with you once when you were a bit down and I was sending you good vibes.” I blushed and thanked her. The song starts out with, “The road you travel is littered with lies. You have friends at your side. Instead of sorrow, let hope be your guide … and you will rise.”

There is another RI connection to that CD: my band mate in Forever Young, Pete Vendettuoli. I met Pete through Josie and that is how he wound up in FY. Pete contributed a mandolin part to one of the songs. I asked Pete how he did that. “She sent me an mp3 and I loaded it into my recorder. I recorded my part as a .wav file and sent it back to her over Skype.”

The CD cover art was illustrated by Josie’s mom, Judy Bajus-Davis, who lives in Ohio. The woman on the cover looks a lot like Josie though according to Crosby, “It wasn’t supposed to, but she is my Mom after all!” She added, “It’s quite amazing how much we used the internet on this project.” The CD was produced, mixed and mastered by Josie’s beau, Matt Slivkoff, the Aussie who brought her there. In addition to being a physicist, he is quite the musician. For now Josie and the Lucky Numbers will be touring around the Perth/Freemantle region of Western Australia with hopes of branching out much farther. Possibly to the States. She says, “That’s all part of my master plan!”

Until that dream can be realized, I asked her if she had anything to say to her friends and fans here in RI. “I’d like to tell everyone back home that little Rhody still has a big place in my heart and will always be a part of me and the music I make. I really look forward to getting back there someday and sharing my experiences and songs with my friends. I can’t wait till we all get to play together again!” In the meantime, you all should definitely give the disc a listen and/or buy it online. For more about Josie Crosby and the Lucky Numbers, take a spin over to

Tracie Puts Out The Dream

A little (ok, a lot) closer to RI, we have a new CD from Tracie Potochnik. What can I say about Tracie? She looks like she is pure as the driven snow, innocent, proper and quiet, but turns a song about murder into a sing-a-long. “Jimmy took the money and put a bullet in that poor man’s head,” and she sings it with a smile! She can sometimes seem like she is overly inspired by the darker dealings of humanity, but then will come out with the comical “Chicken Salad” in which the refrain sometimes must be edited if there are children in the room.

Potochnik’s music is a combination of country and folk with finely tuned lyrics. Tracie writes the songs, sings, and plays guitar and mandolin. On the CD she is accompanied by steel guitar, keys, percussion and more, giving a full sound to the songs. She has great sense of humor and at live performances, often blurts out bizarre, hysterical passages between songs. At one show she told the audience that she had a “mandolinjury” – she cut her finger on her mandolin.

She is influenced by the old country that has class – George Jones, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton – not the bad, pop country of today. She also loves Cher, but we will just gloss over that part. Her new CD is called The Dream – inspired by a roller rink that she saw on one of her travels. The 12-song album gives you a well-rounded feel of Potochnik’s sound and style. The songs will make you laugh, think and maybe even cry. The CD artwork was beautifully created by her photographer/artist boyfriend, Matthew Clowney. “Originally hailing from Pittsburgh, Tracie Potochnik now makes her home in Providence. She brings three chords, the truth and occasionally a mandolin to her shows.“ Tracie will be celebrating the release of The Dream on Saturday night, October 12, at the Mediator Stage in Providence. The show starts at 7:30 pm. The same night, G.W. Mercure will celebrate the release his new album, Kitchen Hymns. Tracie and G.W. will each play a set (including some special guests!) and do a mini-set together as a duo. For more info about the show, skate your way to

Songwriters In The Round

Last month I was fortunate enough to perform at the RI Songwriters Association’s Songwriters In The Round show at AS220. I love being part of these shows for many reasons. #1.) They are a LOT of fun to play. I had a blast joking with fellow songwriter Andrea LaFazia sitting next to me on stage! It’s a very loose format and the interplay between performers and audience can be hilarious. #2.) I get to meet and perform with artists who I may never have heard of before. In this case, I got the opportunity to hear a young songwriter, Erica Russo. I really liked her songs. #3.) And this is my favorite reason – I get to write a new song based on a theme that was chosen by the previous month’s audience. I have written some of my best songs when I have been forced to write about something that I may have never considered, and I have heard some of the best songs from other writers as well. There are more reasons, but it’s getting late and I am running out of room so I will get to it.

The next Songwriters In The Round show at AS220 will take place on Sunday, October 13 from 6 to 8 pm. It’s early, it’s only five bucks to get in, it’s very entertaining and fun. What more reasons do YOU need to go? Scheduled for the October show are Daniel and Faith Senie, Beth DeSombre, Chris LaVancher and the evening is rounded out by host, Joanne Lurgio. They each perform three to four originals plus one new song, based on the theme, “Truth Is.” This month’s audience gets to pick the theme for the next month. Go. Have fun. You know you want to! For more, compose your way to

Medieval Music Gets New Life

Over at Blackstone River Theatre, they will present an evening of medieval songs and poetry featuring the UK’s Mediaeval Baebes on Sunday, October 6 at 7 pm. The allure is undeniable. Six talented, attractive women who breathe new life into the texts of medieval songs and poetry, and their hauntingly beautiful music captures the imagination and devotion of a modern audience. They are the the UK’s number one selling classical vocal group, and in 19 years they have placed three albums into the top of the UK classical charts and performed before enthusiastic audiences in the UK, Canada, Europe and the US. Yet, their music defies any traditional classification and people of all ages, backgrounds and musical tastes have become fans of the Baebes. For more about the show, crusade your way to

Live Show Round-up

Finally, here are some random shows for you to fill the emptiness of your lives. The Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 39th Annual Harvest Fair happens on Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, in Portsmouth. On Saturday, starting at 11 am, are Sibling Rivalry, The Smokey Barrel Band, Minor Swing, Otis Read, Castle and it winds up at 4 pm with The Rank Strangers. Sunday starts at 11 am with Jim McGrath, Allysen Callery, Mark Cutler’s Men of Great Courage, Keith McCurdy’s Vudu Sister, Natasha Harrison and Chuck Ciany, and it closes with the The Silks at 4 pm. Fly over to for more. Saturday, October 12, Susan Cowsill returns to RI to perform her solo material at Manchester 65 in West Warwick. Opening the show will be Lisa Couto and Ray Cooke and Kari Tieger. At Lily Pads in Peacedale, also on Saturday, October 12, their world music journey continues with Matuto. At The Space To Be, Studio 200, in the Shady Lea Mill, on Tuesday night, October 15, Montreal-born singer-songwriter, Chris Velan, who has drawn comparisons to Paul Simon for his West African influenced folk pop, and the multiple award winning songwriter/performer, Ria Mae, will fill the space with the sounds of their songs. They’ll make the Space To Be the space to really be! For info, send one of those electronic mails to The Beehive Queen, Christine Ohlman and The Montez Boys return to Chan’s in Woonsocket on Friday, October 18. Also at Chan’s on Saturday the 19, Ursula George plays pre-war Vaudeville-era jazz and blues. (

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

John Fuzek