Roots Report

Roots Report: Health considerations for musicians and upcoming shows

Okee dokee folks…

This January edition of Motif Magazine is the annual Health Issue. I know that we all have had enough of hearing about health issues over the past couple of years, but right now you only have one body and it has to last a lifetime. At the rate we are going, future generations will probably have spares, but unless you know something I don’t, we are one and done. When I think about health and music a few things come to mind. First is HEARING. A few years back, I did extensive research about hearing protection and have republished and posted that information many, many times since. I am a strong advocate of hearing protection. If you are a musician, fan, or are constantly dealing with loudness in your life, you NEED hearing protection! You can read (or reread) that old column here: I have tinnitus and it’s not fun. Start protecting your hearing now!

If you are a guitarist or play any instrument, you should be concerned about repetitive strain injuries from overuse or bad technique. This is yet another issue I deal with. For me, it is probably caused by a combination of several things: overuse, technique, and cervical stenosis. I have been playing guitar for nearly 50 years and it does take its toll. In my interviews with musicians (of a certain age), I usually ask them if they suffer from playing problems, and oftentimes the answer is, “Yes.” Some have surgery or must relearn techniques to correct the damage. Currently, I use a hand/wrist brace when I play and that helps quite a bit. If you are younger or just starting out, pay attention to your technique, take precautions, and try to head off any future, long-term afflictions.

Lastly, for now, is COVID. I KNOW we are all sick of it, but COVID is still omnipresent. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, please do so. Masks have fallen from fashion so transmission rates of winter illnesses have risen, but you can still TRY to avoid getting sick. One of my (many) human peeves is the protocol of handshaking. I have never liked this. It is dumb, as are most customs. I think it’s way past time that this practice is retired. Many years ago comedian Steven Wright was at one of my band’s shows and we all went to talk with him during the break. As is customary, and seemingly obligated, I offered my hand. He said, “elbow bump” and stuck out his elbow. This was the first time I had experienced this, but it made sense to me. I have taken to this as a means of greeting and prefer it. I don’t know where your hand has been and you sure as hell don’t know where mine was. Better to keep it all to yourselves!

Back in the ‘90s, when I was beefing up my CD collection by joining ten for a penny record clubs and then defaulting, one album I acquired was Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. That disc spent countless hours spinning in my player and at one point I actually blew the grilles off of my speakers and disintegrated the cones with the volume. I was a fan of this music for quite a while until, as usual, the radio/TV overplayed it all.

It took me years to see Alanis in concert and when I finally did, I wasn’t in the mood for the show. My dog had just died and I sat like a zombie in the audience listening to Alanis perform acoustic renditions of her hits. Now I have another chance to hear this music performed live, though it won’t be by Morissette. Alanis’ songs have been adapted into a jukebox musical with a story by Tony and Academy Award-winning writer, Diablo Cody. The plot is based on family and social issues, sexual assault, and drug use. The score includes many popular songs from the seminal Jagged Little Pill album such as “You Oughta Know,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Ironic,” as well as new numbers written for the show. Jagged Little Pill hits Providence Performing Arts Center on Jan 17 and runs through Jan 22. Themes portrayed in the production may be triggering for some. Keep an eye out for my review of the show. For more, “Head Over Feet” to

Finally here are a few shows for your consideration. At The Narrows in Fall River you can catch the Funky White Honkies on Jan 6, Greg Abate on Jan 7, and my band Forever Young will be playing our award-winning tribute to Neil Young on Jan 13. On Jan 14, WinterStock 2023 will raise funding for Samaritans Southcoast and feature performances by Beth Barron, Lori Silvia, 3 Legged Dog, and many others from noon12 – 4pm. At 8pm there is another show featuring The Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em co-headlining a tour with Miss Tess and Sarah Borges.

Boston’s Fellswater, whose members include RI natives Chris and Diane Myers of Portsmouth, will be at Blackstone River Theatre on Jan 28. They play a wide range of music from tTraditional to modern and draw from the heritage of all the Celtic nations, especially Scotland, Ireland, Galicia, and Canada.

Also on Jan 28, Dustbowl Revival will be pushing the boundaries of American roots music at the Greenwich Odeum.

On Feb 4 at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket you can catch original Lynyrd Skynyrd band member Artimus Pyle with his own band, the Artimus Pyle band.

December was a light month for my Roots Report Podcast. Now that the “holidaze” are over we can get back to regularly scheduled programming! You can find my concert photographs at That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.