Roots Report: Puff Puff, I’ll Pass: Music should be the only thing smoking

Okee dokee folks… This bit is going to annoy 14% of you folks. Who are these 14%? Smokers! Because I haven’t been many places in the past year and a half, I haven’t really had to deal with cigarette smoke, but now that things are opening back up I again have to contend with this vile scourge. When I started performing publicly in the mid-’80s, people smoked just about everywhere. Back then you were even still allowed to smoke on planes. In addition to playing solo gigs I was a bartender. When I came home from slinging drinks or a gig I would reek of cigarette smoke. It permeated everything — my clothes, my body, my music gear, even the money I made. I took a hiatus from performing to produce for a while, and by the time I got back to gigging again smoking had been banned indoors. But now that the pandemic and summer have pushed a lot of shows outdoors, the smoking issue is a bit unclear. Folks figure that if you are outside it is okay to smoke. Rhode Island prohibits smoking in public places and people smoking are supposed to be at least 20 feet away from the entrance of any business, but it seems like no one pays attention to this. Most large, outdoor concert venues do not allow any smoking, so why do the local nightclubs? Well, smokers tend to drink.

You would think after the pandemic that maybe fewer people would be smoking and everyone would take better care of their lungs. Smokers, please be courteous to the majority of people in the world who do not smoke; let us breathe clean air and take your pollution elsewhere. Here are some lyrics for you from the 1947 song,”Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” written by Merle Travis and Tex Williams, “Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, Puff, puff, puff and if you puff yourself to death, Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate, Lord, you hate to make him wait,You gotta have another cigarette!” Please do us all a favor and quit. Read on…     

A lot of you may know Rick Couto as drummer of Rhode Music Hall of Fame bands Rizzz and the Schemers, but did you know he was an amazing photographer who documented lots of RI concerts and musicians in the ’70s and ’80s? The pandemic gave Rick time to go through his immense collection of photos, and the culmination of this is a virtual exhibit by the Narrows in Fall River called To Have Been There. To view, snap over to The accompanying drum music is a Couto original called “The Other Other One.”


A couple of the photos in the Couto exhibit are of John Hall (Orleans, John Hall Band, and former US Congressman). He is best known for his songs “Still The One” and “Dance With Me” as well as the No-Nukes Concerts/Musicians United For Safe Energy. John Hall is a Providence [Rhode Island] Folk Festival alumnus and one of the musicians/people I most admire. His 1981 “Crazy” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Hall just released his 6th solo CD called Reclaiming My Time. Check out the video for the oh-so-timely song “World on Fire”: For more, “Power” over to

The Bacon Brothers are coming to the Greenwich Odeum on July 16. Believe it or not, you can play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with me. I played a show with the Bacon Brothers years back and according to Kevin, that counts. I spoke with Kevin Bacon the other day and you can read our interview at

That’s it for now, thanks for reading.