Roots Report

Okee dokee folks… People that really know me know that I am not a big fan of kids. Never had any, never wanted any. I prefer cats and dogs! 

In spite of this, kids seem to be drawn to me when I play music. They get mesmerized by the guitar and the sound. I see the looks on their faces and often it’s the first time they have seen/heard music performed live. I smile and sometimes talk with them while I am playing. The other night two toddlers stood about a foot away from me while I played. Then their even littler sister joined and they stood there in a trance just listening to me play. Sometimes they dance, sometimes they clap but they generally have about as much rhythm as Navin Johnson in Steve Martin’s The Jerk! It is pretty funny and dare I say cute? If this kind of behavior isn’t one of the best reasons to introduce an instrument to a young kid I don’t know what is.

I know it’s the live music that draws them in which is funny considering I would prefer to be the scary man that they stay away from! I guess that it just comes with the territory. You can’t pick your fans. I do hope that their parents seriously consider bringing music lessons into their children’s lives while they still think it’s magic. If too much time passes then the kids will think learning an instrument is a chore and they’ll want to play video games instead. My nephew begged me to teach him guitar when he was six. I tried, but either I wasn’t a good teacher (which is probably the case) or he was a bad student. I am not sure what encouraged him to want to play then but he is now 20 and he will occasionally pick up one of the guitars I gave him to noodle around with. I know what my inspiration was to play guitar — I was in second grade and we had a substitute teacher who brought her guitar to class and played for us. Like the kids who are mesmerized by me when I play, I was enthralled. I wanted to learn to play guitar but because I was very young no one really took me seriously. Then Don McLean’s ”American Pie” came out and I wanted to learn how to play even more. It took a few more years for me to get a “real” guitar (I had a plastic kid’s model) and start lessons, but by then I was a teenager and other things were distracting me. I only wound up taking lessons for a few months before I quit. Over the years I learned the rest on my own and by jamming with other guitar players. I play guitar but I really don’t read music. I am far from a virtuoso but I manage to do what I want to do. If I had started younger and stuck to it I would have been better off. The point of this story? Learning to play a musical instrument is a wonderful thing and if you start them young and encourage them they will thank you for it later. Read on…     


Multiple Motif-Award winners and husband/wife duo, Atwater-Donnelly have just released their FOURTEENTH album of American and Celtic folk tunes, The Boat You Row. On top of that, Aubrey Atwater has just published another book, Song By Song: Volume II: 71 Songs, Tunes, and Discussions for Mountain Dulcimer, Backup, and Voice. The duo, and other ensembles that they lead, have quite a few area performances coming up. Can you call yourself a real Rhode Islander if you haven’t seen Atwater-Donnelly? Catch them live at one of these upcoming shows: Sep 9, “Evening at the Farm: Campfire Sing Along!” at Coggeshall Farm Museum; Bristol PorchFest, 106 High Street, Bristol, Sep 18, 3pm. For more clog over to:

Blackstone River Theatre has presented a few great shows over the summer including their highly successful annual Solstice Festival back in June and now they will get back into their regularly scheduled programming at the Cumberland theater. If you are a fan of music from Ireland, Scotland, the British Isles; folk music, and the traditions of music, dance, and visual arts by the people that settled in the Blackstone River Valley, then it’s time to pay the theater a visit. Coming up: Jamie Laval, Amber Rose, and Liv Castor on Sep 10; Kerri Powers/Lauren King on Sep 17, North Sea Gas on Sep 24, and Symbio on Oct 7. There is so much more to BRT, so float on over to!

Okay, okay, I have been REALLY slacking with the podcasts this summer. I got out of my groove with them when the podcast unit had to be replaced. Please check in for upcoming new ones again at: I also have a new web link where you can find my concert photographs — That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.