Roots Report: Milk and bread, baby!

Okee dokee folks…We had a blizzard. Wasn’t that fun? This latest storm was like the Super Bowl for the local TV weather folks. They love to hype them. Milk and bread, baby — they must be getting kickbacks. I don’t mind the snow, but I don’t like the hype. Yes, it is a LOT of work to clean up, but it is sort of meditative — for me anyway. Snow is peaceful. Well, at least until the snow-blowers start up. They are obnoxious, but a necessity. I use one — cleaning the snow out of my driveway is akin to shoveling a swimming pool (and I always wear headphones to protect my ears and keep them warm).

Snow can be a pain in the ass, and storms cancel plans. If you have intentions to see a show when it snows, you should check in before heading out. Sometimes you just have to stay home. But I always have plenty to do at home –I really don’t understand cabin fever. A few years back I was scheduled for a songwriter show and had to write a song about cabin fever. It was not one of my better songs.

When I was younger I hated winter, but I’ve found a way to like it. Embrace the positive! Besides, winter lasts for three months. That’s not very long. You can all mock me during the summer when I complain about the heat. I hate summer! You know what gets me through the summer? Outdoor concerts. Embrace the positive. Oh, btw, it is snowing again. Read on…


It’s that time of year again. Time to get your Mardi Gras on. You can do it Saturday, February 25, at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. For 25 years Lagniappe Productions has presented the Mardi Gras Ball. This annual event draws hundreds of folks from near and far and is a HUGE celebration designed to get your ya-ya’s out before the season of Lent kicks in (for those who observe; others just come for the party). If you are a fan of the annual Labor Day Weekend Rhythm and Roots Festival in Charlestown, this is basically a condensed, indoor version. There are great Cajun and Zydeco bands, lots of dancing, costumes, food and drinks! The soundtrack for this year’s revelry will be provided by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars, and Corey Ledet with his Zydeco band. Grammy Award winner Steve Riley and his Mamou Playboys return to the Mardi Gras Ball by popular demand. Three time Grammy nominees, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All Stars, have been performing worldwide at prestigious music festivals and venues for over 20 years. This premier Louisiana band is celebrated not only for their authenticity when performing or recording traditional Cajun and Creole music indigenous to South Louisiana, but also for their original songwriting, which stays true to Louisiana inspirations. Grammy-nominated Corey Ledet is a young accordion player who learned his craft by studying the Creole masters like Clifton Chenier, John Delafose, Boozoo Chavis and others. Ledet fused the styles of these masters with his own unique style of contemporary Creole and Zydeco music.

Mardi Gras revelers are hearty folk. Last year the the outside temperature was nine degrees BELOW zero, but people still came, ate, drank, danced and made it a hot night. Singles, couples and groups of ALL ages fill Rhodes for the fun. I met my girlfriend there last year and had she not braved the cold we never would have met. The Mardi Gras Ball features a costume contest with cash prizes in a variety of categories including best group, best couple, best individual and a grand prize of $250 for best overall costume. There will be a cash bar and Cajun and Creole cuisine by Rhode Island’s renowned Chili Brothers Food Company — the most popular food vendor at the Rhythm & Roots Festival every year. The bash starts at 6:30pm and goes until midnight. So, get ready, get set and GET TO THE MARDI GRAS BALL! PS. They have already announced some of the artists for the Labor Day Weekend 2017 Rhythm & Roots Festival: The Mavericks, Hat Fitz and Cara, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Shinyribs, The Pine Leaf Boys, and Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express. You can get tix now! For more about it all, Zyde-GO to

Common Fence Music has announced its concert schedule for the spring 2017 season, the 24th for the organization, and the first to be curated by its new artistic director, Erin Young. Running Saturday, March 4, through Saturday, May 13, the season features veteran folk musicians and favorites of the Common Fence Music (CFM) community, as well as national and international performing artists who are new to the CFM stage. All performances take place at the Common Fence Point Hall, on Anthony Road in Portsmouth. Opening the season on Saturday, March 4, is American Songster Dom Flemons. A modern-day scholar, educator and interpreter of American old-time folk music traditions, Dom gained recognition as a founding member of the Grammy award-winning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops. As a solo artist, Dom explores creative ways to perform traditional folk music genres for 21st-century audiences. Playing banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare and quills, in addition to singing, he draws from styles such as ragtime, southern spiritual and jug band. Flemons has brought his unique take on roots music to such venues as the Rhythm and Roots Festival,  Newport Folk, Bonaroo and the Grand Old Opry. This will be Flemon’s first time performing at CFM. For more about this and other CFM shows, “Hit ’em up Style” to:

Here are a few more shows to lure you out this winter. Chan’s always has lots of music and Chinese food. Coming up are Love Dogs on February 17, Joe Moss on February 18, Joe Louis Walker on February 24, Roomful of Blues on February 25, Lucky Peterson on March 3 and Neal Vitullo & The Vipers on Saturday, March 4 ( The Celtic music ensemble Fellswater performs a wide range of music from traditional to modern and draws from the heritage of all the Celtic nations. They will bring their Celtic sounds to Sandywoods in Tiverton on Saturday, February 25 ( The Willie J. Laws Band, a funky, soulful, original blues band with great vocals, will debut at The Courthouse Center for the Arts with a Blues Bash, dancing extravaganza on Friday, March 3 ( Regina Spektor, who is known for her storytelling ability, will be at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on March 6 ( On March 8 at AS220, Goldfeather, John Faraone, Michael Graham and Jubilee Gardens make for a music-filled evening on the Empire Street stage. Goldfeather is a Brooklyn-based folk music band that blends contemporary classical with a dash of cabaret. Led by singer and violinist Sarah Goldfeather, their music explores unusual melodies garnished with three-part harmonies against a rich indie-folk-pop backdrop ( Matt Andersen, the big guy with the big voice who has opened the past few Rhythm and Roots festivals, will be at the Narrows in Fall River on Friday, March 10 ( Looking a bit ahead, The Purple Cat Vineyard & Winery in Chepachet has announced that Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre Band will perform on Friday, April 21 ( Also, the B-52s have just announced a show at the Zeiterion in New Bedford on June 3 (

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.