The Roots Report: The Way-Back Machine

Okee dokee folks … I am seeing a trend in my music listening habits. In the past I would generally opt to push “play” on newer music, but now I am hitting “rewind” and listening more to music from my past. To be honest, I have not really been super excited about newer music lately. Occasionally I will catch something I like, but it is getting to be a rarity. Maybe it’s because it has been done before and I like the original way better? Maybe it’s because a lot of it has no soul or actual melody? Maybe it’s because older music is more authentic? Maybe the older music just resonates with me better. Or, maybe, just maybe, I am getting old. I am seriously beginning to suspect the latter. I don’t think I am alone though. Many members of the AARP likely share my feelings. Read on…

Back in the ’70s, music was great (see, I told you so) and FM radio, actually radio in general, played really good music. You could hear a whole side of an album if the DJ decided they wanted to play it. That is how I heard most of the music that I loved for the first time. There were songs on the radio that would go far past the 3 minute and 30 second time standard. Most of the progressive rock songs were long and complicated and I LOVED that. I was a fan of Yes, King Crimson, EARLY Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP and Kansas. Most folks who know Kansas may not think of them as a prog rock band. They are just familiar with the hits like “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Point of Know Return” and “Dust in the Wind.” Kansas was on my radar long before those songs. I heard brilliant tunes like “Can I Tell You?,” “Icarus” and “Song for America” on FM radio. When the breakthrough album Leftoverture was released, “Carry On Wayward Son” catapulted them to mainstream success. Leftoverture is a masterpiece in my opinion, and “Carry On Wayward Son” wasn’t even their best work on that recording. I felt that “Miracles Out Of Nowhere,” “Cheyenne Anthem” and “Magnum Opus” surpassed “Wayward Son,” but because of classic rock radio, folks associate that song with Kansas and forget about their prog rock roots (see, I snuck the word “roots” in). The concerts by Kansas that I went to in the ’70s (see, I am old) were some of my favorites. Over the years the personnel of the band has changed and they have somewhat faded from the limelight, but they are still out there performing great music. Last year they released their first new album in 16 years. The Prelude Implicit does a good job of capturing the earlier sound of the band. Check out songs like: “Visibility Zero,” “Rhythm in the Spirit” and “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen.” I had a chance to speak with drummer, band manager and original member Phil Ehart a few weeks ago. Read my full interview at

Kansas will bring their 2017 tour to the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on July 27. I checked out videos of recent live performances and they hold up to the original line-up. If you were a fan back then or a new fan of prog rock, you should definitely check out this show! For more, “Opus Insert” over to


“You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.” Evidently you can get some pretty good choices at the Stadium Theatre as well. Arlo Guthrie is playing the Stadium on July 29! This is where the real folk is happening! Famous for hits such as “Darkest Hour,” “The City of New Orleans,” “Coming into Los Angeles” and “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” Arlo Guthrie has truly had a storied career. Over the last five decades Guthrie has toured North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, winning a wide following. In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, Arlo is a natural-born storyteller, whose tales figure prominently in his performances. For more, ride your “motorsickle,” not a pickle, to

Back in the late ’70s (yes, I am back there AGAIN!), Elvis Costello made his first area appearance at the old Leroy Concert Theater in Pawtucket (it is now a Walgreens) and I was there. On the bill that night were Mink Deville and Dave Edmunds (though I think it was Nick Lowe), as well. Costello had just released This Year’s Model, but “Red Shoes” was still his big song. A year or two later Elvis played at Rhode Island College and I wasn’t able to get tickets. So in typical fashion of the day I tried to find a way to sneak in. It was POURING that night and I was soaked. I was by the back door of the gym, near the tour bus, when the door opened and 1,2,3, Costello, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds popped out. My soggy teen self begged them to let me in. No luck. I stood outside in the rain and watched most of the show through the glass doors. At the encore I was able to get in and caught all three of them playing “Pump It Up.” What I saw was great, but I wound up with pneumonia. Years passed and Costello put out more and more material going through style changes along the way. I even saw him during his long-haired days when he performed at Great Woods (yes, Great Woods!). More years passed and he played at the Newport Folk Festival. It was an odd choice, but it worked. I remember sitting on the stage next to his wife Diana Krall as he played. Costello is returning to the area with his band The Imposters and has a show at Providence Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, July 25.  The “Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers” Tour will be highlighting songs from the 1983 album. For more, “Lipstick Vogue” to

Relive sonic history at a multi-sensory book and listening event on Thursday, July 27, at Books on the Square in PVD! The What Cheer DJs will spin records of Newport Folk Festival artists past and present at this author event for former Providence Journal music critic, Rick Massimo’s new book, I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival (see review on page XX). This first-ever book exclusively devoted to the history of the festival documents an American musical institution that began more than a half-century ago and continues to influence our understanding of folk music today. For more, go electric to

Combining the sounds of acoustic emo/pop-punk and folk, Jenn Lombari of the band Lucky United is playing and hosting a show with locals and a legend. On August 1, Jeff Caudill of the ’90s California-based emo punk band Gameface is coming to the News Cafe in Pawtucket on his solo acoustic tour, promoting his new album, Reset The Sun. Caudill has been performing solo and often times acoustic for more than a decade, bringing his trademark style of smart, relatable lyrics with a passionate delivery to fans of his band and new fans just discovering his songwriting. Joining Jenn and Jeff are Jodie Treloar and Jared Knapik. For more, go “Backwards” to

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.