Protest Art: Music is more than simply entertainment

Okee dokee folks… Last week Neil Young posted an open letter calling Drumpf “a disgrace to my country.” He also called out Captain Bone Spurs for continuing to use the song “Keep On Rockin’ in The Free World” despite Young’s disapproval. He went on to add that one of Don the Con’s opponents has “the answers I like … his initials are BS, not his policies.” This letter has caused a lot of uncivil discourse on the Neil Young fan pages. Some of Young’s right wing fans are posting that he should just shut up, play music and be a nice, subservient jester for the Orange Julius. But if they were true Neil Young fans they would understand that politics and social messages have always been a part of Young’s music. The music and the message are intertwined.

I have said this time and again: Art is a means of expression and communication. Since the beginning it has been used for political and social messages. It is NOT just entertainment. People who tell artists to shut up should zip it themselves as they just communicate their profound ignorance. Some fans complained when CSNY toured with their 2006 Freedom of Speech concerts that railed against GW Bush and some fans just walked out. That was their right just as it was CSNY’s right to play the music that expressed disgust with that administration. If I went to a concert and the act started touting their support of Cheeto Jesus, I would first wonder why I hadn’t known that information about the particular performer in advance, I would scream some insult about the Tangerine Turd, then I would leave and never support that artist again. It would be my right to boycott that act just as it is their right to express themselves.

We artists and performers will never shut up. We have an obligation to inform and educate with social messages. Young closes his letter with: “We are going to vote you out and make America great again!” Keep your eyes out for Neil Young & Crazy Horse concert announcements. It seems that the Providence Civic Center is on Neil’s venue radar, so fingers crossed! Read on… 


Central Baptist Church of Jamestown is bringing back CBC Coffee House to the church at 99 Narragansett Avenue. The first of what they hope will be a monthly series will be held on Friday, March 6, with doors at 6:30pm and music at 7pm. There is no formal admission fee; instead, “free-will donations are most gratefully accepted.” Opening the evening will be the trio Home Brew, featuring Matt and Judy Bolles with Cheryl Grelle, followed by the duo Perfect Match, featuring Denise and Mike Gouvin. Closing out the evening will be Folk Support Group featuring Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischman.

For some reason, I never had the opportunity to see Pink Floyd in concert. Dark Side of the Moon and a certain plant hold a special place in my memories, and I am surely not alone. Locally, musician David Tessier plays the best Floyd covers that I have heard so you should catch his all star band of all stars when you can. The 16-minute “Dogs” is usually on his set list. If you want the FULL Pink Floyd experience, then hit Veterans Memorial Theatre on Tuesday, March 10 when Brit Floyd
“The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Show” returns to Providence to perform its brand new production, Echoes 2020. It includes highlights from The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Division Bell, as well as a 23-minute note-for-note performance of the iconic song “Echoes,” complete with a stunning light show, lasers, inflatables and theatrics. For more, “Run Like Hell” to

Do you dig The Dead? If so, you will probably want to celebrate Phil Lesh’s 80th birthday with Underestimated Prophet at The Met on Sunday, March 15. This FREE show will feature an all-star cast of musicians who may want to Steal Your Face. Joining in the Underestimated Prophet jam will be Rick Couto, Pete Vendettuoli, Bobby Weissberger, Ira Kittrell, Carleen Sauvageau, Jim “Jimbo” Harris, Stephen Vendettuoli, Pete Silvia, Kenny Reynolds and more. Even if you have a “Touch of Grey,” don’t worry — the show starts at 3pm so it will be an early night! Dance the day away and cast off the “US Blues” that are dragging us all down. For more, get “Truckin’” on over to

The 25th anniversary of “On A Winter’s Night,” a collection of songs by some of the brightest stars of the singer-songwriter movement, brings five of the artists together again for an end-of-winter show on Thursday, March 12. In 1994, Christine Lavin put together a compilation of winter love songs by some of her favorite songwriters and took a cast of those singer-songwriters on tour during the cold, dark months. The performers included Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Christine Lavin and Cheryl Wheeler. Twenty-five years later, all five of these artists are back together to celebrate and share old and new songs in what has become a kind of mini folk festival. The Zeiterion in New Bedford hosts this Winter’s Night show. For more, follow the “Winter Wind” to

If you had the radio on in the early ’90s (remember regular, terrestrial radio?), chances are you frequently heard songs from Toad the Wet Sprocket or the Spin Doctors. The ’90s are long gone and so is most good terrestrial radio, but if you liked that time, then you can tune into the Narrows Center for the Arts on Thursday, March 12 and catch Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Chris Barron of Spin Doctors perform some of the music that defined that decade. I was fortunate to attend Glen Phillips’ show last time he was at the Narrows and was quite impressed, so the addition of Barron to the night can only enhance the whole experience. Also coming up at The Narrows are Bonerama, Howard Jones/Rachel Sage and Pousette-Dart. For more, “Walk On The Ocean” to

Beware the Ides! The Greenwich Odeum brings in the duo of Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell on Sunday, March 15. The two songwriters, both with successful solo careers, have been singing together for nearly 30 years. They first met when Shindell hired Kaplansky to sing harmony on his first album, and they became life-long friends and mutual fans. In addition to singing harmonies on virtually all of each other’s solo albums, they’ve collaborated on other projects. In 1998 they joined with Dar Williams to record Cry Cry Cry. Then in 2015, Lucy and Richard recorded an album of duets, Tomorrow You’re Going. The show on the 15th will be one of their final performances together for the foreseeable future because Richard is taking a hiatus from touring and heading home to Argentina. Also at the Odeum, on March 13, Rhode Island’s own Cardboard Ox (Steve Allain & Tracie Potochnik) will open for Mason Jennings. For more about these and other Odeum shows, take “The Beauty Way” to

Attention all singer-songwriters! The Grassy Hill Songwriting Competition is now open. Songs will be judged on quality of songwriting, and professional recordings are not required. Five finalists will have the opportunity to perform two of their songs at the Connecticut Folk Festival on September 12 in New Haven. The deadline for entering the competition is March 27 and finalists will be notified by May 1. For more, mow over to

That’s it for now. Dump Trump 2020! Thanks for reading.