The Roots Report: Crystal Anniversary: Celebrating 15 years of folkin writing

Okee dokee folks…I have been so busy over the past couple of months that I almost forgot that I recently passed the 15 year mark writing for Motif! When I was asked to contribute to the fledgling magazine for their third issue, I was skeptical that it was something I could do. I wasn’t a writer and had never even entertained the thought. I was a songwriter but that, to me, was entirely different. I have learned over the years that they really aren’t very different. In fact, the two sides have helped each other and made me, hopefully, a better columnist and songwriter. I have also been able to use my experience as a performer/producer and share what I know with other musicians, and when I conduct interviews with well-known artists I converse with them more as a colleague than an interview subject.

Last year I began adding photos to my reviews and concert wrap-ups. In another life I was a photographer and used to teach, but gave that up when the digital age took over. It is very rewarding to have an outlet and use all of these skills in one place. I feel it has given me a unique insight into the world of music that I attempt to convey to my readers. I am always humbled when a stranger approaches me and tells me how much they love what I write. I only hope that I can continue to please and entertain my readers. As always, I thank you for reading, I honestly do appreciate it. Read on…

We are heading into one of the most important election cycles of this country’s history. The disaster in chief has done nothing but undo much of the progress that has been made in the last 50 years. While the current healthcare system is not perfect, it is something. Efforts to dismantle it are inhumane. What this country needs is universal healthcare, otherwise we will continue our slip into third-world country status. US citizens either die or go bankrupt when illness strikes, and this needs to change. Here is yet another reason why. In May, Uriah Donnelly of The Collaborative in Warren and son of local folkie Elwood Donnelly, met with a surprising cancer diagnosis, requiring months of treatment. Friends have been fundraising to ease the financial burden of medical bills and time out of work for both Uriah and his wife and caregiver, Janet Moscarello. No one should have to do this, but until progress is made, fundraising efforts such as this will need to continue. On September 21 at Market Street Pub in Warren will be a benefit show for Uriah. The event starts at noon, and music commences at 2 and runs until 9ish. Raffles and silent auctions will be part of the effort. If you cannot attend but would like to help out, collaborate to


The Greenwich Odeum always has great show slated for your entertainment pleasure! Don Felder, the guy who was bounced from the Eagles twice but nonetheless is an amazing guitarist, will bring the sound of the Eagles to The Odeum on September 27. In addition to the tunes on his Eagles heavy set list, he usually includes his solo hit “Heavy Metal” and a couple of choice covers. Folk legend Tom Rush makes a stop on October 3. Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra share the world of world music on October 5. Almost Queen on October 12 is almost sold out, so if you want to relive the days of Freddie, you’d better hurry! One of the best songwriters ever, Jimmy Webb, known for “Wichita Lineman” “MacArthur Park” and “Up, Up and Away,” will entertain with his stories and solo performances of his classic hits on October 25. If you remember the teen mall concert queen then you will want to hit the Odeum on November 7 for and evening with Tiffany. There’s so much more coming — go see for yourself! Hit up for the calendar.

If you read this regularly then you know how excited I was about the recent performance of Firefall at Twin River. As with most bands, a few of the original members were missing from that show’s line-up, and while I was performing at the Spire Center in Plymouth the other night, I discovered that two of the ones who were missing will be doing a rare performance at the Spire on October 12. The Spire is a beautiful re-purposed church in Plymouth just an hour from PVD. If you are the adventurous sort, then you will want this venue on your radar. Also coming up are Steve Forbert, Peter Wolf, Gibson Brothers, New England’s 40th Anniversary show and John Sebastian. For more, reach up to

The Local Brew Fiddle and Folk Festival on September 21 at Haines Park in Barrington will present music, food, storytelling, craft vendors, weather and kids activities. This 9th annual festival is a fun, family-friendly event and best of all, admission is FREE. The festival features, from noon until 5,  Old Fiddler’s Club, Drownville Station, Len Cabral, Ed Desjardins, The Vox Hunters, Lost Set of Keys, Old Dog Daddy and the Dagnabbits, Hollow Turtle, The Lazy Sundays and Oak Hill, and Michelle Kaminsky will host a fiddlers jam session from 10:30 until noon. For more, rosin up to Local Brew Fiddle and Folk Festival on Facebook.

The Narrows Center for the Arts will present Unnatural Acts, an unusual event that celebrates the diversity of music and the arts through a mashup of styles and sounds. From 4 – 11pm on Saturday, September 21, Unnatural Acts features Ward Hayden & The Outliers, The Proletariat, Errol Strength and the Conscious Band, Ken Clark Organ Trio, Julie Rhodes, La Neve, Wire Lines, and Christopher Johnson. The genres range from punk and pop to reggae and spoken word. Voter Choice Massachusetts will be present to educate and advocate for Ranked Choice Voting. They advocate for the expanded use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference. Also coming up at the Narrows: Los Lonely Boys, Cowboy Junkies, Steve Earle, Justin Hayward, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, Marty Stuart, Vanilla Fudge, and as always, so many others! For more, consolidate to:

Music in the Gallery brings in dynamic singer and songwriter Laura Love on Friday, October 4 at 7:30PM in the James Arnold Mansion, which houses the Wamsutta Club, 427 County Street, New Bedford. Music in the Gallery is presented by the music directors of the New Bedford Folk Festival, who bring the music of the festival to audiences all year. Laura Love is an African-American singer/songwriter/bassist with a love of all deeply rooted American music. She is known for her colorful style embracing blues, jazz, folk, gospel, bluegrass, reggae and country. Love has opened for such luminaries as John Lee Hooker, Lyle Lovett, Bo Diddley and Karla Bonoff. She has been invited to perform at a number of folk and eclectic music festivals including the Newport Folk Festival, Merlefest and the New Bedford Folk Festival. To snap up a tic, folk on over to

The Garde Theatre in New London, Connecticut, just a short, easy drive from RI, presents a Night with Janis Joplin on Friday, September 20. Tony Nominee Mary Bridget Davies embodies the music legend. This is not a tribute concert; it’s a full-on musical with incredible talent and band on stage that bring a whole different level of energy to the show. Other performers in the musical channel Janis muses Aretha, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith. Also on the Garde calendar are Graham Nash, Dr. Ruth, William Shatner, Justin Hayward, Randy Rainbow and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. For more lower your guard to

If you are a fan of the legendary Boston venue Passim, then you will want to take note of Passim’s 60th Anniversary Celebration with Patty Griffin, Josh Ritter and Dar Williams, taking place November 14 at the Shubert Theatre. Palmer over to for more.

I would love it if you came out to Sandywoods on September 21 for a show I am doing with Pete Vendettuoli and Sean Finnerty (both from my band Forever Young). We will be performing our original music and probably a few Neil tunes as well. Joining Sean with be Selena Wilson on vocals!

From the read it and run portion of my column, head to the Harmony Lodge for the Michelle Malone show on Thursday, September 19 at 7:30pm. She really is amazing!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.