The Humans: We’re only human after all

The Humans, by Brown grad Stephen Karam and directed by The Wilbury’s Josh Short, is originative for several reasons. The script is clever, so while you’re interjected into this typical family turmoil, there is comedic relief throughout. This is largely due to the spot-on timing by Rachel Dulude, who portrays daughter Aimee Blake. She makes light of her problems in self-deprecating style, which we can all appreciate. Also, Jim O’Brien as dad Erik Blake skillfully has us laughing throughout by using others as the butt of his antics.

Set and prop design by Monica Shinn, together with light and sound design by Andy Russ, are very innovative. The set is bilevel, with six rooms that have things happening spontaneously at various times like a life-size doll house (It can be a bit rough on the neck if you’re viewing from the front row, so choose a rear seat if that might be an issue for you). This creates the occasional cacophony that is a bit hard to follow, as cast members purposely talk over each other, but these don’t last long. Carol Varden portrays Fiona “Momo” Blake who suffers from Alzheimer’s often yells out loudly, which lasts just long enough for you to empathize with the frustration the family feels. There are also sporadic loud bangs, which draw laughter after the initial fright.

The Blake family survives the holiday as they toast gratitude for Thanksgiving. Photo by Erin X. Smithers.

Costume design by Matt Oxley suits the personalities of each individual whether it be Dad’s and Aimee’s professional attire, mom Deidre Blake’s (Jeanine Kane) and Momo’s relaxed attire, or the more bohemian-ish garb of daughter Brigid Blake (Jessie March) and her somewhat-older partner Richard Saad (Dave Rabinow).

Family can bring out the best and the worst in us as we gather for the feast. These folks run the gamut of feelings together as they tackle such topics of the human condition as physical and mental illness, money and joblessness, marriage and fidelity, heartbreak and disappointment, death and alcoholism. You will ride the roller coaster of impassioned emotions with them as they bob through the issues, and just might laugh and cry along with them as well! Despite some rough patches, the tender love and caring is there throughout.

“It feels really special going into the holidays with this production,” says March. “Some people might see themselves, or say thank God my family isn’t like that! Hopefully, everyone has someone they call family.”

The production runs through Dec. 18 at the Wilbury Theatre, WaterFire Arts Center. For more info, visit www.thewilburygroup.org.

Marry my Mother

Dear C and Dr. B:

This Thanksgiving, my husband and my mother got into an argument over the proper way to melt cheese on toast in order to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Listening to them, I had a sudden realization: OMG, I married my mother!  They each had this same tone of underlying bitter sarcasm in their voices, the same flat-out “I am right!” attitude. 

My daughter doesn’t listen either, she’s just as certain she’s always right: I really wonder if it is genetic. I guess it is my lot. I am close with my mother, we speak almost every other day, but she can drive me a bit crazy.  If I am honest I feel the same way about my husband. We are close but he can drive me a bit crazy.

Did I marry my mother?                                          

– Daughter Deb

Dr. B says:

You can only know what you’ve been shown and since humans learn via role modeling, we are  attracted to what feels familiar. Throughout our lives our relationships often mirror the relationships we were exposed to growing up.     

The average American family is dysfunctionally stable at best. My question would be, do you find humor in their neurotic behavior, along with the frustration? Could you mention the incident to your husband in an ironic, funny way, tell him your thoughts, and laugh about it together?  

If you are looking for ways to live in the relationship, there are a few YouTube teaching videos that would be really helpful here: How to Ruin Your Relationship – Ultra Spiritual Life, episode 26; and 

Passive Aggressive Relationship Techniques – Ultra Spiritual Life, episode 57.

The videos are funny – they tell you to do exactly what you shouldn’t do, but they are also right on target as to the communication skills most American couples have. It is a lot of the behavior you are describing as well.  

C says:

Well of course you didn’t marry your mother, Deb. Surely you must have noticed that she stayed at home with your dad when you got married and moved away. You are simply carrying on your family’s relationship tradition. It’s what we all do. It is, in fact, such a normal thing to do that Dr. B already had all sorts of advice and useful videos to recommend – they are already out there because so many people have this same problem. 

But as to whether the behavior is genetic – probably not. If your daughter is a teen, her behavior is pretty much in keeping with typical adolescent angst. Of course, if she is six, then her attitude is just ridiculous. She’s only six! Why are you even arguing with her? Anyway, as right as she is, I hope for her own sake that your daughter is actually right all the time, but I doubt it. Few of us are when we’re young.

You seem to be a forgiving and understanding person, and that’s fine in the case of your mom and husband. They are both adults who are firmly set in their ways; ruined already, if you will. But do you really want your daughter to grow up believing that bitter sarcasm is normal, acceptable behavior? While you may be used to it, people who were raised in more affectionate households might just see your daughter as a bitch. Bad behavior is bad behavior. It isn’t funny if there isn’t a history of love and understanding to soften the bite. 

Kids always test their parents as they grow. OK, your daughter dismisses you with sarcasm. That’s what teens do. But letting her get away with it? That is you flunking the test.

– Cathren Housley 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

A Game to Define A Season: The Mob Squad Take the 2014 Trophy

mobTen points! That’s all that separated the Mob from the Old Money Honeys in their Championship rubber match. In a season where the Mob dominated, the Honeys, who lost earlier in the season to the Mob, defeated their nemeses in the last bout before the Championships earlier in September. Then on October 11 at the RI Convention Center, this year’s home season trophy was put center track against the two teams.

Calls on track-cut (skating out of bounds) were very frequent this year, but not in this bout as we saw more “direction of gameplay” (blocking while at standstill or skating clockwise) and “out-of-play” (actions outside the pack or illegally separating the pack). And that intense blocking was felt into the first half with a score of 39-66, Mob leading.

For the remainder of the bout, the Mob held the Honeys at bay by roughly 30 points until a 17 vs. 12 point jam caught the Honeys up. However, the Mob held out with a 138-148 win. Top scores for the Honeys were #424 Jigsaw with 48 points and #75 Smoke N Mirrors with 33 points. The Mobs lead point ladies were #32 Shotz of Petrone with 62 and #12 Varla Gunz with 44. Some of the standout blockers that balanced good offense and defense were #F34R Scared Stiffany, #729 Roxy Elbow Ya, and #138 Skate Middleton for the Honeys and #08CT Beat-Trix LeStrangle, #3 Ruca Salt, and #1000 Baby Fighterfly for the Mob.

It’s been a truly amazing season all year round in Providence Roller Derby from the Mob, the Honeys, and the Sakonnet River Roller Rats. With bouts ending in a single point to going into overtime, all of the skaters gave some of the most exhilarating moments in the Providence’s roller derby history. After the upcoming winter break, the new travel season, featuring teams from around the country and the world, will start up around early spring (dates to be announced). Check regularly for upcoming season schedule and special public events at providencerollerderby.com or follow Providence Roller Derby on Facebook!

Best Places to Celebrate the Fourth

fireworksFourth of July Events

Independence Day Beach Ball: Traditional clambake on the beach with live music to keep you grooving through the night. The Ocean House, 1 Bluff Ave., Watch Hill. July 4. oceanhouseevents.com

Fourth of July Clambake: Celebrate the birth of the nation with a traditional New England clambake. Stick around for post-dinner s’mores at the Weekapaug Inn, 25 Spray Rock Rd., Weekapaug. July 4. weekapaugevents.com

Family Fourth of July Celebration: A decades old tradition in South Kingstown featuring live musical entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors and fireworks from 5 – 9pm at Old Mountain Field, Kingstown Rd., Wakefield. July 4. southkingstownri.com

88th Annual Ancient & Horribles Parade: Nothing is sacred as Gloucester locals spoof local and national politics during this famous parade on the Fourth of July. The parade first wound its way down Main Street in Chepachet, in 1926 and has continued to delight Glocester residents (and many others) every year since. July 4, 4pm. glocesterri.org

Arnold Mills Parade: Road race, parade and band concert. The theme for this year’s parade is Proud to be an American. Activities start at 9am, Diamond Hill State Park, Cumberland. July 4. arnoldmillsparade.com

Bluegrass on the Pawtuxet: This first annual event from Angry Lobster Events and the RI Bluegrass Alliance turns Pawtuxet Village and Rhodes on the Pawtuxet into a Bluegrass mecca, featuring camping, master classes, and lots of performances, including the Steeldrivers, Pete & Joan Wernick, Tony Trischka and Blue Highway. July 4 – 6

19th Annual New Bedford Folk Festival: Featuring nearly 50 of the best in contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music, including Chris Smither, Poor Old Shine, Vance Gilbert, Christine Lavin and Don White, the Celtic group RUNA and Grammy Award winning children’s entertainer Bill Harley. Arts and craft vendors, food and drinks downtown outside of Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford. July 5 – 6, 11am – 9pm.


Block Island, Thursday 3, 9pm, Crescent Beach, blockislandinfo.com

Bristol, Thursday 3, 9pm, Independence Park, july4thbristolri.com

Cumberland, Thursday 3, 9pm, Cumberland High School, 2600 Mendon Rd., cumberlandri.org

East Providence, Thursday 3, 9pm, Pierce Memorial Stadium, 201 Mercer St., epheritagedays.com

Fall River, Friday 4, 9:30pm, Battle Ship Cove, 5 Water St., battleshipcove.org

Jamestown, Saturday 5, 9pm, East Ferry Beach, rockethogs.com

Narragansett, Friday 4, 9pm, Narragansett Town Beach, narragansettri.gov

New Bedford, Friday 4, 9pm, Hurricane Barrier, centralrichamber.com/1048/events/fireworks         New London, Friday 11-Sunday 13, Sundown, New London Waterfront, sailfestnl.org

Newport, Friday 4, 9pm, Newport Harbor,  centralrichamber.com/1048/events/fireworks

Newport, Friday 4, 9pm, Rose Island Lighthouse, 365 Thames St, roseislandlighthouse.org/events.html

North Kingston, Saturday 5, Sundown, North Kingston Town Beach, lafayette-band.com

Warwick, Thursday 3, 9pm, Oakland Beach, warwickri.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1217:annual-fireworks-display-set-for-july-3&catid=192:news-archives-2012&Itemid=207

Wear Aspirin and Save Lives

Met High School Students Pursuit to Save Lives with Wear Aspirin

hummelIt is a presentation Christian Rijos has given dozens of times over the past year, a pitch from a young entrepreneur with a company and an idea aimed at saving lives.

Christian, a 16-year-old sophomore at The Met School in Providence, is co-owner of a business called Wear Aspirin. Its goal is for people to have aspirin with them and readily available if someone nearby is having a heart attack. Last month he gave his final school presentation — one that has been worked and reworked over the past year — to his fellow students at The Met. But this is an idea Christian wants to sell to the world.

“The key message we’re sending to people is you’re not wearing it for yourself, you’re wearing it to save someone else’s life,” he said, adding that a third of the 1.5 million Americans who have a heart attack this year will die.

“There’s a lot about aspirin that would surprise people,” Christian said. “Every single time I presented, I asked people, ‘Do you have aspirin on you?’ They would always say, ‘No, I have it at my desk, I have it at home,’ and by some chance if they did have it, they’d have it in an inconspicuous place and they probably didn’t know it helps a heart attack victim.”

Nick Kondon, who spent a career starting technology companies, is one of Christian’s mentors and now his business partner. Wear Aspirin is an idea he had been kicking around for years. As a volunteer at The Met, Nick spotted a then-15-year-old who was intelligent and savvy beyond his years. Nick recalls one of their first conversations. “I was thinking you’d be my partner and you’d own about 7% of the company. And Christian, without any pause, said to me, ‘I’m young, but I’m not stupid.'”

Before the partnership was struck, Nick gave Christian an assignment. Christian recalled the conversation: “I want a small container that can hold .4175 inches of a pill and it has to be small enough to be discreet, but big enough to be noticeable so people ask about it. And it has to hold one pill and it has to be configured to fit in five different places.”

Early prototypes included a wristwatch attachment, a magnet and a ring, all of which were eventually discarded. After some trial and error they arrived on five different Wear Aspirin containers: a key ring, a cell phone, a hat, a lapel pin and a charm attachment for a bracelet.

“Easy to get to,” Christian said. “If somebody’s having a heart attack, you pop it out, you administer it to them, you tell them to chew it, then they swallow. The stats show that if you administer a 325 mg aspirin to a victim, it reduces 80% of the platelets heading to the clot in the blood stream and increases their chances of surviving by 30%.’’

That’s the medical part, but at the end of the day this is a business, which is what students in the E Ventures class discover. Christian and other students at The Met’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are learning that a good idea also needs a good business plan.

The proposed retail price for all five, including aspirin: $17.95.

Over the past year he has enlisted the help of a variety of people and earlier this spring decided to try crowdfunding for the initial startup costs on the website Indiegogo.

“The plan was to go on a crowdfunding site and raise enough capital for us to make this in the US and market it in Rhode Island, so that it starts as a Rhode Island company. Then we branch out into the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association and national organizations and start programs with them,” Christian said. “Right now, we think our demographics are women over the age of 40 — because if a woman buys this she’s buying it for her husband, kids, friends and family.’’

And that may be why going the crowdfunding route for seed money has not produced the results they had originally hoped for. So they’re going to revise the plan, as partners often have to do in any business.
Christian says while operating a successful company that makes money is an incentive to succeed, there is another side to his motivation.

“It became personal with me a long time ago. My mother told me that most people in my family die from heart attacks; it’s in our genes. Genes affect just a small percentage of the chances you’ll have a heart attack. It’s also eating habits and things like that. But my chances of having a small heart attack one day have increased because of my genes from both sides of my family, so it’s become personal.’’

If you want to see the video version of this story go to RhodeIslandSpotlight.org. If you know of a person or organization who you think deserves the Spotlight, send an email to jim@RhodeIslandSpotlight.org

Erm Mer Gerd Cupcakes!

Khrysta Ryan

With the copious amount of food trucks rolling around Providence it makes it hard to decide which one to choose from. But if you saw a giant pink cupcake with massive multi colored sprinkles on wheels, chances are you’d stop.


New up and coming baker, Emily Lauren, from Johnston purchased a hot pink cupcake shaped truck only four months ago from a former baker in Narragansett. The baker posted the truck on Craigslist and with much consideration Emily decided to jump on it. The truck originally was made in New York and traveled to Rhode Island where it will stay for good.


photo-1Emily left her career as a medical assistant over a year ago with a degree from RIC to follow her passion of baking cupcakes. She has attempted to put her foot in the door with jobs at local cupcake shops and bakeries, all of which were never fulfilling her dream. Being able to sell her own cupcakes was a goal she wasn’t going to let slip away.  Using events such as birthdays, weddings and baptisms and spreading the word through Facebook and social media Emily gave her business a name, Erms Cupcakes.


With a passion as sweet as cupcakes Emily worked her way into peoples hearts with the fresh, and fun ingredients. From sundae cupcakes to coconut rum cupcakes, all are made from scratch, and all are made with love. Customers have expressed to Emily that “they’re too pretty to eat.”


Erms Cupcakes are currently for sale in the pink cupcake truck in different locations around Johnston. The next few weeks she will be at the Johnston Memorial State Park. Although the truck hasn’t made it into the Providence area just yet, within the next few months Erms Cupcakes should be taking off into Providence and Cranston with more locations to be announced.


Fathers Are People Too!

We all bring our gifts to parenthood and dad’s gifts are what we should be celebrating on Father’s Day, as opposed to some misconceived notion that his parenting feats don’t need to be acknowledged

dadI feel rather guilty.  Last month I spent my time and energy writing an entire article about taking back Mother’s Day. This month, I gave nary a thought to the male version of the holiday. When I first contemplated writing a Father’s Day article, I joked with my husband that it would be woefully short and read something like this: Give him what he really wants: sex and bacon. He smirked and admitted that he’d be happy with either one. The article went to the back burner.

As Father’s Day gets closer, however, I realize I’ve missed the mark. Men actually do have feelings about their competency as parents and the way the world views their involvement. Lately they’ve been talking about these issues in the news and in the blogosphere. Men are tired of being praised for engaging in the most mundane parenting acts like doing their daughter’s hair while wearing a baby in a front carrier. Then they’re belittled for their seeming inability to do other tasks like dress a baby in matching clothes.

I get it. I have a friend who’s a stay-at-home dad. He takes care of his four young children while his wife, the breadwinner, goes to work. I have, on several occasions, told him how impressed I am at what he does. Why haven’t I said the same to the woman around the corner from him who stays home with her four kids? It’s because I’m a reverse sexist. The fact that I think all men want sex and bacon for Father’s Day proves my case.

It’s so easy to stereotype men as unfeeling lugs who care only about beer and boobies. “But we are,” my brother told me one night over a beer, as he recalled his bachelor party at The Foxy Lady. While this might be true for some, it’s certainly not for all, my brother included. I’ve seen him, the father of two young boys, reenacting G.I. Joe battles and explaining to them why the original Star Wars is so much better than the digital remake (they’re only 3 and 9 months old, by the way). These are things I could never do, nor would I want to do them, and I think his wife feels the same way. We all bring our gifts to parenthood and dad’s gifts are what we should be celebrating on Father’s Day, as opposed to some misconceived notion that his parenting feats don’t need to be acknowledged.

On Sunday I’ll take my husband kayaking with the kids, per his request. We’ll grill a steak or two and the kids will shower him with homemade cards. I will tell him that I appreciate what a wonderful father he is, not because he changes diapers or reads them bedtime stories, but rather for the gifts he brings to our family, that he’s revered because he can defeat the gargantuan level on Plants vs. Zombies and never misses a baseball game.

On Monday, however, I’m back to reminding him how he has no ability to multi-task and can’t dress our kids for shit. I know I’m stereotyping, but let’s be real: those stereotypes exist for a reason.

Enjoy your day, dads!

Make Misquamicut Your Beach


A family friendly summer destination

“It’s funny, on a busy day, you can go out on Atlantic Ave. and count the license plates,” says local business owner (Seafood Haven) and Executive Director of the Misquamicut Business Association, Caswell Cooke Jr. “You’ll see them from all over. You’ll see a lot from New York and tons from Connecticut and Mass., but you won’t see a lot from Rhode Island.” Some of Rhode Island’s greatest treasures aren’t widely recognized here at home. At Motif, we see it with artists, musicians and other specialists all the time. Right now, Misquamicut may be the RI beach mecca that goes unnoticed within our own borders.

For a while, Misquamicut didn’t have the greatest reputation. In the ‘80s, it was known for its busloads of drunken shenanigan perpetrators, occasional brawls and no shortage of Paddy wagons. But while the ghost of that reputation may linger in the long memory RI prides itself on (“Take a left where the drunken rascals used to be”), Misquamicut has left the ‘80s in the past. Who hasn’t, really? It now presents many family-friendly options and non-baccanalic ways to drink, eat, sun and have a good time.

The beach, of course, did get a lot of coverage two years ago, when Hurricane Sandy, apparently trying to get home to the Sandy Shore Motel or Sandy’s Lighthouse [Bar], whalloped the shoreline full force. It took a year to rebuild and recover, but now the beach is pristine again, devoid of errant chunks of buildings past, and ready for sunbathers. Spots like Paddy’s, The Andrea and The Windjammer allow on-the-sand drinking and eating that brings all the creature comforts together (bring a beach read: see page xxx).

There’s also an active side to this stretch of summer with jet ski rentals, waterslides and a standing amusement park that includes a Ferris wheel, mini-golf, batting cages and bumper cars, kids and adults can lift their adrenaline before hitting the nightlife. That nightlife includes classic movies (from, well, mostly the ‘80s) at a classic beach drive-in theater, and clubs galore with drinks from basic ‘Gansetts to exotic frozen creamsicle cocktails, to those giant margaritas with the upside down Corona inside them. The strip is long enough to let you move around, but not so long that it gets overwhelming.

And of course, no conversation about Misquamicut would be complete without mention of some of the events they have during the summer: Tons of live music, family-friendly “Magic by Sea” every Thursday in July and August (7pm at the Windjammer), Hermit Crab Races — yes, they don’t know they’re racing, but still they do it — every Wednesday (7:30pm at Purple Ape), and their famous Classic Car Cruise Nights, every Thursday in the Windjammer’s East Parking Lot.

Roots Report: Find Great Music and Then Look for More


Music Events for the Entire Summer

Okee dokee folks … I leave it to you to decide where to get your entertainment information, but realize that other papers may overlook a lot of great events. I’m going to try to be as inclusive as possible. My friend Melanie Moore, who can often be seen dancing in her gypsy garb to the music of local bands, wrote, “There’s some great music out there waiting to be found. And when you find it, keep looking because there will be more. Find it. Let it find you. Dance to it, sing with it, feel it, soak your weary bones in it. Let it be your drug. Go out and see a live band you’ve never seen before. Fall into their groove. Feed your soul with their art. One of the best feelings in my world is that first hit of new music moving through my body finding its way to my soul.”

I couldn’t have said this better. I will include as much as I can, but there will always be something else out there to find. In the meantime you can start here. Ready? Begin!

Just June
If you wanna kick up yer heels, git yer butt to the College Hill Contra Dance at the Community Church of Providence located 372 Wayland Ave. Elwood Donnelly does the callin’ on Friday, June 6 (ProvidenceContra.com). At The Coffee Depot open mic in Warren on Friday, June 6, the feature is Deanna Merchant and Tom Farley. They close out their season with The Rebel Kellys on June 13.
One of my biggest musical influences, Aztec Two-Step, will be at The Met on Saturday, June 7. The show will include Aztec fan favorites, selections from their Simon & Garfunkel Songbook show and their tribute to The Everly Brothers. At The Local Brew Coffeehouse on the 7th, Len Cabral joins Bay Spring Folk for a night of expressive storytelling woven with traditional music. Local Brew Coffeehouse happens at the Bay Spring Community Center on 170 Narragansett Ave. in Barrington (facebook.com/LocalBrew). The 7th brings Bluegrass sensations Cold Chocolate to the Wamsutta Club, 427 County St. in New Bedford (wepecket.com). Also on June 7, at 8:30pm, The RI Songwriters Association (RISA) hosts the final Saturday Songwriter Session before the summer break. This session features Lisa Martin, Junko Ogawa and Annalise Emerick. RISA and The Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren present the annual Women of RISA show on June 14 at 8pm. On the bill are host Jan Luby, Kala Farnham, Kayla Ringelheim, and Amy Herrera (RISongwriters.com). At Pearl Restaurant and Lounge on Charles St. in Providence on June 7, Ursula George celebrates the early 20th century jazz and blues of the women of the black vaudeville era.

The Red Bandana Fund is proud to name Henry Shelton and the Providence Student Union as the recipients of the Red Bandana Award for 2014. The Award honors individuals and groups whose work embodies the spirit and work of Richard Walton, a longtime activist in Rhode Island who died in 2012. The awards will be presented on June 8 at Nick-a-Nees, 75 South St. in Providence, from 4 to 7pm. The event is open to the public and is family-friendly. As a longtime director of the George Wiley Center, Henry Shelton is known throughout the region for his steadfast commitment to bettering the lives of all Rhode Islanders, especially the poor and disadvantaged. The committee also recognized the groundbreaking work done by the Providence Student Union in addressing important issues of education in creative and powerful ways. Music will be provided by Mary Ann Rossoni, Bill Harley, Dylan Harley, Phil Edmonds and Chris Thompson (facebook.com/RedBandanaFund).

Melissa Etheridge does her thing, solo, at the Zeiterion in New Bedford on June 9 (zeiterion.org). If you miss Melissa, Sherri Lynne sings the Melissa Etheridge songbook at Deville’s on June 27 (facebook.com/devillescafe). Conquer your trixadexaphobia and get to the Skyline Lounge of Lang’s Bowlarama for Tammy Laforest and The Dust Ruffles, and Justin Davis and Just Express. If you haven’t figured it out, that is Friday the 13th (of June). Tammy is celebrating the release of her brand new CD, Copper. An open mic will follow the show (TammyLaforest.com). Also on the 13th, Voices Under Cover features the songs of Lucinda Williams as sung by the award-winning singer-songwriters Allysen Callery, Heather Rose, Becky Chace, and Tracie Potochnik. This is an encore of last year’s show and will be held at the Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston (HearInRhodeIsland.com). On June 14, Music at Lily Pads presents a special concert featuring the 14-member ensemble Mother Falcon from Austin, The Family Crest from San Francisco, and Brooklyn’s Christopher Paul Stelling. This will be evening of original songs with rich instrumentation and vocals, and bands that bring symphonic orchestration into contemporary music (musicatlilypads.org). Dean Petrella of the Complaints steps out for a rare solo acoustic performance on June 14 at 8pm. The free show will be held at Alibi Café located at 18 Bassett St. in Providence (TheComplaints.com).

If you are looking for a great outdoor music festival without having to travel hours to find it, The Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival returns to Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland on Saturday, June 21. Five stages focus on Celtic and world music, dance and culture. Featured performers include Burning Bridget Cleary, Cantrip (from Scotland), Aoife Clancy, Eastern Medicine Singers (Algonquin drum, song and dance), The Gnomes, Matt & Shannon Heaton, Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts & Kieran Jordan, Robbie O’Connell, the Panache Quartet, Pendragon, Harvey Reid & Joyce Andersen, and Torrin Ryan & Mark Oien. There will also be nonstop Irish step dance featuring Tir Na Nog Irish Dance as well as participatory set dancing with Devine’s Diner. Also returning will be the after-festival music session back at the Blackstone River Theatre at 8:30pm (RiverFolk.org).

The 39th Annual RI PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade takes place Saturday June 21. Starting at noon on South Water St. in Providence, catch performances that include Poppy Champlin, Heather Rose In Clover, Aiden James, drag queens and more (PrideRI.com). Other Pride-related events will take place at Deville’s in Providence on June 20 with Karyn Oliver, and on the 21st there will be a block party with Sister Funk.

If you want some fun for once in your life, you are in luck. The Schemers will play a reunion show on June 27 at The Met (TheMetRI.com). The 100 Watt Suns and Longshot Voodoo are at the Courthouse Center for the Arts, Saturday, June 28 at 8pm (CourthouseArts.org).

Just July
On July 3, check out East Providence’s fireworks and the music of Kicking Hole and Crushed Velvet at Pierce Memorial Field. The 1st annual Bluegrass on the Pawtuxet Festival happens July 4 – 6 at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. Some of the scheduled performers are Blues Highway, Steeldrivers, Tony Trischka & Great Big World, Pete and Joan Wernick, the Carter Brothers, Suzahn Fiering, The Kropp Dusters, and George Harper. Master class workshops, indoor and outdoor jams, and a farmer’s market are all part of it (AngryLobsterEvents.com). One of your best “bang for the buck” folk festivals around is the The New Bedford Folk Festival. The 2014 festival will feature top contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music on seven stages from Saturday July 5 through Sunday July 6. Featured among the nearly 50 musical acts are Barbo, Beaucoup Blue, Craig Bickhardt, Benoit Bourque, Kate Campbell, Ronny Cox, Joe Crookston, Chrissy Crowley, Cliff Eberhardt, Jonathan Edwards, Marina Evans, Gail Finnie, Bob Franke, Vance Gilbert, John Gorka, Grace and the RSO, Bill Harley, Matt and Shannon Heaton, Anne Hills, Pete and Maura Kennedy, Mike Laureanno, Christine Lavin, Zoë Lewis, The Murphy Beds, New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus, Chris Pahud, Poor Old Shine, Hayley Reardon, RUNA, Chris Smither, Devon Sproule, Spuyten Duyvil, Art Tebbetts, Steve Tilston, Jeff Warner, and Don White. The festival is located in the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford (NewBedfordFolkFestival.com). Swamp Stomp 7 takes place on Saturday, July 12 in the swampy, back woods of West Kingston with performances by Ha Ha Tonka, JP Harris & the Tough Choices; Girls, Guns & Glory; and Smith & Weeden (brownpapertickets.com/event/666795). Set aside your beach blankets and coolers this summer at the North Kingstown Town Beach and enjoy the Family Summer Concert Series. All shows start at 6:30pm. July 10 is Ben Rudnick and Friends, July 17 is Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys, July 24 is Stacey Peasley, July 31 is Toe Jam Puppet Band (NKArtsCouncil.org). Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche pop into Music At Lily Pads on July 20 (musicatlilypads.org). If you’re into a road trip (3 hours), some camping, and a who’s who of Bluegrass in the Catskill Mountains, then get away to the Grey Fox Bluegrass festival on July 17 – 20 at the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, NY for Nickel Creek, Del McCoury Band,Carolina Chocolate Drops, Gibson Brothers, Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott, Keller Williams w/Travelin’ McCourys and more (greyfoxbluegrass.com). From July 25 – 27 it’s the Newport Folk Festival with acts such as Band of Horses, Jimmy Cliff, Nickel Creek, Mavis Staples, and Jeff Tweedy (newportfolk.org). The sixth Annual Newport BridgeFest happens July 28 – 31. BridgeFest is a four-night celebration of local music and musical events at various local venues throughout Newport County “bridging” the world famous Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals (NewportBridgeFest.com).

Just August
August 1 – 3 brings back the Newport Jazz Festival with Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty, Bobby McFerrin, Dr. John, David Sanborn and more (newportjazzfest.org). A Blues Barbecue Bash at the Salon Concert Series takes place at the Wamsutta Club in New Bedford on August 2. Featured is Mississippi Bluesman Sherman Lee Dillon (wepecket.com). The AS220 FOO FEST takes place in Providence on August 9 (AS220.org). The best festival (party) of the year is the Rhythm and Roots Festival at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, August 29 – 31. This year’s festival includes Steve Riley and the Mamu Playboys, The Duhks, Sarah and the Tallboys, The Travelin’ McCourys, CJ Chenier, Donna the Buffalo and more (RhythmandRoots.com). There are also some sporadic free outdoor concerts at Ninigret Park. On July 13 at 5:30 it’s David Gerald and on August 24 it’s Forever Young (charlestownri.org).

Just September
The first annual Providence Folk Festival will take place at Roger Williams Memorial in PVD on September 7. Catch two stages of music by some of the best local and regional performers (HearInRhodeIsland.com). The 6th annual Sidy Maiga’s West African drum and dance festival, Afrika Nyaga, is bringing musicians and artists from across New England and West Africa to perform. On September 20, Sidy Maiga’s West African drum and dance festival includes a daytime drum circle and African dance that is great for both children and adults. AfriManding and Oumou Sangare will also be performing (afrikanyaga.com).

Summer Series
The Downtown Sundown Series is now in its fourth year and gains steam with every show. Performances are free, start at 7pm and run until 9:30pm at Roger Williams National Memorial on North Main St. in Providence. Experience an outdoor coffeehouse! This year’s schedule: In the event of rain, the concerts will be held in the visitor center. On Saturday, June 21 will be Steve Allain, Emma Joy Galvin, Tracie Potochnik, Lisa Couto and Ray Cooke. On Saturday, July 12 will be Kala Farnham, Heather Rose, Kristen and J, and Rank Strangers. On Saturday, July 26 will be Jesse and Jack Gauthier, Dan Lilley and Scatman, Lisa Markovich, and Bethel Steele. On Saturday, August 9 will be Michelle Cruz, Lily Faith Milne, Dylan Sevey, and Vudu Sister. On Saturday, August 23 will be Marc Douglas Berardo, Allysen Callery, Bob Kendall and Ed McGuirl (HearInRhodeIsland.com).

The Newport Concert Series (formerly the Newport Sunset Festival) keeps upping the ante and bringing in more great shows! Every year local performers play the Point Stage (PS) as the opening, opening act. Get there early to check them out. On June 19 will be Dierks Bentley with Lisa Martin at PS, on June 20 will be Ziggy Marley with Louis Leeman at PS, on July 6 will be KC and the Sunshine Band with Heather Rose at PS, on July 12 will be John Hiatt and Robert Cray with Ed McGuirl at PS, on July 13 will be Yes with Steve Allain on PS, on July 18 will be Barenaked Ladies with Bob Kendall on PS, on July 25 will be The Machine (Pink Floyd tribute w/ laser show) with Joe Auger at PS, on August 1 will be Three Doors Down with Emma Joy Galvin at PS, on August 6 will be Boz Scaggs with Lisa Couto & Ray Cooke at PS, on August 10 will be Gregg Allman with Dean DePalma at PS, on August 14 will be Josh Turner with Tracie Potochnik at PS, on August 16 will be the Beach Boys with Joe Silva at PS, on September 20 will be Chris Young with Michelle Lewis at PS. More shows will be added (newportwaterfrontevents.com).

Newport Rocks the Fort at Sundown. On Thursdays there are free concerts on the north lawn at Fort Adams in Newport. Starting at 6pm and ending shortly after sunset, talented musicians and other performers from Newport and beyond will share their talent. On June 19 is Red Eye Flight and Peter Warburton; on June 26 is The Steamahs; on July 3 is The Conversation and Sundown Big Cat Blues; on July 10 is James Ragland, Anne Marie and Rich Davis; on July 17 is We Own Land and friends; on August 7 is Andy & Judy, Matt Bruneau & Leslie Grimes; on August 14 is Acoustik Nyte and Black Jade; on August 21 is Lisa Couto & Ray Cooke, Ed McGuirl and company; on August 28 is Triple Threat Blues Crusade; and on September 4 is The Merge & Friends. Each evening will be hosted by local comedians and other talents. The concerts will include casual food from local vendors as well as alcohol service (newportcitylimits@gmail.com.)

Summer Mash
On the first Tuesday of every month, from 7 to 10pm, an open mic is held at Sandywoods Center for the Arts in Tiverton. Other highlights at Sandywoods this summer include on June 7 – The Tarbox Ramblers; on June 21 – Allysen Callery, Ryan Lee, and Lys Guillorn; on June 27 – Debra Mann Quintet; on July 4 – Laurel Casey; on July 5 – Little Compton Band and Four Bridges; on July 23 – Village Harmony; on July 26 – Session Americana; on August 2 – Aine Minogue; and on August 22 – Jen Chapin (sandywoodsmusic.com).

The Mediator Stage keeps going all summer with host Don Tassone. Features are as follows: June 5 – Jim Tata; June 12 – Joel Greene and Deep Waters; June 19 – Bill Nottage; June 26 — Bob Fitzgerald; July 10 – Charlie Cover; July 17 – Fred FJ Round Two Meltzer; July 24 – Kari Tieger; July 31 – Tammy Laforest; August 7 –TBA; August 14 – Athan Phynix; August 21 – RISING Student Songwriters; and August 28 – Rick & Hannah Mariotti (facebook.com/mediatorstage). The Greenwich Odeum presents Kind of Blue – A Tribute to Miles Davis on July 12 and  Jim Carpenter with the Hoolios on July 19. The Odeum is located at 59 Main St. in East Greenwich (TheOdeum.org).

The Towers in Narragansett keeps a summer tradition of dancing near the ocean alive every Thursday night until September. It starts June 12 with Eight to the Bar, on June 19 is The Revelers, on June 26 is The Superchief Trio, on July 10 is Reminisce, on July 17 is James Montgomery, on July 24 is Li’l Anne and the Hot Cayenne, on August 7 is Roger Ceresi, and on August 21 is Firecracker Jazz Band. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys will do their annual show at the Towers. Check website for the date (TheTowersRI.com).

Every Sunday till someone tells them to stop it’s the Return Of The Son of the Classic Open Mic with Host Joe Auger. It happens Sundays at 7:30pm in the Fatt Squirrel (formerly The Century Lounge and The Roi) at 150 Chestnut St., Providence. The Northwest Farmers Market at the Peterson Farm (just past Stick’s Tavern) on Route 44 in Chepachet will host music performances during the market hours of 11am – 2pm. Artists such as Dan Lilley, Malyssa Bellarosa, Jacob Haller and more can be heard among the fruits and veggies. The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) has some great shows to lure you inside on a hot summer night. The legendary Ringo Starr brings his all-star band to PVD on June 15, Crosby, Stills and Nash are back on July 15, Beck odelays in on July 26, and Jackson Browne plays a solo, acoustic show on  August 20 (ppacri.org). On the lawn at the Meeting House of Tiverton Four Corners Arts, it’s their Concert and Food Truck Summer Shows. On June 29 is Smith and Weeden with The Little Compton Band, on July 27 is Kate Grana & Friends and on August 3 is WindSync (FourCornersArts.org). Also, the 27th annual Tiverton Four Corners Arts & Artisan Festival takes place at The Mill Pond location on Saturday, July 19 with music by Gary Fish, the Little Compton Band and other local favorites (ArtsandArtisanFestival.com).

At Manchester 65 in W. Warwick on June 13 is Melissa Ferrick and Mary Ann Rossoni; on June 14 is The Toasters, w/ Oshun Roots, Bad Larry, Sweet Babylon; on June 15 is Simone Felice w/ Able Thought, Brian Recupero; on June 21 is The English Beat, w/ The Copacetics, Rad, The Stone Unturned; on June 22 is Mary Day Band, Jury; on June 26 is Jamestown Revival, The Wind & The Wave, Kris Orlowski; on July 13 is Maggie Rose, Michelle Cruz; on July 27 is Everlast; on August 1 is Tyler Ward w/ Gary Palumbo, Christina Holmes, Como Brothers; on August 9 is Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad; and on August 15 is Bobby Carlson & Stones River (Manchester65.com).

At Chan’s in Woonsocket: June 7 is Popa Chubby, June 13 is New Orleans Trombonist Glen David Andrews, June 14 is  Jon Butcher Axis Celebrating the Music of Jimi Hendrix, June 19 is Curtis Salgado, June 20 is Chris Thomas King, June 21 is Dennis Gruenling & Doug Deming Band, June 27 is Brian Maes Band, June 28 is Joe Moss, July 11 is Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers, July 12 is Sue Foley & Peter Karp, July 18 is Commander Cody, July 19 is Fat City, July 26 is Duke Robillard, August 1 is Chris Cain & Debbie Davies, August 7 is Tinsley Ellis, August 8 is Roomful of Blues, August 15 is Matt Schofield, August 29 is Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Altar Boys, and August 30 is Coco Montoya (ChansEggRollsandJazz.com). Every Sunday afternoon at Small Axe Café, located on the grounds among the emus, chickens and goats at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, you can catch live music performed by local artists such as Ed McGuirl, Dan Lilley and others (facebook.com/smallaxeproductions). The Empire Revue at AS220 keeps you laughing all summer long with great music and comedy skits every first Sunday of the month. On July 6 they celebrate their 8th anniversary (AS220.org).

If I missed anything, it was not intentional. I will keep you updated over the summer. If you would like me to consider something for my column, please send an e-mail to RISongwriters@yahoo.com. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

John Fuzek


Top Things to do in Newport this Summer


Take a Break From The Beach

If you’re heading to Newport this summer, you’re probably thinking the beach or maybe the cliff walk, but the city has more to offer than just sun and sand. A leisurely stroll down Thames street is always fun, but here are some things to try if you’re in the mood for something new!

Dinner Train
The Newport Dinner Train takes diners back to the golden age of railroads with delicious food and ocean views. The 22-mile train ride includes events like “Romancing the Rails,” “Afternoon of Elegance” and family night. The train departs from the depot at 19 America’s Cup Ave. and business casual attire is required.

Newport Harbor Shuttle
The Newport Harbor Shuttle is a convenient, cost-effective way to experience the sights in the harbor. The boat departs from Perrotti Park and stops at Fort Adams, Bowen’s Wharf and Goat Island. The biggest advantage of the shuttle is you can hop on and off to your heart’s content for just the initial ticket price! The harbor shuttle is located at 39 America’s Cup Ave.

Naval War College Museum
Learn about the naval history of New England and Narragansett Bay at the Naval War College’s Museum. The building was formerly the Newport Asylum for the Poor and is now a National Historic Landmark, and the exhibits focus on the development of the permanent naval fixtures in the city. The museum is located at 686 Cushing Rd.

Old Colony and Newport Railway
The Old Colony and Newport Scenic Railway takes you on a relaxing locomotive ride along the west shore of Aquidneck Island through Newport and Middletown. The line was originally built to provide steamships from Fall River with a railway connection. The train leaves from the depot on America’s Cup Ave., and the train runs most Sundays at 11:45am and 2pm.

Newport Tower (Old Stone Mill)
The round stone tower located at Touro Park may not be as flashy as the Marble House, but many visitors find its history fascinating. The interesting part: the 28-foot structure was probably built sometime in the 17th century and is commonly thought to be a windmill, but there is no hard evidence that points to exactly what it is. Other theories speculate that it’s a Viking tower, an observatory or a Chinese lighthouse. Come see Newport’s answer to Stonehenge for yourself and formulate your own hypothesis. Touro Park is located between Mill St. and Pelham St.

Ghost Tour at Fort Adams
Come to Fort Adams for a nighttime ghost hunt and explore the paranormal side of this famous Newport attraction. Fort Adams has a handful of other educational options, including tours highlighting the military aspects and daily life in the fort, but this is perfect for those interested in the supernatural. Join the Rhode Island Paranormal Society as they take you on a guided tour beneath the walls and explore dark tunnels of this centuries-old structure. Ghost tours will be hosted on July 18, Aug. 15 and Sept. 19 and go from 10pm to midnight.

Newport Art Museum – Events
When you’re all tired out from the beach, head indoors and take in some culture at the art museum. Their current summer exhibition is “Very Simple Charm: The Early Life and Work of Richard Morris Hunt in Newport, 1858-1878.” Hunt was a preeminent American architect known for designing many famous structures in Newport (including The Breakers) and around the US. In addition, the museum hosts a number of special events, including an “Appraisal Day,” where you can get a professional appraisal for your art or jewelry (June 21), a lecture on Picasso’s obsession with Degas (July 8) and a metal crafting workshop/drum circle (July 28). The museum is located at 76 Bellevue Ave.

Newport Murder Mystery
Come see the Newport Murder Mystery troupe for a night of mysterious, family-friendly fun. The company describes themselves as “murder professionals” who are committed to C.R.I.M.E. (Creative Role-Playing Interactive Mystery Experiences). Currently, two alternating performances make up their “Summer of Sin” roster: “Mobsters and Molls” pits swingers and flappers against each other for a whodunnit set in the jazz age, and “Ballgowns, Bling, and Betrayal” is a classy affair set in 18th century high society. The shows are held at the John N.A. Griswold House at the Newport Art Museum and the performances take place on Saturdays throughout the summer.

Irish History Museum on Thames
Newport is probably most famous as a summer playground for the country’s most ostentatious millionaires, but the city also has some interesting working-class history. Located in the heart of Newport’s famously Irish Fifth Ward neighborhood, The Irish History museum is a non-profit organization that takes visitors through the experience of the Irish immigrants in Newport. Irish immigrants were instrumental in creating some of the iconic Newport elements; they were recruited to construct Fort Adams and, later, worked in many of the mansions. The museum is located on 648 Lower Thames St. in Newport and is open Thursday – Sunday from noon – 5pm. Admission is by donation.

The 40-odd minute ride to Newport from Providence can seem like a huge undertaking for a Rhode Islander, but activities like these make it worth the drive. No matter what you’re interested in, Newport offers New England residents plenty of options to get out and try to forget that the long, grueling winter ever happened.