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Fall Theatre Guide

Temperatures may be falling, but things are heating up in the theater community with the start of a new season. Between musicals, straight plays and new works, there is something for any theater lover to enjoy among this fall’s varied selections.

A new school year means the collegiate theater scene will soon be up and running. First up, Rhode Island College begins its season with Radium Girls, a true story of a miracle cure-turned-deadly and the fallout that ensued. Next up is the beloved rock musical about teenage angst and sexuality in a repressed society, Spring Awakening. University of Rhode Island will be presenting Polaroid Stories, a blending of myth and modernity based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Finally, Roger Williams University starts the year with a staple of community and school theaters, Almost Maine. They conclude the semester with Orlando, an adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel about a young nobleman’s affair with Queen Elizabeth I.

The professional theater circuit isn’t shying away from heavy subject matter, with some hard-hitting season openers. Trinity Rep kicks things off with the critically acclaimed The Inheritance, an epic two-part play that weaves together three generations of gay men attempting to forge their future in the aftermath of the AIDS epidemic. In the capable hands of director Joe Wilson Jr., this is sure to be a can’t-miss production. Trinity Rep invites members of the community to make their own mark on this production by contributing the names of loved ones who have passed away from HIV/AIDS to appear in a soundscape memorial. 

The Gamm begins its season with another epic, generation-spanning play, Describe the Night, which follows the stories of eight men and women interwoven through Russian history and conspiracy. Later on, they will be tackling Sweat, a Pulitzer Prize winning play that tackles race and class issues through the lens of the working class of Reading, Pennsylvania.

Wilbury is kicking off its season with the world premiere of Silhouette of a Silhouette by Rose Weaver, a play dealing with loss and heartbreak through music. Next up is the Rhode Island premiere of The Humans by Stephen Karam, a play centered on four generations of an Irish-American family gathered for Thanksgiving.

If you need something a little lighter between these heavy dramas, rest assured, there’s comedy abound this season, too, beginning with The Community Players production of the madcap comedy Moon Over Buffalo. Down in Westerly, Granite will be presenting Oscar Wilde’s classic The Importance of Being Earnest. The Arctic Players has in store some much-needed levity with Social Security and Noises Off. Things will get extra noisy with another production of Noises Off presented by Swamp Meadow in Harrisville. Return to childhood with Peter and the Starcatcher, the prequel to Peter Pan, at Attleboro Community Theatre.

The recently launched West Bay Community Theater is planning a Halloween-themed musical showcase for its fall show. Auditions are pending as of this writing. Also pending is the rebirth of Kira Hawkridge’s OutLoud experimental theater, which is currently constructing a new space above Jordan’s Jungle at 545 Pawtucket Ave, Pawtucket, coincidentally right next door to Motif’s current offices. The Players at the Barker Playhouse, whose new (pre-COVID) space is right next door to where Motif’s offices usedtabe, will be showcasing 20th Century Blues, a sweet-hearted comedy by Susan Miller about aging and art being directed by local theater veteran Lynne Collinson. The Contemporary Theater Company is focusing on humor this fall, hosting the Ocean State Black & Funny Improv Festival from Oct 6 – 8, featuring headliners, guest troupes, workshops, parties and other activities. They also have, in addition to their regular improv comedy nights, The Thanksgiving Play covering late October and early November, a madcap satire by Larissa FastHorse about a group of “woke” art teachers throwing a pageant to bridge the backstories of Native American Heritage Month and Turkey Day. Mixed Magic also tackles indiginous issues with their October show, to be announced, and are excited for their Holiday Celebration starting in November.

Of course, there are plenty of offerings in the musical department as well. First off, the national tours swinging through PPAC this fall include Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Mean Girls, Tootsie, and Les Miserables. For more homegrown talent, catch Jamestown Community Theatre’s Little Women, Stadium Theatre’s Cinderella, and Rhode Island Stage Ensemble’s Little Shop of Horrors. Youth talent will be on full display as well with JDP’s Young Frankenstein, Swamp Meadow’s youth production of Rock of Ages, and Matilda at Academy Players. For a new take on an old classic, check out The Assembly Theatre’s production of a new musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Speaking of new works, we’ve got a few more of those in the pipeline. Local playwright Lenny Schwartz’s Bill Finger: Rise of the Bat, the story of long-uncredited Batman co-creator Bill Finger, will be performed at RISE before taking New York City by storm for a one-weekend engagement. Following previews at RISE last spring and FringePVD over the summer, Permanent Solutions by Cass Caduto, a play about mental health and human connection, will get its full run at AS220 in October. In addition to these new works, there is also a new female-founded theatre company on the rise in Barrington. Until the Fat Lady Sings Theater will be presenting the bard’s All’s Well that Ends Well as their first production this November.




Kelly and the Poor Boys: CCR gets a feminine twist

It was early in the evening, right around suppertime, when I arrived at the Harmony Café in Manville to see Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) tribute band Kelly and the Poor Boys. 

When I walked in, they were raring to go –  Dana Blake on drums, Jason Carpentier on bass, Sal Chinappi on the keys, Robbie Ray Poisson on lead guitar, and Eddie Donovan on rhythm guitar.  And of course Kelly Gray Donahue, the female lead vocalist with the long, pink scarf tied to her mic stand.

After the show, we got  to chat about their favorite Creedence tunes, bar fights and more:

LuzJennifer Martinez (Motif): How did you practice during lockdown?

Jason Carpentier: We probably sneaked one practice in every couple of weeks. We maintained social distancing at Dana’s house for practices.

Kelly Gray Donahue: We started The Creedence Tribute in January of 2021. And I would be in the corner, like “Don’t come near me!”

LJM: Do you play full-time?

Robbie Ray Poisson: I work a day job at International Packaging and I’m a first shifter. I can play gigs relatively easily and not disrupt my schedule. 

Dana Blake: Sal and I have it easy; we’re both retired.

KGD: I work during the day too. I work in biotech and my position will become more remote. That will make it much easier with Thursday or Friday night gigs.

LJM: That’s quite a change, going from biotech to rocking out.

KGD: It’s my alter ego. When I tell people I work with that I sing in a band, they are quite surprised. 

LJM: How long have you been singing?

KGD: I’ve been singing for about 10 years. I met these guys through The Stones tribute band The 19th Nervous Breakdown. They had a female vocalist who was not available for a few shows, so I jumped in.

JC: Kelly’s pretty fearless. We gave her a week and said ‘’We need someone to help with these gigs,”  and she was right there.

LJM: What are some other bands that you like?

JC: Robbie likes the heavy stuff. I’m a fan of that but I also listen to The Monkees and The Bee Gees.

RRP:  I do enjoy The Monkees but I’m into Jethro Tull and Alex Cooper. It depends on my mood.

JC: It’s a challenge when you are a tribute band because after you play the songs 500 times, you hope to still like the songs.

LJM: What are your favorite Creedence songs?

KGD: I like “Tombstone Shadow” and “Old Man Down the Road.”

RRP: “I put a Spell on You” is my favorite. I also like “Low Tide” because I play very little guitar on it, so it’s almost like taking a break.

Eddie Donovan: I’m with Robbie on “I put a Spell on You.”

JC: That one’s a challenge for us. It’s got a lot of nuisances to it and it’s a longer song. It definitely keeps us on our toes when we play it.

LJM: Do the songs have open rights?

JC: We don’t really have to pay for the rights to perform the songs because the venues that we play at pay ASCAP or BMI.  It’s like a blanket fee.

However, if we were to record songs and try to sell them, that becomes our responsibility. 

ED: Beatlemania was actually sued in the ‘70s for being a tribute act and they won their case, which paved the way for all tribute acts to continue. 

JC: Tribute bands still get sued on occasion but it has to do more with logo infringement than the music itself.

LJM: What are some audience reactions when you play? 

ED: The groupies are overwhelming most times.

DB: The sarcasm is palatable!

Sal Chinappi: We have to carry big sticks!

DB: The funniest thing I’ve seen so far happened yesterday. There was a bar fight during one of Kelly’s favorite tunes.

KGD: Yes, during “Don’t you wish it was true.” It’s such a happy song, and a bar brawl was getting ready to break out. It was halfway through the second set.

DB: I think Robbie said it best yesterday: the guy with the flip-flops who landed on his ass should have figured out he was on the losing side of things. 

ED: He deserved it for wearing flip-flops.

RRP: People seem to enjoy the act. With Creedence, everybody’s gonna have a favorite song. 

SC: The fact that a woman is singing and it’s coming out good, they listen to it. I think having a different approach to it, with Kelly as a front, really blows them away.

LJM: What are the takeaways you want for your audience?

JC: We just want them to have a good time. We’re glad people are showing up and responding to the music. You can put us in a closet and if people are there, we’ll be there. 

RRP: I agree; if people are having a good time and they can keep the bar fights to a minimum, it’s a great time. That’s all I care about. 

KGD: We’re creating an experience. In one of our earlier gigs, there was a woman who said she danced to Creedence at Woodstock.

JC: Everyone has a connection to Creedence somehow. Whether you just found the music or your parents listened to it, it’s a connection. And it’s lasted for generations; we’re talking 50 years.




Is This Jazz?: Newport Jazz Fest ’22

Each year as July edges closer to August, I feel my ears prickle at the prospect of enjoying yet another edition of the historic Newport Jazz Festival. Now that I have been fortunate to have attended the festival for over half of my life, it has become a tradition unlike any other I know: one that guarantees not only familiarity and a sense of “going home,” but also comes with the joy of knowing that out there at Fort Adams is a new sound waiting to break through and steal my heart and mind for the next year. This edition of the festival promises those same rewards, and even more so considering we’re shifting back to the more maximalist vision of a festival, away from the stripped-down version we all enjoyed last year. So to get you prepared, here are three picks for sets on each day that I think should be considered as part of your festival watching schedule.

The festivities begin on Friday July 29, a day packed with ambitious newbies and old legends alike. Collaborations abound this year and few are as exciting as the prospect of McBride’s Newport Jawn, which is run by Newport’s creative director and bass master Christian McBride, and will feature an all-star cast including Chris Potter and Vijay Iyer. Having seen nearly every McBride set I could over the last few years and considering the personnel he has lined up, I’m anticipating a musically adventurous set that blends the best of everyone’s capabilities. For another set of creative mastery be sure to check out Terrence Blanchard. Not only is he an amazing trumpet player but also a composer of the highest caliber, having penned several large-scale pieces, including award-winning operas. And of course, all the native Rhode Islanders will need to give some love to the deep and dirty funk of Lettuce which features RI’s own Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet. And if you haven’t had enough by day’s end, grab a ticket to go see Nate Smith + Friends at the official after-show benefit going down at the Newport Blues Cafe on Friday night.

On Saturday I implore you all to do whatever you can to see Sons Of Kemet. They have been one of my favorite new bands over the last couple of years, had one of my top favorite sets of any festival and this will be their last year as a group so this may be your last chance to ever see them play. If you dig heavy percussion and exciting blends of sound, be sure to dig Antonio Sánchez & Bad Hombre which is described on his website as Sánchez’s “sociopolitical electronica & drums exploration…in which Sánchez turns his political anger into a moving musical statement as a protest against injustice in our current political climate and as a tribute to every immigrant’s journey.” And as has become somewhat of a tradition for me, I need to suggest yet another set from Cécile McLorin Salvant. She is beyond comparison in so many ways that one just needs to witness her brilliance to fully grasp it.

Ending the festival on a high note, Sunday is bursting with magnificent musicians. For starters- although I’m not hip to their music right now- I’m intrigued by what Jazz Is Dead Presents has to offer. It’s a record label that has an impressive catalog with a mix of younger artists and older icons. It’ll be interesting to see what they bring to the festival. I caught the last few minutes of a PJ Morton set at a past festival and I truly regret not being able to have seen more of him so I am overjoyed to be able to watch him again. His virtuosity, his joy and his embracing of so many sounds and styles will surely make for many people’s favorite set of the weekend. And of course, there is no better or more fitting way to end this year’s festival than Celebrating George Wein, a tribute to the man who started it all and reshaped modern music history with his festivals and his spirit. This set features a truly insane line up with Christian McBride, Trombone Shorty, Hiromi, and that’s just the folks listed on the poster. With so many incredible musicians appearing over the three days I’m sure we are going to get a musical experience the likes of which are rarely ever seen.

As a reminder, bring lots of sunscreen, a water bottle and good walking shoes so you can fully enjoy what this year has to offer. For more information please visit newportjazz.org, where you will also find links to schedules, vendor lists and more. Hope to see you all at the Fort!

Ben Shaw is a local composer, performer, and writer. Find him at benjaminshawmusic.com and on Instagram at @benjaminshawmusic.




Footloose Flies Fancy-Free at Theatre By The Sea

Candace Haynes (Rusty) and the cast of FOOTLOOSE at Theatre By The Sea thru July 16. Photo by Mark Turek.

Footloose is loosely based on events that took place in the small, rural and fanatically religious farming town of Elmore City, OK in 1978. Dances had been banned by an ordinance from the late 1800s until a group of teens challenged it. In the 1984 movie, as well as in this musical stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie (Artistic Director Kevin P. Hill), the town of Beaumont is hurting over the loss of four youths in a fatal car crash. It took a teen transplant from Chicago, also suffering the pain of loss from his father’s abandonment, to turn the town around and bring back the joy they so vehemently need.

The dancing starts right out the gate– as soon as the curtain rises— but it’s not until the second half that the momentum really picks up. It’s when we learn that one of the teens who’d perished was the son of the local clergyman, Rev. Shaw Moore, that we start to feel the hurt and loss suffered by all. Artfully portrayed by Matthew J. Taylor, the man of religion sets the sullen pace of the town due to his own grieving. His daughter Ariel, skillfully portrayed by Emma Wilcox, seeks attention in sultry ways, and wife Vi (Aimee Doherty) shows she misses him as well. Once Rev. Moore has a heart-to-heart with Ren McCormack, our pioneering and pirouetting lead character portrayed by JP Qualters, he puts his self-centered ego aside and free will is restored; the town once again laughs and dances in joy. Nothing heals the morose heart like a good boot-scootin’ boogie!

Standout performances by certain other veteran actors steal the show, including James Oblak as Chuck Cranston, the perfect bad boy. Melanie Souza provides comic relief as Betty Blast, the witty diner owner with a flair all her own (not to mention her country line dancing, as many actors played dual roles). Kristen Gehling portrays Ethel McCormack, Ren’s mother, in a performance that tugs on our heartstrings. Ren’s Geeky friend, Hewitt Willard, portrayed by Ethan James Lynch, is a total show-stealer, especially with his surprisingly awesome vocals. Equally impressive is the attractive scenic design by Kyle Dixon. Large, easily moved pieces without the use of smaller props make the settings as eye-catching as they are time-saving.

You’ll be tapping your feet to the ol’ familiar Oscar-winning (Best Original Score for Maurice Jarre) and Tony-nominated top 40 score from the early ‘80s. Take a twirl down memory lane as this production celebrates the wisdom of not only listening to our youth, but guiding them with a warm heart and open mind.

Footloose runs through July 16. For more info, visit www.theatrebythesea.com or call the box office at 782-TKTS (8587).




Tightly Clung to Bochek!: PVD’s Bochek gets ready to release second full-length album

With a mix of unusual beats, improvisational sounds and engaging lyrics such as, “I was beaming about you, I’ve been healing without you” and “devoted to makin’ mental health my first responsibility,” Bochek’s songs take listeners on a journey. They invite us to join them on their path towards vulnerability and revelry, all while inevitably making us dance! 

On August 5, the world will be introduced to their second full-length album, Tightly Clung to Love. Co-released by Dollhouse Lightning and SELF LUV, this record is, as described by the PVD-based band: “An emotional dive that will leave you feeling uplifted” (indeed!). Want to find out more about them and their bows? Read on, reveler, read on.  

Mayté Antelo-Ovando (Motif) : How did Bochek come to be? Care to share the meaning of the name? 

Nevin Kosinski (Bochek): We got started in 2012, at the Tiverton Middle School talent show- with founding members Dante Krystman, Nevin Kosinski, John Bonoan and Zack Davey. We performed an amazing rendition of a Ben Folds Five song called “Underground.”  Dante coined the term “Bochek,” which stems from our live show attire at the time. In the 8th grade, we were known for wearing suits adorned with bow ties and often gave each other “bow checks.”

MAO: I love that! Definitely not what I was expecting. So, what does everyone play in this band? I know you all play 5000 instruments in your various projects, but for Bochek- what’s the line up?

NK:

Dante Krystman- Bass

Noah Mangelson- Drums

Nevin Kosinski- Vocals

John Bonoan- Guitar

Joe Rebelo (new addition)- Keys

MAO: To get to know you even more, what’s everyone’s favorite dance move and favorite color? 

Bochek: 

Dante-put your legs together, lock your knees stiff, throw your arms above your head and let those puppies flail. Favorite color pink!

Noah- the two step! Favorite color black!

Nevin- the worm. Favorite color seafoam green.

John- a cool little one foot hop and leg bounce my former manager Kota taught me. No color preference. 

MAO: Speaking of dance moves and your music- tell me about the rhythmic choices- they seem very deliberate. How do you make them?

NK: The rhythmic choices we make mostly come from our improvisational jams, the jam sessions we have are how we write our songs most of the time. Rhythmically and melodically we inspire one another in real time during the songwriting process. A lot of the rhythmic decisions are made and dictated by Noah who draws a lot from Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, American Jazz and West African rhythms and musical traditions, among others. Our live show is heavily dependent on improvisation in many ways, changing up melodies, rhythms and song structures on the fly.

MAO: That improvisational feeling comes through so clearly in your new album. Upon first listen I wrote in my notes: reggae, cha-cha-cha, clapping beats, jazz and rock- ALL IN ONE ALBUM. What do you want people to experience through this new release?

Noah– Ultimately, I want people to feel the way that I feel when I find something that I really love or have some sort of strong connection to… of course, there are a lot of themes and ideas on this record that we were aware of when creating it, but I can’t say there’s something specific I want people to [experience] other than a feeling.

Nevin– I hope that it helps whoever listens to it, whether that’s in the form of confronting inner turmoil, self-love or just feeling a sense of comfort and warmth.

Dante– I really want people to feel like they can connect and relate to the words Nevin is singing about. By the end, I expect tears of self-reflection and dance moves to be busted out in glorious fashion!

John – I want people to [experience] a comforting warm feeling when listening to the album- not just about the music, but about themselves!

MAO: Anything else you’d like to share? 

NK: We are so proud of this album we’ve created. It was a long journey through the pandemic, but we’re almost here at the release. Huge thanks to Andrew Jackson for the artwork and photos on the album.

Bochek’s music video for their first single “Beamin” embodies the consistent message of Tightly Clung to Love; being vulnerable and sharing experiences allows for healing and joy, and when a band does it in songs that are vocally and rhythmically unexpected, it just feels so much better. Your ears and heart will never get bored when listening to their new album, I promise!  

Get their new music on Bandcamp: 

https://officialbochek.bandcamp.com/album/tightly-clung-to-loveFollow them on Instagram @officialbochek and dance to their new video: https://youtu.be/ZrmLpn9BVdU




Motif’s 2022 Music Awards Nominees: Who will take home the trophy?

With local music beginning to blossom once more following two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Motif is pleased to present our annual Music Awards! These awards compile nominees put forward by local venues, record labels, music writers and radio stations.

For being the smallest state, RI certainly has a never ending supply of fantastic music spanning all genres. This year, our list of nominees is especially exciting, featuring a blend of scene veterans and brand new talent. Every single band, singer, venue and album listed here represents the absolute best that RI music has to offer.

Along with the awards ceremony, which will be hosted at the legendary venue Fete Music Hall, there will be food, drinks and live music provided by Stefan Couture, returning performers School of Rock, and other acts.

No matter who you select in each category, it is important to recognize and appreciate just how much creativity, vitality and talent is present in RI music. Many of these acts have promising futures ahead, and it is always a joy to see how music from this state evolves and captivates ears and hearts worldwide. To all the musicians, venues, labels and audiophiles in RI, we salute you.

DETAILS: 

What: The Motif 2022 RI Music Awards 

Where: Fete Music Hall, 203 Dike St in PVD

When: July 18, 6:30 – 9:30 pm. 

Vote now through July 10 at: motifri.com/musicawards2022

And now, the nominees!

Americana:

Best Act:

Allysen Callery

Atwater-Donnelly

Dan Blakeslee 

The Huntress and Holder of Hands

The Low Cards

Man and Wife

Best R&B Act:

Boo City

Empress

Julie Rhodes

NiLa 78

Steve Smith & The Nakeds

Best Live Act:

The Co-Eds

Consuelo’s Revenge

High Planes

Julie Rhodes and the Electric Co

Museum Legs

Sharks Come Cruisin’

Steve Smith & The Nakeds

Vudu Sister

Best Country Act:

Charlie Marie

Lauren King

Nick Bosse and the Northern Roots 

Ward Hayden & the Outliers

Best Open Mic:

Askew

Hill’s Tavern & Grill

Musical Chairs with Al Keith at Java Madness

The Parlour

Sunday Series at the Updike in East Greenwich 

Best Singer/Songwriter:

Brian Shovelton

Jodie Treloar Sampson

Lauren King

Lee Zangari 

NiLa 78 

Sarah Kenyon

Stefan Couture

Best Vocalist:

Alexus Lee

Alison Rose

Amanda Salemi

Avi Jacob

Beth Barron

Christian Calderone 

J. Michael Graham

Jodie Treloar Sampson 

Lauren King

Tammy Laforest

Tara Hansen

Best Bluegrass Band: 

Four Bridges

Greystone Rail

High Planes

Ocean State Ramblers

Rock Hearts

Sinner’s Pie

Best Jazz Act: 

Ben Shaw

Birt and Harley

Chase Ceglie Quartet

Evening Sky

Greg Abate

John Allmark Band

Leland Baker Trio

Mutter

Best Concert Photographer:

Emily Gardner 

James Lastovski

Kerry Quinn

Lisa Gourley

Richard McCaffery 

Rick Farrell

Small Frye

Best Blues Act:

Adapter Adapter

Cannibal Ramblers

Duke Robillard Band

F & Blues Band

Helen and the Trash Pandas

Jake Wasson

Jonathan Grice

The Low Cards

Neal and the Vipers

Best Folk Act: 

Allysen Callery

Dan Blakeslee

High Planes

Jillian Kay

Laden Valley

Lee Zangari

Tammy Laforest

Best Street Band/Marching Band/Brassband:

Coyote Brass

Extraordinary Rendition Band 

Providence Drum Troupe

Undertow Brass Band

Best Festival:

Rhythm and Roots

RI Blues Fest

RI Folk Fest

Warren Folks Fest

Best Album (Americana):

Adapter Adapter – No Comfort

Ben Shaw – Seven Songs

GrandEvolution – Glow

High Planes – Ghost Town

Best Music Video:

Big Nazo – Space Transformation Station

Los Duderinos – Something Else

Glenn Thomas – Reassure Me There’s a Window (live)

Never Coming Home – South Station

Olivia Charlotte – Diagnostics

Toad and the Stooligans and Friends – Bless the Table (LIVE CYPHER)

Alternative:

Best Rock Band: 

Julie Rhodes and the Electric Co

Ravi Shavi

SEXCoffee

Sgt. Baker & The Clones

The Smoke Breaks

Sugar Cones

Best Act:

The Benjis

Bochek

The Quahogs

Ravi Shavi

The Silks

Viking Jesus

Best Jam Band:

Eclipse

Electro Politics

Future Phase

Guess Method

Best Indie Rock Band: 

Beauquet

The Benji’s

Heather Rose in Clover

Jets Can’t Land

Leiko

NOVA ONE

Ski Bunny

StarBath

Best Live Act:

Chance Emerson

David Tessier’s All-Star Stars

Israel Wusu

Jets Can’t Land

Ski Bunny 

The Z-Boys

Best Reggae Act:

Dudemanbro

Natural Element

Professor Roots

SoulShot

Best Ska Band:

The Agents

The Brunt of it

The Copacetics

Sweet Babylon

They Were Robots

Best Garage Band:

123 Astronauts

Andy Lampert

David Tessier’s All-Star Stars

PonyBoy

Shirley Drive 

Song Birds

Tony Jones & The Cretin 3

Best Noise Band:

Baylies Band

Department of Teleportation 

Loud Neighbors

Minibeast

Psychic Graveyard

Best Pop Punk Act:

Bubblegum Punk

The Callouts

Electric Paisan

FINE.

Never Coming Home

so over it

Stubborn Hearts

Best Post Punk/Gothic Act:

DIGITAL

Hope Anchor

Leiko

Vudu Sister

Best Punk Act:

GNARNIA

The Knightsville Butchers

The McGunks

Midnight Creeps

The Paraplegics

Vague Perception

We Own Land

Best Hardcore Act:

Anxious Wave

Blasphemaddicts 

Bullet Proof Backpack

Hammer Party

Reason to Fight

Best Metal Act:

Amitié

Churchburn

RHODE KILL

Shape of Rage

She Rides

Best Prog/Emo Act:

Bent Knee

Hemlok

Indelego

Leiko

Sleep Mode

Best Vocalist:

Bob Kadlec

Chris Smith

Craig Ferris

Dan St Jacques

Jess Moroney

Muggs Fogarty

Paul Everett

Rafay Rashid

Stev Delmonico

Viana Valentine 

Breakthrough Act:

Beauquet

Degenerates of Punk

Grip Bite

The Keegan Turner Band 

The Knightsville Butchers

Best Album:

Beauquet – Beauquet

Corinne Southern and The Constellations – Celestial Bodies

Darklands – Forgive Yourself

Grip Bite – GTFO

Nick Politelli – Examiner

Pavid Vermin – Cutting Corners

SEXCoffee – Devilish Kiss

The Paraplegics – Ramp it up

Triangle Forest – Triangle Forest

Viking Jesus – Before the Mutation

Best Cover Band:

The Carson Daily Project

Country Wild Heart

Don’t Tell Lisa

Loose Screws

RugBurn

Take it to The Bridge 

Wicked Rhode

Best Tribute Band:

Dirty Deeds – ACDC

Green Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan

Violin River – Grateful Dead

Wicked Petty – Tom Petty

Best Karaoke Night:

The Ave

Boombox

Chan’s

Hill’s Tavern

Hot Club

JW’s Pub

The Parlour

Sports Tap

Union Station Brewery

Best Alt Festival:

Pride 

PVDfest

Revival Fest

Scurvy Dog Mega Show

Favorite Sound Person:

Brian Cabral

Dan Baldwin

DJ Psycho Eddie

Glenn Alexander

Greg Rourke

Jerome O’Neal 

Mike Arruda

Tayte Street

Vinnie Bellows

Favorite promoter:

Amber Lynn

Greg Chihoski

Michael Panico

Mike Carp

PVD World Music

Rob Duguay

The Hammer Collective

Tom Weyman

Best Festival:

Scurvy Dog Mega Show

Revival Fest

PVDfest

Pride

Electronica:

Best Hip Hop Act:

Chachi Carvalho

DirtyDurdie

Israel Wusu

Jesse the Tree

John Hope

Spocka Summa

Toad & The Stooligans

Best DJ:

Caloric

Desi Renegade

DJ Coroking

DJ Pauly Danger

DJ Psycho Eddie

Sex on Decks

Best Dance Night:

Discotech

FReQ

Island Saturdays

Kink Night

Nokturnal 

Soul Power

Vertebrae

Best Electronic Act:

Artist Jackie

Baby: Baby: Explores the Reasons Why that Gum Is Still on the Sidewalk

Ceres

Droplets

Dvalor

KiSSiNG KONTEST

Muggs Fogarty

Triangle Forest 




Interviews that Resonate: Motif’s Between the Notes podcast doesn’t miss a beat

As I entered The Parlour one Monday night, on the stage against the far wall, I saw a man in a chair seated across from four other men in chairs, each with microphones in front of them. I gleaned that this was some sort of interview; later, I learned that this was an episode of Between The Notes, Motif’s weekly local music podcast. Scanning the rest of the room as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, I took a seat at one of the high top tables and watched the rest of the interview unfold. 

For over a year now, this podcast has operated with two distinct purposes: Giving viewers and listeners a glimpse of how each act sounds live, and giving the acts a platform to dig deeper, to display the kind of people they are. Speaking with two of the podcast’s hosts, Tess Lyons and Jack Downey, I got some more insight into how the podcast is run and what it is like to be a part of it.

Both Downey and Lyons thoroughly enjoy their time on Between the Notes, and the opportunities they have to promote and talk to the local acts that come to The Parlour. Each episode features something vastly different from what came before, from powerful, floor shaking metal bands to sparse, wistful folk music and everything in between. 

The podcast has grown in popularity to the point where, according to Downey, there is a waitlist for bands and artists to be featured. “I’ve actually had bands that I know reach out to me wanting to know more about the podcast and how to be featured. Back when I started, nobody had any idea that this was something that existed,” he said, before adding, “what Motif offers local musicians is unique in that there are so many benefits, particularly when it comes to visuals. Not many bands have such complex, multi-camera videos of their performances, so this is truly important to them.”

Along with this, the podcast also gives performers the chance to bare their souls during the interview segment. In many instances, you can see the subjects come alive after being asked certain questions, revealing their passions, goals or just interesting anecdotes. In a recent episode with Jake Hunsinger and the Rock Bottom Band, the conversation was less about music than about coffee – Aztec Hot Chocolate, to be precise – topics of discussion not common on a podcast centered around music. 

The camaraderie between band members is also often on display during interviews. “For a lot of these bands and performers, this is their first time being interviewed in a setting like this,” Lyons said. “When you get down to it, more often than not these are old friends who just enjoy jamming out together, and that’s easy to see during these interviews.”

Though the podcast has garnered attention since its launch, Downey hopes its viewership continues to grow, both in person at the venue and online via Facebook and Twitch. “While the podcast is growing in scale and notoriety, its main purpose and where it works best is offering a spotlight to local musicians in a local venue sponsored by local businesses,” Downey stated. In a similar vein, Lyons sees the podcast growing to be a more interactive, Q&A-style event where the patrons of The Parlour are able to give their feedback on the talent that plays. By doing this, each episode of the podcast can turn into a small event, making them even more entertaining. The music scene in and around PVD is diverse, eclectic and talented, and with each new episode of Between The Notes, that greatness is being displayed to a wider audience, showing the world how much the smallest state has to offer.




Curtains Up: A RI summer theatre guide

This summer, between beating the heat with trips to the beach and Del’s lemonades, consider adding a play or two to your summer bucket list. Among the offerings from local theaters, there’s a little something for everyone, from our Shakespeare scholars to our musical theater aficionados.

First and foremost, nothing screams summer theater quite like Theatre by the Sea in Wakefield, and this season is particularly noteworthy, given it will be their first full season post-COVID-19 shutdowns. Kicking things off, Million Dollar Quartet, runs through June 18. Set on Dec 4, 1956, it portrays the true story of a pivotal moment in music history when fortuitous circumstances led Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley to join forces at Sun Records in Memphis for what would become known as one of the most legendary jam sessions of all time. Next up, get ready to kick off your Sunday shoes and cut loose with Footloose, a story of teenage rebellion and, of course, dancing, that runs (or dances) from June 22 to July 16. Speaking of losing shoes, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella takes the stage July 20 and runs through Aug 13. Last but not least, and still continuing on the shoe theme, Kinky Boots, the dazzling and uplifting story of acceptance and fabulous footwear, finishes off the summer beginning Aug 17.

Rest assured, the musical fun does not end there! The RISE playhouse in Woonsocket will be presenting Seussical the Musical June 3 – 12. A whimsical weaving of Dr. Seuss’s greatest hits, Seussical is sure to be fun for the whole family. On the subject of family-friendly, Shrek the Musical runs at Granite Theatre in Westerly July 7 – 24, the ever-memed story of an ogre to whom there is more than meets the eye. Not quite as family-friendly but also borrowing from beloved children’s stories, Swamp Meadow will be putting Into the Woods at the The Assembly Theater in Harrisville, a “careful what you wish for” tale that draws from popular fairy tales, and was composed by the late, great Stephen Sondheim, running June 3 – 5.

If Shrek and Seuss fail to hold appeal for the entire family, there are two particular crowd-pleasers for teens and young adults coming to the local theater scene. First up, Academy Players will be putting on the beloved RENT, Jonathan Larson’s iconic rock musical about a group of friends living in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, running June 9 – 19. Next is Freaky Friday, adapted from the movie starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, about the shenanigans and empathizing that ensue when an angsty teenage girl and her overworked mother swap bodies. Catch it at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket July 15 – 17.

If you’re looking for something a little less toe-tapping and a little more brain-stimulating, summer is the perfect time for Shakespeare. CCRI Summer Rep has two of the bard’s plays in store this summer, with Taming of the Shrew, Jul 21 – 24 and Othello, Aug 25 – 28: one comedy and one tragedy, just to ensure a well-balanced Shakespeare diet. For some Shakespeare under the stars, check out What Cheer’s Something’s Rotten in the State of Denmark, a one-act farcical take on Hamlet (admittedly, more Shakespeare-adjacent than actually penned by the bard himself), at Sprague Mansions the last two weekends of July, and Contemporary Theater’s As You Like It, to be performed on their new patio. Contemporary Theater will also be presenting a stage adaptation of The Neverending Story, based on the novel by Michael Ende about an epic adventure with all kinds of creatures, characters and puppets, from June 24 to July 30, and Men on Boats, a true(ish) story of an 1869 expedition to chart the Colorado River, beginning its run Aug 12. 

If the classics are your jam but you’ve had enough of the bard, Head Trick Theatre will be presenting Aristophanes’s The Assemblywoman, a chaotic farce about a group of women who seize control of the government and turn the city on its head (which is sounding like a really good plan right about now), at various locations around PVD July 15 – 31 for their first in-person show post-COVID-19 shutdowns.

Among the many theatrical productions concentrated around the end of July, don’t miss out on FringePVD, PVD’s iteration of the world-renowned Fringe Festival, established in Edinburgh back in 1947. Sponsored by The Wilbury Group, Fringe features new and experimental works from local, national and international artists in various locations around the city. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out of your theatrical comfort zone and experience something a little different from your standard theatrical fare.




Nick Politelli: Examiner

Examiner, the debut release from local guitarist and songwriter Nick Politelli, is a well-crafted rock record that mixes tight hooks with experimental grooves. 

Politelli started playing music around age 20 while studying abroad in London, initially fashioning himself as a folkster “hybrid between Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.” Back in his native RI, he picked up the electric guitar when he joined the band Ravi Shavi. He also joined the band Lookers as a guitarist soon after and began writing songs on the side. His first publicly released song, “Absent Minded Fool,” came out on Ravi Shavi’s Special Hazards in 2020.

For the production and recording, Politelli employed the services of a major songwriting influence: Keith Zarriello of the NYC cult favorite the Shivers. He was initially turned on to the band by Ravi Shavi bandmate Rafay Rashid, who also served as co-producer on the record. 

Examiner was recorded over two humid weekends in June of 2021 at a cabin studio not far from Woodstock, NY operated by a friend of Zarriello’s. “There was no running water, and I woke up in the mornings flicking ticks off my arm,” said Politelli.

“I immediately loved Nick’s demos, and to me it was refreshing to hear catchy rock songs after so long,” said Zarriello. “I wanted to make sure we were innovative in some way and didn’t try to copy anyone else too much. I think it’s important that rock/guitar music continues to innovate and embrace experimentalism otherwise I fear it will become pure revivalism.”

Zarriello’s influence can be felt throughout. He played many of the bass parts, as well as some live and programmed drums, and arranged the song “While We’re Still Lonely,” which previously sounded nothing like the final version. The song is built on a patchwork of simple guitar harmonies over a slow R&B groove, and Politelli noted that the close mic’d vocal lends a more vulnerable feel. 

“If there’s one element that made this EP identifiable,” said Politelli, “I’d say it’s actually the snare sound. Keith had it locked in when I arrived at the studio. I’m not sure how he discovered it, but it was perfect for the project.”

Named for his day job as a real estate title examiner, the record at times recalls ’70s New York bands like Television and the Talking Heads, and their ability to build a song from the ground up based on simple, biting guitar riffs. “Caramelize the Light,” which Politelli cites as his favorite, employs a kind of spoken word crooning. 

“Mind is Racing (all the way over in the right lane)” examines the urban sprawl, complete with local references to Newport’s Freebody Park and sweet bread. “That one originated with me staring out my old apartment window, being angry about condo development in my neighborhood,” said Politelli.

Initially he didn’t think “Mirah,” with its sparse lyrics and a repetitive groove, was even a real song. “Keith convinced me to put it on the record. I believe in it now, but I certainly didn’t then.”

My pick is “Unholy Lonely,” the pitch perfect pop song which Politelli stated was his attempt at writing a Shivers-style tune. 

Because the studio time was limited, Politelli turned to Deer Tick drummer Dennis Ryan to fill in some of the gaps. Ryan lended some additional engineering, and played some drums and bass.

For Politelli, taking the plunge into making his own music worked out. “I basically started this effort without a band –or much of anything –and relied heavily on my musical friends to help make it happen.” 

He has recently put together a band of his own, and still plays with Ravi Shavi and Lookers. 

Check out Examiner at Bandcamp




Cold Weather Concerts: December Music Roundup

Okee dokee folks… ‘Tis the season…for the war on Christmas! 

Every year I have to explain to people that I quit Christmas. I did this back in the mid ’80s. It’s obvious that I am all for the war on Christmas. I don’t exchange gifts, I don’t partake in any holiday festivities; in fact I ignore it all as much as possible. It’s the season of greed. It’s the season of excess. It’s a season of depression. Too much pressure is put on people during the holidays: financial, emotional, physical, spiritual. I just got tired of it all and quit. You can, too! This year is the perfect time to renounce the holidays. Opt out of family gatherings over COVID concerns or because the price of gas has made travel too expensive. Maybe suggest a Zoom get together then have your internet “mysteriously” malfunction. Explain that everything you wanted to buy folks is stuck on a container ship off the coast of California. Say that DeJoy has mucked up the postal system so much that he has taken DeJoy out of sending cards. Honestly, you really don’t need a reason at all — you’re an adult and you can just drop out. Save yourself while there is still time! If someone happens to wish you “Merry Christmas,” just do like I do, keep it simple and mumble, “You too” and scurry back into the house! Read on…

On December 4, Common Fence Music presents Hubby Jenkins at the Common Fence Point Center in Portsmouth. Jenkins is a multi-instrumentalist who loves to share his knowledge of old-time American music. He was an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later Rhiannon Giddens’ band. He has performed at festivals and venues around the world, earning both Grammy and Americana award nominations. 

On December 18 at The Casino Theater in Newport, CFM brings in Nellie McKay to close out the fall season. McKay has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera, and her music has been heard on “Mad Men,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Weeds,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion, just to name a few. For more, “Ding Dong” CommonFencemusic.org.

The Pumphouse in Peacedale is back with indoor shows and has buckets of music for your listening pleasure. In December there’s: Paula Clare’s Special Edition — Dec 3, Mark Cutler — Dec 4, Steve DeConti Quartet — Dec 5, a special acoustic show by Forever Young on Dec 10, Eden Casteel and the Pumphouse Piano Bar — Dec 12, The Joint Chiefs, Dan Lilley with Amy Bedard, et moi on Dec 17, Dylan Sevey returns with the Gentlemen on Dec 18, Tish Adams and the Jingle Bell Jazz Jam with a Grocery List Grants benefit for musicians in need on Dec 23. Vandal the handle to PumphouseMusicWorks.com for more.

The 2021 Singing for Shelter will again be 3 weeks of short “living room concerts” on Facebook Live instead of an in person show. Local musicians will zoom their music to you in this telethon-ish music marathon. This all benefits Lucy’s Hearth and The McKinney Shelter. For more, beam over to: fb.com/SingingForShelterNewport

At the Z in New Beige you can deal or no deal to the point of no return. The Zeiterion presents the manic comedy of Howie Mandel on December 2 and the Point of Know Return Anniversary Tour of Kansas on December 10. I saw Kansas a few weeks ago in Connecticut and the band sounded better than ever.  Both shows could make this December worthwhile! Toto to Zeiterion.org for more.  

The annual Stand Up For Animals show at the Knickerbocker in Westerly is back after last year’s COVID cancellation. Help is needed for the critters even more this year. Stand Up For Animals happens on December 12 at 7pm and will feature the music of Marc Douglas Berardo, John Speziale & Friends, and fiddling by Craig Edwards. You can also enjoy the Dancing Santa and a dance contest. All proceeds support our furry friends. For more, woof, woof, meow: KnickMusic.com

The VETS in PVD has quite a few events on their schedule to get you through until the new year. Coming up: Billy Gillman — Dec 5, Black Violin — Dec 9, comedian Brian Regan on Dec 11 and much more. If you haven’t been to Veterans Memorial Auditorium in a while it’s high time you get there! For more, nunchucks and flamethrowers over to: TheVetsRI.com

The month of December and on through the end of February can be tough for local musicians. Between the holidays, football and hockey games, inclement weather, and pandemic concerns, attendance for music events can be light. Be kind to your local musicians this winter: Tip generously and help them out by purchasing a CD, t-shirt or whatever other product they have schlepped to a show! They WILL be grateful.

By the way, BRING YOUR VAX CARD EVERYWHERE! I have seen many people turned away at venues for not having proof of vaccination. If you are vaxxed, be proud and show that thing. If you’re not, stay home!

One more thing. If you have events that you would like to be considered for inclusion in my column PLEASE send them to me at least 3 WEEKS prior in an email, not a flyer, not Facebook. You all think I am a mind reader and instantly know what you are planning! Geez! That’s it for now, thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com