Roots Report: December music

Okee dokee folks… ‘Tis the season once again. I am still in the trenches fighting the war on Christmas. After over 35 years in the battle, I have now earned five-star general status. In spite of my disdain for the holidays, I must acquiesce and write some “Christmasy” stuff here for you folks who celebrate. This year I will spare you the usual “Johnny Scrooge-ek’s” view of the holidays. Humbug! Read on…

I always try to include this in my December column because I like to promote events that help animals. Every year around this time, musician John Speziale holds a fundraiser for the cute critters. The ninth annual Rock and Roll Christmas Benefit Stand Up for Animals will take place Sunday, Dec 11 at The Knickerbocker in Westerly. Speziale’s Mr. Santa puppet issued a statement about this year’s show: “We made big decisions today, bigger than anything, and everybody agrees how big they are. All designed to make our event more fun than ever. Big decisions – and important – did I say important? Very, very important. Because this thing is going to be so spectacular… Really, really big. Bigger than anything!” Scheduled to appear are John Speziale and friends, as well as The Carleans. The benefit always has lots of great music, contests, food, and fun. It’s all for a good cause. For more, roll over to knickmusic.com.

Providence-based piano player and singer-songwriter Shannon Corey brings her Swinging Christmas Show to the Music Mansion in PVD on Dec 17. Corey has toured and sung with Stephen Stills, as well as opening for Lady Gaga. Shannon and friends will be playing selections from her I Wish I Had A River holiday CD and other swinging Christmas classics. For more, skate over to shannoncoreymusic.com.

The RI Bluegrass Alliance (RIBA) is having a holiday potluck pickin’ party on Dec 11! Celebrate the season by jamming with fellow RIBA members and enjoy plenty of food, picking, and music! Come to play or just to listen. Please bring an appetizer, entree, salad, or dessert. Cash bar. They are also collecting coats, hats, gloves, socks, and sweatpants – any warm clothing for adults and children ages 3-12 for donations to Crossroads in PVD. Please bring your donations to the party. It all takes place at the Elks Lodge 2285, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich. For more, resonate to ribluegrass.org.

The 15th Annual Singing For Shelter is on Thursday, Dec 8, at Channing Church in Newport. Hosted by local musicians, this acoustic Christmas concert will benefit Lucy’s Hearth and The McKinney Shelter. Doors open at 6:30 and music starts at 7pm. Scheduled performers include Jimmy Winters, Chuck and Toni Ciany, Mel, Leslie Grimes and Matt Bruneau, John Monllos and Joanne Rodino, Tom Perrotti and EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Carrigan Nelson and Steve Rodrigues, Julie Bisbano, Diane and Chris Myers, Rand Bradbury, Dragonfly Marie, Ed McGuirl with Joe Lambiase, Jack Moore and Jim Chapin, Ray Davis and Mark T. Small, Jack Casey, Ed Ledwith, Fastnet Irish Session Crew and the Singing For Shelter All-Stars. For those unable to attend, donations can be made at lucyshearth.org and mckinneyshelter.org.

Recently, I did a couple of interviews for my Roots Report podcast with folks promoting new projects. The first one was with Billy Mumy. He portrayed Will Robinson on the 1960s TV show “Lost In Space.” Mumy just published his autobiography, titled Danger Will Robinson: The Full Mumy. Those who only know Mumy from “Lost In Space” only know part of the story of this very accomplished actor, musician, and producer. Mumy was part of the golden age of television and worked with the legends of that era. He is also a very accomplished musician and has had many bands that include Barnes & Barnes, best known for their Dr. Demento hit, “Fish Heads” and his current band The Action Skulls with Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) and John Cowsill of the Cowsills. In addition to that, he has worked with the band America many times over the years. I was provided excerpts of Bill’s autobiography, and with so many tales to tell, his writing kept me very engaged. The book is over 400 pages of stories and 250 photos from this legend’s life. For more, Jupiter 2 to: billmumy.com.

The other interview for the podcast was with RI Music Hall of Fame inductee and founding member of the Cowsills, Bob Cowsill. It has been decades, but the Cowsills have just released a new album titled Rhythm Of The World. The eleven-song recording highlights the writing and trademark genetic harmonies of the band. Whether you are a new or old fan of the band, this is a must-have for your music collection. For more, take “The Path Of Love” to: cowsill.com. [Look at that: We tricked John into making a gift recommendation – ed]

Celebrate(?) the holidays with a John Waters Christmas! The filmmaker, writer, actor, and artist will be at the Columbus Theatre on Dec 10 with his show. I had a chance to have a short conversation with Waters about what to expect at this performance. Listen to it on my Roots Report podcast! For more about the show, flamin-go to: columbustheatre.com. 

Listen to interviews with Billy Mumy, Bob Cowsill, John Waters, and lots of others on the Roots Report podcast, presented by Motif: motifri.com/rootsreportpodcast. I am always uploading new ones, so please listen! MotifRI.com/RootsReportPodcast. You can find my concert photographs at motifri.com/fuzeksfotos. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. johnfuzek.com

“Art is what unites us”: Robertico Y Su Alebreke brings Latin flavor to RI Latinos and beyond

For almost 20 years, Latin music band Robertico y su Alebreke has been bringing Latin music to the community at large across RI. Aficionados in PVD, Pawtucket, Central Falls and beyond have become fans of the group’s diversified sound, including salsa, Latin jazz, bachata, and merengue.

Musician Robertico Arias has seen the Latin music scene boom in RI and doesn’t anticipate it slowing down anytime soon. Salsa is what Arias is mainly known for, and he finds that most musicians in the local Latin music scene concentrate heavily on bachata and typical merengue.

“I’m being sought out to play more salsa and Latin jazz at private events,” he said. Events include weddings, where patrons request salsa, cumbia, and bolero to dance to. According to Arias, his reach has grown and diversified just as the music scene has.

“We [also] have a great presence with non-Latino audiences through our Latin jazz,” Arias said. Along with a recent gig at Waterfire in PVD, Alebreke has performed in Jamestown, at a salsa night in Portsmouth and at the Newport Museum, among other places. They are also on their way to being known internationally, with their music getting airplay in Argentina, Peru, and Arias’ native Dominican Republic.

With most of their music also being distributed digitally through platforms like Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes, the doors have been opened for Alebreke to be heard across continents. Their album, Musico, Poeta, y Loco (Musician, Poet, and Crazy) was released in 2017 with 24 digitally downloadable tracks, which Arias is proud of.

One of his most recent projects is the track Soy del Caribe (I’m from the Caribbean), released in 2021 as an homage to Arias’ heritage. “I wrote it to vent about arriving [to the US] and the cold weather,” he said. 

Arias has recorded with merengue star Wilfrido Vargas and an array of other musicians. He is currently planning an international tour in the Dominican Republic and is working on a new salsa hit, La Batea, in his home studio, where he mixes and arranges all music.

Arias credits his mother, also a musician, for getting him started as a percussionist specializing in congas, bongo, timbales and percussion arrangement. “My mom is my number one influence; she would take me with her whenever she played at festivals and I saw the process of how the musicians warmed up their instruments,” he said.

Over time, Arias became a music instructor, teaching undergraduate students at Berklee College of Music, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. He also taught secondary students at Cranston East High School. “My students were from different cultures at the schools I taught at,” he said.

Alabreke was formed in 2001 but was side-tracked due to 9/11 and officially started playing in 2003. “In the Dominican Republic, Alabreke means a hyper-active, diverse person who likes to be in everything,” Arias said. “It’s a person that is always happy, with chispa. And not only salsa can be used to invoke Alebreke, it can be invoked by other styles [of music] as well.”

Latin music and dance in RI unite as one

Arias finds the Latin dance community helpful in getting local Latin music on the map. He recently played at a salsa night in Warren during a lesson and saw firsthand how well attendees responded to the music.

“There is a cross-fusion with dancers and musicians and people love to see that,” he said. “It’s marvelous.”

RI Latin Dance founder and owner Mori Granot-Sanchez couldn’t agree more. “The Latin music and dance scene in RI is beautiful and diverse,” she said. “I personally enjoy it the best when we get to dance to live bands at all the different festivals and outdoor events we have in RI.”

Granot-Sanchez finds it beautiful when music and dance blend together, for all to enjoy through the talented artists and musicians from Little Rhody, regardless of background. “You don’t need to be Latino/a to enjoy the culture, music and dance, you just need to appreciate its beauty, respect the roots where it originated from and join the party,” she said. 

Arias is also most inspired by seeing everyone in the community united to celebrate one another through art and culture, be it within the Latino community or beyond.

“If we do an event, it’s important for Latinos to go and support it,” he said. “We should also all be united as a community [of] all cultures. Art is what unites us.”

The Meming of Music: And other scary October ideas

Okee dokee folks… There is a meme that I see from time to time that reads, “A musician is someone who puts $10,000 worth of gear into a $500 car to make $50 at a gig,” or something to that effect. First of all, I don’t know any local musician who has $10,000 worth of gear. Second of all, where do you find a $500 car these days? If there was $10,000 worth of gear that needed to be moved you would need a truck or a van, not a car. The $50 part is somewhat accurate, but that depends on where you play and what type of performance you are giving. Basically the meme is just telling you that musicians spend their money on gear, drive shitty cars and don’t have cushy incomes. This is resonating with me right now because I am a musician who needs to buy a new vehicle. Well, not new: used. When the hell did used cars with 100,000+ miles on them get to be so damn expensive? $10,000+!!! I know this will make me sound old and cranky – well, I am – but when I was young, a car over ten years old with that mileage would be $100. And the cars were simple: none of this computer stuff that would put the Apollo space capsule to shame. I like simple! 

When I started writing the Roots Report, almost 20 years ago. I had a truck that didn’t have heat and had holes in the floor. I used to write about freezing on my drive to gigs. I have had a couple of trucks since then and my current conveyance is one that a good friend of mine fortunately sold to me for a great price. Eight years have passed since that transaction and the truck is now twenty years old, going on 200,000 miles, and is, unfortunately, rotting from beneath. Like Neil Young (and Rust-Oleum paint) says, “Rust Never Sleeps.” 

So now I am shopping for a truck and my head is spinning from the obscene pricing on used vehicles. I NEED a truck, not necessarily for $10,000 worth of gear, but because I need to tow the two trailers for the RI Folk Festival. I guess I will have to start playing the lottery and crossing my fingers. As for the meme at the top of this story, it should really read “A musician is someone who takes a beat up old guitar and puts it into a $10,000 car they can’t afford but that is all that was available for sale and the musician is now in debt and will only make $50 towards that car payment at their next gig.” Read on… 

Back in the ‘70s (I know I start a lot of sentences like that lately), one of my favorite albums was Fool For The City by Foghat. They were a great arena rock band and I saw them in concert a few times. It’s been a while since they have been out rockin’ but they will be taking a “Slow Ride” to the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket on Oct 15. I spoke with Foghat founding member Roger Earl. Listen to that interview here. For more about the show and others, “Ride, Ride, Ride” to StadiumTheatre.com

October may be the month most people like to do spooky things but this October seems like it is geared more towards the funny stuff. Some of my favorite comedians are hitting area stages this month! Ryan Hamilton who starts off his special, Happy Face by talking about his face, “I look really happy all the time… crazy happy… I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, ‘Wow, that is inaccurate.’” He has one of the best comedy specials on Netflix and will be at The Comedy Connection in East Providence Oct 20 – 22 (RIComedyConnection.com). 

I have had many conversations with comedian Paula Poundstone over the years and I have her scheduled for a podcast in advance of her show at The Narrows in Fall River on Oct 22. Paula’s stand up shows are always hysterical and she is always a very entertaining interview guest. Watch for that! (NarrowsCenter.org

Taylor Tomlinson also has two really funny Netflix specials – Quarter Life Crisis and Look At You. If you haven’t watched them, do so and then check her out live at Veterans Auditorium on Oct 8. Finally, Fortune Feimster, of “Last Comic Standing” and “The Mindy Project,” will also be at The Vets on Oct 23. (TheVetsRI.com

If you didn’t follow Randy Rainbow over the past few years and watch his Drumpf skewering, musical parody videos, then you missed perhaps the only levity during that time. Randy is bringing his Pink Glasses Tour to the Providence Performing Arts Center on Oct 21. (PPACRI.org) We don’t need more scary, we need more laughter in our lives! 

Down in the far-off corner of the state, the East Bay town of Tiverton, the Tiverton Four Corners Art Center will be presenting the Autumn Concert Series. Coming up — Oct 15: Mark T. Small; Oct 16: Spindle Rock River Rats; Oct 22: Atwater-Donnelly Band; Oct 29: Day of the Dead Halloween Bash. For more, square root to: FourCornersArts.org

When you click on the Greenwich Odeum‘s website it reads, “We’ve got some good shows coming up!” And that’s no lie! There is always something great going on at the Greenwich Odeum. Glen Tilbrook, Almost Queen, Christopher Cross, Livingston Taylor, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Rocky Horror, The Tubes, Judy Gold, Tab Benoit, Stanley Jordan, The English Beat, Judy Collins, Jamie Kennedy, The Smithereens… and the list goes on. If you haven’t been to the Odeum yet, I just gave you many, many reasons to get there! For more, “Ride Like The Wind” to: GreenwichOdeum.com

I am back to adding podcasts, so please listen! You can find my concert photographs here. There are recently posted pix from the Ringo Starr show at PPAC.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

Electric Paisan: An Italian-American’s Solo Debut

Providence-based and influenced, it takes minutes to see how Joe Tudino navigates self-discovery in order to assuage self-doubt, and how he draws inspiration and comfort from fellow PVD creatives. He has reclaimed part of his Italian identity and renamed himself the “Electric Paisan,” releasing his debut EP: Cigarettes and Dandelions.

Photo by James Lastowski

Mayte Antelo-Ovando (Motif): Let’s start with the name you perform under, could you say it for me and then tell me a little bit about it to start?

Joe Tudino: Absolutely — my performance name is Electric Paisan. I wanted to use a stage name for personal and showmanship reasons. I got the idea for Electric Paisan first and foremost because of [Nate Cozzolino]. Nate used to host MadCap Monday Open Mics at Dusk before COVID. He’s very Italian, and every time I would show-up he would be sitting in the same spot across the bar and yell a friendly Italian greeting to me. Just that energy from him was great because I’m also Italian. My grandparents passed on when I was younger but I still have somewhat of a connection to my [Italian roots], in how my mom cooks, a lot of stuff my dad does, he’s like an old Italian man. Hearing that from Nate, on a consistent basis, really kind of reaffirmed the Italian part of myself. And “Electric” sounded cool and I’ve always been really into electronics… I used to take apart my toys as a kid when they broke and try to figure out what was going on. I took that so far as to become an electrical engineer and the DIY aspect carried over to my music as well. I recorded all my own stuff, produced it myself and built guitar effects pedals that I used.

MAO: Very impressive. You were talking about doing everything yourself before- and how you recorded this debut EP in your bedroom. Could you tell me what that process was like?

JT: I’ve been slowly learning how to record and produce for years. I did a small project with one of my old friends from college when I was in [the band] Corinne Southern and the Constellations. I managed recording our debut EP in our drummer’s garage. So that kind of helped me build up the skill set and confidence to do my own songs, which, obviously, I want to get right because they have a lot of meaning to me. I was figuring out how to get it all done in my small room and how to get it to sound good. It was a lot of experimenting with microphones, putting things in different spots in the room, and putting up foam wedges. I also talked to people in Providence who were running studios and who recorded themselves- to figure out what worked for them.

MAO: Did you play all of the instruments I heard on this EP?

JT: Yeah, I played all of them, and 95% of them are real instruments recorded with a microphone. I know some musicians plug guitars in and use amp simulators or use software to put in drum samples. I don’t see anything wrong with that but it wasn’t my preference.

MAO: Listening to your music, one of my favorite songs was “Climate Don’t Change a Thing.” I wrote a note to myself that said, “love the drumming.” I really liked it because I was humming it while I was doing something else.

JT: Wow — that’s one of the biggest compliments I can get, honestly. Thank you!

MAO: You’re so welcome! Would you like to say anything about the title of your EP, “Cigarettes and Dandelions”?

JT: The title actually came last and it happened kind of by accident. My friend Holly — who has a new project, “Pinko Dykebomb” — came with me to do a photoshoot [promoting] a show where she was going to play for the first time under that name, and I [was going to play my debut] as Electric Paisan. She’s very bold and unafraid: one of Providence’s true punks. So I set up a photoshoot with James Lastowski and invited Holly along. When I got there she was in the park near the Crook Point Bascule Bridge. She was sitting, just strumming her guitar, and it was right at the beginning of spring, so these pink trees were just in full bloom, and the entire ground was just covered with pink petals. Before that I had been thinking about something with a flowery theme and a vise, or some kind of struggle, and Holly had a pack of cigarettes on her. After we were done with our photoshoot I asked her to leave a few for me, and then James stuck around a little longer, so we just got the photoshoot for the album and the singles that day. (And the title: Cigarettes and Dandelions).

MAO: Speaking of words and your inspiration I wrote down some of your lyrics, like “Hello, my name is Joe. I’m not quite who I am,” or “Somehow I get greeted with a smile and a hug.” How does the duality of your album title fit into the lyrics?

JT: Most, if not all, the songs on the EP deal with various aspects of mental health and definitely things that  a lot of people in their early to mid 20s may be dealing with…  the line in the song “Sadboi Blues,” “Somehow I get greeted with a smile and a hug,” is definitely a self-doubt thing. It’s feeling unworthy. But still, you show up to a place, and everyone’s happy to see you. And the “Hello, my name is Joe” song is called “Button Factory” (a reference to a Children’s song). It was the first song I wrote the lyrics to for this project. The second half of that line, “I’m not quite who I am” is connected to not feeling like yourself, especially after some sort of trauma that you’re recovering from… it’s about moments of feeling out of touch with pieces of yourself that you’re trying to get back to after pain; feeling different after the experience and having to kind of rebuild your identity.

MAO: That’s very powerful. Is there anything else you want to share? Something that you want your listeners to walk away with?

JT: That’s a tough one… I write [my music] because I have something I want to connect to within myself and also to share. Also, especially for musicians listening (or reading), I want to highlight the DIY aspect. I’ve had friends that put out good sounding and fun-to-listen-to work by just playing acoustic guitar on their phone. I want musicians to remember that the point of music is to feel something or to make somebody feel something, you don’t need to go to a recording studio to necessarily do that, you just gotta do your thing and get it out there to people.

Want to follow Electic Paisan and listen to his debut EP? Go to @electricpaisan, to Bandcamp at electricpaisan.bandcamp.com, access his music on all streaming platforms or go to his next show: Jake-cessorize! A Halloween Flannel Fest: Oct 21 at Dusk in PVD!

Video Screening Series: Every type of music descends on Dusk

We had metal. We had opera. We had Latin music. We had folk, and pop, post-pop and pre-pop and some videos about music theory. But most of all, we had a great screening night, mixing the visual and auditory through a spate of over 20 music videos that gave a truly impressive cross-section of the musical talent lying in wait around our little state. “The production value really surprised me,” and “This was an amazing reminder of how much exceptional talent we have right here in RI,” were two of the feedback comments gathered during a QA with filmmakers and musicians at the end of the night.

Over 50 appreciators of music, or music videos, or videos, gathered at Dusk in PVD to experience these overlapping art forms. Recent Overall Favorite Bartender Award-winner Danielle Tellier was coincidentally slinging gourmet-level drinks, while Puggles brought the grilled cheese and dogs and sponsor Jade Sisti brought the popcorn maker, all while videos were projected, 40-feet high, outside the club in perfect fall weather.

The evening featured work by local legends like NOVA ONE, SexCoffee, Amanda Salemi, Lauren King, High Planes and Big Nazo. And audience voting was all over the place, with a pop tune set in a time warp by Scout Lyons, an original opera about the loneliness of quarantine by Skycam Films, and a gamble of a video by Ravi Shavi taking home top honors (and some snazzy gift certificates along with some Smoke Lab vodka) over a ten-way tie for fourth place.

It was Motif’s last outdoor screening for the year, in a summer that included various collaborations with SENEFest, PVDFest, PVD Horror and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Our screening series continues for the next few months indoors at R1 Indoor Karting‘s screening hall, in the close-to-PVD part of Lincoln (100 Higginson Ave). The October edition, on Wednesday, Oct 19, will feature sci-fi and some scary films, in collaboration with the Vortex Sci-Fi and Horror Fest produced by Fickers. Also on board will be Halloween-themed vendors from PVDHorror and a Halloween costume contest with prizes that are sure to include cash, R1 Goodies, Jerry’s Artarama gifts and some Smoke Lab Vodka. And probably more stuff we’ll scare up after press time. 

Local nightlife: Music Club Guide

If you’re new to little Rhody, you’ll find there’s an abundance of local nightlife – but around here, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to find it. Google maps can tell you the nearest bar – here’s a list of places that might be worth going a little further for. We tried to curate for places that are likely to have live music. No place does that every night, but some more than others.

Did we miss your favorite? Let us know at admin@motifri.com

  • &DJ = MOSTLY DJs

Aidan’s Pub: 5 John St, Bristol. aidanspub.com

Alchemy: Especially popular with the more hardcore audiences. 171 Chestnut St, PVD. Fri – Sat, 9pm – 2am on days when there are shows alchemyri.com

&GAY &DJ The Alley Cat: Sharing a backdoor entrance with the Dark Lady. 17 Snow St, PVD. @thealleycatpvd

&EIGHTEEN AS220: Locally famous unjuried art organization with a standing bar and regular shows of all types. 115 Empire St, PVD. as220.org

Askew: Possibly the most diverse assortment of activities in a single club, from poetry readings and art opening to headbangers and metal to live folk music to … you get the idea. 150 Chestnut St, PVD. askewprov.com

&DJ Aqua Providence: Mostly a summer thing, but one of the best places to have an EDM party in a pool. 1 Orms St, PVD. marriott.com/en-us/hotels/pvdri-providence-marriott-downtown/dining/

Black Sheep: 397 Westminster St, PVD. blacksheepri.com

The Boombox: We guess it’s live music — karaoke every day, all the time. 122 Fountain St, PVD. singboombox.com

Cady’s Tavern: Great place to visit by motorcycle. 2168 Putnam Pike, Chepachet. cadystavern.com

Charlestown Rathskeller: 498A Old Coach Rd, Charlestown. thecharlestownrathskeller.com

Chelos Waterfront: Summer only for music. 1 Masthead Dr, Warwick. cheloswaterfrontri.com

&DJ &EIGHTEEN Colosseum: 180 Pine St, PVD. colosseumpvd.com

&SHOWThe Columbus Theatre: 270 Broadway, PVD. columbustheatre.com

&SHOWCourthouse Center for the Arts: 3481 Kingstown Rd, West Kingstown. courthousearts.com

The Cove: 392 Davol St, Fall River, Mass. cove392.com 

Dockside: Summer only for music. 24 Waites Wharf, Newport. waiteswharf.com

Dusk: 301 Harris Ave, PVD. duskprovidence.com

&GAY &EIGHTEEN &DJ Ego: 73 Richmond St, PVD. egopvd.com

&SHOW&EIGHTEEN FMH (Fete Music Hall): 103 Dike St, PVD. fetemusic.com

The Fifth Element: 111 Broadway, Newport. thefifthri.com

Finn’s Harborside: 38 Water St, East Greenwich. finnsharborside.com

Fish Co: 15 S Bridge St, PVD. thewhiskeyrepublic.com

GCB: (Graduate Student Bar at Brown) Note, this is a membership location – either sign up as one, or show up with one. 42 Charlesfield St, PVD gcbpvd.org/

The George: 121 Washington St, PVD thegeorgerestaurantri.com/

The Guild: Three locations, (location 1) 461 Main St, Pawtucket (location 2) 99 Water St Suite 2, Warren (location 3) Beer Garden Dyer St, off the pedestrian bridge theguildri.com/

Hot Club: 25 Bridge St, PVD. hotclubprov.com

ISCO: 1 Sims Ave #103, PVD iscospirits.com

Java Madness: Coffee and frequent acoustic artists (so, not exactly a club, but…). 134 Salt Pond Rd, Wakefield. javamadness.com

Judge Roy Bean Saloon: 1 State St, Bristol. judgeroybeansaloon.com

Knickerbocker Cafe: You can call it “the Knick.” Locals do. 35 Railroad Ave, Westerly. knickmusic.com

Kulture: 71 Richmond St, PVD linktr.ee/kulturepvd

Ladder 133: 133 Douglas Ave, PVD. ladder133.com

The Landing: 30 Bowens Wharf, Newport. thelandingrestaurantnewport.com

Lang’s Bowlarama: Live music in their Nelson Center on occasion. Bowling all the time. 225 Niantic Ave, Cranston. langsbowlarama.com

The Last Resort: Also with a pool in summer. 325 Farnum Pike, Smithfield. thelastresortri.com

Lost Valley Pizza: Inside Revival Brewery. 50 Sims Ave, PVD lostvalleypizza.com

The Malted Barley: 42 High St, Westerly. themaltedbarleyri.net

&SHOW&EIGHTEEN The Met: 1005 Main St, Pawtucket. themetri.com

&GAY Mirabar: 15 Elbow St, PVD. mirabar.com

Mishnock Barn: 200 Mishnock Rd, West Greenwich. mishnockbarn.com

Muldowneys: 121 Empire St, PVD muldowneyspub.com

&SHOW Music Mansion: 88 Meeting St, PVD musicmansion.org

Narragansett Brewery: 271 Tockwotton St, PVD narragansettbeer.com

Narragansett Cafe: 25 Narragansett Ave, Jamestown. Narragansettcafe.com

&SHOW Narrows Center for the Arts: 16 Anawan St, Fall River, MA narrowscenter.org

Newport Blues Cafe: 286 Thames St, Newport. newportblues.com

Nick-A-Nees: 75 South St, PVD bluegrassthroedown.com/nick-a-nees

News Cafe: 43 Broad St, Pawtucket. RI newscaferhodeisland.wordpress.com

Newport Vineyards: 909 E Main rd, Middletown. RI newportvineyards.com

Ocean Mist Beach Bar: 895 Matunuck Beach Rd, Wakefield. oceanmist.net

&SHOWThe Odeum: 59 Main St, East Greenwich, RI  greenwichodeum.com/

One Pelham East: 270 Thames St, Newport thepelham.com

The Parlour: 1119 North Main St, PVD. theparlourri.com

Perks & Corks: 62 High St, Westerly. perksandcorks.com

Platforms Dance Club: 165 Poe St, PVD. fb.com/platforms 

&GAY Providence Eagle: 124 Snow St, PVD. providenceeagle.com

Pub on Park: 655 Park Ave, Cranston. pubonparkri.com

&SHOW Pumphouse: 1464 Kingstown Rd, South Kingstown pumphousemusicworks.com

Rooftop at the Providence G: 100 Dorrance St, PVD rooftopattheg.com

&DJ The Salon: 57 Eddy St, PVD. thesalonpvd.com

&SHOW The Strand: 79 Washington St, PVD. thestrandri.com

&GAY The Stable: 125 Washington St, PVD. stablepvd.com

&DJ T & T’s 133 Club Inc: 29 Warren Ave, East Providence. 133club.net

Trinity Beer Garden: 2 Kennedy Plaza, PVD trinitybrewhouse.com/beer-garden

&LADIES &DJ Tantric Night Club: 1070 North Main St, PVD. tantricnightclub.com

Touch Lounge: 961 Dyer Ave, Cranston, RI fb.com/touchloungeCranston

Troop: 60 Valley St, PVD trooppvd.com

Twin River Casino: 100 Twin River Rd, Lincoln. twinriver.com

Union Station: 36 Exchange Terrace, PVD unionstationpvd.com

&SHOW Zeiterion: 684 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA zeiterion.org

Blue Oyster Cult Rocks the Cabot

Blue Oyster Cult takes the stage at The Cabot Theatre in Beverly, MA on March 5. Photo by John Fuzek.

Okee dokee folks… Blue Oyster Cult fans converged on The Cabot Theatre in Beverly, MA on Saturday, March 5 to experience a 50-year celebratory show of the band Blue Oyster Cult (BOC). Though the band was formed in 1967, they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of their eponymous first album.

I saw BOC quite a few times in the mid ’70s at venues like the Providence Civic Center and the Cape Cod Colosseum. Back then their arena shows were elaborate affairs with special effects lighting, smoke and lasers. BOC was one of the first bands to incorporate lasers into their shows, and guitarist/vocalist Eric Bloom often used a hand held laser that he would shoot into the crowd. Not only was BOC memorable, but their opening acts were as well. I was introduced to new acts such as Cheap Trick and Rush because of their warm-up spots. BOC’s show at the Cabot was a big contrast to those old arena days: this 50th anniversary performance was a straight ahead no-frills rock show with no opening act.

The band walked out on stage to pre-recorded instrumental music pumped though the PA and launched right into “Dr. Music.” Eric Bloom encouraged the crowd to sing along with the lyrics, “Raise your can of beer on high and seal your fate forever,” and, of course, raise it again as they played “The Golden Age of Leather.” It wasn’t long before they performed one of their biggest hits, “Burnin’ For You.”  They ran through “Buck’s Boogie” that incorporated other melodies in the jam such as “Mary Had A Little Lamb” as well as a little ZZ Top. The new song “Tainted Blood” was fronted by newer BOC member Richie Castellano: Not only did he nail the vocals, his guitar solo screamed talent. The band’s vocal harmony skills were demonstrated on another new number, “Train True.” This song has a roadie take center stage wearing a conductor cap and blowing some harp. “Then Came the Last Days of May” was introduced as being a true story and once again featured a blazing solo by Castellano. Guitarist “Buck” Dharma had cleared to the side to let Castellano shine but soon it was his turn and Dharma did not disappoint.  Soon Bloom was yelling, “Do you hear that? Something big is coming!” Fans knew, it was “Godzilla!” Dharma slid his guitar across his mic stand to emulate the sound of Godzilla “pulling the spinning high tension wires down.” This song was followed by the picking a chords and the tell-tale sound of a cowbell. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” closed out the show.

Chants of “B-O-C, B-O-C” brought the band out for a two song encore that included “The Alchemist” and “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll.” BOC performed a satisfying set of new songs and classics. After 50 years the band’s sound still holds up and founding members Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom, the only original members left in the 5-piece band, still can bring it. Though they are now in their mid-70s they had no problem rocking hard and keeping up with the younger blood in the band. Their voices and chops have not withered over time. Though the Cabot was a far cry from their arena shows of the ’70s the band still has it and the Cabot Theatre provided an intimate atmosphere to experience rock legends of BOC’s stature. 

To check out photos from the show head over to the Motif Magazine Facebook page! (Facebook.com/MotifRI) There are lots of other concert photos there as well. You can find my new podcast at MotifRI.com. Have a listen. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

The Shang Hi Los: Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit

This ass-kicking debut EP from Boston supergroup The Shang Hi Los is busting down the door with both guns blazing. The band fuses power-pop melodies with a throwback yet refreshing approach.

Scene veterans Jen D’Angora (of Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents and The Dents) and Dan Kopko of Watts share fronting duties, both on vocals and guitar. Their vocal interplay takes center stage, with her Debbie Harry to his Rod Stewart – the harmonies are so hand-in-glove at times, you can’t tell who is singing the melody.

The leadoff “Sway Little Player” has an amped-up Buddy Holly vibe, with hot licks playing off of ’50s innocence. “Skipping Records” is straight T. Rex-style glam, decrying “Love is like a kick in the eye.”  

“Funeral Home Mint” is a classic rock ripper with a chorus ready-made for radio. “Stay” is on the softer end, with breezy melodies that remind me of Aimee Mann.

Chock full of bangers, Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit makes it hard to know what the single is supposed to be. The tunes are deftly written and feature great musical performances by all – the rhythm section consists of drummer Chuck Ferreira and bass Lee Harrington.

The sparkly studio production mixed with the stylized vocals contribute to a sticky sweet, rock musical effect that’s super addictive. And they’ve got moves lyrically, with some super memorable lines (“My heart beats 45 RPMs/When will I ever catch my REMs?”) throughout. 

Even the cover of Chicago’s well-worn “Saturday in the Park” would generate eye rolls when performed by lesser bands. Buy this album, stat!

Check out Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit at Bandcamp.

Mutter – Imitation Crab

For another debut release closer to home, PVD’s Mutter draws on a music school sensibility and an unconventional mix of genres. At some moments noise-jazz and at others electrified beat poetry, the album throws in everything but the kitchen sink.

The opener “Naima,” features prominent tenor sax and high-octane noodling that culminates with vocalist Molly Halpin’s wailing. “Jaundice” has got a calypso dance feel, with interesting chords that I assume have a bunch of numbers and symbols in them.

“Celebrity” turns a dreamlike waltz into frenzied punk, and the ripping guitar solo capping it off is a nice touch. The highlight for me is “Waterbody (Think of Lee),” a cocktail lounge jam with some sophisticated bass guitar and drum spotlights.

I found “Teeth” to be fairly repetitive, and the glacial, eight-minute “Transit Street Lament” loses me, despite the soulful feel and colorful vibraphone. 

Though Imitation Crab is excessive at times, Mutter has the musicianship to back it up.

Check out Imitation Crab at Bandcamp.

Ziggy Gnardust – Bite the Bullet

Ziggy Gnardust, the project of local musician and Z-Boys drummer Zigmond Coffey, is out with Bite the Bullet, the follow-up to his 2020 debut Ziggy. These days, the 90s nostalgia that saturates this album seems to be constantly in vogue, and I don’t hate it.

Maintaining a Prince-like level of ambition, Coffey capably plays all the instruments on the record. His trademark is a viscous layer of distorted, psychedelic guitars under simple melodies and repetitive riffs.

Bite the Bullet is centered around themes of catharsis and pain, and could almost be called a woe-core concept album – the tracks deal with a lost love and a plunge into sorrow and self-harm (“Noose around my neck/this life I cannot stand”).

The album stands in stark contrast to the sensory overload of Z-Boys, and is way more measured and song-based. 

The punk rock “Nothing Left” has Coffey letting loose, and “When I’m Gone” is a heavy, Dinosaur Jr. style rocker. 

My favorite, “Under the Rug,” begins with acoustic folk-punk 3/4 reminiscent of AJJ, and builds to a fever pitch (I’m a sucker for dynamics). It also nails Billy Corgan’s Siamese Dream-era Big Muff sound – objectively one of the best tones of all time.

The overly long, melodramatic “Bite the Bullet” is a bit of a slog, but for the most part, the album swings for the fences and hits the mark. 

Check out Bite the Bullet at Bandcamp

A Country Sound From the South… of Boston: A conversation with Ward Hayden

Ward Hayden and The Outliers are back in the saddle and bringing their brand of outlaw country, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll to a watering hole near you. 

Hayden picked up music relatively late (24), when the songs started flowing after he received a Gibson J45 guitar as a gift. He started Girls, Guns, and Glory in 2005 as a way to have fun with friends, but made the move to Boston a few years later and decided to make the band work for real.

Hayden’s foundation is early country music, citing as influences Lefty Frizell, the yodeling of Jimmy Rodgers, and the songwriting approach of Hank Williams – simply stated yet profound. 

The name Girls, Guns, and Glory paid homage to the motifs of ‘50s cowboy westerns and the rugged exploits of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. But eventually, the name was dragging them down and creating unintended controversy. They permanently made the switch to Ward Hayden and The Outliers in 2018. “It’s not ideal when you’ve put years into building a brand, but on the other hand it’s been nice to not offend folks before we even set foot on stage.”

Hayden doesn’t aim to avoid the issues entirely, though. The band’s latest record, 2021’s Free Country, wrestles directly with the ills of society, including political polarization and our era of negativity. 

“2016 laid bare a lot of things about the country and a lot of people. I’ve honestly never felt disappointed in people in that way before, but maybe people are disappointed with me for my opinions,” said Hayden.

“I’d Die For You” looks at the fractured American landscape (“People have become more extreme/narrowed their focus to their own beliefs”) and “Irregardless” bemoans the influence of smartphones (“You take it in ‘til you tune it out”).

“Shelly Johnson” is a Twin Peaks-themed character study about a town past its prime and a small-town waitress stuck in an abusive marriage. “Indiana” continues the country tradition of singing about (and listing off) states.  

“Middle Man,” one Hayden highlighted as a favorite, stands out for its crooning vocal and spaghetti western sound. “For me, I’d never thought much about growing older, and all my dreams were a young man’s dreams. I always wanted to cut out the middleman, and go from youth to the end. But if you live long enough you have to start facing some other realities.”

It’s not all tumbleweeds and pedal steel, and you could easily consider Free Country a rock record. Springsteen-esque heartland rockers like “Nothing To Do (For Real This Time)” and “Sometimes You Gotta Leave” have the hooks to skewer even country-averse Yankees. 

When starting, Hayden noted the band regularly faced being too country for the rock venues and too amplified for a lot of the country and folk ones. “It took a few years to start finding a home, but we’re lucky that people like Patrick Norton at The Narrows believed in the band and let us build an audience.” 

“Bad Time (To Quit Drinkin’)” is the song to win over everybody – a tightly-written tune about hangovers, regrets, and time flying by at breakneck speed. 

Free Country was made with the support of a fan-funded Kickstarter after the band’s 2020 tour was cut short between Lexington, KY and Memphis on the way to South by Southwest. “With the dates dried up we didn’t have a means to generate any income,” said Hayden. Fans responded with a “wonderful gift of generosity,” donating enough to record, mix and master the album, as well as the moral support to release it. 

The list of renowned country singers from the South Shore of Massachusetts is not a long one, and Ward admitted they do have more to prove as a country act from the Northeast. “We’ve done a lot of touring in the South, and sometimes I don’t even say we’re from Boston till later in the show once the crowd has warmed up to what we’re doing. For the most part, nobody for a second thinks we’re from New England.” 

Hayden says he’s never spent much time listening to what passes for modern country. “More power to those that have achieved success, but the type of music I make and what’s called country on the radio are similar in name only. I don’t believe that five people sitting in a room and contriving an idea of what they can use to pander to sell is art – though maybe Andy Warhol would disagree.” 

Find Ward Hayden and The Outliers’ music on 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