Let’s Get Weird: Rad times with Richie Ramone

Sadly the original lineup of the Ramones is deceased. Despite that, there are a couple of Ramones still rocking and building up the legend. Two are coming to town this spring, so for this issue, we’re going to focus on Richie Ramone, who will be bringing his band to Askew on Mar 25. Richie really got the Ramones to their roots, wielding the heaviest stick of the three drummers. After a couple of albums where they tried for the elusive hit, Richie’s first album with the band Too Tough To Die immediately righted the ship. He continued writing, recording and touring through the albums Animal Boy and Halfway To Sanity. Richie has since released two solo records, written his autobiography I Know Better Now: My Life Before, During, and After the Ramones and even written a children’s book about the band. I talked to Richie about his time in the Ramones, coming out of the pandemic with new music, and going back on tour.

Marc Clarkin (Motif): So it has been a couple of years since we’ve gotten any new music from you, any plans to release anything?

Richie Ramone: Yeah, this will be the first announcement right now! March 4th we’re releasing a 7-inch with an A side of “Not Afraid” and the B side is “Cry Little Sister” from The Lost Boys movie, which I covered for a movie called Protege Moi and play a vampire in. The movie comes out in the fall but the single comes out March 4th on translucent orange vinyl limited to 300 pressing. There will be more available as black pressing, you know, like we’ve had for 100 years. The vinyl just came; it took eight months to make it. That is how backlogged they are. The single is coming out on Outro Records (outrorecords.com) and they’ll have some signed versions available on their site as well. Anyway, that’s the new release and it is exciting to have some new music out. It’s been a really rough two years, it hasn’t been fun, but hopefully the best is yet to come. 

MC: You wrote the Ramones classic, “Somebody Put Something in My Drink.” Isn’t that song based on a true story?

RR: Yeah, they didn’t put it in my drink. We used to go to the clubs and when people got up to dance or went to the bathroom we took their drinks. It was someone’s drink on the table by accident. It wasn’t like somebody slipped it in my personal drink: We had no money back then, so me and friends would go and when people left the table we’d grab their beer or whatever. 

One night I started to feel funny. I didn’t know what it was. At first I was really scared, you know it felt like dying because it is different if you know you took something. You have to go through this 15 – 20 minutes of weirdness before you figure out what happened. That’s a scary moment. Then after that it was fun. So I told Dee Dee (Ramone) that story when I was in the Ramones, it happened before I joined, it happened when I moved to New York City in 1980. Dee Dee said, “You should write that song,” and I did. The song stayed in their set till their very last show which is a pretty cool thing. 

MC: Do you have a favorite memory from being in the band?

RR: No, every day was a favorite memory. Please, it’s the Ramones right? Night after night, five hundred something shows looking at Joey’s back, it was pretty intense! To have found your way into that band after playing in horn bands and studying all kinds of music, reading music and winning awards as a kid in orchestras. To come down to that simple beat and I played it better than anybody. It was really aggressive and I stayed there on it and let those guys rumble around me. As long as I stayed there they never got lost. People play the Ramones so tight these days that it sounds like a machine gun. Ramones weren’t like that. We were loose around a good solid foundation of the drums. You only got three instruments and they have to be just a little off a bit and that is what makes it sound really full. 

MC: After you left the Ramones, didn’t you give up music for years?

RR: I came to LA right after leaving and played in some bands like Mail Order Brides; played for maybe a year or two. Then I was done and didn’t pick up a drumstick for like eight to ten years. I was just burnt out. 

MC: What brought you back? 

RR: Around 2004 or 2005, Mickey (Leigh) called me to come and play one of the Joey Ramone Birthday Bashes. I did that and then the next year things started to change in my mind. I started thinking about making a solo record, which I’ve never done. So I made a record, I had no plans to do any of that. Sometimes it takes something unexpected like that to lead you down a whole new path. It’s been working out good and I’m having fun with all of this. I then fell into acting a little bit over COVID thing, which is a whole new experience, and also a lot of fun!

Richie Ramone, Public Nature, Shore City, and Joy Boys will rock Askew in Providence on Mar 25. 

This Month’s Bangers:

Lucy Dacus, touring behind her latest album, Home Video, comes to The Strand with Indigo Desouza providing support on Mar 3.

Midnight Creeps, Diablogato, Sugar Cones, and Ruin The Nite will rock Dusk in PVD like a punk rock tsunami on Mar 4. 

Viking Jesus Providence Vinyl Release Show featuring sets by Animal Face, Ravi Shavi, The Chops, and Viking Jesus goes down Mar 4 at The Parlour in PVD. The show starts at 9 pm sharp and also be sure to wish Tara and Nick from Viking Jesus a happy Birthday. 

The Schemers rock the Met Cafe in Pawtucket on Mar 4.

Iceage with Sloppy Joe rock the Columbus Theatre in PVD on Mar 8. 

Crash Test Dummies are at the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich on Mar 10. 

The Tossers, Crazy and the Brains, and The Pourmen rock Askew Mar 10.

The Void Union featuring Dave Hillyard of The Slackers and The Hempsteadys at Askew on 

Mar 11.

Start Making Sense A Tribute to the Talking Heads is back at the Met Cafe on Mar 11 with Ruby Dear opening. 

Verbal Assault, The FU’s, Peace Test, Bullet Proof Backpack, and Holy Hands bring punk rock back to the Met Cafe on Mar 12. 

Damn The Torpedoes: A Tom Petty Tribute is at the Greenwich Odeum on Mar 19. 

Henry Rollins brings his Good To See You 2022 Tour to the Met Cafe on Mar 22. 

The Fairview, Strip Mall, Never Coming Home, Sue’s Garage, and Radio Compass rock Alchemy in PVD on Mar 26. This is an early show with doors at 5:30pm.

Soccer Mommy and Peel Dream Magazine will be at FMH on Mar 27. 

Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mercury Rev make a rare visit to town to rip it at the Columbus Theatre on Mar 31.

RIP Pete McClanahan

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

Extreme Makeover, Mediator Edition: The Mediator Stage gets a fresh new look

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many closed doors. But the doors at The Mediator Stage have not only stayed open, they and the rest of the venue have been renewed, repainted, reinvigorated, and complemented with a spiffy new deck, sliders, and flooring. The Mediator’s open mic host and “music minister” Don Tassone has transformed the dusty space in the Reservoir neighborhood of Providence and plans to keep going. 

The Mediator Stage at 50 Rounds Avenue is a church and community center, although readers might know it better as an intimate music venue. The open mic has hosted an array of talent, from nascent folk crooners and budding songwriters, to local luminaries like The Low Anthem, Superchief Trio, Ian Fitzgerald and Mark Cutler. Many got their first taste of live performance at the intimate listening room.

The current building housing The Mediator Fellowship has a storied history. It has been dislocated and relocated, and at times has housed Congregational, Baptist, and Universalist denominations. In 1859, the Gorham Silver Company built it for use by incoming immigrant workers.; the Universalist Mediator Fellowship bought the building in 1979. Officially The Church of Christ the Mediator, that congregation has a storied history as well, with theological and cultural dustups in addition to being burned out a couple of times. Today only a general idea of the organized congregation remains at the Mediator, although it continues to be, according to Tassone, a place “where religion never gets in the way of spirituality.”

Tassone is a local tradesman and songwriter. He started attending the open mics at The Mediator, which neighbors his home. Over the next decade it became his living room. When the open mic faltered with some changes, Tassone became one of five rotating hosts; he outlasted them all, and has been the official host since 2011. He’s also the Mediator’s treasurer, though he says he was “always a D student in math.”

Apparently those grades weren’t telling. Tassone has parlayed the Mediator’s modest income (suggested donations for most events, and no retail) and a cobweb-laden trust into an ambitious course of renovations: siding, cedar shingles, paved lot; new windows, stairs, roof, floor, and public address system; upgrades to the bathrooms and upstairs office and storage space; plus new paint throughout. The biggest and most striking change is the yellow maple deck in the backyard, looking in on the stage through glass doors. “I never thought they would go for it,” said Tassone, “to poke a hole in the back wall.” Tassone is still planning upgrades to electric systems and lighting, fresh stain for the woodwork, and likely more. This has almost all been the result of a cashed-out trust, established long ago and shared by the Universalist churches in Rhode Island. As only three of those churches remain, Don convinced them to liquidate. 

These renovations started in the months before the pandemic. The church complied with the statewide lockdown in spring of 2020 but was among the first spots to reopen, early that June. Tassone considers it a mission for the Mediator to be “a haven, an oasis in the storm, for artists, musicians, performers and those who just love local music.” 

Today, the Mediator continues to move forward. The renovations continue and the open mic continues. The bulk of the house’s suggested donations continue to go to featured performers. Yoga classes, mandolin instruction, concerts and worship services continue. And Don Tassone continues. “Through good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and turmoil,” he insists, he is building a venue and community that he hopes will be a creative and spiritual resource long after he’s gone.

The Mediator Stage, 50 Rounds Ave, PVD. Photos provided by G. W. Mercure.

Rock Your Holiday Socks Off: December Music News & Shows

Corinne Southern & The Constellations – Celestial Body EP

On Celestial Body, Corinne Southern & The Celestials mix it up stylistically across three tracks. The cheeky opener, “Polaroid Picture (Of My Ass),” has a funk-fueled party vibe with hardcore gang vocals for the chorus of “my ass.” “Raise The Dead” is a blues romp in the vein of The Cramps. “Rhode Island Rock Star” is probably the best song I’ve heard about aspirations meeting the reality of being a local musician, set to a driving Americana stomp. Celestial Body is available now on your streaming service of choice.  

Glowing Cloud – In Over My Mind EP

The second EP this year from Glowing Cloud offers up three new intergalactic toe tappers.  Glowing Cloud is local musician Eric Smith (Sweet Dreams, The Cold War) who plays all the instruments and records everything in his home studio. From the opening spacey synths to the Joy Division-like guitars at the end, “Bonfire, NY” simmers into the ether. “Glocester Space Boy” is the rocker here dressed up with a fresh coat of shoegaze hooks. My favorite jam “I Dreamt I Was a Cloud” sounds like 90’s Brit-pop played by aliens. In Over My Mind is available on all the streaming services. 

Sonny Vincent – Snake Pit Therapy (Svart Records) 

Over fifty years into his career, Sonny Vincent is still making urgent music that burns as hot as ever. Vincent is best known for coming to prominence in the 1970s New York City punk scene with his band The Testors. Over the years the list of his collaborators reads like a punk rock hall of fame that includes members of the Velvet Underground, The Damned, The Stooges, Rocket From The Crypt, Sex Pistols, Replacements, and Pentagram among others. On Snake Pit Therapy, Vincent has plenty of rockers like “Ruby Diamond” and “Japan Mofo” to shred on but it’s his storytelling that makes it special. The thrash is dialed back in favor of harmonies on about half of Snake Pit Therapy. Tunes like “Can’t Absorb” and “Messed Up In Blue” aren’t for the mosh pit but they’re on heavy rotation on my stereo. The closing “Forest” has a ’60s psychedelic vibe with a comforting message that “you are not alone in the forest of the broken hearts.” Snake Pit Therapy is on all the streaming services as well as being available on vinyl and CD.

Department of Teleportation – Self-Titled

From the opening crunch of “Spatial Forces,” Department of Teleportation reminds me of the band Helmet. The general elements of noise and punk are there in “Bento’s Kingdom” and “Horseshit Bravo.” “Slow Soft Wind” leans more to the experimental noise side without losing passion. My favorite tunes on here are the ones that tend to conform to traditional song structures like “Spatial Forces” and “Can We Leave Now?” but I also realize that isn’t what Department of Teleportation is trying to accomplish on the pure noise numbers. It’s an interesting listen and worth checking out for fans of noise, punk and metal. Department of Teleportation’s Self Titled EP is available on Bandcamp.

Five Shows That Don’t Blow:

Hope Anchor / Kurt Baker / The Fatal Flaw will rock Askew on December 4. 

It’s been too long since I’ve caught Hope Anchor’s post-punk collage of sonic melody. This is for fans of Echo & the Bunnymen, Jesus & Mary Chain and ’80’s goth rock. 

Start Making Sense (Talking Heads cover band) and Baylies Band will rock the Met Cafe on December 4. 

This is the only show people from my hockey league ever want to go to. Talking Heads cover band sums up the description but I will add that Start Making Sense are really good at being that.

Max Creek’s 50th anniversary at the Met Cafe on December 10.

I usually don’t write about hippy bands but it feels like 50 years deserves a tip of the hat. Cheers to Max Creek, they still kick out the (very long) jams that hippies tend to enjoy. Max Creek shows are also some of the best people-watching experiences anywhere. 

The Figgs and The Benji’s rock The Parlour on December 11. 

The Figgs are always money for turbo charged power pop thrills and spills. They formed over thirty years ago so there is no shortage of material, they usually play at least a couple of hours. Definitely get there early for one of my favorite local bands, The Benji’s! The Benji’s are more electronic but still have a sleigh full of infectious jams. 

The 7th Ugly Sweater Party featuring Minibeast / The Moodrunners / Sugar Cones / a Dead Bird rock The Parlour on December 18.

Dress up in an ugly sweater or don’t, either way a serious racket will be kicked up at this show. Minibeast is a noise trio featuring Peter Prescott of Mission of Burma fame. The Moodrunners are pure power pop. Sugar Cones are basically punk rock. Dead Bird have a dumb name and I can’t speak to their music.

Other Rad Shows This Month: 

Steve Smith & The Nakeds rock the Met Cafe on December 5. 

Outer Heaven / Churchburn (Record Release Party) / Come To Grief / Edict / New Hell will put the pedal to the metal at Alchemy on December 10.

Miss Tess and The Talkbacks are at Askew on December 10. 

Hey Nineteen Steely Dan Tribute will have the Met Cafe’s dancefloor hopping on December 11. 

Jesse Dayton and Sarah Borges are at Askew on December 12. 

GA-20 / The National Reserve / Smith & Weeden will rock the Met Cafe on December 16.  

Larry’s Lounge Variety Show comes to the Met Cafe on December 23. 

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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

Hopped Up Gifts and Guilded Memories

Props to Tilted Barn in Exeter. In 2007 the farm began as Ocean State Hops, Rhode Island’s first commercial hop farm, with the goal of producing beer with as much hops as possible, in addition to supplying other brewers with fresh local hops. From this farm grew the splendid Tilted Barn Brewery. Matt and Kara Richardson turned the historic barn on the farm into a hand-crafted beer brewery that featured hop crops from the farm.

The winter season brings us savory brews best shared with family and friends, paired with good conversation.. When one thinks of winter beers, warm and toasty will keep you cozy on these blustery winter nights. Tilted Barn’s “Is This Still Lawn Boy?” (Lager – Dark 5.3% ABV) is dark & roasty, yet smooth & crisp; Lawn Boy’s counterpart is a Czech-inspired Dark Barn Lager, perfect with Thanksgiving dinner.

Another Tilted Barn holiday beer is the ‘Blackjack’ (Pumpkin / Yam Beer’ 5.8% ABV), an American stout brewed with pumpkins grown right on the farm. It’s got a roasty profile with subtle hints of pumpkin and cinnamon on the finish: a slice of pie in a beer!

When you arrive at Tilted Barn, fill in the gaps of your gift list with glassware and apparel to bring a smile to the beer maven and elevate yourself to the Chairman of the Brewed. Cans-to-go from Tilted will make for a holiday dinner conversation starter that everyone can agree on! 

Be sure to check their schedule for food trucks and local musicians that will enhance your visit. 

For hours and lists of latest brews, http://www.tiltedbarnbrewery.com

Tilted Barn 1 Hemsley Place, Exeter, RI

The Guild in Pawtucket will satisfy even the most snobby holiday libationist. You can stay or take away growlers of great fresh local beers.

Their rotating brew list includes one of my crushable favorites: Bohemian Grove Pilsner (5.1% – 30 IBU). This is the kind of beer I’d expect to have in a small Czech village brewery filled with experience, wisdom, and talent and which has been brewing beer for hundreds of years.

Dick’s Irish Stout (4.1% – 32 IBU) is what I am looking for in a traditional dry Irish stout. It’s dark brown and pours with a small head without the lasting bubbles. The coffee aroma and thinner body combined with a light carbonation level gives you a pint with a flavor that is spot on. Dark chocolate and light coffee notes are upfront. The finish is shorter than most dry stouts but still has the typical burnt black malt bite. Pairs well with a fine pub menu featuring: Liege style Belgian Waffles (from Burgundian — see story page xxx), soft pretzels, house French Onion dip w/ kettle potato chips and the flatbread of the day.

One of the all-time masterpieces of brewing excellence is their Grand Bru Barrel Aged Golden Strong Ale (10.4% – 10 IBU). I was lucky enough to purchase 2 crowler cans in the past. Santa, I’ve been good so please put this under my tree. Exceptionally balanced and quite complex, the beverage hints of Candi sugar combined with Pilsner and more biscuity malts, particularly in the finish. It’s just an exceptionally well-rounded, intricate, and well-crafted flavor profile. One of the softest and smoothest beers I’ve ever had. The winter warming characteristics of 10.4% makes you feel that time has slowed during the hectic holiday hubbub.

When you’re out fulfilling your list of holiday shopping in Providence it’s close by and a worthwhile stop. Open Tue – Thu 4–8PM, Fri & Sat 12–10PM and Sun  12–6PM, The Guild,  461 Main St, Pawtucket. theguildri.com

¡Qué Padre!: Providence’s sole tortilla factory serves them up hot

La Mexicana Mini Mart & Tortilleria is the only tortilla factory in Providence. Located in a building that serves as both a restaurant and convenience store, it packs a lot into a small area. The attached restaurant is a one-level stone enclosure with a four-table outdoor seating area protected by a fence. 

The store has a plethora of basic convenience store items with all the daily necessities: sodas, candy, canned goods and a small number of personal needs products. As a bodega, the store features Hispanic groceries and hard to find items, such as Hispanic candies, cheese sauces and drinks. The store also provides a money service, including cash checking, money orders and a fax machine.

La Mexicana was inspired by the family tortilleria in Mexico. It was opened upon realizing that Providence didn’t have a tortilla factory.

The restaurant isn’t big, with three two-person tables (with plexiglass currently separating each table) stationed across from the counter, but it feels comfortable. Spanish lyrics drift through the room as friendly staff take orders. The sounds and smells of the food being cooked make it feel like you are in their kitchen, even though it’s located in a separate room. 

The menu features nine reasonably-priced entrees to choose from: tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, burritos, tortas, huaraches, gorditas nachos, empanadas, flautas and a carne asada plate. Sides include rice, refried beans, guacamole, a small bag of chips and a cup of salsa. There are frozen seasonal items (mangonadas, shaved ice) available during the summer.

And of course, La Mexicana makes their own corn tortillas daily. Ask at the bodega counter. They are sold hot and fresh. The gluten-free tortillas are made with no preservatives or additives, ensuring stellar quality and taste. The smallest order available is a pound and a half, which can make for many meals or be eaten by itself for a quick and tasty snack. Best of all, these tortillas are firm, and hold up well to microwaving or reheating. No need to double-up.

La Mexicana is a family-run business with a dedication to quality. Both the restaurant and mini-mart have a steady stream of customers. The friendly staff are always smiling, helpful and appreciative of their patrons. La Mexicana is a gem set in Silver Lake.

La Mexicana is located at 403 Plainfield St in Providence. Hours are Sunday 9 am – 6 pm, Monday – Friday 11 am – 8:30 pm, Saturday 9 am – 8:30 pm. 401-228-8553. https://la-mexicana-inc.business.site. Available for eat in, take out for delivery from Seamless, Postmates, Grubhub and UberEats. 

Motif Event Picks for June 22 – 28

Motif is trying something new, where our team selects a handful of events we find particularly interesting or cool for the upcoming week. Check out our favorite events in the area between June 22 and 28!

WED 22

Girls Night Out The Show: Revisiting classic fantasies and steamy exotic temptations. Features some of the most physically perfect male dancers that artistically capture a wide range of female desires, delighting audiences with a series of disarmingly sexy, yet tasteful, dance numbers and exciting routines with one goal in mind: the pleasure of women! 8pm, Fête Music Hall, 103 Dike St, PVD. fetemusic.com

FRI 24 & SAT 25

Ocean State BBQ Festival: Help define what good BBQ is in RI with the inaugural Ocean State BBQ Festival highlighting RI-based BBQ joints, restaurants, enthusiasts and backyarders! Two days of culinary competitions and live music. The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave, PVD. thesteelyard.org

FRI 24+

Social Security: The domestic tranquility of a pair of married art dealers is shattered upon the arrival of the wife’s goody-goody nerd of a sister, her uptight CPA husband and her archetypal Jewish mother. They are there to try to save their college student daughter from the horrors of living only for sex. The comic sparks really begin to fly when the mother hits it off with the elderly artist who is the art dealer’s best client! Granite Theater, 1 Granite St, Westerly. granitetheatre.com Runs Jun 24 – Jul 24

SUN 26

RI Food Fights 5th Annual Incredible Ice Cream Throwdown: The biggest ICE CREAM celebration is BACK! All you can sample from the very best ice cream vendors in RI. Count on all-you-can-chug Yacht Club Soda and New Harvest Coffee Roasters Iced coffee, too. 1 – 3pm, Rhode Island Eye Institute, 150 E. Manning St, PVD. rifoodfights.com

MON 27

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness: This is a man who was diagnosed with cancer at 22 years old, on the cusp of releasing his debut album (as Jack’s Mannequin). Also featuring Civil Twilight. 6:30pm, Fête Music Hall, 103 Dike St, PVD. fetemusic.com


Making the Stage: Local open mic picks up

There is a stage in Providence looking for performers. Join the PVD Hoot for a chance to perform or sit in the audience for an opportunity to cheer on local musicians of all types.

The PVD Hoot is an open mic that makes its home at Anchor, a work-exhibition space on Rice Street in Providence.

Started by Josh Aromin and Sarah Mead in October of last year, the Hoot has embarked on a year-long venture to bring a performance space for all to the city. The performance stage has gone walkabout in an effort to become more of a “mobile mic” bringing the stage to the people who want to perform on it, and to audiences in the heart of downtown. The Hoot is using Grant’s Block to get outside, but this past Sunday, the rain moved them inside to the Providence Polaroid Project (the old Craftland location), across the street.

This collaboration between the PVD Hoot and Providence Polaroid is the only the first of many, or so hope Hoot co-founders Aromin and Mead.

“People keeping saying, ‘we need to work together,’” said Aromin. They have been looking to work with more of the projects that are part of Popup Providence initiative.

A rainy Sunday didn’t see the turn out that the Hoot usually gets. Only four people performed, two of whom are involved with the Hoot, including Aromin. When the stage is set at The Anchor, between 30 and 40 people usually show up. When the performance has been hosted at Grant’s Block they’ve drawn crowds of up to 100 people.

“We got rubberneckers,” Mead said with a smile.

The Hoot started when Aromin’s cousin, Armand Aromin, a violin-maker, moved his workspace into the Anchor. The Anchor provides free performance and exhibition space to its residents. Armand asked Josh for ideas of events to host.

“I said, ‘An open mic would be great,’” Aromin recounted. Cafes and restaurants often will host open mics, but inviting people in to perform or to watch people perform does not necessarily turn a profit, and the open mic remains secondary to the goal of establishment, namely selling food and beverages.

Aromin wanted to re-create the vibe that the erstwhile Tazza Cafe had at their open mics.

When they’re at home at The Anchor, they serve free beer and coffee, donated by Narragansett brewery, and New Harvest, respectively.

“We wanted to be an open mic that just happens to have free coffee and beer,” Aromin explained.

When Aromin was set to make the open mic happen, he invited friend and co-worker Mead to help him put it on. Mead has a degree in marketing, and had experience putting on events.

“Sarah had never done an open mic before,” Aromin laughed.

But Mead took on the planning and they’ve been successfully drawing a crowd since.

“Once you’ve done the first event, you figure out what to do. Every time we do it it’s tiring, but definitely worth it,” Mead said.

Sunday’s Hoot was also a send off party, because Mead is moving back to her home state, Connecticut. Aromin sang her a song he wrote, I hope when you pass through Providence it still feels like home.

One goal of the Hoot is to expand the project to other cities, so Mead’s move signals a future for the Hoot outside Providence. Until then, the Hoot will be continuing at The Anchor until this October.

Aromin recited the Hoot’s unofficial motto, “Our stage is your stage. I don’t care what your talent level is.”

For more information visit their website at http://pvdhoot.com

You can head out (and perform) 2PM performances at Grant’s block, 5PM at The Anchor:
Aug. 10 – Grant’s Block
Aug. 20 – The Anchor
Aug. 24 – Grant’s Block
Sep. 7 – Grant’s Block
Sep. 17 – The Anchor
Sep. 28 – Grant’s Block

Summer in the City

What to do when the Rhode Island heat gets you down

10492533_10152508372169712_7050950148635490993_nFor the average Rhode Islander, summer generally consists of longingly staring out the window at work, braving beach traffic (has this term been recognized by the dictionary yet?), or hiding from the heat wherever air conditioning exists. I understand — the heat mirage that radiates off of the Providence skyline is a bit disconcerting. Breathe, we’re here to help.

For the Summer Vacation Warriors

If you’re a parent, nanny or a poor soul who gets stuck with some

one else’s child for no monetary compensation, chances are that by July you’re running out of cheap things to do with the kids on summer vacation, likely getting a little weepy at the thought of hauling children, two coolers and 10 pounds of sand toys to the beach (I’m starting to sound like Kim Kinzie). Don’t let the Xbox tempt you. Bring the gang over to the India Point Park playground.

Nestled under shady trees alongside the breezy bay, this maritime-themed playground has the classic swings and slides accompanied by one small, one rather large and one massive set of geometric climbing ropes and nets. These interactive pieces of architecture are home to a series of obstacles, bridges and hammocks suitable for small children or energetic 12-year-olds.

India St., Providence

Cool Off … Locally

There comes a point in the summer when you start saying to yourself, “To hell with fun in the sun, I’m damn hot.” I know what you’re thinking. But please … say no to the mall. And please, for the love of all that is sane, don’t spend any more money on another Transformers movie. Get your air-conditioned cinematic kicks at The Avon on Thayer or The Cable Car on South Main Street. Both of these Providence staples screen award-winning indie flicks seven days a week. Keep an eye on The Cable Car’s schedule for special events and screenings of local films.

The Avon, 270 Thayer St., Providence, avoncinema.com

The Cable Car, 204 South Main St., Providence, cablecarcinema.com

Go Culture Yourself

It’s not any sort of best kept secret in town — Providence is home to the RISD Museum. You’ve seen billboards, you know it’s got the giant Buddha statue, and it likely never comes up as an option on the Saturday morning, “I don’t know, what do you want to do today,” conversation,  but when was the last time you actually went? The summer’s feature exhibit focuses on the freakish glamour of the 19th and early 20th century circuses. Bask in yet more air conditioning and get lost (possibly literally, but there are maps) in visual stimulation.

If you 1) have a short attention span, 2) want to peep some locally grown art, or 3) prefer your art with a side of wine and cheese, Providence Gallery Night is for you. Hop on the free gallery shuttle and cruise to a set of participating studios and galleries around the city. Choose between six different guided tours or visit any of the 26 participating galleries by foot on your own.

RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, risdmuseum.org

Gallery Night shuttle stop, 1 Regency Plaza, Providence, gallerynight.org

Boozing, Cruising

My go-to summertime weekend, “I’m bored, it’s 3pm, there’s no way I’m actually going to the gym today,” activity is heading to a bar with a deck on the water and grabbing a cocktail in the sun. And if said bar has a boat docked outside, and if you can take said cocktail onto this boat and take a scenic tour of the Providence River. does it get much better? This exists. The Providence Riverboat Company is the only one of its kind on the river and leaves from The Hot Club daily. The riverboat tour is a slow cruise from the storm barriers to the basin of the Providence river and back again for a perspective most locals have never seen before. And the mini history lesson is interesting regardless of whether you’ve finished your drink. Hang on the Hot Club’s newly renovated deck with a drink, and bring it onto the boat when it’s time to set sail. Bon Voyage.

Tours leave from The Hot Club, 575 South Water St., Providence, providenceriverboat.com

Go For a Posh Dip

Lounge on a plush chair beside the pool and cabana bar  surrounded by greenery, escaping the harsh city concrete. This isn’t a scene out of “Sex and the City.” Actually, I’m fairly certain this exact scene did occur in “Sex and the City.” This could be you. This really exists downtown. AQUA Marriott is the city’s only poolside lounge. Stop by for a drink or get real elegant with it for the afternoon in a private cabana, perusing the cigar and cognac menu. PS: Salsa dance party every Thursday night. Andale!

AQUA at the Providence Marriott, 1 Orms St., Providence, marriottprovidence.com/aqua

Growing Awareness: The Story of Seeds

How a RI Whole Foods Market and an independent director are shedding light on the seed crisis

Open Sesame Poster

by Despina Durand

The upcoming July screenings of Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds are the end result of a serendipitous ambition sparked by the film itself. Bonnie Combs, Marketing team leader at the University Heights Whole Foods Market, saw the film when it screened at the Cable Car Cinema & Cafe this past April after a friend of hers in the bakery at Whole Foods told her about how she had contributed to the Kickstarter that funded the film.

Open Sesame is a documentary that looks at the struggle between seed farmers and big agri businesses, such as Monsanto, over who has the rights to seeds. Seeds, the film argues, are the source of all life, and the basis of civilization. Without them, none of the things that we have today would exist. The move to patent seeds has gravely endangered biodiversity and farming.

Open Sesame director Sean Kaminsky, based out of Brooklyn, did not intend to make a full length film about seeds. The project started as an idea for a short film when he realized that the things he had been reading about seed patenting had a lot in common with the conversations happening around proprietary formats in digital media. (Proprietary formats are processes of encoding files that mean that they can be only opened with a specific program. For example, .doc, .ppt, and other Microsoft file formats.)

“I felt like they were turning seeds more into information than food,” Kaminsky explained.

But he discovered as he set off to his interviews that it was a very emotional topic. Sophia Maravell of the Brickyard Education Farm, one of his subjects, told him that 95% of the vegetable biodiversity has disappeared in the last 100 years. Each interviewee prompted him to speak with another on the subject, snowballing the project to a new level.

“It crept up on me.”

Combs originally approached the RISD Metcalf auditorium to screen the film, but while she awaited a response, she learned that the Cranston Public Library had started a seed library of their own, and they quickly agreed to host a screening of Open Sesame. Combs still wanted a screening in Providence, and ultimately Metcalf got back to her with an affirmative.

Kaminsky will be at the screening at the William Hall Library in Cranston, on July 30, to talk with the audience about the film. The following day representatives from the Seed Savers Exchange will lead a workshop on saving and sharing seeds.

“What I felt was that I wanted to leave people feeling inspired and hopeful, rather than in a place of anger and sadness,” Kaminsky explained of Open Sesame’s contrast with the trend of food documentaries to leave viewers drained or frustrated by the actions and indifference of big business. Kaminsky’s hope is that the film will inspire people to engage in learning more about seeds, advocating for them, and even saving them.

And from the way Combs has reacted, it seems he has already succeeded. Combs described how the film left her wanting to bring people together to educate them about seeds. And she has already thrown herself head first into the issue; she is going on a retreat to Decorah, Iowa for a summer conference hosted by the Seed Savers Exchange.

“It takes so much to make a film– you want to believe it will make a difference, and to know that it impacted someone so much. It’s been really inspiring,” Kaminsky said of Combs.

But Kaminsky does not want to tell people how they should engage with what they learn, and realizes that not everyone will in the same way.

“If there is only one thing you can do, plant a seed,” he said. The experience of planting a seed is powerful, he explained. Putting it into the earth and watching it grow connects us to our ancestors who created civilization through the millions of seeds they planted and cultivated.

Combs’ journey has mirrored Kaminsky’s. From that first screening, she has tapped into the local seed saving culture. She learned that the person who requested that first screening of the film at the Cable Car was Bill Braun who runs the Ivory Silo Seed Project in Westport. He will be one of the speakers at the Providence screening of Open Sesame. The issue has swept her up. She wants to make it a priority for people to know about the importance of seeds. And she has high hopes.

“Bringing people together with an interest in a topic is the greatest thing. It’s so rewarding,” Combs said.

Open Sesame: the Story of Seeds will be screening July 24 at 7pm at Metcalf Auditorium. And July 30 at 6pm at William Hall Library. The seed saving workshop will be July 31 at 6:30pm. For more on the film visit  www.opensesamemovie.com.