Okee dokee folks … It’s summer. I would be remiss if I didn’t reiterate my feelings about it. I hate summer. I am sorry. I know many of you folks like summer. I am not a fan of the heat and humidity. Fortunately, we are more than halfway through. Music makes the summer easier to deal with – for me anyway. There are still a lot of summer shows to catch while the weather is warm, though sometimes “warm” can be a bit of an understatement. Onward.
The Downtown Sundown Series
The Downtown Sundown Series has been steadily gaining a solid audience, mostly by word of mouth. Every show brings more folks who are amazed by the talent of the performers and the beauty of Roger Williams National Memorial. Now in its third year, this music series brings free music into downtown Providence two Saturdays per month. Already this season, performers such as WS Monroe, Billy Mitchell, Malyssa Bellarosa, Kala Farnham, Mark Cutler, Heather Rose, Tracie Potochnik, Bob Kendall, Jesse Liam and Jack Gauthier, and others have graced the park stage with their wonderful music. The middle lawn at the Memorial is the perfect spot for a sundown show. The music starts at 7 pm and continues until 9:30 pm, and four performers are featured at each show. The audience members sit back in lawn chairs, lie on blankets or directly on the grass and enjoy some of the best singer-songwriters from the area. Picnickers are welcomed and encouraged. It could be a great start to a night out in Providence or as a complete evening activity. It’s a friendly and safe environment where children and well-behaved dogs can join in. This season’s last two shows are August 10 and 17, both Saturday nights. Emma Joy Galvin, Steve Allain, Aoife Clancy, Ed McGuirl, WS Monroe, Dylan Sevey, Mary Ann Rossoni and the Rank Strangers are scheduled. For more about the series, twilight to hearinrhodeisland.com
Three Dog Night
Back when I was in fifth or sixth grade, I had a French teacher who taught us how to sing “Joy to the World” in French for a school assembly. No, it wasn’t the Christmas song. It was the song by Three Dog Night. At the time this song was a pretty big hit. Yup, do the math, it was quite a while ago. I heard their songs on AM radio and loved their sound. I also loved the band name. It was taken from an Australian expression that basically means that a “three dog night” is a really cold night. The colder the night, the more dogs the bushmen would sleep with. Being a dog person all of my life, I actually have had three dog nights! It hasn’t been cold here in months, but it’s the perfect time for a Three Dog Night. The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center (The Z) in New Bedford will present the legendary Three Dog Night on Friday, August 9. Three Dog Night songs have become part of pop culture with hits including “Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” “Black and White” and many more. Since forming in 1968, they’ve charted 21 Top 40 hits, seven of which went gold. Their well-loved songs, delivered in their unmistakable style, are still performed for audiences spanning generations by founding members Cory Wells and Danny Hutton on lead vocals, original keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon and guitarist Michael Allsup, Paul Kingery on bass and vocals, and drummer Pat Bautz. Tickets for the Three Dog Night show are $35 to $59 and are available by phone, online or in person at the Z box office. For more information, howl over to zeiterion.org.
Cherish the Ladies
The Blackstone River Theatre will present a rare summer concert featuring Cherish the Ladies on Saturday, August 3. The “Ladies” have grown from a one-time concert concept to an Irish traditional music sensation, literally the most successful and sought-after Irish-American group in Celtic music. Organized by folklorist/musician Mick Moloney and sponsored by the Ethnic Folk Arts Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, Cherish the Ladies began as a concert series featuring the brightest lights in Irish traditional music. Taking their name from the name of a traditional Irish jig, the group initially won recognition as the first and only all-women traditional Irish band. In a relatively short time, they soon established themselves as musicians and performers without peer and have won many thousands of listeners and fans of their music. With their spectacular blend of virtuosic instrumental talents, beautiful vocals, captivating arrangements and stunning step dancing, this powerhouse group combines all the facets of Irish traditional culture and puts it forth in an immensely humorous and entertaining package. For more, jiggle over to riverfolk.org.
The Small Axe Cafe
Nestled past the Fantastic Umbrella Factory gardens, attached to the Small Axe shop, is the one of the best-kept secrets around, The Small Axe Café. Every Sunday from 2 to 4 pm you can hear live acoustic music by local performers out on the patio (weather permitting). The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is just off Route 1 in Charlestown, a little past Ninigret Park. Head down and grab a bite to eat before or after shopping or beach-going and take a stroll through the garden near the Small Axe. Don’t forget to say hello to the animals, especially the emus! The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is located at 4820 Old Post Road in Charlestown. For more about this series; chop, chop, chop over to facebook.com/smallaxeproductions.
If you are into a bit of a bop across the bay, then you should get on board one of the Block Island ferries and get to New Shoreham for August 3 and 4. This is when ConserFest will take place on “The Block.” You can hear local and regional performers at Poor Peoples Pub, Club Soda, Captain Nick’s, The Fred Benson Town Beach Pavilion and Yellow Kittens Tavern. Scheduled for the fest are Brandon Morris, Homeslice featuring Travis Greenlee, The Max Balmforth Band, Bonfire Bandit, Kristin Plater, The Shades, Viennagram, Alex Brady, Mr. Kowalsky, Christina Holmes, Phil and David Turano, Frank Viele, The Johnny Lingo Trio, Cooper Rivers, Cheers Elephant, The Booze Beggars, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and more. ConserFest’s mission is to raise consciousness for environmental conservation on Block Island through the celebration of music and art. The proceeds and donations from ConserFest events help support and fund non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting the natural environment. Through this annual music and art festival, ConserFest raises finances and awareness for land conservation and for the preservation of local heritage and culture. For a schedule and more info, float on over to conserfest.org.
It may be cooler by the ocean, but The Towers in Narragansett makes the temperature rise every Thursday night with great music and dancing. Towers music coordinator, Kate Vivian, has a passion for good music and dance and presents weekly shows to share the love. Thursday, August 15, experience a unique combination of two-fisted piano, red hot trombone, blazing guitar, rock solid bass, powerful vocals and frenzied percussion antics when the Superchief Trio bring in their jump blues and boogie-woogie. Slippery Sneakers slides in on August 22 with Southwest Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco roots music. The annual season closer for The Towers Series is the Grammy Award winning Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys on Thursday, August 29. Riley and his Playboys have delighted audiences with Cajun, zydeco and swampgrass for more than 25 years. For a complete schedule and more about the shows, two-step over to thetowersri.com.
The Narrows in Fall River is moving into the ice age. Well, not really, but sort of. Their state-of-the-art air conditioning system should be completed by the first week of August and it will be an even cooler place to catch live music, especially during the dog days of summer. Coming up on August 17 is Nick Lowe. Please go and tell me how it was; I would love to get to it but unfortunately, I can’t. It has been many, many, MANY years since I have seen Lowe in concert. I was very excited when I saw him on the Narrows’ schedule but, alas, I have my own gig that night. Nick Lowe has made his mark as a producer (Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, The Pretenders, The Damned), songwriter (“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” “Cruel to be Kind,” “So it Goes”), a short-lived career as a pop star, and a lengthy term as a musicians’ musician. But in his current second act as a silver-haired, tender-hearted, but sharp-tongued singer-songwriter, he has no equal. Do yourself a favor and go! On Friday, August 23, The Pousette-Dart Band hits the Narrows’ stage. Led by Jon Pousette-Dart, The Pousette-Dart Band carved a place in the landscape of American music in the 1970s. They were a mainstay of album radio, a favorite on the college circuit, and became one of the busiest touring groups in the US. If you remember hits such as “Amnesia” or “County Line,” you’ll definitely want to see them. Now this is where the idea of a Narrows’ bed and breakfast would be awesome. The following night, Saturday, August 24, the man who used to float around in commercials selling laundry detergent, but is best known for his flapper-era radio ditties, Depression-spawned ragtime and World War II folk-jazz Leon Redbone will be “tuning up” The Narrows’ stage. You can round out the month with a performance by one of the best banjo couples around. Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn have mastered the deceptively intricate art of the duet and the banjo. Their performances embrace a diversity almost unthinkable coming from just two banjos and one voice. Washburn’s beguiling composing, playing and singing blend with Fleck’s riveting and virtuosic musicianship to create unique music. For more about these shows and more, claw-hammer your way to narrowscenter.org.
Summit Music Festival
For East-Siders and beyond, the 4th Annual Summit Music Festival will be held on Saturday, August 24 from 1 to 6 pm at Lippitt Park. This will be a fun-filled day of music, food and local crafts. Entertainment will be provided by The Stooges Brass Band, Marco Benevento, The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes, Extraordinary Rendition Band, and Emeline Easton. There will be activities for the children, a beer garden (don’t mix the two), food and craft vendors and much more. Admission to the fest is free and the rain date is August 25. If you want to find out more, climb over to sna.providence.ri.us/smf/
Becky Chace CD Release
The multi-award winning singer-songwriter Becky Chace will be celebrating the release of her latest musical offering, Rise and Fall, her tenth or so, on Friday, August 30, at Sandywoods in Tiverton. Chace told me, “Basically, we produced ourselves in our own studio in an attempt to use all of our knowledge to get our own sound and not something that a studio would influence; we feel as though what we got was honest and different.” Her long-time musical partner, Brian Minisce, was her co-conspirator on this project. Appearances by local musical luminaries such as Doug Woolverton from Roomful of Blues, The Complaints, Tom Petteruti of Brass Attack, Steve Allain, Sean Kennedy, Tom Hall, Jennifer Minuto all add spice to mix. Her own “new-ish” band members also contribute to some tracks with Eric Hastings on drums and Mark Minisce on bass. Sandywoods is a nice place for this show. You can BYOB and bring your own food and enjoy the show your way! For more about the CD and show, head “Downstream” to beckychace.com.
That’s it for now. Come on autumn!!!