The Roots Report: Slipping into Spring

rootsSlipping into Spring

Okee dokee, folks …”Now is the winter of our discontent.” Shakespeare, Richard III, 1594.  This winter it is more like MY discontent. Or, as Anna Nalick put it in her song “Breathe (2am),” 2005, “Wwinter just wasn’t my season.” Why am I quoting Shakespeare and Anna Nalick in the same breath? Seems sacrilegious, doesn’t it? Well, read on.

I am usually not one to complain about winter. I actually like it. Don’t mind the snow or the cold. Most people think I am crazy. Yup, I am. I complain about summer. This winter has been brutal on my body, as well as the bodies of friends and relatives. Last month I told the tale of my snow-shoveling dilemma that has turned into two months of doctor visits, physical therapy and lots of drugs. And not the fun ones! If snow damage wasn’t enough, the ice has also taken its toll. THREE times in one week I slipped on the ice. THREE times!!! If it didn’t hurt so much it would be funny. Blood and bruises were the result of those mishaps. One ice incident had me semi-airborne as if I slipped on a banana peel in a slapstick comedy. Fortunately I healed fairly quickly from those polar tumbles; my sister-in-law, on the other hand, required surgery, screws, plates and a cast.  She has been laid up for the past month with a broken foot/ankle from a slide down the steps after a close encounter with a TINY patch of ice. She sent me the x-ray. Yikes. She is going to have a hard time with metal detectors now. I posted my x-rays (and my MRI) on Facebook. It was kind of freaky.

So, spring is just a couple of weeks away. Hopefully Mother Nature got the memo – we have had enough winter this year! Onward.

Now to settle the puzzled looks you may have had on your faces about Anna Nalick and Shakespeare. Well, Shakespeare I included just for the quote; Anna Nalick was included because she will be at Manchester 65 in West Warwick on Friday, March 14. Nalick is best known as a one-hit-wonder with her 2005 (ish), Wreck Of The Day, platinum garnering track, “Breathe (2am).” She has released an EP and another album since, but they have failed to match up to “Breathe’s” success.  She is young, just 30 years old, but in today’s music standards, that is old. Maybe she will chart again. The song “Breathe” does contain one of my favorite song lines “Life’s like an hour glass glued to the table.” Her music is very radio-friendly and she has a sound that is similar to Jewel and Fiona Apple. If that is aligned with your musical tastes, you should sample some Nalick and check out the show.

Also at Manchester 65, the daughter of the legendary Levon Helm, Amy Helm, will wield her powerful voice on Sunday, March 24. A founding member of the roots band Ollabelle with whom she has recorded three CDs, Helm has also performed live with scores of notable musicians like Warren Haynes, The Wood Brothers, and Donald Fagen, and her distinctive voice can be heard on recordings by artists ranging from Mercury Rev to Marc Cohn. Her lengthy resume is highlighted by many years of singing and playing alongside her famous father. Last September Helm was one of the many performers at the Rhythm and Roots festival. If you saw her there you will want to see her again. Opening the show will be Joanne Lurgio and Kait Clavette.

The Aloha Cafe at Seamen’s (there will be no juvenile giggling; okay, maybe it’s me — it is VERY late and I am beyond tired) Church Institute in Newport has been host to monthly shows and is produced by Tom Erbe of Newport City Limits. Food Folk and Fun Sunday Brunch features local singer-songwriters who donate their time and talents for each show. All proceeds from the Folk and Fun Sunday Brunches go to supporting the Community Meals Program at Seamen’s. This meal program fed almost 6,000 people in 2013. The March 30 installment brings multiple Motif Award Winner Lisa Couto to the Aloha Café. The cost for the show is $15 per person and seating is limited to provide for an intimate performance. Reservations are necessary. Contact Luis at 401-847-4260. The performance is from noon until 2pm and a full brunch menu is available. The Seamen’s Institute (giggle) is located at 18 Market Square in Newport. For more, “aquatically loco mote” over to (giggle … okay, I will stop now).

A little over 20 years ago a handful of songwriters made up the original core group of members that launched the Rhode Island Songwriters Association. One of those artists was Kari Tieger. Over the years Kari has released many CDs and been involved in many, many shows. Her latest CD, Illumination, is her best work to date. The 16-song disc sounds sort of like “Phantom of the Opera” meets Kate Bush. The music is very theatrical in nature, very well produced and Kari’s voice is in fine form. The list of musicians who contributed to the recording is long, but it includes such notable names as Tony Ricci, Josh Kane, Paul Gabriel, Bob Fish, Lindsay Adler, Sara Bartel, Alex Tirrell and Kari’s son Jon Brennan. The official CD release show will be held on Sunday, March 30 from 2pm until 5pm at the home of the NEW Triad Studio in Warren. Tieger will perform selections from the CD accompanied by many of the session players who contributed to the original tracks. Take this rare opportunity to hear a work of recorded art reproduced live. For more about Kari and the release show, illuminate your way over to See our review at XXXXX.

Legendary bluesman Paul Geremia returns to Sandywoods Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 22. This master bluesman is one of the best country blues fingerpickers ever. With his six- and 12-string guitars, harmonica, husky soulful voice, stories of life on the road and an innate sense of humor, Paul keeps traditional blues fresh and alive with his engaging performances. His covers of Blind Willie McTell, Tampa Red, Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, and countless other blues legends will raise the hair on your neck. John Hammond once famously said that he’d drive 1,000 miles to see Paul play.

Chris Monti will open for Paul. Chris is a writer, singer, songwriter, musician and bandleader. Chris sings and plays acoustic and electric guitar. His playing styles include fingerpicking, flatpicking and slide. A true multi-instrumentalist, he also plays harmonica, clawhammer banjo, bass, kazoo, dobro, lap steel, mandolin and piano. Chris has released three records, and has performed from New England down to Florida and in Alaska and Washington State as well. His musical repertoire includes traditional folk songs and old blues music. In the past Monti has toured the country with Geremia making him an obvious choice for an opening act. Don’t miss him. And don’t forget you can BYOB and food at Sandywoods. For more about this and other shows at Sandywoods, slide on over to

Hurry, read this bit and get to the show. About 10 or so years ago I was sitting at the bar at the old Safari Lounge. I was attending a songwriter showcase that my friend Kendra was in. Next to me was a young girl with long dark hair and pale skin. She was very quiet, but we chatted a little bit. That night turned out to be a very bizarre night and me and a couple of folks wound up at the Silver Top Diner until the wee hours of the morning. That is a story for another day. Continuing on … A couple of weeks later, I was at Waterfire and I ran into the girl who was sitting next to me at the Safari. We chatted for a bit and I learned that she was a student at RISD and she was installing a piece during that night’s Waterfire. Fast forward a few months to the RISA open mic night at the Brooklynn Coffee Tea House and in walks that young, dark-haired, pale-skinned girl from the Safari Lounge and she was carrying a guitar. She was shy and somewhat insecure about playing in public. She sang dirge-like songs in a soft voice accompanied by very competent guitar playing. She came to the RISA open mic for quite a long time but she eventually graduated and moved away. Sometime later I connected with her on one of the early social media sites and noticed that she was touring around the world! She seems to be always recording and touring these days and hasn’t played in little old Rhode Island for quite a while. Oh, who am I talking about? Why it’s Marissa Nadler. She will be at the Columbus Theatre with friends Alec K. Redfearn (trio) and Allysen Callery. If you don’t know Marrissa’s music and you are a fan of Allysen’s style you will love Nadler’s. She is quite prolific and in the past dozen years has recorded or contributed to approximately 20 CDs that sell internationally. Honestly, I am very impressed with she has accomplished as an indie musician. You should definitely be at this show on March 7 and give her a warm welcome back to Rhode Island! For more about Marissa, march over to

Also at the Columbus the following Saturday, March 15, Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, Polaris) and The ‘Mericans will be playing the upstairs theater. Doors are at 8 and show is at 9pm. For more about this and the many other events at the Columbus, discover

Finally, here are a few shows that may be worthy of your time and money. I recommend, you decide. Always a wise choice to support the local, independent talent! March has St. Paddy’s Day. You all know you can head to just about any bar in RI, drink green beer and then puke later, so I won’t list that activity, or did I just do that? Just follow the leprechauns!

The Bell Street Coffee House on Bell Street in Providence (just a block or so up from Olneyville) presents Bethel Steele and Steve Allain on Friday, March 7. For info about this show, ring up 401-273-5678. On Saturday, March 8, The RI Songwriters Association hosts a songwriter showcase at Sandywoods in Tiverton. Featured players are multi-Motif Award winner, Joanne Lurgio, Rich Eilbert, Josh Joffen and the AMAZINGLY talented Kala Farnham. The Mad Poets Café will take place at the Warwick Museum of Art on Saturday, March 8 from 7 – 9pm, hosted by the 2013 North Beast Poetry Slam Champion and Providence Poetry Slam 2013 Grand Slam Champion, Spoken Word Artist and Motif contributor, Christopher Johnson. There will be a short open mic before the show arrive early to sign up. For more about the show, iambic pentameter to Thursday, March 20 at 6pm, join R A Fish and Friends as the play the music of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and more at India Restaurant on Hope St. in Providence. For more, naan your way to Let’s get to the stomp, The Blues Stomp at Lily Pads in Peacedale on Saturday, March 29 from 7-10pm. The night will be a benefit for the Jonestown Family Center and feature sets by The KD Moaners, Wooden Nickle, The Occasional Blues Band and the islanders. Looking ahead to April 5 and also at Lily Pads, Aoife O’Donovan, best known as the lead singer of Crooked Still and Sometymes Why, and for singing on the 2013 Grammy winning recording, The Goat Rodeo Sessions will be stopping by for a concert to get you into the swing of spring. Giddy-up to for more.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. I am going out tomorrow and buying crampons. No giggling. Yes, it is 5am and I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old. They are for my boots so I won’t SLIP on the ICE!