Okee dokee folks…Some of you may remember that my formal education is in fine art. When I was in college, I was making art and playing music. I actually started college as a music major but dropped out because I didn’t want to play jazz or classical, nor teach music.
Back then, those were pretty much the only options. They didn’t have Rock Star 101. So, after a couple of years, I went back to school to get my artistic license instead. I still played music but learned it in other ways and eventually music won out over art. These days, I still do some art, mostly graphic design (CD covers, posters – the fun stuff) and I am still interested in it. I was fortunate to get up to see the Degas exhibit before it closed.
The last time I saw a large Degas exhibit was 25 years ago in NYC and I had to buy a ticket from a scalper. Degas was the biggest influence on my visual art so I was compelled to go back then and again this time. I’m filing away all this inspiration for when I get really old and start painting again. While I was at the MFA, I ducked into the musical instruments room to check out some of the antique music makers. It’s a small room in comparison to everything else in the museum but what is inside is amazing. The craftsmanship of these instruments is almost beyond belief. While I am not sure how these particular instruments sound they truly are beautiful. Guitars, violins, keyboards, horns and many instruments I have never seen nor heard of. The guard on duty gave me a flyer that noted certain occasions they have players demonstrate the instruments. Next time I get up to the museum I’ll have to coordinate it with one of these demonstrations. Viewing the Degas exhibit transported me back both to art school and to the 19th Century world through Degas’ eyes. I can only imagine what it will be like hearing music from an instrument that has aged a couple of hundred years. Stay tuned.
Tower of Love
Feeling romantic? Then head down to Narragansett to the Towers for “Love is in the Air II: A Valentine Concert of Love Songs.” The Towers is a great place to find that lovin’ feeling. It’s the South County Mecca for wedding receptions and summer dancing. Can you imagine how many folks have “hooked up” at the Towers over the past 100 years? Raise your hand if you have. I’m sure there are a lot of raised hands. All those bridesmaids, groomsmen and sweaty swing dancers? C’mon it’s like shooting fish in a barrel! Anyway, this show for lovers features Michael DiMucci and Phoebe Madden and they’ll be accompanied by Diane Gualtieri and Karen Mellor (Avenue A). There will be special appearances by composer Dr. Enrico Garzilli, Audrey Gauman Lucas, Molly Gregory, and Kelsey Vivian. You have two big chances to feel the love: Friday, Feb 10, at 7:30pm and Saturday, Feb 11, at 3pm. For more info beat over to www.thetowersri.com or ring up 401-782-2597. Remember what Stephen Stills say, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with!”
The Narrows Center for the Arts hosts blues legend Joe Louis Walker, who will releasing Hellfire on with Alligator Records. Walker is an award-winning guitar slinger, passionate vocalist and gifted songwriter celebrating the release of records at the Narrows on Saturday, Feb 11. Walker has been releasing groundbreaking music since 1986 and has toured — and continues to tour — worldwide. He has won four Blues Music Awards (BMA) and has been nominated for 44 more, including a nomination for a 2012 BMA for Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year. Walker has also recorded as a guest with some of the blues world’s best-known artists, including appearances on Grammy-winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton. The New York Times raves, “Walker is a singer with a Cadillac of a voice. He delivers no-nonsense, gutsy blues. His guitar solos are fast, wiry and incisive, moaning with bluesy despair.” Rolling Stone simply calls him “ferocious.” Concert information is as follows:
Honker over to www.ncfta.org
Jones-in in Newport
If you are fan of Dylan, Warren Zevon or Leonard Cohen then you should certainly be a fan of Newport’s own JP Jones. On Friday, Feb 10, at 8pm the Newport Congregational Church (corner of Spring and Pelham streets) will be spotlighting JP Jones and a reunion of his 7-piece folk-rock band, RiteTite. Jones who is a Newport based singer-songwriter has independently released a dozen CDs and has written more than 350 original songs. He made his self-titled major label debut 38 years ago on Columbia/Windfall and did an arena tour at that time. These days, he stays closer to home. Still, his work has gotten him national attention. The band RiteTite was featured on JP’s 2003 Life and Death CD release and toured New England in the early part of what is now the last decade. This will be the first time in more than 7 years that JP, who plays mostly solo shows these days, has shared the stage with the full line-up: Louise Muller (violin), Mike Barrette (electric guitar), Donn Watson (keyboards), Kurt Meyer (bass) and drummers Dave Lang and Matt Niebles. JP promises a show featuring lots of new material as well as many songs that will be familiar to his band-mates and fans. For more information about JP Jones, get rite over to www.jpjones.net or dial up 401-258-5367.
Songwriters in the Round
Over at AS220 on Friday, Feb 10, at 8:30pm, The Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) will be celebrating the eighth anniversary of their Songwriters in the Round (SITR ) show. Over the past eight years, 384 performers have been subjected to the pressure of writing songs based on a theme chosen by the audience. Of these 384 folks, there were RISA members, non-RISA members and traveling songwriters in the line-up. Each show is a different experience. Different song themes, different approaches to the resulting songs, spontaneous jamming to the new songs and lots of witty banter make them all something to remember. The series was initially begun and run by Ryan Fitzsimmons for RISA. Ryan was the host for very show until a couple of years ago. Now he hosts two shows a year and the monthly hosting duties have been split up between Jim Tata, Joanne Lurgio, Jan Luby, and Jake Haller. For this anniversary celebration, each host has invited two folks to play in their round. They will all be performing songs that were written for the Songwriters In The Round Shows. The SITR shows usually happen on the second Sunday of the month but for the February anniversary RISA will be showcasing the songs and songwriters all night on a Friday Night. Along with Jim, Jake, Joanne, Jan and Ryan (I think Ryan should change his name to Jon to stick with the “J” theme) the line-up for the celebratory evening includes: Billy Mitchell, Johnny Botelho, Paul Pasch, Marilynn Manfra, Andrew Lewis, Charlie Cover, Pete Vendettuoli, Tracie Potochnik, Patti DeRosa, and Jon McAullife. Whalebone Jackson will play out the show until it’s time to go home. If you want to hear some really great, really original songs, AS220 is the place to do it. This show is an annual fundraiser for RISA and tix are just $10. Many of these folks will be back on March 18th playing their SITR songs when RISA takes over AS220 again and records Volumes 3 & 4 of the newest Songwriters in the Round CD. For more info revel over to www.as220.org or www.risongwriters.com
Finally, here are some random music happenings to wander to. WS Monroe hosts another night of his monthly series Folk Music Night at the Brown Bookstore. The show is free and besides WS Monroe you can enjoy Ross Robinson and Gary Fish as they serenade you from the stacks. The show is from 6-8pm in the College Hill Café at The Brown Bookstore. The store is at the corner of Thayer and Angell Streets in Providence. Katryna and Narissa Nield will be performing at Stone Soup Coffeehouse on Feb 4. This concert will begin with a Stone Soup “Hoot” or Open Mic. Midnight Honey performs at Indigo Pizza in Coventry Feb 4. Visit www.indigopizza.com