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All Aboard!: WhistleStop Rock Festival rolls into town

The WhistleStop Rock Festival is a rolling rock ‘n’ roll circus that is scheduled to hit six different New England cities (over seven nights) this winter and spring with more dates to be announced. The tour features all New England acts and will have eight to 10 acts performing per date. The festival kicks off Saturday, January 11, at Askew in PVD. To find out more about the festivals, I talked to Heather Rose and Lisa Middleton, from the band Heather Rose In Clover, who helped organize the festival.

Marc Clarkin (Motif): How did the WhistleStop Rock Festival come to be?
Lisa Middleton: We were putting feelers out in the Boston music scene and started contacting some bands that we liked. The conversation shifted toward trading shows, and Cat Verliocco (from The Knock Ups, OTP and several other Boston-area bands) looped us into a group message with Simone Berk (Kid Gulliver, Sugar Snow).  Little did we know that we were getting in on the ground floor of an amazing idea. 

As more musicians were pulled into the discussion, we soon had a good swath of New England represented in what we now call “The Core 9,” (Justine and the Unclean, The Knock Ups, Cold Expectations, The Chelsea Curve, Field Day, Kid Gulliver, PowerSlut, Tiger Bomb and Heather Rose In Clover). Basically, our initial entry point into a conversation about swapping shows ballooned into planning a traveling rock festival tour – with like-minded musicians who wanted to be involved as much as their schedules allowed. That group message only happened in September, so we’ve been busy ever since working to pull WhistleStop Rock Festival out of fantasy and into reality.


MC: Were there any particular traits or common themes that were used to book the lineup?  
LM: It all started in a very RI way: the “friend-of-a-friend” method of sharing contacts. Another real magnetizing force with this group happens to be the fact that all of the bands involved have at least one female-identified member in them. Lynda Mandolyn from Tiger Bomb (out of Portland, Maine) has said that she’s always felt a kinship toward other musicians, especially women, and I really feel the same way. Many of us felt strongly about building a collective of other women who could pitch in and serve as a resource for each other, and what better way to support each others’ music than to pull together a collective of bands and a series of shows that essentially showcase the bands we’re all trying to support? We basically get to be fans and musicians at the same time, because I’d be going to these events even if I wasn’t on the bill! 

MC: What are you most excited for?   
Heather Rose: I’m looking forward to the special guests we’ve added to each of the shows. For the Providence stop, I reached out to Tracy Garrity from the one and only dynamic rock duo, VulGarrity. She’s been talking about putting together an all-female rock band since we were in college, so WhistleStop Rock Fest was the perfect excuse to finally make that happen.  For this one-night-only performance, Tracy is singing lead, I’m playing bass and we’re thrilled to have Amy Woodbine (Red Mantis) on drums, Lyn Kotuby (Metric Electric) on lead guitar, Brianna Kieon on keys and Heather Rose In Clover’s very own Lisa Middleton will hold down the low end on songs where I need to switch out my bass for rhythm guitar. The end result is an eclectic group of amazing Providence musicians that will add yet another level of fun to this full day of back-to-back power-pop-punk-rock bands!

MC: What is next for Heather Rose In Clover in 2020? 
HR: Shortly after our calendars flipped to January, we brushed any remaining New Year’s confetti off of ourselves and headed to Zippah Recording in Boston. By the magic of what can only be described as a rare post-Christmas miracle, both Annie Hoffman (Weakened Friends) and Brian Charles (The Sheila Devine) were available to engineer/produce our new single and begin tracking some other new HRIC material!
LM: Brian and Annie really are so impressive and fun to work with. They are connected at the brain it seems, and can make magic happen without even talking sometimes. It’s a dream to work with them and to be recorded at Zippah, and we’re thrilled to release some new music.

WhistleStop Rock Festival tour kicks off on Saturday, January 11 at Askew in PVD. Doors open at 3PM and the music will go all night featuring performances by Heather Rose In Clover, Justine and The Unclean, PowerSlut, The Chelsea Curve, The Knock Ups, Kid Gulliver, Cold Expectations, Field Day, and Trace-Face-It (RI Supergroup featuring members of Vulgarrity, Heather Rose In Clover, & Red Mantis); check out for more. 

Bob Mould

Most musicians have that one group or time period where they put out their most compelling work, and then there is Bob Mould, who 40 years into his career, is still putting out amazing records like Sunshine Rock (Merge Records), one of the best in 2019. I saw Mould on the initial leg of the Sunshine Rock in Boston and the show was mesmerizing. Mould and his band blasted through the classics from Husker Du, Sugar and Mould’s solo work while sprinkling in new tunes that more than held their own amidst the sonic tsunami. For this tour, Mould is playing solo electric, which is different from an acoustic performance in that it is still loud and soul shaking, but tends to accentuate different elements of Mould’s songwriting. This is a night not to be missed!

Bob Mould and Will Johnson will play the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Jan 17.

5 Other Rad Shows:

  • Everclear is at the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich on January 16.
  • Sweet Dreams, The Mood Runners, and Detroit Rebellion will rock The Parlour on January 16.  
  • The Devil Makes Three and Matt Heckler rock The Strand on January 17.  
  • The Quahogs and HOTT BOYZ deconstructed play the Columbus Theatre on January 18.
  • Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Tribute Show rocks The Met Café on January 25. •

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