2016 Motif Music Award Nominees — Vote!


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People often ask – here’s how the nominations are arrived at:

We contact the booking agents at over 85 local venue that host live music. That’s every place we can find – but if you’re a live music venue that wasn’t contacted, please let us know. Many places are quick to respond by email – if they’re not, we also contact them on facebook, call them, and go to their locations to try to get their suggestions.

We also send the nominating ballots to all the local music radio stations, to the local music labels, and to all our music writers (17 of them).

Each nomination counts once. We add them up, and the most votes in each category are nominated.

Here’s the tricky part – we get a number of nominations for the same band or performer in different categories or multiple categories (for example, americana and alt). We have a last-minute meeting with our senior writers in each category (a group of four) to review categories and make sure we have everyone in the right places. We may even ask nominees which category they belong in. If there are any ties, we break them at this point too.

Then everything is proofed – for spelling and also, again, for categories and geography, first by our proofing team, then by our editor and then our publisher. We work very hard to get this right. We’re not saying we don’t make mistakes – there seems to be one every year – but we certainly do everything we can to keep them to a minimum.

That’s the nomination process – the last part is then up to you – everybody votes (restricted to one vote per person).

So chose wisely, its your civic duty. Vote! Here is a complete list of all nominees:



Cactus Attack

Consuelo’s Revenge

Frankie Ranks and the Freeloaders

Jay Berndt & The Orphans The Horse-Eyed Men



Esmeree Skye

Joanne Lurgio

John Faraone

Keith Munslow

Mike Laureanno

Nate Cozzolino

Steve Volkmann


Amanda Salemi (Consuelo’s Revenge)

Aubrey Atwater (Atwater-Donnelly)

Jenn Lombari

Jess Powers (Cowboy & Lady)

Joanne Lurgio

Kala Farnham


Brian McKenzie

Dylan Sevey (Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen)

Elwood Donnelly (Atwater-Donnelly)

Mark Cutler (Mark Cutler and Men of Great Courage)

Steve Delmonico (The Quahogs) Steve Allain (Cardboard Ox)


Ten Rod Ramblers

Blackstone Valley Bluegrass lizzie james and the grey stone rail

Hope Valley Volunteers

Local Freight

Four Bridges


Back Rhodes

Cardboard Ox

Cowboy and Lady

The Fates

Great Gale


Big Cat Blues

Cannibal Ramblers

Johnny Watson

Neal And The Vipers

Roomful of Blues

Tim Taylor Blues Band

CHORAL ACT Assembly of Light Choir

Chorus of Westerly

North Kingstown Community Chorus

Prism of Praise Community Gospel Choir

Providence Singers

Schubert-Lorelei Sängerchor


Allysen Callery


Beth Killian

Haunt the House

The Vox Hunters

Warbler Roost

JAZZ / R&B ACT (1 more?)

Brass Attack

Cote Percussion Jazz Quartet

Dick Lupino Band

Greg Abate

John Allmark Jazz Orchestra

Miss Wensday & The Cotillions


Bohemian Quartet

Eastern Medicine Singers The Gnomes

Occidental Gypsy


Tom Lanigan Band


Java Madness

The Knickerbocker Cafe

The Parlour

Pub On Park

The Spot Underground

Wood River Inn


Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen – “New Mischief”

Joanne Lurgio – “Rise from the Storm”

Consuelo’s Revenge – “Mercy”

Flav Martin – “Indestructible”

Mike Laureanno – “Road Signs”

Torn Shorts – “Be My Mechanic”


BEST ACT bloodpheasant

Jetty Last Good Tooth

Math the Band the Band

Roz and the Rice Cakes

The Silks

Twin Foxes

BEST LIVE ACT bloodpheasant

Cactus Attack


Math the Band

Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys

Tall Teenagers

The Viennagram


The Copacetics

The Mintones

Natural Element Band

Professor Roots



The Cosmic Factory

Daddie Long Legs

Green Tea Band Most Dangerous Men Alive

Viral Sound


Atlantic Thrills

Eric & the Nothing



The Really Heavy

Tall Teenagers


Anyone Anyway


The October Accord


Trophy Wives

War Games


The Down And Outs

Downtown Boys

Fucking Invincible


Less Than A Felony

Neutral Nation The Worried


Bad Marriage

Black Acid Prophecy



Reason To Fight



Alyson Hell (Reign of the Last)

Reba Mitchell (Whore Paint)

Roz Raskin (Roz and the Rice Cakes)

Sarah Greenwell (GYMSHORTS)

Shannon Le Corre (bloodpheasant)

Tammy Laforest (The Dust Ruffles)

Tracy Garrity (VulGarrity)


Dave “Arsen” Laros (Blackletter)

Derek Knox (WAY OUT)

Kris Hansen (Viking Jesus)

Sasquatch (Sasquatch and The Sick-A-Billys)

Tony Jones (Tony Jones & The Cretin 3)

Tyler-James Kelly (The Silks)



Cat Has Claws

Eric & the Nothing

Jets Can’t Land

Public Alley

Tall Teenagers

Arc Iris


Atlantic Thrills – “Vices”

Dolan – “Kill the Wolf”

Blackletter – “Station 15”

Le Roxy Pro – “Le Roxy Pro”

Math The Band – “Math the Band the Band – The Album”


Black No. 1 (Type O Negative)

Dirty Deeds (AC/DC)

Hey Nineteen (Steely Dan)

Power of Love (Huey Lewis and the News)

Playing Dead (Grateful Dead)

Forever Young (Neil Young)

COVER BAND Biscuit City

The Mark Ray Band


Sybil Disobedience

Tanya McIntyre & The Professors



Big Rush

Chachi and the International Players

Sage Francis

Spocka Summa

Symmetry / Mike Slap


Blevin Blectum

DJ Siren

DJ Zydrate

Jackie Treehorn

Jeff LeClair

Michael Savant


DJ Lefty

DJ Nook

DJ Pauly Danger DJ Psycho Eddie

Music Please

Ty Jesso


Foundation Mondays at the Parlour

SinisteR Fetish Night at The Dark Lady

Soul Power at Dusk

The Sweatshop at The Salon

Mike D’s Top 10 Can’t Miss Tracks of March

1. Angry Angles “Things Are Moving” In 2010, the world lost too soon the super talented musician Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., better known by his stage name Jay Reatard. At 18 years old Jay released as The Reatards his first album, Teenage Hate, a memphis garage rock album that at first blast outshined his experienced peers. Jay had energy and talent that seemed limitless. In 11 years he had 9 projects, a solo career and was touring constantly. Angry Angles was formed in 2005 with Jay and then girlfriend Alix Brown. Jay intended to make this band his priority, but their relationship ended before they finished the album. Now a decade later, Goner Records is releasing what exists and what’s left and unreleased this May. This is the teaser and it’s vintage Jay Reatard.

2. DMA’s “Too Soon”

The Australian heirs to the Oasis throne are back in my top 10 with their first full length Hills End. Their previous 2015 release, a self titled ep, had my favorite song of the year, “Your Low.” This track doesn’t have the bite that “Your Low” had, but it does show their range. This is more of a straight ahead ’90s brit bop banger. I can’t wait to see this band live, and I have a feeling that their profile is going to grow exponentially this year. (DMA’s play Great Scott in Allston, Massachusetts on 3.29)

3. Savages “The Answer”

I am new to the Savages bandwagon. This song is a tour de force that is as personal and sonic as a punch in the face. I love songs that make you want to hit replay right afterward as if once and twice isn’t enough. This is that for me out of this batch. “The Answer” is off the band’s new album Adore Life out now on Matador Records. I hope their live shows are as chaotic as this music video. (Savages play The Paradise in Boston on 4.1)

4. “Golden Gal”

It feels like forever ago since Animal Collective played the old beloved The Living Room in Providence. Here is the single off their 10th studio album, Painting With. It’s a great mix of psychedelic dance with a twinge of strange, but not so much that it seems out of place. It’s reminiscent of psychedelic pop cross-over act Super Furry Animals. And with the “Golden Girls” sample to start the song, its nice to reminisce about one of them golden gals while listening along.

5. Kanye West “Facts (Charlie Heat Version)

Love him (I mostly do) or hate him (I sometimes do), Kanye West is one of the most talented artists of his time. When he is on point, he is unstoppable. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a hip-hop album masterpiece. But not only is he an artist, he’s also a provocateur. His desire to share with you his music comes with an overwhelming desire to share with you his often strange and sometimes out of wack views of life and circumstance. His new album, The Life Of Pablo, which currently isn’t for sale or available and may or may not ever be, is full of Kanye’s ranting and anger. Too much. I feel like his anger is distracting him from his talent. This track “Facts” is a good example of Kanye’s battle with everything and everyone. Here he goes at Michael Jordan, Drake and Future, Phil Knight and Nike shoe and boasts about selling emojis. While the rest of the album his anger feels lost, at least this track seems to be close to focused.

6. Macklemore And Lewis “Light Tunnels (featuring Mike Slap)”

Vintage clothing song pioneers Macklemore and Lewis are back with the follow-up record from the Grammy winning album The Heist. Their new record, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, has a ton of hip-hop collaborations on it ranging from legends like Krs One & Kool Moe Dee to recent comers like Chance The Rapper, Anderson .Paak, & Rhode Island’s own Mike Slap. Mike Slap, who recently changed his performing name from Symmetry to his birth name, was 2015 Motif‘s Hip-Hop Artist of the Year. No better way to celebrate the switch than with a big high profile like the one on this track. Mike is working on his first album under his own name; expect big things. (Macklemore and Lewis play The Agganis Arena in Boston 4.17)

7. Quilt “Roller”

Ahhh. Some nice blissful indie dream pop from Boston. The track starts off like it’s gearing into my favorite guilty pleasure genre of Yacht Rock, then travels into more of a Liz Phair meets Stereolab vibe. This is off their brand new album, Plaza. I hope they make the 45-mile trip south soon.

8. Two Inch Astronaut “Good Behavior”

If this track from Maryland’s Two Inch Astronaut reminds you of Jawbox / Dischord Records ’90s stuff, its for good reason. The band sought out musician / indie producer J Robbins from Jawbox to produce their 2016 “Personal Life” record.

9.The Dirty Nil “Zombie Eyed”

Here’s this month’s grunge-drenched punk song on the list. The Dirty Nil hail from Hamilton, Ontario and this track is off the excellent release Higher Power. While this is my favorite song off the record, the song title “Wrestle Yu to Husker Du is certainly my favorite song title in quite some time. (The Dirty Nil play Great Scott in Allston, Massachusetts on 4.9)

10. Yo Gotti “It Goes Down In The DM”

This song is pretty funny. The sort of funny you know is pretty low brow but still makes you giggle regardless. 2016 is a different place and so much of the courtship of affection goes down in the dm. Finally a hip-hop song about the desperate and dirty side of the social media courtship. Beyond being entertaining, the beat is pretty good and the song is certainly a hit. Try not to listen to this around impressionable children, it already came on shuffle in the car with my 13-year-old and was certainly an awkward moment til I hit next… (Yo Gotti is playing exclusively in the DM)

Christian McBride Takes Reins of 62nd Newport Jazz Festival

Before winning five Grammy awards and being hailed as a “jazz virtuoso” by The New York Times, Christian McBride, touring as a bassist with all-star lineup of Jazz Futures, played his first Newport Jazz Festival in 1991. Now, five Grammys and 25 years later, he is returning again — but his presence will be felt not on the main-stage, but behind it, as he takes over the festival from George Wein, the founder and soul of the festival since its inception in 1954.

After over 60 years of managing the internationally acclaimed festival, Wein, at age 90, appears poised to retire. Announced by the Newport Jazz Foundation, a nonprofit endowment for the festival, McBride will officially hold the post of Artistic Director, replacing Wein.

While the lineup for this year has already been finalized, plans are being laid for 2017, the first year of McBride’s scheduled tenure. Danny Melnick, longtime associate producer, has also been placed on the management team of next year’s festival, and will collaborate with McBride on a lineup. McBride is widely considered as a true grandmaster in myriad jazz forms, and his diverse talent was echoed by Wein himself, who lauded McBride, noting that, “Christian fits the bill in his concern for all types of jazz. He’s interested in the totality of the music.” This echoes the oft-diverse lineups of the festival itself, which has traditionally hosted widely recognized masters like Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong, and also embraced the advent of fusion jazz in the early ’70s, placing it well-ahead of the both the critical community and festival circuit at large.

Bruce Gordon, a chairman at the board for the Newport Festivals Foundation, which also includes the Newport Folk Festival under its administrative umbrella, stated that reaction to McBride’s appointment was “overwhelmingly positive,” and that Christian was in-fact a “first-round draft choice”—and that the rest of the board supported the appointment from the beginning.

Even though McBride is still quite active as a performer, he has a great deal of experience as a festival director. He has held leadership positions at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also tenured as a programming director for the Montclair Jazz Festival in New Jersey. In addition, he runs Jazz House Kids, an art education initiative tied to Montclair.

In spite of this diverse and extensive experience, McBride feels a sense of respect and even awe toward Newport: “We’re talking about the granddaddy of all music festivals, so this is very serious business for me,” he said in an interview session at the Lincoln Center in New York City, home to his alma mater, the Juilliard School. McBride handles the crowd naturally, with a cadence and intellect that are often on display as host of NPR’s “Jazz Night in America,” a syndicated weekly on the airwaves.

The appointment follows McBride’s fifth Grammy win for his stunning solo-bass performance in his acoustic track “Cherokee,” a masterful melody that successfully breaks the nature and mold of bass solos, taking the instrument to places it rarely goes with a deft mastery only featured by Christian, who has been called by the New York Review and many others the “World Ambassador of Jazz.”

The 62nd Annual Newport Jazz Festival will be held between July 29-31 in Newport, RI.

Alt-Nation: WBRU Rock Hunt

It’s that time again — the finals of this year’s WBRU Rock Hunt take over The Met Café this Saturday night. The great thing about the WBRU Rock Hunt is every year is completely different. Sure, there are some years where there is an obvious favorite, but this year it’s wide open! Last year’s champs, Public Alley, came from out of nowhere to stun favorites Most Dangerous Men Alive and Forest Fires for the victory. This only goes to show that one can crunch the numbers and factor in a band’s draw all day, but come show time there is no sure bet when it comes to picking the WBRU Rock Hunt Champion.

In the old days when the event was at the now defect Giza in Olneyville, one could make prop bets on the street with the guy trying to sell you the hub caps he stole off the guy parked in front of you. These days finding trouble isn’t so easy, but where there is money to made, all things are possible. Things to consider when placing a bet is sometimes bands will do ill-advised things to take them out of the running. Some examples in recent years include Baylock thinking the world really wanted to hear them do a mid-set stripped down triple bongo number or even last year when Most Dangerous Men Alive performed a Rage Against the Machine cover that was void of all the energy and passion of the original. The best thing for a band competing in the Rock Hunt is to recognize what they are good at it and stick to that. If you are going to take crack at winning the Rock Hunt, take your best shot and do not try to out-think the moment.

This year’s contenders all offer something a little different. Oliver Penn and The Crystal Shivers get it done with straight soul tinged alt-rock complete with trumpets and sax. They have a new EP, Runaway, out now that basically shows off their competency. Oliver Penn and The Crystal Shivers are unlikely to go out and out rock anyone, but they could out-point the other combatants via their technique. I’d compare them to someone like Floyd “Money” Mayweather in terms of needing to out-point the competition to victory. Le Roxy Pro mixes in surf and Brit-Pop hazy harmonies to create ethereal jams. Le Roxy Pro have a veteran’s advantage to take the crown as one member of the band, Brent Battey, has previously won the Rock Hunt as part of The Wandas in 2010. The Wandas and I may not have had the best relationship. I said something along the lines that they suck and questioned their eligibility as a band that listed Boston as their hometown, but whatever, each rock hunt is its own beast. Le Roxy Pro has a self-titled full length album out. I’d put Le Roxy Pro as a favorite here capable of putting the crowd and the judges under their spell. I’ll give them the Hillary Clinton chance to victory for being established and more refined than their competition.

Young Lincoln in photos certainly lives up to the first part of their name. They probably have the potential to rock the hardest, but their recordings don’t necessarily capture this. The music is pretty much generic indie alternative with a little punk slithered in. Not too impressive at first glance, but come Saturday night, none of that really matters. Young Lincoln have an EP out called Is It Really You? that showcases their wares. On paper they are probably the biggest long shot as I don’t think there is any one thing that they do particularly well. In their defense, I would have said the same thing about Public Alley last year before the Finals, so that shows you what I know. In fact, I’ll give Young Lincoln the Public Alley’s chance to make it back to back upset wins in the Rock Hunt.

Eric & The Nothing get typecast as garage rockers, but the stuff they have online is more basic ’50s/’60s wistful rock ‘n’ roll. It is kind of funny to think that the winner of a 2016 alternative rock radio station could take their cues from someone like Ricky Nelson, but why not? He deserves more than just his offspring who gave us the ’80s hair pop band, Nelson. Eric & The Nothing have two releases with the Hot Shrimp EP and Temper Tantrums single available online. Eric & The Nothing are probably my favorite horse going into the Finals as a band I’d want to see, but my choices don’t always win. I give them the oldies but goodies chance to win.

Picking a winner out of this field is no easy feat. I think Young Lincoln might be the most explosive. I like Eric & The Nothing the best as a band. Oliver Penn and The Crystal Shivers can win it if all else breaks down just by being solid in kind of a Torn Shorts victory scenario. That said, something in my gut just says Le Roxy Pro is going to be the band to beat. The moment after I send in my column, I’ll be on the phone to my bookie to bet the house their way. Best of luck to all the bands and enjoy March Madness.

The WBRU Rock Hunt Finals featuring sets by Oliver Penn and The Crystal Shivers, Le Roxy Pro, Eric & The Nothing, and Young Lincoln will take place at The Met Café in Pawtucket on March 19. Doors are at 7pm with the music starting at 8pm.

Email music news to [email protected]

The Roots Report: Peep at Some Music

Okee dokee folks… Well, it is spring. The peepers are peeping early this year. Average waking time for them is right around Saint Patrick’s Day — I think that they like to get up for the party! Last year they were late and it was almost April before I heard their nighttime chorus. I love to sit outside and relax, listening to the peaceful sound of the peepers. I think — I know — I am going to need a lot of peeper time this year. Election years always stress me out.

This year there is so much at stake. People are losing their minds. Hate is rearing its VERY ugly head! Rational thought is giving way to stupidity. I know that I say this a lot, but the climate is right for intelligent protest music. The ’60s were full of it. “For What It’s Worth,” “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Eve Of Destruction” very well could be used today. It’s great to play these older songs, but we need a new voice and new anthems. The revolution HAS begun, and it IS being televised, but not in the traditional sense. Please pay attention. Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything!” The WORLD is paying attention and is worried. I am, too. Very. I could go on, but I won’t. Not now anyway. Read on…

Last weekend I attended the David Wilcox show produced by Common Fence Music (CFM) at the Channing Church in Newport. It was a very enjoyable show in a beautiful setting. Wilcox is a master guitar player and wordsmith. The folks at CFM head back to Anthony Road in Portsmouth for their next show on Saturday, March 19, when they will present Canadian rising star, Mo Kenney, a singer/songwriter based in Darmouth, Nova Scotia. This will be Kenney’s first appearance in Southern New England. Catching the ear of noted Canadian rocker Joel Plaskett while still in school, Kenney released her first album, Mo Kenney, in 2012. In September 2014, Kenney released her second album, In My Dreams. Kenney is known for her lyrical prowess and engaging stage presence.

Opening the show will be Vermont-based folk duo Cricket Blue. Their music is inspired by diverse aspects of the American folk tradition: old and current, popular and obscure. Laura Heaberlin and Taylor Smith write songs marked by close-knit harmonies and words about myth, confusion, love and the ends of the things. Heaberlin and Smith met at Middlebury College, where they studied philosophy and literature. Their self-titled debut EP was released in October.

Don’t forget, the rescheduled Fiddlers and Fishermen show is April 2 at CFM. For more, juno where to go: CommonFenceMusic.org

At Stone Soup one of the original founders takes the stage on March 19. Two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley will be joined by Marty Ballou and Rachel Panitch. “As a folk musician in the Seeger, Woody Guthrie tradition, Bill Harley continues to lend his voice to social justice, and environmental and political causes. Whatever Harley’s forum, it’s always all about story, community and connection.” He is well-known for his kids shows, but this will be a Bill Harley show for the adults. For more, Wacka, Wacka, Woo to StoneSoupCoffeehouse.com

The Red Bandana Fund seeks nominations for the Red Bandana Award, given annually since 2013 to a person or organization in the Rhode Island area who embodies the spirit and work of late organizer for peace and justice, Richard Walton. Bill Harley, the Fund’s chair, states, “We’re excited and proud to call for nominations for the Red Bandana Award. We honor Richard and his work by highlighting the work of the incredible, resilient people in the Rhode Island area who stand up and speak for a just and equitable world. We’re looking for those unsung heroes who stand up and make a difference.” The award will be presented on Sunday, June 5 at the fourth annual Red Bandana Celebration at Nick-A- Nee’s in Providence. To submit a nomination, email [email protected] by April 15.

In New Bedford, The Zeiterion has WGBH Presents: A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn on Friday, March 18. Radio personality Brian O’Donovan hosts a night of Celtic music, dance and storytelling in A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn. This concert follows the format established for the Christmas Celtic Sojourn series of concerts and WGBH’s wildly popular radio hour, A Celtic Sojourn, also hosted by O’Donovan. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn will feature traditional instrumentalists, dancers, singers and more than a few surprises. The Celtic Sojourn reaffirms that old adage: Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! Follow the rainbow to Zeiterion.org for more.

Also in New Beige, Vance Gilbert Opens the 2016 Music in the Gallery Concerts on Friday, March 25 at 7:30pm. Gilbert brings his mix of folk, jazz and hilarity to the gallery series at the historic James Arnold Mansion. Vance started out as a jazz singer and then switched to folk. He burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the 1990s. Word got out about this Philadelphia-area born and raised performer, and Shawn Colvin invited Gilbert to be a special guest on her concert tour. Since then, Vance has worked with artists as varied as singers Aretha Franklin, Arlo Guthrie and Anita Baker and comedians Paul Reiser and George Carlin. He continues to refine his unlikely union of humor, virtuosity and the unexpected. For more, stick a stamp on an e-mail to: [email protected].

The Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingston has Cheryl Wheeler on Saturday, April 2. Wheeler is very respected as a songwriter by her peers, which can be seen by how many of them record her songs. Cheryl’s songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Dan Seals, Peter, Paul and Mary, Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Suzy Boggus, Melanie, Bette Midler, Maura O’Connell, Sylvia, Kathy Mattea and Holly Near. If they think she is great, then you owe it to yourself to hear her live. You’ll be glad that you did. Also at the CCA, on March 19 is a Joni Mitchell Tribute featuring the Debra Mann Quintet, and on April 9, celebrate the music of the ’60s and ’70s with the Dave Tessier All-Stars. For more, Circles and Arrow to CourthouseArts.org

Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland presents multiple Grammy-award winning violinist Mark O’Connor making an extremely rare small venue performance March 19 with his wife Maggie O’Connor performing a show called “American Classics.” On March 26 it will be an evening of Scottish music featuring Ryan McKasson, Eric McDonald, Will Woodson and Jeremiah McLane, and on Monday, March 28, BRT will host a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising from 6 to 9pm. Erin Go Bragh to riverfolk.org for more. That’s it for now. Go Bernie!!! Thanks for reading. JohnFuzek.com

Interview with Zakk Wylde

Since February there has been a star-studded tour rolling through the US paying tribute to the man many say is the greatest guitarist who ever existed. It’s called Experience Hendrix and it features the likes of blues legend Buddy Guy, the soulful Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his gritty riffs and the metal madman known as Zakk Wylde, founding member of the rabble rousers Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, among others. Before stops at The Hanover Theatre For The Performing Arts in Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 23 and at The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center the following night, I had a chat with Wylde about Hendrix’s influence on his career, getting punched in the face, playing a Hello Kitty guitar and the state of metal these days.

Rob Duguay: How has Hendrix influenced your musical career?

Zakk Wylde: You have to remember that aside from his performance and everything like that, the way he performed and his writing, how new everything really was with things like Marshall stacks and pedals. At the core of Jimi’s playing, obviously he’s a blues guitar player; everything is based in blues and around “Red House.” Then he took it from there with his writing, but I think he’ll always be the Jesus Christ and the messiah of the electric guitar for sure, no doubt.

RD: There’s a video of you lip syncing Adele’s “Hello” and someone punching you in the face. Did you come up with the idea for it and who’s doing the punching?

ZW: We always do these videos called the Black Label Fists of Fury. The whole thing is that we’ll make up a silly situation and one of us will get knocked out. I put this certain video on and it was when we were making the new record Book Of Shadows II, we were out on the back porch of the Black Vatican when we were mixing the record. I just said to our bassist John Deservio, “I’m gonna sing ‘Hello’ by Adele, knock me out, turn the music off and that’ll be enough of that.” We did it in one take and we all had a big laugh afterward.

There’s actually one we did after that where I’m singing again, John knocks me out and then he takes over and starts singing the chorus. RD: A few weeks ago you played Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” on a Hello Kitty guitar on the internet. Was the guitar custom made or did you get it at a department store? Was it all planned out or did the people videotaping it give you that guitar?

ZW: The guys over at Loudwire put it together and they already had Mike Portnoy who used to be in Dream Theater and is now in The Winery Dogs on there with a Hello Kitty drum kit. They had Mike playing “YYZ” by Rush and all of this other crazy shit on that little drum kit. I guess they came up with the idea while we were doing promotion for the Book Of Shadows record and they said, ”Let’s get Zakk down here to play some tunes on a Hello Kitty guitar.” I just walked in there that day, they had the guitar there and they wanted me to play something so instead of being goofy with it I figured I would play a song that’s actually for real. If I played something for real it would be more beyond dumb with me throwing down on a Hello Kitty guitar. Along with me getting punched in the face that one came out ridiculous as well.

RD: Earlier this year the metal and rock world were shaken by the passing of Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead. You were friends and you performed together a few times. If you can talk about one of your favorite memories of him from your time together what would it be?

ZW: Ozzy and Lemmy go back a while so the first time I met Lemmy was when we did the No More Tears tour and Lemmy was there for that. We hung out with Lemmy back then, drink and stuff like that. He was just cool, super sweet and a great human being. One thing you gotta commend him for is that he lived his life literally without anyone ever telling him what you gotta do, you gotta do this, you gotta do that. He was like, “No, I’ll do whatever I want to do and I’m not bothering anybody so just leave me the fuck alone.” You can’t ask for more than that, it really is the truth. Think about it, anybody first off telling you that you can’t do music or you can’t do anything you can be like “No, I’m gonna do music for a living.” Then they’ll say that you’re not going to make money doing that kind of music and then you’ll be like, “Well, I guess that’ll be too bad for me but why don’t you do fuck off because this is what I want to play, this is what I like playing and that’s that.” Then they’ll ask when are you going to start wearing normal clothes and when are you going to start wearing a suit and you’re like ”Never, I’m just going to wear my jeans, I’m going to wear my denim jacket and I’m gonna wear what I like wearing man.” Eventually Motorhead becomes successful and they were like, “This is what we do and that’s that. We’re steakhouse and if you don’t like steak then you should leave and go somewhere else.” It’s gotta be commended, Lemmy always did what he wanted to do and he liked drinking and doing his thing and if you didn’t like it just leave him the fuck alone.

If anything that should be Lemmy’s overall influence aside of music, [it’s] the positivity of his actual life force. I’m just like no kids, be like Uncle Lemmy in the regard that if somebody tells you that you can’t do something then just tell them to go fuck off. Whatever it is you do that makes you happy is why you’re here and don’t be an asshole. Just listen to Uncle Lemmy and if you can do that just do that.

RD: You’ve been talking about your upcoming solo album Book Of Shadows II that’s due out in April. It’s your second solo release. Is there any differences between what you do while making a solo record in the studio versus making a Black Label Society album or an album with Ozzy?

ZW: No, not to me, not at all. To me it’s all the same thing, you’re playing music. It’s just labeled a different thing. But with Ozzy, as far as the music goes, he’ll ask “Zakk, what you got?” and that’s my job. I’m the defensive coordinator, my job is to get the defense together and Ozzy is the head coach. It’s usually about what riffs I got or what piano stuff I got or what mellow stuff I got. Ozzy will pick what he likes and it’s just easy. You’re writing songs and you’re doing what you love doing so it’s not a chore. It’s like being married; when people say “Marriage is work” I say “Who the fuck wants that?” I don’t work at being friends with my friends, we’re just friends. They’re my buddies man, I love them and I enjoy hanging out with them. We don’t work at anything and we don’t see a counselor, if you need a counselor to be friends with your friends then you shouldn’t be friends with them anymore.

The whole thing is just that you sit and you write. I don’t usually ever have just bits and pieces where you have a beginning and you just put it aside for a little while. Usually if I pick up something whether if it’s “Autumn Changes” or any of the other stuff on the new record I just write the music from the beginning to the end with the verse, chorus, intro, outro, bridge, guitar solo and all of that. I just usually write from beginning to end.

RD: For promo photos for Book Of Shadows II there’s you holding an acoustic version of your trademark bullseye guitar. That design has been an iconic part of you as a musician. What’s the story behind the bullseye?

ZW: Obviously Eddie [Van Halen] had the stripes, Randy [Rhodes] had the polka dots, George Lynch had the tiger print, Warren DeMartini had the snakeskin guitar and everybody had a cool looking guitar that you identified them with. When I got the gig with Ozzy I wanted to come up with my own thing and I remember seeing the vertigo symbol that was in the Alfred Hitchcock movie and I thought it would be really cool to do a vertigo on the guitar. I remember asking my buddy Max to paint the guitar and I remember opening it up and it was a bullseye. It was the day of the photo shoot and I said, “Max, this is a bullseye bro and I was asking for the vertigo thing.” He was like, “Oops.” (laughs) That was it and I had to settle for the bullseye for the photo shoots and everything like that so that’s how that came about.

RD: Metal today is in a very interesting state with there being a lot of subgenres. What do you think of metal’s diversity these days? Do you think it’s becoming way too homogenized or do you appreciate all the different types of metal bands?

ZW: I think it’s great. Obviously everyone is playing what they love playing, they’re pulling all the influences like if they were chefs with pulling all their favorite tastes and flavors of foods from around the world that they dig and they’re using it for their restaurant. I think it’s awesome because it’s not just one thing, its bits of elements of everything just like Sabbath had elements of jazz in their songs. One of Tony Iommi’s favorite musicians was Barney Kessel and Barney is a legendary jazz guitar player. Same thing with Jimmy Page, he loved all the folk guitar players and everything like that and then he would incorporate that into Led Zeppelin. Also with Middle Eastern music and the Celtic stuff he would also throw in there and tons of blues stuff. Led Zeppelin was coming from a whole bunch of different places and the same thing with Sabbath with the tempo changes and everything like that. It’s always been there and that’s a healthy thing.

Grab tickets to Experience Hendrix at The Hanover Theatre For The Performing Arts in Worcester, MA on March 23: thehanovertheatre.org/experiencehendrix; Grab tickets to Experience Hendrix at The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford, Mass, on March 24: http://zeiterion.org/experience-hendrix; Experience Hendrix’s Website: experiencehendrixtour.com; Zakk Wylde’s Website: zakkwylde.com Album Of The Week: Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression

There was a heartbreaking start to 2016 with the deaths of legends Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead and David Bowie. The old guard is fading away bit by bit, but punk icon Iggy Pop rises with authority with his new release Post Pop Depression that’s due out on March 18. The album has an all-star cast featuring Josh Homme from master blasters Queens Of The Stone Age, fellow QOTSA member, guitarist and keyboardist from The Dead Weather Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders. With these impeccable talents, Post Pop Depression roars with brilliance on multiple levels.

Pop’s latest release is an homage to Bowie’s influential Berlin trilogy, and it exudes classic art rock and dark tones. Although it has vintage qualities, there are also peculiar structures that give it a modern vibe. Pop’s crooning harks back to the start of his solo career where he was putting out material that had a hint of elegance. The darkness of it all from track to track will haunt your senses. It all comes together to make for a fantastic album that absolutely slays.

With all the craziness that’s been going on this year, music fanatics need Pop’s new album to give them a release from what’s happening in the world. To go deeper into this gem of an album, get up close and personal with my top tracks off of the Album Of The Week.

The lead single off of the album, “Gardenia,” has a mesmerizing chorus that’ll invade your mind and Fertita’s bass provides an excellent backbone to the record. Pop’s spoken word in the middle of the track adds a different dimension that separates it from the rest of the album. “Sunday” has some groove to it; Homme’s riffs are borderline disco. The backing vocals are nice as well, and the orchestral finish takes the song in a totally opposite direction. Fertita on the keys makes “Chocolate Drops” absolutely lovely; the whole track has this ’60s pop feel that’s incredible. In support of Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop and the band will be rolling through one of the most storied theaters on the planet at The Orpheum in Boston on April 11. It should be one of the best shows to happen in New England this year. If you go, pick up the new album. It’s bound to shift your psyche in a bunch of different directions.

Stream “Gardenia” on Youtube: youtube.com/watch?v=1m8TmlS20ZA Iggy Pop’s Website: iggypop.com

Interview with Aaron Lazar from The Giraffes

Ever since the mid ‘90s, Brooklyn hard rock act The Giraffes have been ripping music a new one with loud riffs, seismic drumming and sheer intensity. On March 19th they’ll be taking over Firehouse 13 with Attleboro punk legends Neutral Nation, rockers Red Mantis and post-apocalyptic phenoms Blackletter. Ahead of what should be a purely wild time, I had a chat with frontman Aaron Lazar about his artsy background, having a defibrillator in his chest, the band’s new album Usury, which came out last fall, and what the next few months have in store.

Rob Duguay (Motif): Before you joined The Giraffes in 2000, what you doing music-wise? Have you always been a fan of loud music? Aaron Lazar: When I joined the band they didn’t really have a singer… It was an instrumental surf metal sort of thing and they would take turns singing, stuff like that. I wasn’t in the band yet but at one time some label folks hit them up and said “Hey, you folks need a singer” and they were looking around. I was basically an art student getting a masters in fine art, video, performance, that sort of stuff. I was being as obnoxious as I could be for creativity’s sake. I did a little thing with a friend of mine from Texas at CBGB’s one night, they saw me and they were like, “That’s the guy.” They approached me and I figured, “Yeah, why not?” I was pretty done with art at that point and I was looking to get into a band so it worked out.

RD: It’s cool how you decided to shift your creative drive from art on canvas to art on the stage. In 2005 you had two heart attacks and a seizure, resulting in a defibrillator being put in your chest. Has the way you sing changed since the operation?

AL: No, not at all. If anything I feel like I have an extra man. Boredom is the only thing that changes my habits on stage. If something starts happening too regularly or too often it gets boring to me, so I’ll change it. I haven’t really had to change anything when it comes to vocal delivery. I just want to go crazy and have a good time so why would I not give myself that opportunity?

RD: Before you had the defibrillator put in, did you ever feel yourself getting winded?

AL: My heart attack issue is completely electrical. I’ve had cameras in and out of my heart, through every major artery and I don’t have high cholesterol, I don’t have any congestive issues. It’s just some weird, electrical problem and so far I’m the only person who has this particular set of symptoms. I can’t get life insurance for example and it made it hard to get health care for a while as well until the law changed. They don’t know exactly what causes it, my doctor told me to my face “Listen, I’m not saying that no one has ever had what you have but if they did they didn’t live long enough to see a doctor about it.” So I’m the only one.

RD: So would it have something to do with the nerves connected to your heart?

AL: It’s not even my larger nervous system, they don’t really know what causes it. I thought for a while that I could figure it out. I thought for a period of time it had to do with me trying to quit smoking with a nicotine patch because one of the last sensations I had before I had the first heart attack was an intense sickness from nicotine. The first time you smoke a cigarette you get that green and vaguely nauseous head rush – that was one of the sensations I felt when I was going down.

I just put on a nicotine patch for the first time that morning so I thought it might have been that, but it proved to not be the case. Then I thought it might have been some electrical interference from something. The good thing about my implant is that it records everything that happens to me so if anything goes weird, there’s interference or if anything weird happens, I get a record of it and I can go and check when it happened. There’s no pattern that has to do with it.

RD: You initially left The Giraffes in February 2011 after a show at The Mercury Lounge in New York City and then you rejoined the band back in 2014. What made you want to come back to The Giraffes and do you have a different feeling about being in the band nowadays then you did back in 2011?

AL: In 2011 we were going pretty hard and steadily touring since 2004. It also coincided with a time when no one was making money anymore off of record sales, that was the end of that. People hadn’t figured out how to do the streaming and charging online. There was really no money in it, we could have kept going but we had been doing it for so long. I was getting burned out, I was getting annoyed, I was getting pissed off, I wasn’t healthy and it seemed like I was going to be trapped in an endless loop forever so I finally was like, “Fuck it” and walked away.

Then after a few years I started missing the mayhem a little bit. I stayed friends with the guys and the guy who is managing the band now, Tim Kent, was the original bass player who quit right around the time that I joined to become a painter. He became a pretty successful painter and out of that he wanted to work with the band again. But he wanted to manage it, because he knows how to do things now, because he’s a mover and shaker. He’s the one who convinced me to come back and do a reunion show which went well. It was a lot of fun so we decided to take a stab at making a record and a label appeared out of the mist and gave us a three-record deal, so that’s what we have now. That’s what I’m focusing on. We’re trying to make these three records at least the capping achievement of what we’ve done so far.

RD: This past fall the first record of that deal, Usury, was released.

AL: Yeah. “Usury” is an old word. A long time ago if you lent any money at interest, that used to be considered a sin by the Christian Church and they called it usury. It basically means using people sinfully. Interest used to be no bueno and our entire society is based on interest.

RD: That’s kind of ironic when you think about it. What was it like going back into the studio for the album?

AL: It was fine. I’ve made music and we’ve all continued to make music. When I wasn’t in the band, they continued to make music and I continued to make music with other people through other avenues. If anything changed it probably was that we got better and more efficient at making a record in the studio. That had gotten a bit easier: Songwriting is a little difficult sometimes. There’s four guys who all have strong opinions that don’t always line up. But at the end of the day, it comes together.

RD: It’s March, so summer is going to be here before we know it. What do The Giraffes have planned for when the weather gets warmer?

AL: I think the general plan is to play a few festivals around the country that we have coming up. We’re going to be finishing the next record around the same time. So from spring into summer there’s going to be a lot of studio days with tracking, overdubbing, mixing and all that sort of stuff. We’ll basically be riding out Usury and prepping for the next record.

RSVP to The Giraffes @ Firehouse 13 on March 19th: https://www.facebook.com/events/972618036141461

The Giraffes’ Website

Album Of The Week: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s A Man Alive

There’s a certain mellow coolness to Thao Nguyen’s music. It has a habit of taking over your senses and giving you numerous sensations. She’s the frontwoman and guitarist for the groovy indie-folk act Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, a band that has been making waves in the independent music community since their start in 2003. They have a new album out called A Man Alive and it brings a lot of synths and beats to the table, making for rhythms that’ll stick with you as each track offers something different.

The band’s fourth album is considered their most adventurous, evolving both lyrically and in sound. Produced by Merrill Garbus from the New England art-pop project tUnE-yArDs, the tones have a lot of body. A Man Alive boasts pleasant harmonies that give the album a distinct sonic exuberance. The experimentation and playfulness Nguyen, bassist and keyboardist Adam Thompson and drummer Charlie Glenn exhibit create original music that’s striking. A Man Alive is definitely in my top 10 to come out so far in 2016.

It’s always refreshing when a band creates freaky, weird pop music. The originality has to be appreciated, especially when way too many bands and musicians sound the same. To stray away from the redundancy of it all, check out my top tracks from the Album Of The Week:

It might be the way Nguyen is strumming her guitar but it sounds like there’s a violin in “Nobody Dies” and it’s incredible. The drumming from Glenn gives the track a nice backbone as well. A little bit of funk exudes from Thompson’s bass with “Meticulous Bird” and Nguyen does a bit of rapping to bring a hip hop vibe too. It’s probably the most unique track on the album. “Astonished Man” features that bass and synth that has become a trademark style of the band.

For us New England music fans, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down will be making two stops. They’ll be at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT on April 11 and the following night they’ll be at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA within the Boston metro area. You’ve got two chances to check out this killer band up close so don’t pass it up. Before they come to your local music venue, grab a copy of A Man Alive. It’ll reinvigorate you in more ways than one.

Stream “Nobody Dies” on Youtube

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s Website

Alfred A. Nicolace

Famed pianist Alfred A. Nicolace passed away on February 20, 2016. He was son to the late Carlo and Rose (Navarro) Nicolace. He was the father of Alfred Nicolace, Diane D’Amico, Marjorie Poulin, Carolann Nicolace Silva, Michael Nicolace and Kerri-Ann Nicolace. He was the grandfather of 11 grandchildren and great-grandfather of 13 great-grandchildren. He was the brother of the late John, Ernest, Edward, Orazio and Alphonse; and former husband of the late Lucille (Parrillo) Nicolace.

Alfred A. Nicolace was born in Providence to a large family, and started playing the piano at an early age. By 6 he was playing jazz and learning tricks from his older brother Alphonse. After graduating from Classical High School, he went on to pursue his dream and build a career.

Alfred went to Vegas with his son in an attempt to get an audition, taking a chance that may or may not pay off. Alfred said in an interview he gave to the Providence Journal in August 1981:

“I went to Vegas and walked into the Dunes Hotel and said, ‘I’m a terrific piano player from RI,’ and the guy said, ‘So what?’ I kept at them for an audition and I was on my way back to RI with my son when I received the call to come and audition. I was offered a 4-week stint at the Dunes and I was so confident that it was going to be permanent that I called my wife Lucille and sent for her and the kids to pick up and move to Vegas. I took a chance and it paid off because that 4 weeks turned into 2 1/2 years.”

It was in Vegas where Charlie Spivak would come in one night and offer Alfred a job with his band. Alfred joined the USO where he, with the Charlie Spivak Band, would entertain troops all around the world during WWII. As a young and talented musician, he performed with the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and played at the wedding of John and Jacqueline Kennedy while he was with the Duke Belaire Band. Though his moment in the spotlight was not everlasting, his love and respect for playing was. After fame, Alfred returned to Rhode Island where he taught thousands of Rhode Island students to play the piano. He taught his last lesson only four days before his passing. Father, grandfather and mentor, Alfred will forever be missed.