When 2022 started, there was still some uncertainty about the future due to the COVID-19 delta & omicron variants wreaking havoc in various capacities. I clearly remember the plans of several clubs and venues for New Year’s Eve at the end of 2021 being nearly ruined by it with last resort ideas such as a karaoke night going on to ring in the festivities. At the same time, there was some light at the end of the tunnel because of the fact that this year wasn’t going to have any shutdowns like in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 due to the area’s high vaccination rate and the easing of restrictions. I personally was excited for a full music festival season and looking back at that particular time, I had a very good reason to be. It ended up being one of the best springs & summers I ever had and I’ll definitely reflect on it fondly, which is kind of what this article is about.
I traveled all over New England going to various music festivals such as The Town and The City Festival in Lowell, Massachusetts back in April where I got to hang at a bar Jack Kerouac, Ed McMahon and Edgar Allan Poe used to frequent. I also got to see English alt-rock legend Robyn Hitchcock perform solo in a Greek dining hall as part of the festival which was purely a one-of-a-kind experience. The following month I headed up north to Winooski, Vermont right near Burlington for the Waking Windows Festival and I was blown away by such a jubilant time happening right in the center of a revitalized mill town. I clearly remember enjoying the performances from Japanese psych-rock band Kikagaku Moyo, alt-fuzz power trio Dinosaur Jr., English post-punk quartet Dry Cleaning, hip hop artist Sammus and local indie rockers Clever Girls. Closing out May during Memorial Day Weekend was the Boston Calling Music Festival and my favorite moment of that was reliving some teenage nostalgia while seeing Metallica close out the final day with an abundance of shredding & amplification.
I also checked out the Green River Music Festival in Greenfield, Massachusetts and the Levitate Music Festival in Marshfield, Massachusetts the following June and July, but for the sake of local connection I’d like to talk about a few festivals I got to enjoy here in Rhode Island. When it comes to PVDFest in Providence, the Saturday edition of it is the best day to go because that’s when the most stuff is going on. Getting to see the aliens of Big Nazo roam the streets along with the Providence Drum Troupe was awesome and the same can be said for watching recent rock & roll transplants Salem Wolves rip it up. Both the Newport Folk & Jazz Festivals were once again fantastic, the surprise appearances of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell at the Folk Festival could very well be the live music highlight of the year. Seeing The Fearless Flyers, Cory Wong, PJ Morton, Ron Carter, Lettuce and Sons Of Kemet, which was one of their final performances ever, at the Jazz Festival reaffirmed my belief that it’s my favorite music festival on the planet.
I did have the pleasure of attending both the Beach Road Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard and the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts in August and September, but the festival that I was very excited to see return was the Rhythm & Roots Festival. Taking place at Ninigret Park in Charlestown during Labor Day Weekend, the festival is incredibly underrated and it always guarantees to be a fun experience. For a little while it was in jeopardy of returning due to Lagniappe Productions’ Chuck Wentworth considering stepping away for health reasons, but ultimately he remained as a consultant for the festival while the Connecticut based GoodWorks Entertainment jumped on to handle the operations. It was awesome seeing Samantha Fish, the North Mississippi Allstars, Anders Osborne & Jackie Greene, The New Orleans Suspects, Veronica Lewis and Little Feat perform. If you get the chance to attend Rhythm & Roots next year, I highly suggest that you don’t pass it up.
Along with the festivals, I got to see a ton of great shows including Robert Plant & Alison Krauss at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston, Coheed and Cambria at Fete Music Hall in Providence and Steve Vai at The Strand Ballroom & Theatre in the same city. Seeing the new Radiohead side project The Smile at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence was pretty sweet as well. It feels nice to have a return of normalcy somewhat despite all the craziness happening in the world, let’s hope that COVID-19 and its variants continue to mitigate and become less of a disruptor in our everyday lives. It also feels nice just to get out and do stuff, I personally can’t wait for next summer to begin and in my opinion, we do have the best summers in Rhode Island. Until the next show, stay safe, be good to one another and make sure to enjoy yourself while doing so.