A couple of years ago, I came across a website that depicted most of the Rhode Island rock concerts that have occurred over the years, including dates and venues. Sitting with a group of rock concert aficio- nados, we reminisced about some of the great Rhode Island shows we attended: Zeppelin and the Who at the Civic Center; Dylan’s return to Newport and his recent Pawsox Stadium show (and I can’t forget my first Dylan show, his gospel show, at the Ocean State); Springsteen, mid-‘70s through mid-'80s; the Clash: early-‘80s at the Civic Center; U2 at Brown in their second American appearance; Stevie Ray Vaughn, Talking Heads and Roy Orbison at the Ocean State Theatre; White Stripes and the Young Adults’ final show at Lupo's; the Kinks at the Leroy; Roomful of Blues all over the place; Clapton, Elton John’s birthday prep show, Queen, J. Geils and the Grateful Dead at the Civic Center and Dunk; the Ramones at the Living Room; Buddy Guy and BB King through the years... the list goes on and on.
So when another group met to plan a new Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame and were discussing the great musical legacy we were going to honor, names like Gerry Granahan, Anders & Poncia, Ken Lyon, Paul Gonsalves, Cheryl Wheeler and Freddy Scott were brought up. I was like, who? In my defense, I did know who Dave McKenna was, and many of the others, but didn’t know much about what they actually accomplished.
If the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame has its way, I and all the other Rhode Islanders clueless about much of our great musical legacy, or at least very narrow minded about it, will learn about and honor the great local artists, music industry people and others that have contributed to our state’s great musical heritage.
Created in the spring of 2011, the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization, will honor and preserve the legacy of Rhode Island musicians, educators and industry professionals who have made significant contributions to both the national and Rhode Island music scene. It will carry out its mission through an annual election of inductees and creation of a museum of artist and music-related exhibits honoring inductees and commemorating the Ocean State’s musical legacy. The Hope Artiste Village complex will be donating free space for the future site of the museum where displays will be installed for permanent viewing.
The group will honor its first class on Sunday, February 26, at a ceremony and concert at The Met, located in Hope Artiste Village (1005 Main St., Pawtucket). The event will include the induction of eight acts into the Hall of Fame followed by performances by both John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and Roomful of Blues, which expects to feature many past Roomful alumni.
The inaugural class of inductees is an impressive one and will consist of Cafferty and company, Roomful, Dave McKenna, Eileen Farrell and Oliver Shaw, as well as three other acts previously inducted into the RI Popular Music Archive Hall of Fame: Ken Lyon, Anders & Poncia and Gerry Granahan.
“We’re honored to be recognized by the Hall Of Fame,” says Cafferty, “and to be included in the long line of talented, dedicated, hard-working Rhode Island musicians who have kept us entertained, inspired and dancing all these years.” Roomful guitarist and leader Chris Vachon adds, “After 22 years of traveling the world and receiving numerous music awards, being inducted in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame’s inaugural class is a huge honor for Roomful. We’d like to thank all of our friends in Rhode Island for their support over the years.”
Funding from the concert will be used for the construction of special display exhibits in Hope Artiste Village. In addition, the money will be used to build an online musical archive containing information about artists and others involved in Rhode Island’s vibrant past and present music scene. The archive, coordinated by musician/collector and Hall of Fame Vice Chair Rick Bellaire, will be an ongoing project documenting and preserving the entire Rhode Island music scene with contributions from all genres and eras, along with retrospective concerts.
The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame is the result of a merging of two separate music Hall of Fame initiatives. The first involved the inclusion of a Hall of Fame as part of the Rhode Island Popular Music Archive that was started in 2007 and supervised by Bellaire.
The second effort, begun in early 2011, focused on the creation of a more traditional Music Hall of Fame that would encompass Rhode Island musicians and participants in the state’s music industry. The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame is run by a Board of Directors that includes many of the most respected names in local music. They include as officers: Robert Billington, chair; Mederick “Rick” Bellaire, vice chair; James Toomey, secretary; Josh Cournoyer, treasurer; and as board members: John Chan, Donald “D.C.” Culp, Keith Fayan, Jonathan Flynn, Michael Gazdacko, Russell Gusetti, Rich Lupo, Consuelo Sherba, Bruce McCrae (Rudy Cheeks), Alan “Big Al” Pavlow, Marc Perry, Mary Ann Rossoni, Herb Weiss, John Worsley and this author.
The new Hall of Fame is committed to ensuring that Rhode Island’s great musical heritage continues through programs aimed at encouraging students and others to participate in musical projects, attend musical events, learn about our past and present music, and promote today’s music industry.
“As the organization grows,” Chair Bob Billington says, “the Hall of Fame will do whatever it can to develop programs to ensure that music continues to play an important role in the lives of all Rhode Islanders.”
The concert will take place at Sunday, February 26 at 7pm, with doors opening at 6pm. Tickets will be $20 advance/$25 day of event. Visit The Met for tickets and more information.