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MUSIC: RI Music Hall of Fame Inducts Geremia, Cowsills, The Nakeds

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


"Providence Delta" bluesman Paul Geremia was inducted into the RI Music Hall of Fame this year, and put on a show that demonstrates why.

The mood was festive Sunday night at the Met where Rhode Island music royalty gathered. The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame celebrated its second induction ceremony, honoring the best musicians to come out of the state. The evening brought out the best of Rhode Island, with honorees mingling with the crowd and catching up with old friends. Following afternoon ceremonies, performers included inductees Paul GeremiaThe Cowsills, and Steve Smith and the Nakeds.

Paul Geremia

The first artist inductee was Paul Geremia, who claims to hail from the "Providence River Delta." Geremia is a Rhode Island treasure, and his country blues style rivals the work of his forerunners; among them Leadbelly, Willie McTell and Blind Lemmon Jefferson.

In accepting the award, Geremia noted “it's not easy being a blues musician” these days. He performed a brief set—switching between his 6- and 12-string guitars—reminding all in attendance how he keeps the Blues tradition alive. He’s a Blues purist—no electric guitars permitted—his music is authentic and from the soul.

The Cowsills

Next up were The Cowsills. For longtime devotees, and those who grew up watching Partridge Family reruns, seeing the band live was a real treat.  Their upbeat pop style, along with exquisite harmonies and playful lyrics is irresistible. Of course, they are well known as the Newport “family band” that inspired the hit 70’s TV show, The Partridge Family. But they are also remembered for their sibling harmonies and rich arrangements.

They delighted the crowd with well known originals including Indian Lake, Love, American Style, and The Rain, The Park, and Other Things.  They impressed on CSN’s Helplessly Hoping, and they closed with their AM radio (and Broadway) classic Hair.

The Cowsills reach the soul just as deep as Paul Geremia, albeit with better harmony. The strength of their music is that it takes us back to simpler times—real or imagined.  Their sound is enduring. They truly belong in the RI Music Hall of Fame.

Steve Smith and The Nakeds

The final inductee of the evening —Steve Smith and The Nakeds—are the quintessential Rhode Island band.  Almost everyone in the state reports to have seen them live at least once. (Younger fans perhaps, on their viral YouTube video I’m Huge.) They have made a mark on the national scene as well, performing for Bill Clinton in the 1990s and appearing on The Family Guy. They were the last band to tour with the late Clarence Clemmons of the E Street Band.

The Nakeds recently celebrating their 40th year as a band. In what has to be a Rhode Island record, they have had 67 official members over the years. Their set included originals and covers with special guest appearances from fellow RI Hall members John Cafferty and Ken Lyons.  Former members of The Nakeds also joined the band on stage covering Van Morrison’s Jackie Wilson Said and Chicago’s classic Make Me Smile.

Where does a Hall of Famer go from here? As Steve Smith is fond of saying, they will continue to tour until the phone stops ringing. Let’s hope that’s the case for all the inductees.

The non-profit Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame has done an outstanding job of recognizing Rhode Island’s best music.  Located at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, the RI Hall has honored a number of artists – click here for a complete list of the 2013 inductees.


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