MUSIC: Revival Reinvigorates The Columbus Theatre

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


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The Columbus Theatre reopened this weekend as a marquis music performance venue, with Revival, featuring an all-start lineup of local bands culminating in The Low Anthem. Photo: Frank Mullin.

This past weekend marked the dawning of a new era for the historic Columbus Theatre, the first time since 2009 the theatre opened it's doors for a music extravaganza under the name Revival. Revival was put on as a joint effort between The Columbus Cooperative, Providence-based Nicaraguan educational non-profit ATRAVES, Owner of The Columbus Theatre Jon Berberian, hundreds of volunteers and amazing acts like Sean Kennedy, Rachel Jorgensen, The Silks, Last Good Tooth, The Sugar Honey Iced Tea, Vudu Sister, The Barr Brothers, Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores, The Rice Cakes, Brown Bird and The Low Anthem. All the proceeds went to benefit ATRAVES as well as renovating the theatre itself, along with the spectacular bands being showcased it proved to be one of the most memorable nights in the storied history of Providence's illustrious music scene.

Saturday kicks off the The Sugar Honey Iced Tea

On Saturday, the first act up on the main theatre stage were The Sugar Honey Iced Tea. Consisting of the lovely Kate Jones, Laila Aukee, Ana Mallozzi and Emily Shaw along with an assortment of acoustic instruments including a banjo, ukulele and a mandolin as well as a cello, kazoo and a kick drum, it's always a treat to see these talented ladies perform. The voices of Jones, Aukee and Mallozzi are some of the most angelic you'll ever hear with "China Shop, "Middle Man" and even a cover of Destiny's Child's "Survivor" starting off the evening perfectly. One of the best folk bands out there today, I look forward to even bigger and better things coming The Sugar Honey Iced Tea's way in 2013.

Vudu Sister

Upstairs, Vudu Sister's snarling bluesy rock & roll that sounds like a mix between Nirvana and Crazy Horse-era Neil Young had the crowd captivated right after the first strum. Alex Garzone's powerful drumming convinced me that the floor was going to cave in, Damien Puerini's scorching guitar solos, Keith McCurdy's raw and abiding riffs along with his emphatic voice and Keith's dad Chris' rhythmic skills on bass had me hooked right away. The songs "Revival", "Kid Heroine", "Got No Time", "Highway", "Household Items" and "Loverboy" that had Ghost Cape's Nick Dawson and Tapestries' Mike DeCosta pounding away on opposing snare drums were one of the top performances of the night. Vudu Sister has a new album titled Household Items coming out next year and it was actually recorded and produced at The Columbus, if you thought the debut of Bastard Children was awesome just wait until you hear what their follow up has in store for your ears.

The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers graced the main stage with their soothing folk music featuring the magnificent guitar skills and purely awesome voice of one Brad Barr and his brother Andrew Barr on drums and percussion. Rounding out the band were Sarah Page on an elegant harp and Andres Vial on keyboards and bass, this quarter resonated amazingly throughout the theatre and it was surely a pleasure to see them. Coming all the way from Montreal, Brad and Andrew came back to their hometown of Providence and rocked The Columbus with "Beggar In The Morning", "Old Mythologies", "Kisses From Chelsea", "Deacon's Son", "Even The Darkness Has Arms", "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Cryin" and "Cloud (For Lhasa)". The Barr Brothers came out with their first album under that particular name last year and I can't wait to hear what will be coming next from some of the best talent to ever come out of The Creative Capital.

Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores

Back at the intimate upstairs stage, the imaginative Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores and their unique brand of avant-garde art folk that doesn't even include a guitar. Alec's trembling vocals and ingenious accordion playing, Frank Difficult making harmonies out of nearly every object and machine known to man, Orion Rigel Dommisse on organ and cello to go along with her entrancing voice, Matt McLaren on drums, Christopher Sadlers on upright bass and Ann Schattle on the horn make the band a true rarity in a time where a guitar has become a staple for nearly every rock band. A dynamic performance that included "Elzabet", "Unawake", "7 & 6", "Fire Shuffle" and "Darlings of The Magpie", it was a treasure to sit in the front row and watch Alec & The Eyesores work their magic. Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores have their latest album Sister Death available via Cunieform Records' bandcamp page at, definitely a record that's a must have for the holidays.

Thank you's

Mayor Angel Taveras, Master of Ceremonies and Columbus Cooperative member Bryan Minto, John Berberian and Executive Director of ATRAVES Brady Dunklee graced the main stage to give a huge thank you to everyone involved with Revival and to the audience for their undying support. A touching moment, it truly shows the beauty of what happens when a group of people come together for a great cause or even two great causes. Just walking around The Columbus gave you goosebumps and brought chills up your spine when you saw for yourself the potential the theatre has to be the hub of the performing arts in the west end of Providence once again, and the celebration wasn't even halfway over.

Brown Bird

One of the premier bands in Providence, Brown Bird, and their infectious rustic folk sound courtesy of MorganEve Swain of cello and violin and Dave Lamb on guitar, percussion and vocals came up next on the main stage with a packed house anxious to hear the duo's delectable sounds. A performance that had everyone clapping to their beat and cheering included "Ragged Old Town", "Seven Hills", "Blood Of Angels", "Iblis", "Fingers To The Bone", "Nine Eyes", "Threads of Measure", "Shiloh", "The Messenger", "Bilgewater", "Moons Aflood" and "Cast No Shadow". I always love seeing Brown Bird play, if you don't find yourself shaking your hips and singing along within a few minutes while seeing them live I suggest you seek therapy. Brown Bird will be working on their third album at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket in December and it should be released during the Spring, I can't wait to give it a listen and enjoy it.

The Rice Cakes

The next band on the upstairs stage were none other than The Rice Cakes. Justin Foster's uncanny skills on bass, guitar and glockenspiel, Casey Belisle living up to his billing as the second coming of Keith Moon and Buddy Rich with his maniacal drumming and Roz Raskin's incredible songwriting on keyboards and guitar proved why this trio is the act to watch when it comes to seeing live music in Providence. "Magma", "Zabudabudee", "Halloweenie", "Yellow Fields", "Missing", "The Beating" and "Floorboards" had the affectionate audience rejoicing to the rhythms. Rumors are circulating that The Rice Cakes will be releasing a new single exclusively on 7" vinyl sometime next year, keep your eyes peeled for that because it's guaranteed to be off the hook.

The Low Anthem

Last up on the main stage were the band that brought all of the other bands and musicians together for this wonderful occasion, The Low Anthem. Ben Knox Miller's composed voice along with his gruff guitar riffs, Jocie Adams' soothing skills on clarinet along with her strong voice, Tyler Osbourne's thunderous licks on guitar and Jeff Prystowsky and Mike Irwin alternating on upright bass and drums throughout the performance was like seeing a jewel being crafted before your very eyes. Featuring an hypnosis machine and a flying moth fan invented by Luke Randall in the middle of the stage, a memorizing set that was highlighted by "Matter Of Time", "Sally, Where'd You Get Your Liquor From?", "Burn", a rocking cover of Tom Waits' "Home I'll Never Be" featuring Minto on harmonica, "Smart Flesh", "The Early Morning Of The Air Hockey Fire", a cover of Neil Young's "Homegrown" featuring McCurdy, The Barr Brothers, Minto and Joe Fletcher and "I Always Wished I Could Be Like Ozzie Smith" with Fletcher and Miller singing jointly on vocals about Fletcher's hero from his hometown of St. Louis. 

Surprise: Joe Fletcher and The Wrong Reasons

Now at this point everyone thought it was over but there was a surprise, Joe Fletcher and The Wrong Reasons were going to ring in the finale of the first night by rocking and rolling the upstairs into oblivion. "Sentimental Jury", "Flat Tire" "Ambulances", "Every Heartbroken Man", "I Never", "Say What You Will", a cover of Bob Dylan's "Down In The Flood", "Womanizer Blues", "Florence, Alabama", "Drunk & Single (For George Jones" and "Too Many Doors" with McCurdy and Lamb joining in on vocals provided and awesome end to a great night. Joe and the boys will be playing at The Met in Pawtucket with Spirit Family Reunion on December 1st, a show you don't want to miss shuffling your feet at. 

Sunday: Part II

Due to overwhelming demand, there was a second night booked under the name Revival Too! at the upstairs stage of The Columbus Theatre and it ended up selling out as well. Local talent of all styles, shapes and sizes took over the stage in front of a room that was packed to the gills with rabid music fans waiting to hear the spectacular music they've been wanting to hear all day. It was more low key than the previous evening, but the music more than made up for it to make sure Revival went out with a bang.

Sean Kennedy

First up on Sunday was Sean Kennedy and his solo act that usually just goes by his last name. With an acoustic guitar in his hand and a soft melancholy voice that sticks in your head, "Patterns", "Time To Change", "Lonely Wife", "Black Bags & Magazines" and "Whistles Blowing" kicked off the second night just right with people roaring in applause. When it comes to solo musicians who can catch your eye, Sean is one of the top talents in that realm with his groundbreaking style that nobody can ever touch.

Rachel Jorgensen

The beautiful Rachel Jorgensen and her symphonically exquisite voice was akin to a dandelion wrapped around by barbed wire. The way she could effortlessly intoxicate you with such marvelous melodies fascinated me and had me loving every minute of her performance that included "Pretty Gun", "The Tenant, Pt. 2", "Static", "I Can't Show You" and "Anchor". I can't see how you wouldn't be able to catch her at one of the many open mics around Providence, but I definitely hope to see Rachel's brilliant skills of guitar and her alluring voice again soon.

The Silks

Down home blues accented by singer and guitarist Tyler-James Kelly's extravagant beer-filled chalice that was bigger than any other glass I've ever seen, The Silks came on up next and rocked the crowd to no end. Kelly's bluesy voice that reminds me of Greg Allman in his prime, Jonas Parmelee's groovy bass skills and Matthew Donnelly's pulsating drums has the audience moving in their seats and begging for more with "Mean Ol' Woman", "Mountain Man" featuring Minto on harmonica, "I Shall Be Released" and "I'm So Tired", highlighting one of the best performances from the entire weekend. The Silks are almost done with their debut album and it should be out sometime next year, it's one of the most anticipated records in Providence and should be a doozy.

Last Good Tooth

Last Good Tooth were up next lead by Penn Sultan's incomparable staccato voice and his finger plucking guitar skills that are just out of this world. A memorable display of musical excellence that included "Inigo Montoya", "Easy Judge", "Eeeeeeeeeeee", "Gambling", "Vices", "Swing Low", "Long Journey" and "2011 Operation" had everyone cheering and rejoicing to Last Good Tooth's style of rock & roll that nothing else can stand next too. Along with being a fantastic live act, Last Good Tooth also has a very good album out under the title The Meeting Was A Success, a record that's a must have for any Providence music enthusiast.

The Low Anthem redux

With their second performance in two days, The Low Anthem didn't show any signs of letting down with another amazing performance. The set started with "Smart Flesh", "The Early Morning Of The Air Hockey Fire" and "Sally, Where Did You Get Your Liquor From?" then Luke Randall came up and recited the poems "Long Bed Dump Trucks" and "Telephone Events". Continued with "Boeing 737", another Tom Waits cover but this time it was "Down There By The Train", "Am I The Dream? Or Am I The Dreamer?", the Tom Waits cover of "Home I'll Never Be" with Minto on harmonica again and ending the initial performance with "Love and Alter". The crowd kept on wanting more, it was as if Revival never wanted to end. The Low Anthem were joined on stage by Michael Samos, Noah Chevalier, Minto, Lamb, Kelly, Jorgensen, and Randall to sing and play a memorable version of Leonard Cohen's "Bird On A Wire". Afterwards Miller walked through the crowd while high fiveing and thanks all of the attendees for their support and over in the right hand corner of the stage Kelly, Chevalier, Minto, Randall and a few members of the audience performed Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". It was the night that would never end and it was one of the best musical experiences I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing, all for an amazing cause and for the bright future of a legendary theatre. Starting in January, The Columbus Theatre will be presenting live music, comedy and theater performances while also being available for rental by community groups and for private functions. For more information, log on to for all the details.


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