September 11th, 2005


Providence Street Painting Festival next weekend

Chris Monti has booked The Killdevils (which is to say me and him) to play at the Providence Street Painting Festival next weekend on Saturday September 17 (rain date the next day). We'll be playing from 5 to 6 pm. Chris will also be playing a solo set for a half hour starting around 2:45.

I had never heard of this festival before, and maybe you haven't either, so here's the scoop (as communicated to Chris in an email from one of the festival organizers).
The 6th annual Providence Street Painting Festival is taking place at the Bank of America City Center (aka Fleet Skating Rink) in Downtown Providence on September 17 (rain date 9-18). For more info go to The proceeds from this fundraiser sponsored by the Providence Rotary Club will go to Hurricane Katrina victims. About 20,000 people attend the day long family event. Artists from all over paint in chalk. The chalk drawings are judged by a panel of professionals and cash prizes are given. There is also a People's Choice Award that goes to the artist with the most votes. Mayor Cicciline gives out the awards at about 9:30 pm. Live entertainment of all varieties will entertain all day and night and there will be plenty of food and beer and softdrinks. Admission is free.

song destruction

This weekend Chris Monti had a large number of things he was playing in and I ended up going to a bunch of them. Today he was in a 'songwriters in the round' event which was part of a block party put on by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, so I headed over and checked that out. At that time he mentioned that he was in another 'songwriters in the round' event that night at AS220, a monthly event organized by the Rhode Island Songwriters Association. The RISA event has a different theme every month, and each of the four participating songwriters is supposed to write a song on that theme. This month's theme was 'going swimming', and Chris said that he had started writing his song that morning, but that he thought it was pretty dumb, like a dirty limerick, and that he would only perform it once. He then asked me what it was called when a submarine took on ballast before diving, but I wasn't sure.

So the RISA event was tonight at 7:30 and, of course, I had to go. I got there a little early and was, for a little while, the only person in the audience; then I was joined by an incredibly drunk gentleman who spend four or five minutes blowing raspberries with his mouth, and then switched to croaking at irregular intervals. Ryan Fitzsimmons, who organized the event, looked a little worried, and asked croaking guy if he was doing that on purpose; the guy croaked and nodded. He then asked him if he was going to continue doing it while people were performing. Croaking guy thought about this briefly, then croaked and shook his head 'no'. Ryan suggested that if he could avoid doing it during the performances it would be greatly appreciated.

Ryan started his song (which wasn't the 'going swimming' song -- each songwriter got to do four songs, the third of which was the theme song) and, apart from one relatively subdued croak and a little kicking of the metal chairs in front of him, Croaking Guy more or less kept to his word. Then he left for a short while, and after retrieving a bottle of wine from somewhere he came back and sort of lay down on the floor behind me. Then after another couple of songs he left again.

The first round of songs was complete, and Chris's friend Bridget showed up. Croaking Guy showed up again and sat next to Bridget, giving her the full benefit of his unique odor. Then he left again, this time for good, although his scent remained for a bit. Anyway.

The third round of songs, which was the 'going swimming' songs, came. Everyone had little introductions to their songs, which I recognized from my days in a writing group as the obligatory 'this is why what I wrote sucks' segments. The songs were all pretty enjoyable, though. Chris's song was told in the first-person and was a song about a guy who goes to the beach checking out other guys in speedos. He suggested that the only way the song would be any good would be if all the other musicians also played, which they did, which was very nice and which I felt kind of subverted the 'songwriters in the round' paradigm a little.

After the theme songs were done, the theme for next month was chosen. The way it worked was this: Everyone in the audience (which was six people) wrote down a possible theme. Then four of the themes were chosen at random and given to the songwriters, each of which read one of them. Then everyone voted for which theme they liked. The proposed themes that were read were 'robots', 'riding on the subway', 'hurricanes', and 'surreptitiousness'. Guess which one was mine?

When the themes were read out, 'surreptitiousness' caused a lot of comment, because people seemed uncertain as to what it meant. The final vote count was: robots 5, surreptitiousness 4, riding on the subway 1, hurricanes 0, at which point there appeared to be quite a bit of consternation about the difficulty of the winning topic. This entertained me greatly.

Then they each did one final song and the evening was over.

After the show, I took Chris and Bridget to Trinity Brewhouse for drinks and a little food, and Chris recited the lyrics to his song again, providing a little commentary for Bridget and my benefit.. Then we went to the abandoned telephone booth by the old fire station nearby and Chris took out some matches and burned the only two copies of the lyrics to cinders.

It was a good night. I think it will be necessary for me to go back next month.