Hey, Performers! ‘Race to Stage’ Deadline Is April 1

Summer’s End tried something new last year and it was such a success it’s back again this year – “Race to the Stage” offers musicians of all varieties the chance to compete for a spot on the program at the annual Summer’s End concert at Eldredge Field.

Last year, 47 acts entered the contest, 12 were chosen to audition at the Race to the Stage show at the Odeum and 4 were selected to perform at Summer’s End on Aug. 31. The acts included a classical guitarist, a yodeling country singer, a rock band and a local duo.

This year, who knows who might win? And, to sweeten the pot, Summer’s End has added cash prizes – $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third.

But if you or someone you know is interested in competing, time is running out! Submissions must be in by April 1. Contestants can go to the website to submit an application and link to a video. Race to the Stage performers will be announced by mid-April. The event is Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at the Odeum. You can buy tickets here ($10) or at the door ($15).

Each contestant will perform one song. EG’s own Sal Sauco is emcee for the event and the judges this year will be Dana Wronski, Katie Kleyla, Megan Catelli, and Bill McGrath. They do feedback American-Idol style after each performance and at the end, they confer with one another and announce three winners (last year, there were so many strong acts that they chose four).

Last year’s winners:

About the judges:

Megan Winters Catelli is currently a string specialist at Cole Middle School in East Greenwich where she teaches orchestra and band.  Formerly, she was the director of orchestras for the Easton, Mass., public schools. Megan is a cellist who performs locally, often with small chamber groups or as a soloist for special occasions.  She is an East Greenwich native and a University of Rhode Island graduate in Music Education.

Katie Kleyla, soprano, is a lover of music, art, and laughter.   She is a graduate of URI, with a B.A. in Music. She is the star of the New Providence Big Band, a 20 piece swing band, selected by Providence Monthly as the Most Musical Act in Rhode Island.  She was the featured soloist of URI’s Big Band, conducted by Grammy nominated composer, Joe Parillo. She is cantor at St. Joseph’s in Providence, and has sung in churches throughout New England.   She has performed with Opera Providence, New Bedford Festival Theatre, and performs weekly with a jazz quartet. Favorite appearances: the annual Christmas Gala at the Breakers Mansion in Newport, performing in Providence’s famed “Superman Building,” and singing with the R.I. Philharmonic.

Bill McGrath: Bill is the vice president of the R.I. Country Music Association, former Vice President of R.I. Country Horizons.  Bill is also a member of the Massachusetts Country Music Association. He is a Promoter of Bill McGrath’s Music Series, Performance Director of Rising.  Bill is also a member of the R.I. Songwriters Association.  Bill is an honorary member of the RI Country Music Hall of Fame.

Dana Wronski:  Dana is a talented local singer-songwriter.  She has recorded here and is the musical director for Destiny Africa Children’s Choir in Kampala, Uganda.  Dana is a familiar person in town for overseeing some of our favorite culinary hangouts; she is the proprietor of Besos Kitchen and Cocktails here in town.  Dana has played at Summer’s End several times in the past.


The Odeum Hits Its Stride

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It was sprinklers – the lack of them – that closed the Odeum back in 2007 following the disastrous Station Nighclub fire. Now it’s sprinklers – installed last month – that are a sign that the Odeum theater has emerged as a serious performing arts space, right on Main Street in downtown East Greenwich.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Odeum.

Fire officials approved the Odeum’s new sprinklers the morning of Oct. 20. That night, the theater was showing the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. With the sprinkler system approved, suddenly the theater could reopen ticket sales – the state fire safety board had capped the number of people who could attend movies at the Odeum at 200, well shy of its 410 capacity. That day, the theater sold an additional 70 tickets, and the fire safety board approval meant the theater’s bar could open too. (Without sprinklers, the state had prohibited alcohol sales and had limited attendance for movies but not for live music performances at the theater.)

Beyond the symbolism, the sprinklers were just one more step in an ongoing effort to update and improve the theater, thanks to capital grants from the state Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Champlin Foundations. 

RISCA has awarded grants to the Odeum for the past two years. The first year covered renovations to the theater’s lobby, and making the bathrooms ADA compliant. The sprinklers were started too – while the ceiling was open the indoor plumbing was installed. This year’s grant from RISCA covered what Odeum board president Dan Speca call “safety and convenience” fixes. The sprinklers were hooked up to the water main on Main Street and a lift to the second floor was added, bringing the theater into ADA compliance. The lift allows the balcony to be reopened, adding another 80 seats to the theater’s capacity. But the second floor needs work and the Odeum board is hoping RISCA will fund a third grant in 2018 to fix it up, adding bathrooms and a gathering space.

Odeum general manager Shana Vanderweele Ortman and production manager Molly Pritchard both work full time for the theater.

Meanwhile, the theater now has two full-time employees, production manager Molly Pritchard (EGHS Class of 2009) and general manager Shana Vanderweele Ortman (who comes to the Odeum from San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall), as well as a handful of part-time employees. Along with the theater’s board – as a nonprofit it’s run as by a board of directors – many volunteers help out too. Volunteers have been played an important role since the Odeum first opened and Dan Speca said new volunteers are always welcome.

Meanwhile, the theater keeps booking (and renting – you can rent the theater!). Last spring, Judy Collins performed to a sold out crowd with her still-amazing voice. Upcoming shows include Darlene Love and Aztec Two Step in November and Hot Tuna in December, as well as an intimate new concert series called Odeum Onstage, where performers and the audience will share the stage. Only 60 tickets will be available for those shows, the first of which features Richard Barone Dec. 7. The theater’s next big movie event is a showing of The Last Waltz Nov. 21, about The Band’s remarkable last concert.

“It’s all about the shared experience,” said Speca. That and the array of dining options on Main Street turn a night at the Odeum into a real night out. Speca says patrons are always telling him how easy it is to see a show at the Odeum, especially patrons from East Greenwich.

“Once you come to a show, then we’re on your radar and you come back,” Speca said.

If you want to stay up to date with Odeum offerings, sign up for their weekly email (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Big Name Authors Coming to Small Town East Greenwich

Authors Alice Hoffman, Nicole Krauss and Wiley Cash will be at the Odeum Nov. 1.

Some big-name authors are coming to town Nov. 1, thanks to EG’s own book-obsessed Robin Kall, who has taken her love of books and transformed it into a career. The Greenwich Odeum will host Kall’s 9th Annual “Evening with Authors,” featuring a remarkable trio: Alice Hoffman, Nicole Krauss, and Wiley Cash.

“I’m thrilled to be holding the event at the Odeum,” said Kall. “They’ve done such a great job with the refurbishment and being able to be at the local theater is so cool. To see it on the marque – I’m so excited!”

A number of local businesses have jumped on board to participate, including Rasa, Feast, Safehouse, Sweet Twist, Besos, Dave’s Marketplace, Panera Bread, Silver Spoon Bakery, and Robin b. clothing store and Cyclebar PVD.

The net proceeds from the event will go to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.

Kall started down this path 15 years ago, with the radio talk show “Reading with Robin.” Today, she and her daughter, Emily Homonoff (EGHS Class of 2009) are working together on a variety of author-related events, including the very popular Point Street Reading Series, a monthly gathering at Bayberry Beer Hall, in which authors present readings, tell stories or even play an instrument. As many as 150 to 175 people show up to these events, proving Emily Homonoff right. She urged her mother to initiate the series.

“Everyone gets 15 minutes – a lot of cool stuff happens,” said Kall.

They hold a number of more traditional author events year-round. And, instead of radio, Kall has switched to podcasting – you can find “Reading with Robin” on iTunes and other podcast apps.

“We’ve tapped into something and people are responding to it. The more people who are interested, the more events I can do.”

You can find out more about Robin Kall and her events at her website here.

– Elizabeth F. McNamara

Summer’s End Is Friday!

In addition to the Navy Band Northeast Pops Ensemble, there will be four opening acts selected from a special audition concert at the Odeum last spring.

 It’s time to pull together your picnic supplies, chairs and a cozy blanket – the annual Summer’s End concert takes place on Friday, Sept. 1, at Eldredge Field. The Navy Band Northeast Pops Ensemble is headlining again this year with its usual roster of standards, show tunes and patriotic songs. What’s special this year are the 4 opening acts culled from an original list of 40 submissions in a selection process that took place during the spring. Those 40 acts were narrowed to 12 for a show at the Odeum, with 4 eventual winners.

“It was a much more thorough process than we’ve ever done before,” said Summer’s End President Phil Nutting. “We’re very excited by the quality of the acts.”

Summer’s End 2014.

Local talent Sophie Speca and Maggie Callan – EGHS juniors – will start off the music at 5:30, with Sophie on guitar and Maggie on vocals.

At 6 p.m., Victor Main takes the stage. Main is a guitarist whose performances are tinged with classical, jazz and folk influences.

Country singer Bethany Lynn begins performing at 6:30 p.m. Her performance might include a yodel or two.

The final opening act, on at 7 p.m., is the Billy Harpin Band, a trio from Northern RI who play rock covers and some of their own compositions.

The Navy Band will begin at 7:45 this year.

Nutting thanked sponsors, especially two new sponsors: The Savory Grape and Pierre R. Michaud MD. The Town of East Greenwich is also an important sponsor which, in addition to a financial contribution, provides logistical support and police, fire and rescue assistance throughout the event.

Gates at Eldredge open at 4 p.m. While the event is free thanks to sponsors and individual donors, donations are encouraged Friday ($20 is suggested). Bring your own food or pick up food from vendors at Eldredge. No pets allowed.

And, while we’re on the subject of Summer’s End, Nutting said they are in need of new board members. If you have fundraising or event planning experience, or just love Summer’s End and have some hours to give, send an email to summersendinfo@gmail.com. Learn more about Summer’s End at their website here.

– Elizabeth F. McNamara

Against Odds, Local Band Public Alley Wins WBRU Rock Contest

Public Alley, from left: Max Fertik, Noah Barreto, Cameron Cianciolo, Zoe Hinman and Szabi Kiss.
Public Alley, from left: Max Fertik, Noah Barreto, Cameron Cianciolo, Zoe Hinman and Szabi Kiss.

They were the wild card, literally. But Public Alley wowed the crowd and the judges at WBRU’s Rock Hunt Finals last Saturday and won.

“It was very unexpected, to say the least,” said Max Fertik, the band’s drummer and unofficial publicist. Unexpected because they are all teenagers and the other three older bands with a lot more playing experience.

Public Alley – EGHS seniors Fertik (drums), Noah Baretto (vocals/guitar) and Zoe Hinman (vocals), EGHS junior Cameron Cianciolo (bass), and Tollgate alum and MIT freshman Szabi Kiss (piano) – had entered the annual competition at the last minute and, when they weren’t initially selected, that was OK, it was all part of the experience, Fertik said. But then a friend told them about the Wild Card spot, chosen by the number of votes a band got and Public Alley was off to the races (including getting written up on EG News here).

They won the wild card, earning a place in the finals against Most Dangerous Alive, Forest Fires and We Were Astronauts, at the Met Cafe in Pawtucket. Public Alley fans turned out.

“It was great to get people to come out for this – friends and family. We not only rallied the school to vote for us, but so many of them came out to see us,” Fertik said, referring to EGHS classmates. But it was up to Public Alley then to make it happen … which they did.

Here’s how WBRU recapped the finals:

“The band looked overjoyed to be on stage; their enthusiasm radiated into the audience and throughout their innovative, genre-bending, guest-artist-studded music. The voices of lead singers Zoe Hinman and Noah Barreto blended and complemented each other beautifully, in a way reminiscent of The xx. Towards the end, though, keyboardist Szabi Kiss stole the spotlight with an incredible rap-cum-piano solo. The final song, “Loretta,” was greeted with cheers, sing-alongs, and calls for one more song.

“Our local celebrity judges – featuring, among others, 2014 Rock Hunt Champion The Rare Occasions – deliberated; the rest of us bided our time. Public Alley had surprised everyone in the audience with their energy and legions of fans, but we had all fallen in love with Most Dangerous Men Alive, Forest Fires, and We Were Astronauts during their Rock Hunt interviews and performances. At last, the BRU staff made the announcement: Public Alley is the 2015 Rock Hunt Champion!

“For the first time in recent memory (maybe ever?…), our online fan choice wowed everyone in the room and claimed the Rock Hunt crown.”

It still feels a little “surreal,” said Fertik.

“Winning the wild card was one thing. Being the underdogs and blowing away these 30 year olds, that was another,” he said, noting that the other bands were really nice to them. We Were Astronauts even asked them to play with them in Boston.

“It felt nice to be treated as equals with these guys,” said Fertik.

Fertik, Hinman and Barreto have been great friends since freshman year. They got hooked up with Kiss last year through their producer, Dave McNally, a Warwick resident who let the band use his recording studio. Cianciolo joined the band a few months ago.

Other local musicians and EGHS alums have played with them on different songs – such as Heather Shen’s violin on Loretta.

“We love to get our friends involved as much as we can,” said Fertik.

He said they’ve all been avid listeners of WBRU and, coincidentally, the WBRU birthday bash was the first thing Fertik, Hinman and Barreto did together freshman year.

“Now we’re going to open for it,” he said, of the annual November event.

The only trick there is that four out of the five band members will, by then, be in college, most likely outside Rhode Island. But they will work it out, said Fertik.

“This showed us, this isn’t the end of Public Alley. This reassured us that we are talented and people do like us,” said Fertik. “We have potential.”

You can follow Public Alley on Facebook here and listen to their music on Soundcloud here. They will be playing in WBRU’s Summer Concert Series at Waterplace Park this summer too.

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Egg Hunt Moves to Eldredge Field This Saturday

100403 egg hunt 029 aFor over a decade the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society has hosted an egg hunt for local children the Saturday before Easter. This year, the egg hunt is being sponsored by the Main Street Association (MSA) and the Town of East Greenwich, and it promises to be just as fun as it’s always been.

Michelle Clark, MSA board member and co-founder of the annual Turkey Trot talks to us about what we can expect this Saturday.

What time does the egg hunt start?
The egg hunt starts promptly at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, at Eldredge Field in East Greenwich.

What ages is the egg hunt appropriate for?
The egg hunt is great for the entire family. This is the first year that we’re including older children, because we really want to make this a family affair. There will be three age groups, 0-3; 4-7; and 8-12.

egg huntIs there any cost?
No! This is a free community event. Dave’s Market has generously donated juice boxes for the kids and Dunkin’ Donuts will provide coffee for the adults.

What’s in the eggs?
The eggs are filled with candy along with a few surprises such as gift certificates for ice cream! In each age group, there is one special egg that will win a prize from Hasbro.

What if it rains or even snows?
The event will go on – regardless of April showers or even snow!

What should we bring?
Kids should bring a basket or a bag to collect the eggs.

The Main Street Association of East Greenwich, is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to enhance living in the Town of East Greenwich, including the improvement of Main Street and the surrounding areas. For more information visit MainStreetEG.org.


‘String Fling’ Showcases Music Students From 4th through 12th Grade

DSC_1486On Wednesday, March 25, Brendan Carnieaux, Megan Catelli and Leslie Lee hosted the fourth annual Spring String Fling at East Greenwich High School. Over 200 orchestra students gathered to rehearse and perform together.

“It was truly a great night of camaraderie for our string orchestras, teachers, and students,” said Lee. “The annual Spring String Fling is a wonderful way to showcase our ever-growing string program here in East Greenwich!”

IMG_5098Each ensemble performed before a grand finale showcased all students (grade 4 – 12) playing fiddle tunes together.

“The Spring String Fling allows our beginning string players a chance to play with the older, more advanced string students. It gives our new musicians something to look forward too!” said Lee.


EG Musicians ‘Public Alley’ Need Your Vote!

Public Alley
Public Alley

UPDATE 3/28/15: Public Alley did it – they made it to the WBRU 2015 Rock Hunt Finals alongside more established touring bands Most Dangerous Men Alive, We Are Astronauts and Forest Fires. You can see the four bands compete for the title April 4 at 7 p.m. at The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket.


EG-based musicians Noah Barreto, Max Fertik, Zoe Hinman, Cameron Cianciolo, and Szabi Kiss make up Public Alley and they’ve been playing clubs around the state for a couple of years now.

Recently, the band was chosen as a Wild Card Round Participant in the 2015 95.5 WBRU Rock Hunt Competition. In the competition, bands from around the state compete against one another. Usually, bands advance to the next round depending on the radio station’s judgment, but this round is solely determined by the public – anyone who votes.

So Barreto, Fertik, Hinman and Cianciolo are looking for some EG votes!

“If you all put in a vote at the link below before Friday at 5 p.m., we have a chance of a lifetime to become a Rock Hunt Finalist and gain immense recognition,” the band said in an email.  “Please listen to our music, favorite and repost our song ‘Loretta,’ and vote for us at the link below”:


You can here more of Public Alley’s music, including their latest single, “In the Interest of Time,” here: https://www.facebook.com/PublicAlley.

‘Raise the Woof’ at Comedy Connection to Benefit EGAPL

Raise the WoofThe Comedy Connection is going to the dogs this Wednesday . . . for a good cause!

Comedians including Ray Harrington and Derek Furtado will come together for a special, one night only fundraiser for the East Greenwich Animal Protection League. Lite Rock 105’s Stephen Donovan of  “Heather and Steve in the Morning” will host.

Just like their animals, the East Greenwich Animal Protection League (EGAPL) is looking for a forever home. The no-kill, non-profit, all-volunteer animal shelter is working to raise money to purchase its own building to house and care for needy animals. Currently, EGAPL rents space from local animal hospitals, which limits the number of animals that can be rescued.

This month, comedians are coming together to help EGAPL in their mission at “Raise the Woof!” on Wednesday, March 18, at 8 p.m. at the Comedy Connection, 39 Warren Ave, East Providence.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a special adoption hour, where you can meet Carol Burnett* and her puppies!

Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased online at RIComedyConnection.com or by calling 401-438-8383.

*Note: Carol Burnett is a dog!

To learn more about the East Greenwich Animal Protection League, find them on Facebook or visit EGAPL.org

Marc Cohn Brings His Spirited Soul to Odeum

Marc Cohn performing at the Greenwich Odeum Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Marc Cohn performing at the Greenwich Odeum Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Marc Cohn knows how to connect with an audience. At the Greenwich Odeum Thursday night, Cohn made it feel like he was playing for a bunch of old friends. Then again, many in the audience were longtime fans of the Grammy Award-winning Cohn, whose 1992 hit Walking in Memphis serves as a calling card.

He played for a sold-out crowd undeterred by the daylong snowstorm and they were well rewarded. Cohn was funny, soulful, and engaging.

In Listening to Levon, a tribute to Levon Helm – he talked about the wonderful, circular experience before Helm died in 2012 of being asked to play that song by Helm himself, so Cohn got to play  Listening to Levon while Levon listened to Listening to Levon. Cohn shared several such moments with the audience, between songs.

Other songs included Silver Thunderbird, Walk Through the World and the new song, The Coldest Corner in the World, from a documentary soon to be released called “Tree Man.”

Playing with Cohn – for the first time all together, he told the audience, not that we could have known – were the very able Joe Bonadio on percussion, Glenn Patscha on keyboard, and Kevin Barry on guitar.

By the time Cohn played Walking in Memphis, it was like a little extra dessert after a large and satisfying meal – welcome but not essential.

The sound in the Odeum was terrific Thursday night – the theater team seems to be figuring out the acoustics. And Cohn himself seemed charmed by the theater’s up-from-the-depths story of survival. “I’m going to tell my musician friends they’ve got to check this place out,” he said. Let’s hope Cohn doesn’t stay away too long either.

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