Last October, Chris Daltry of The ‘Mericans was looking for help from creative friends for a project. When I showed up to aid Chris and his artist wife Jennifer I also met two new people, J.J. and Renee, who’ve since become important to Moonie. It’s always nice to meet people through music or art, and in this case it was a combination of both!
The ‘Mericans were creating a set of Marshall stacks to decorate the walls of The Parlour, an excellent Providence venue that attracts fantastic local and regional talent, for an upcoming show where The ‘Mericans planned to pose as Spinal Tap. It turned out to be one of the funnest and funniest nights I’ve ever had, and you can catch a lot of their Spinal Tap set on YouTube.
But even better, the Marshall stacks that the Daltrys and Renee and J.J. and I helped make served not only as a backdrop that night (mostly thanks to Jennifer’s realistic touches – she is a talented RISD grad!), but for more than 14 months and counting. I get a little thrill every time I see photos of rock, folk, rap, reggae, comedy, and all kinds of other acts that have performed in front of our Marshall stacks over the past year-plus. The Parlour is in no rush to take the stacks down, and during dozens, maybe scores, of shows since 2014 I’ve overheard all kinds of people saying how great they look there.
Fast forward a year to November, when Renee called me and J.J. back together to make a new set of Marshall stacks, this time for The Wilbury Theatre Group‘s production of “Passing Strange.” I looked down and pint-sized Moonie was holding his paintbrush, grinning and raring to go.
So off we went to Renee’s.
Although New Year’s Eve is a terrific occasion for masquerade balls, Moonie was ahead of the curve; he and I attended one last month for Sojourner House, a wonderful organization that provides all kinds of support service to victims of domestic assault and their families. Moonie couldn’t wait to get us tickets knowing they’d go toward such a good cause! He also stayed in his little Moonie workshop all day to make us matching masquerade ball masks.
In no time, my tiny handsome date and I were ready to rock!
As soon as we walked into the ball, Moonie was photobombing the decked-out guests, loving the wonderful atmosphere.
Moonie and I had a great afternoon at #CelebrateDowncity, a fun event our friend Chris Daltry curated in downtown Providence with a bunch of talented singers performing Christmas songs, plus all kinds of yummy food trucks. We stopped in all the local shops, enjoying wonderful wares, as we made our way to the action.
At Grant’s Block, Moonie got to hang with his little buddy Poco Loco while we waited for our tacos.
He wolfed his tacos quickly so he could go check out Allysen Callery and her daughter Ava. The two of them are super talented and so adorable!
Moonie also admired the little ears sewn into performer Chris Monti’s holiday hat. They were elf-eared twins!
One sunny August evening, Moonie and I were supposed to be running a quick errand downtown when we were both suddenly filled with joy. The sounds of drumming in Burnside Park were calling us, and we answered.
Sidy Maiga and his group AfriManding were playing an extremely spirited set at the Burnside Park Music Series. It’s one of several annual summer music series in and around Providence, and how could we resist its charms? Especially with Sidy’s winsome, welcoming smile to the dozens of people who, like Moonie and me, had followed the sounds of joy to the park.
In no time we’d joined the crowd enjoying summer evening Trinity and Sam Adams brews and bopping to the energetic drumbeats.
I didn’t think Moonie could top our lovely Friday night, but he had plans for three different musical events on Saturday. How does my little dude find these things?
First, he had me drive us over to Doherty’s East Ave in Pawtucket, where it turned out Moonie’s friend Jennifer Jane was hosting a “Beatles and Beer” event. I’ve never been to one, but clearly others had; it was the 40th B&B Jennifer Jane has hosted, and the crowd took up the entire back room that’s used for special events. Dozens of people went around the room introducing themselves and saying where they’d driven from for this meetup (not only far-flung parts of Rhode Island, but Massachusetts and Connecticut as well). Everyone took turns choosing a Beatles song for the group to sing, while others provided guitar and percussion to accompany the big cheerful chorus.
As the attendees sang and cheered, one nice lady at the next table suddenly handed me a plate of sweet potato tots. I thought she meant for me to pass them around, but she said they were for Moonie. Apparently my sneaky little sidekick had climbed onto her table to tell her just how much he loved sweet potato tots – all with his hungriest expression – and she’d caved.
If she only knew he’d eaten a whole cake before we’d gotten there! But she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and Moonie was thrilled with his bounty of tots.
They didn’t take long to disappear into that round little tummy.
We couldn’t stay for the whole sing-along, but we enjoyed the cheerful spirit of all these different folks brought together by a mutual love for Beatles songs. We’ll have to pop into another “Beatles and Beer” events…And Moonie will be asked to leave his begging face at home.
Moonie has great taste. When his eyes gleamed as he mentioned that he was planning our Friday night, I figured it would involve some kind of junk food. Instead, our plans involved tasty, hearty food for the soul: a house concert starring Ben Stalets, John Faraone, and Ian Fitzgerald. It was held at a cozy home in East Providence with a respectful audience, and it was such a wonderful night of beautiful tunes.
Ben was the only one Moonie and I hadn’t yet seen perform, although we knew he’d been touring with Ian and were more than a little curious about the guy described thus: “His shit-eating grin gives way to a Hank Williams howl, a knack for storytelling reminiscent of your grand pappy, and a level of honesty only shared amongst life-long friends.” The description turned out to be 100% true. Ben was a great storyteller and fingerpicker, and he wasn’t shy about making us groan a few times with bad jokes, either. Moonie’s pipsqueak little voice howled across the room when Ben introduced a song written while dating a blind woman and joked that at least he hadn’t had to worry about her seeing other people. All in all, wonderful music from the grinning storyteller.
Next up was Moonie’s pal John Faraone, who is always enjoyable for his lovely songs – many of which invoke scenes of nature that invite you to revisit scenes in your head of similar places you’ve been and breathed – balanced with a witty sense of humor. With his slightly rounded feet, Moonie had a little trouble climbing up and balancing on John’s guitar, but John was patient and waited for him to stand just where he wanted so we could take this great pic of the two of them. John didn’t even mind that my phone blinded him with its flash.
What’s a folk festival without Moonie?
Let’s hope we never find out.
Yesterday was the second annual Providence Folk Festival, and oh boy, was it a wonderful afternoon of music. Eighteen acts graced two simultaneous stages in the little national park in the heart of our city.
Its performers, including Cliff Eberhardt, Cardboard Ox, the Rank Strangers, and The Nields, could rest easy knowing that Moonie had everything under control (even if he was a mite small for all his Very Important Badges and had to wrap them many times around himself).
He was proud of himself for doing such a great job on the sound.
William Schaff is a prolific artist in many mediums, from pen and paint to embroidery and collage to comics and movies. Check out his gallery of recent works, some of which are for sale. In fact, Moonie and I are the proud new owners of one of his smaller (Moonie-sized, if you will) drawings from the very gallery!
He’s also a musician and a good friend to many musicians, so it’s not surprising that William has designed a dizzying amount of album art for both local and far-flung bands. Here’s a tiny taste of some of his albums:
I thought Moonie’s head might pop off the way he had it tilted all the way back, his little eyes bugging out as he tried to take in all of William’s artwork crawling up the walls – really, every surface – of his home base, “Fort Foreclosure.”
Last month, Moonie and I got to attend the MASSive ComicCon in Worcester, MA.
It didn’t take Moonie long to make some friends.
Some were, well, not the nicest people in the world, but Moonie enjoyed meeting them anyway. Only he could giggle away with a gun pointed at his head. He told the joke about the crushed-looking bullet dragging himself in the door (“What happened to you?” asked the bullet’s concerned wife. “I got fired,” the bullet complained.)
Moonie’s first-ever outing since coming into my life was seeing Cardboard Ox, a wonderful duet consisting of Tracie Potochnik and Steve Allain, and he’s adored both Tracie and Steve ever since. So he was overjoyed to catch Tracie not once but TWICE a couple of Saturdays ago.
First, Tracie joined some friends singing backup for Heather Rose in Clover at Rhode Island PrideFest, where Moonie also got to hang out with Tracie’s partner, Matthew Clowney. Matthew is a talented photographer and videographer and is on the faculty at RISD. He also recently completed a very cool project called the Trans Family Photo Gallery, which is a traveling art exhibit for children, designed to spark conversations, about a family with a transgendered grandparent. Matthew was pretty nice about letting Moonie help him record the live music at Pride, even if the headphones were a little big for Moonie.
Moonie says they fit just fine.