Arts & Culture

50 years ago this Saturday, Bob Dylan made history by playing an electric guitar with a blues band at the Newport Folk Festival. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of that night, Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender looks back at an iconic moment in music history.

RIPR

Fifty years ago this week, on July 25, 1965, a young folk singer named Bob Dylan took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival and transformed himself from a defender of the folk tradition into a leader of a new breed of popular musician, the rock and roll troubadour.

This year’s Newport Folk festival kicks off Friday, and it will include a tribute to this moment in rock and roll history.  Rhode Island Public Radio host Chuck Hinman asked  Newport Folk Festival Founder George Wein to remember the iconic performance.

USDA

Clam lovers celebrate a Rhode Island favorite, the quahog, this weekend at the annual quahog festival in Warren.

The hard shell clams, which live mud flats from Canada to Florida, are considered a local delicacy on Narragansett Bay. Matunuck Oyster Bar’s head chef Jeffrey Cruff prepares more than 100 stuffed quahogs a day.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theater

The Ocean State Theatre in Warwick is reviving one of the big musical hits of the 1950s, “Gypsy,” a story about family, show business and the life of the striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.  Bill Gale says that despite some problems “Gypsy” is still worth seeing, one more time.

That's right. For you see “Gypsy” is one of those musicals you could call a “But, still . . .” piece of work.

Introducing A New Generation To Kites At Newport Festival

Jul 11, 2015

Hundreds of kites will fly over Brenton Point this weekend for Newport’s annual Kite Festival. The festival has been going on for more than twenty years.    

(From festival organizers, this video showcases a kite race from the event in 2011.)

Festival organizer Ron Kitt says the event is a way to expose people to the sport of kiting.

Can Providence Restaurant Week Spur Summer Business?

Jul 11, 2015
Go Providence

Reservations at local restaurants are filling up for upcoming Restaurant Weeks in Providence. Over 100 restaurants are participating in the two-week long event, which offers special menus at discounted prices.

Anna Thompson of New Rivers Restaurant says the event helps spur business during the slow summer months.

Summer in Rhode Island means time to grab a book and sink your toes into the sand, or head out to the nearest lawn chair. For a few summer reading tips, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison turned to Nicole Merola, chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Nicole Merola's summer book picks:

 

"I've just started it, and I have to say that I'm really kind of engrossed in the way that he is weaving together music, musical composition, chemistry and bioterrorism."

Celebrity magazines are reporting that Pop Star Taylor Swift is in Rhode Island, where she plans to host a barbeque for the 4th of July.

Scottish musician Calvin Harris posted a photo of Swift on Instagram at what looks like her Watch Hill Mansion. Swift can be seen grilling vegetables on a flagstone deck with the ocean in the background.

US Weekly reports that Swift hosted a 4th of July party last year at her multi-million dollar home in Westerly. This year the magazine reports her preparations include a large slide, and several deliveries.

Steven Richard / Theatre by the Sea

When “My Fair Lady” debuted on Broadway in 1956 it was an immediate classic. The “perfect musical” one review said. But how does this oft-repeated winner look today, almost 60 years later? Bill Gale says the version now at Theater by the Sea lets you know why “My Fair Lady” is still singing.


Chuck Hinman / RIPR

For this month’s Rhode Island Artscape, we take a visit to the State Archives in downtown Providence. The agency has unveiled a new exhibit dedicated to odd and unexpected state artifacts. The historic objects range from counterfeit colonial money, to the death certificate of famed Providence author H.P. Lovecraft. Rhode Island Public Radio's morning host, Chuck Hinman went on a private tour of the exhibit with State Archivist Gwenn Stearn.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

My friends Joe Labriola and Mike Skinner did the Walk for Hunger a few weeks back. They have done the walk before. They have done walks for Toys For Tots too. They have a problem with people going without in the richest country on earth.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is embarking on his first major arts and tourism initiative since taking office in January. The first annual Providence International Arts Festival goes on all this weekend. City officials have grand plans for the event.

Days before -- and a mile from the festival site -- a group of local artists and musicians are busy sawing away at two-by-fours, and nailing them together at the Columbus Theater. They’re building a stage. Alternating wood stains create a red and brown striped pattern.

John Altdorfer / Squonk Opera

Providence kicks off the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival Thursday. Mayor Jorge Elorza has touted the event as one of his first major initiatives to boost tourism and the arts in the capital city. The four-day festival includes public art installations, theater, and lectures all around downtown Providence. It will also include dozens of musical performances from across the globe.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

The right of all Americans to be down-hearted once in a while is brought up -- and defended -- in a new musical comedy having its premiere at Trinity Rep. Bill Gale says it  can have you laughing out loud, and thinking, too.

Sarah Ruhl is a playwright known for her off-beat but well put together plays. “The Clean House,” has a Brazilian maid who cares only to find the perfect joke which then turns to a narrative about being joyful in the face of death and dying. Or in “Dead Man's Cell Phone” Ruhl looks at the societal disconnection brought about by the digital age.

Maggie Hall / Wilbury Theatre Group

Serious mental illness might well seem an unlikely jumping off point for musical theater. But with “Next to Normal,” now at the Wilbury Group in Providence, the subject becomes a powerful drama mostly well done. 

Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics for the engrossing “Next to Normal” once opined that “musicals can be ridiculous.”

“You know, all those people breaking into song all the time,” he said. But the author also  pointed out that, somehow, a good musical can be “sublime.”

Pages