2013-04-11 / News

Final concert of 2013 will feature local duo, Dead Blues Society

Free event takes place at library at 3 p.m. Sunday
By Ken Shane

The Dead Blues Society will perform at a free concert Sunday at the Jamestown library. 
Photo courtesy of Michael Larkin The Dead Blues Society will perform at a free concert Sunday at the Jamestown library. Photo courtesy of Michael Larkin The Sunday afternoon concert series presented by the Friends of the Jamestown Library wraps up this week and will feature two local acts: the Dead Blues Society and the duo of Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischman.

McGuirl and Fischman are veterans of the Rhode Island music scene. They met at the Irish music sessions at the old Blue Pelican in Newport and they’ve been playing together ever since. The pair plays a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, penny whistle and banjo. They both sing as well, and are known for their repartee.

“We’re well noted for the humorous banter that goes along with our music,” McGuirl said. “People tend to appreciate that.”

McGuirl, who has lived in Jamestown since the 1970s, said the duo’s music is a combination of blues, folk, Celtic and old-time jazz. They play both original material and cover versions, the latter including their version of “Bill Bailey,” a popular song written by Hughie Cannon at the turn of the 20th century.

McGuirl recorded an album of Celtic music with the Green Castle Band in 1981. He remastered the album in 2007. That one, along with two albums he made with Fischman – “Slowly Rollin’” released in 1996 and “Ides of Blue” in 2003 – will be available for purchase at Sunday’s show.

Fischman has been hosting WRIU’s bluegrass show on Friday nights for more than 20 years.

The pair plays annual events like the Rose Island Fourth of July barbecue, the Common Fence Music Gathering of Fiddlers and Fisherman in Portsmouth, and the Channing Church benefit for the homeless that takes place in December in Newport. They also open for bands on the Courtyard Stage during the sunset concert series at the Newport Yachting Center.

This year they will appear before a show headlined by George Thorogood and Buddy Guy.

The Dead Blues Society got together in 2007. The original lineup consisted of two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer. Last year the band added vocalist Krista Rousseau. The band covers a wide range of blues-rock from the 1970s including songs by the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

According to band member Michael Larkin, the band last played in Jamestown during the Recreation Department’s summer concert series in August. They play primarily in southern Rhode Island and can be seen regularly at the Oak Hill Tavern in North Kingstown.

“One thing that makes Dead Blues Society unique among cover bands is that we tend to be very spontaneous,” said Larkin, a Jamestown resident. “We have a set list in advance that we may or may not stick with. We sometimes do unusual medleys of songs, or come up with things on the spot. We take our musicianship seriously but we also like to have fun. I think the audience has fun too.”

Larkin said that McGuirl and Fischman are both excellent musicians, and he’s pleased that his band is on the same bill with them. There’s a little extra pressure on Larkin, since he’s just started studying the mandolin, and he’s taking lessons from Fischman.

He will play some mandolin on Sunday and wants to be sure to get it right in front of his teacher.

The concert will take place at the library on Sunday, April 14, at 3 p.m. The show is open to the public and admission is free.

According to Joan McCauley, a Friend of the Library who organized the concerts along with Sue Brayman, attendance at the “home-grown” concerts was at an all-time high this year.

“The concert series was great,” McCauley said. “We were able to bring in something a little different with Andrew Potter and his multimedia storytelling, and while the blizzard canceled our February concert, we doubled up in March with no loss of enthusiasm or attendance. Celtic Gathering brought just the right tone on St. Patrick’s Day, and the Accidental Sisters filled the place, performing with Matt and Judy Bolles.”

All the performers this year were from Jamestown – a new twist from last year.

“We know that Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischman, along with Dead Blues Society, will round out the series beautifully,” McCauley said.

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