The Complaints have been one of Providence’s true stalwart bands. Over the years they’ve stood steadfastly by their melodic, middle-of-the-road rock sound, a sound infused by the work of names like Lennon, Springsteen, Petty, Crenshaw, and the like, in which meaning and substance co-exist with danceable grooves and raw-edged guitars. The trio — Dean Petrella, Anthony Marotti, and Chris Cruz — is one of the city’s most underappreciated acts. And while that perception may never change, listening to the band’s latest album, Sunday Morning Radio, will call attention to how excellent they are. Here’s an interview with frontman Petrella.
How did you get the title Sunday Morning Radio?
“Sunday morning radio” is one of the closing lines from “New Face,” a track on the new album. The song is about the passing of my dad. He was a DJ for an Italian radio station on Sunday mornings. The cover is dad with my oldest brother taken in 1961.
What kind of thing were you going for when you went in to make the record?
We weren’t going for a specific sound, but I feel like this record encompasses everything we do. You get some of the acoustic flavors, some of the funky, sexy stuff and straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll. The only criticism that we’ve had on past records was, “Where is the sexy, funky stuff you guys play live? Where is the live energy?” I feel like we hit our stride in the re-cording process and that this record will make old school Complaints fans very happy and be a great introduction to new fans.
Do you still have rock star dreams?
Well, after touring the country and spending some time backstage with some rock stars, you realize that being a rock star is a relative term. Me and my two best friends write and record our songs. We get to play them for people around the country in a live setting close to 200 times a year and we make a living doing it! I feel like I already am a rock star! But we’re going to continue making great efforts to make the Complaints a household name. The Fab Three? Maybe!
THE COMPLAINTS | Hi Hat, 3 Davol Square, Providence | June 22 6 pm | Free | 401.453.6500
From the good folks who entertained us with You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park comes another slab o’ celluloid of local interest, focusing on Neutral Nation and the Providence music scene during the ’80s. As director David Bettencourt and company did with the Rocky Point flick, the doc will be a pastiche of interviews, impressions, vintage video, and other recollections about the local music scene a coupla decades back. You can be a part of the final product if you show your face at these NN gigs: On Friday, June 20 at Club Hell, 73 Richmond Street (the burial place of Rocket/Club Babyhead), Providence, with Two Guys and Another Guy, For What It’s Worth, and Bangover, and on Sunday afternoon, June 22, at the Living Room with the Agents, the FID’s, Acetone, For What It’s Worth, Furlong, and Frenzy of Tongs (all ages — old-timers and kids alike). Keep up with all the action at neutral nationmovie.com.
Mystic does New Orleans
Mystic Seaport’s second annual Summer Solstice Sunset Party is on Saturday. This year’s event will have a New Orleans flavor, with Cajun cuisine, Mardi Gras mask-making, and stilt dancers contributing to the theme, chosen to honor the city’s continued healing and rebirth. Attendees will learn about the hundreds of live oak trees felled by Hurricane Katrina, wood to be used in the restoration of the Seaport’s famed sailing ship, the Charles W. Morgan. From 8 to 9 pm, award-winning trombone player and jazz composer Wycliffe Gordon will perform a solo send-off serenade for the Morgan, then turn up the volume and perform with his acclaimed quintet on the Village Green. Tickets for Gordon’s performance at Mystic Seaport — $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-17 (children 5 and under free) — are on sale at mysticseaport.org/summersolstice. For more infor-mation, call 860.572.5339.
On Friday at Cats, a new band, PROTECT THE WITNESS, takes the stage for the first time. Formed from the ashes of Hemlok, PTW rocks hard with a sound ranging from metallic to soulful and bluesy. The place for a taste would be myspace.com/protectthewitnessmusic.
The 5th annual WOMEN OF RISA SHOW is on Saturday, June 21, at the Church Street Coffeehouse at the First United Methodist Church of Warren. The night features all acoustic female singer-songwriters BECKY CHACE, MARY ELLEN CASEY, LISA LAWRENCE, JACQUELINE BARTLETT, and host JAN LUBY. Tickets are $10; partial proceeds will be donated to the Warren Animal Shelter. Call 401.245.8474.
On Saturday at Nick-a-Nee’s, 75 South Street, Providence, THE HOUSE COMBO celebrates five years of Monday night jams. Joe “Hawk,” Jim Kelly, Mike Foulk, Juxo, Benny Banning, Bob Mariano, and Mark Quinn will welcome a who’s who of friends — and, sayeth the Combo’s motto, “You never know who will show up” (Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann was a recent guest). The fun runs from 5 pm till closing — outside, if weather permits — and it’s all free! Call 401.861.7290.