I SHALL BE RE-RELEASED: Deer Tick [with John McCauley III, center].
The Hot Club Waterfront Festival returns this weekend with a lineup as diverse as the melting pot of 21-plus partygoers who will fill South Water Street throughout the weekend. The 25th anniversary bash draws on the thriving local music scene, highlighting top-tier talents like Deer Tick, Sasquatch & the Sick-a-Billys, Pawtucket wordsmith Chachi, and fest vets Roomful of Blues, to name a few. The event has also landed renowned national indie acts Elvis Perkins and the Walkmen, who headline the excellent Friday schedule.
Longtime Hot Club employee Josh Collard is enjoying his first year as festival coordinator and acknowledged the emphasis on the diversity of live performers culled from the capital city.
“For the lineup, we assembled a team of music veterans along with some passionate young talent who have their finger on the pulse of Providence,” Collard said. “We looked for groups who reflect the varied tastes of the people who come here.”
The block heats up fast on Friday when the infamous party troupe World Premier kicks off the fest at 5 pm. Deer Tick follows around 8 and could be the talk of the weekend. Deer Tick head honcho and Providence native John McCauley III seems way too young to pull off such a genuine affinity for country-laced, foot-stomping blues, and his unique perspective just earned his crew a deal with Partisan Records, which will re-release his 2007 debut War Elephant in November. McCauley informed me that he just moved to Brooklyn last week and plans on eventually landing in Nashville, but says “Rhode Island will always feel like home.
“I’m looking forward to a really fun show,” said McCauley, who will most likely bring the house down when the trio closes out with their lively take on “La Bamba.”
Another folk troubadour with local ties, Brown alum Elvis Perkins (son of Anthony) also performs Friday evening, plucking numbers from his highly-acclaimed 2007 debut Ash Wednesday.
New York City indie darlings the Walkmen will headline the Friday night fun, touring behind You & Me, their latest foray into sonic melancholy. The new album, released August 19, was available a few weeks early for $5 through Amie Street, the online indie music store, with all proceeds going to the Walkmen’s charity of choice, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Vocalist Hamilton Leithauser informed me that the idea arose after friends of bassist Pete Bauer recently had a baby who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.
“We were going to play a benefit show for them, but the people at Amie Street approached us with this business plan and explained that we could choose the charity. It sounded like a great idea, so we went with it.”
The Walkmen are en route from an appearance at last weekend’s Bumbershoot festival in Seattle and will take the stage around 11 pm on Friday.
“I love Providence,” Leithauser said. “I’m sure it’s gonna be a blast.”
Saturday‘s show starts at 2 pm with Kris Hansen and Jon Tierney, Nick-a-Nee’s House Combo band, and a pair of national cover bands, Synchronicity (the Police) and Nevermind (Nir-vana) leading into local Pearl Jam aficionados Itchy Fish. And top off the testosterone of the ’90s alt-rock revival with a midnight show from Providence-based burlesque troupe the Danger Danger Birds.
Sunday provides another reason to justify a few early brews when Pawtucket emcee Chachi takes the stage with a crew of local all-stars known as the Trenton Street Rockers, comprised of various members of the Agents, ZOX, Fungus Amungus, and Soul Shot.
“Partygoers should expect a blend of fresh, homegrown hip-hop,” Charlie “Chachi” Carvalho said. “We bring an energetic stage show, and the band reps different genres including reggae, jazz, and alt-rock. Combine these styles with some thought-provoking lyrics and you get a healthy plate of food for thought that’ll make you dance a little bit.”
The show will serve as a warm-up for Chachi, who will make an appearance the following day on BET’s 106 & Park (Monday at 6 pm), competing live on-air with other rhymers, with callers casting votes to decide the winner.
Longtime Waterfront Fest vets Roomful of Blues will keep the afternoon crowd loose before the anticipated return of the Big Nazo Band, a pack of trippy, life-size foam puppets simultaneously playing ’60s psychedelia and twisted blues while keeping your kids on their toes. It’s like Sid and Marty Krofft and the Star Wars cantina meets GWAR (on mushrooms). And that should be a pretty good precursor to the hellbent mayhem provided by local rockabilly kingpins Sasquatch & the Sick-A-Billys, as the magnetic Dave Caetano and his motley crew will assuredly cook up plenty of Elvis-on-crack moments while nimbly tearing through cuts from 2005’s Burning Miles of Sin as well as last year’s thoroughly raucous Storming the Gates.