By BOB GULLA  |  May 13, 2008

I caught North Star Records-affiliated artist Robin Spielberg in Newport at Belcourt Castle in the mansion’s French Gothic Ballroom. It was a most evocative gig. If Spielberg’s rapturous Guaraldi-based piano didn’t grab you, the setting certainly enhanced the overall experience. The candlelit ballroom had a massive, cathedral-like vaulted ceiling, glowing medieval stained glass, and one wall lined with eerie suits of armor. (The mansion’s help insists the place is haunted.) Spielberg’s playing and humorous storytelling stood up well to this ele-gant setting, with fluid hooks and flourishes. My New Age worries were allayed when she demonstrated her playing had semi-classical teeth, and exhilarating dexterity. Check out her new disc, A New Kind of Love (

Stone Soup concludes its 27th season with a rent/fundraising party on Saturday at the Blackstone, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket. Performers include Stone Soup founders JOYCE KATZBERG, KATE KATZBERG, and BILL HARLEY, plus AUBREYATWATER and ELWOODDONNELLY (who met as Stone Soup volunteers), BARNACLE, JOHN FUZEK, KIM LAMOTHE, THE NAYBOBS, THE GNOMES, and CORINNE WAHLBERG, who grew up pitching in with her family of Stone Soup helpers. Tickets for the party, which begins at 4 pm, are $25. Visit 
stonesoupcoffeehouse.com for updates and further details.

This Friday, May 16, at 10 pm, the WHAT CHEER? BRIGADE will be rocking AS220 with their good friends outta Boston, the DEBO BAND, which brings its own brand of festive Ethiopian pop. The show is part of the “Justice or Just Us?” series at AS220 and the Perishable Theater this week. Call 401.831.9327.

There’s a show at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket on Friday, and it’s salient for two reasons. First, the headliner, MADE IN MEXICO, is making its first appearance in more than four months. They’ve been hard at work on a new album for the Skin Graft label, from which they’ll be debuting songs. And it’s the farewell show for local comrades THE SET OF RED THINGS. Battlesnake and the Ram will key things up around 9 pm. Call 401.475.2655. Also on  Friday, Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House welcomes two locals and a Portland, Mainer. Cranston’s BILL NOTTAGE has kept writing songs while raising a family and returns to performing with his son on fiddle. South County’s RONNEE RINGQUIST toured the Southwest and brings heartfelt Americana back home. Portland’s DANA GROSS, a Greg Brown/John Prine spiritual disciple, is worth a look-see. Call 401.575.2284. On Sunday, May 18, at Firehouse 13, it’s DENIMVENOM, WETNURSE, DAVE & STEVE, and CASKETARCHITECTS. Call 401.270.1801.  

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