Playing it smart

Black & White stick with it; plus, SoundSession ’06
By BOB GULLA  |  July 11, 2006

If you’re a band looking to survive in this frigid social climate, you have to be either really smart or really stupid. If you can figure out a way to keep a band going despite the odds, the obstacles, and the lack of opportunities, that would put you in the “really smart” category. You can also be blissfully ignorant, oblivious to those obstacles, unaware of the odds, and solely focused on the music, which would make you “really stupid.” Regardless of the method you follow — it could be some combination of both — you can occasionally reach your destination — breaking through to a wider audience. Usually the really smart bands are keen enough to figure out if they can or can’t make things work and they base their existence on that determination. The really stupid ones generally keep plugging a little longer, despite advice and suggestions and signals to the contrary, and they confound their critics and reach the promised land.

Black & White, formed in 1990, started out stupid and got smart really fast, which is why they’re still together today, 16 years later, playing up to five nights a week. The band, a calliope of blues, R&B, roots, and rock, is versatile enough to play to virtually any audience that sits in front of them, from alt-kids to blue-hairs, thanks to a deep repertoire and a flexible musical vocab. More a live band than a recording act, B&W is currently rejoicing in the release of their latest disc, So Much for the Classics Vol. 1. The four-song EP, produced and engineered by Joe Moody, features tunes by country icon Conway Twitty, the Drifters, and Eddie Cochran, along with a version of the surf standard “Pipeline.”

Piloted by drummer Don DiMuccio and bassist Kevin Martin, B&W is currently employing the Van Halen technique with singers, rotating frontmen like a Lazy Susan. Jason James, the singer featured on the EP, founding singer Erik Narwhal, Dave Howard, and Thom Enright all lend their pipes on alternating nights, making the B&W experience a fancifully colored one.

You can pick up the band’s EP at CD Baby, and catch them live this Sunday, July 16, at their CD release party at the Newport Blues Cafe. Call 401.841.5510

Sound's in session
Donald King and the folks at Providence Black Rep on Westminster Street are throwing another party, the latest version of the most intoxicating SOUNDSESSION ’06. The multi-day, multi-stage, multi-genre celebration is fast-becoming one of the area’s most interesting and valuable summer music fests. Produced in collaboration with the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture & Tourism, SoundSession’06 signals the city’s arrival to the multicultural big time, with artists ranging from gospel and jazz to funk, soul, and Latin. If that’s a little exotic, well, they even have a backyard stage that will host performances by alt-marchers What Cheer? Brigade and high-decibel noiseateers Lightning Bolt. The gala starts Sunday at the Xxodus Café. Doors open at noon and the festivities, broadcast live on WBRU, will continue to midnight. From there, you’ll find a ton of stuff happening all week through July 22, with a parade/party/procession from Waterplace Park to Black Rep. That’s when the block party kicks off! Way too much happens in between to report in this space. You can find all the rest of the info for SoundSession’06 at

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