The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame’s 2018 inductees is: David Blue, John Chan, Tom Ghent, Lloyd Kaplan, James Montgomery, Paul Murphy, Mike Renzi, as well as LeRoy Bennett, Bob Morrissey and Andrew Polin in the Technical/Lighting category.
It was also announced that this year’s induction ceremonies and concert events will take place on three days – April 26, April 27, and April 29 – and will take place at three locations as RIMHOF celebrates its seventh year of operation.
“During the last six years, the Music Hall of Fame initiative,” says Rick Bellaire, vice chair of RIMHOF in a prepared statement, “has provided our state with a great opportunity to not only acknowledge Rhode Island’s musical greats and celebrate their achievements, but has now established an organization whose primary goal is to promote and preserve Rhode Island’s rich musical heritage in all its forms.”
This year’s RIMHOF Jazz inductions will take place on Thursday, April 26, 7:00 p.m., at Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining, 267 Main St., Woonsocket. Being honored on April 26 will be Mike Renzi and John Chan. Tickets for the April 26 event are $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door and will include a performance by Mike Renzi. Tickets for the Jazz inductions can be purchased at www.chanseggrollsandjazz.com
On Friday, April 27, at 7:00 p.m., the 2017 RIMHOF Folk and Songwriter inductions will honor Tom Ghent and David Blue and will feature a performance by Tom Ghent and a tribute to David Blue by Hall of Fame Inductees Mark Cutler (Class of 2015) and Bill Harley (Class of 2016.) The event takes place at POP! Emporium of Popular Culture, 219 Park Street, Providence. Tickets for the Folk/Songwriter induction at POP! are $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door and can be purchased at www.emporiumofpopularculture.com
Sunday’s April 29 event will include the unveiling of the eight new inductee exhibits followed by the 2018 RIMHOF Blues, Educator, and Sideman Induction Concert honoring James Montgomery, Lloyd Kaplan, and Paul Murphy as well as LeRoy Bennett, Bob Morrissey and Andrew Polin in the Technical/Lighting category.
The Unveiling Ceremony for all 2018 RIMHOF Inductee exhibits takes place at 2:00 p.m. in the Hall of Fame itself, located within the Hope Artiste Village complex, 999 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. The Induction concert takes place at The Met at 3:00 p.m. The James Montgomery Band will be performing followed by a Paul Murphy Tribute jam session featuring many past RIMHOF inductees as well as collaborators of Paul over the years.
The 2 p.m. unveiling of the inductee exhibits is free and open to the public; a ticket will be required for entrance to the 3 p.m. concert in The Met. Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door and can be purchased at www.rhodeislandmusichalloffame.com. Tickets will go on sale starting February 27.
Robert Billington, Chair of RIMHOF noted in a prepared statement, “The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and concerts have become the place to be and be seen at as we continue to showcase the fascinating history of Rhode Island’s musical heroes. The events are a virtual ‘who’s who’ of Rhode Island music history.”
The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, formed in 2011, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and preserving the legacy of Rhode Island musicians, educators and industry professionals who have made significant contributions to both the national and Rhode Island music scene. At last year’s induction concert event, the public saw 10 displays unveiled honoring the inductees in the museum space located in the hallways of Hope Artiste Village. This year’s induction ceremony on April 29 will see eight more displays unveiled celebrating the 2018 inductees and bringing the total to 63 inductee exhibits produced in just seven years. Eventually, the museum will hold more than 100 displays as well as assorted Rhode Island music history memorabilia and interactive components for visitors to enjoy.
All proceeds from RIMHOF’s annual induction events go toward creating the museum displays, acquiring recordings and memorabilia, and digitizing that collection for permanent online access for future generations. All organizational work has been donated by members of the Board Of Directors and a staff of volunteers.
On future plans for the Hall of Fame, Rick Bellaire added, “Our Archive Committee continues its work on the core mission, writing biographies and compiling discographies for our inductees and others, and we continue our commitment to honoring those who work behind-the-scenes as well. Simultaneously, new efforts to catalog and preserve the ever-growing collection have begun along with the implemetation of a long-term plan to move the museum and website to the next level with more physical exhibits and interactive features. As we move ahead, RIMHOF is energized by the incredible amount of encouragement and support we’ve received from around the world.”
Thursday, April 26, 7:00 P.M.
Jazz Inductions and Concert honoring
Mike Renzi and John Chan
Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining
267 Main St., Woonsocket, RI
$10 advance/$15 at door
Friday, April 27, 8:00 P.M.
Folk and Songwriter Inductions and Concert honoring
Tom Ghent and David Blue with a tribute performance of Mr. Blue’s music
219 West Park St., Providence, RI
$10 advance/$15 at door
Sunday, April 29, 3:00 P.M.
Blues, Sideman, Educator and Technical Inductions and Concert Honoring
James Montgomery, Paul Murphy, Lloyd Kaplan, LeRoy Bennett, Bob Morrissey and Andrew Polin
Hope Artiste Village
999 Main St., Pawtucket, RI
$10 advance/$15 at door
Sunday April 29, 2:00 P.M.
Unveiling Ceremony for 2018 Inductee Exhibits
Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Museum
Hope Artiste Village
999 Main St., Pawtucket, RI
Free and open to the public
2018 Inductee Bios
DAVID BLUE (1941-1982)
After getting his start on the New England folk scene which revolved around the East Side of Providence and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pawtucket native David Cohen moved to Greenwich Village in 1964. He was quickly recognized as an important new voice by both the old guard and the new and was taken into the inner circle of the era’s most important singer-songwriters including Tom Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, Eric Andersen and Bob Dylan. He shared his name with two other nationally known musicians and Eric and Bob urged his to adopt the stage name “David Blue” to avoid confusion. His self-titled 1966 Elektra album is considered one of the greatest recording debuts in the history of folk music. Its success propelled him into a decade-long career as a major label recording artist which yielded another six critically acclaimed albums. The track “Outlaw Man” from his 1973 Asylum Records release “Nice Baby and the Angel” provided labelmates the Eagles with a song which was not only integral to the storyline of their second album, “Desperado,” but also provided them with a major hit when it was released as a single. David passed away at just 41 in 1982. Although he never achieved major stardom, he was recognized by Leonard Cohen during his eulogy as a “songwriters songwiter” stating that, “David Blue was the peer of any singer in this country.”
While a student at Providence College in the early 1970s, John Chan developed a deep appreciation of Jazz and Blues thanks to college radio and some record collecting friends. He’d been working at his parents’ restaurant in Woonsocket – Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining – since the age of 15 and began working there full time in 1974 after graduation. In 1977, he decided to add music to the menu and tested the waters with a performance featuring two local jazz legends, vocalist Jean McKenna O’Donnell and trombonist Sam Sherman. The evening was a success and the restaurant’s name was amended with the legend: Eggrolls & Jazz. For the next decade, Chan presented performances by dozens of local and national jazz, blues and folk artists and after expanding in 1986, Chan’s quickly became known as one of America’s premier listening rooms. In addition to bringing in legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Mose Allison, Pinetop Perkins and Leon Redbone, John remains committed to local talent and was instrumental in helping Rhode Islanders Scott Hamilton, Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard and Greg Abate achieve international success. John is also an artist of note and has turned his lifelong passion for the visual arts into another facet of this Woonsocket jewel – the venue’s walls serve as a gallery for his and others’ music-related paintings and photographs.
In 1962, 16-year-old Cranston guitarist Tom Ghent left home to pursue a career in folk music on Providence’s vibrant coffeehouse scene. By 1964, he was living in Greenwich Village during the heyday of the folk revival, performing his songs alongside Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton and Bob Dylan. He hit Los Angeles in 1968 which led to the release of his first major label album, the self-titled Tom Ghent, but was back in New York by 1969. There, he was encouraged by Kris Kristofferson to move to Nashville where he quickly made his mark as a songwriter and session musician. In 1970, Nat Stuckey scored a major hit with Tom’s “Whiskey, Whiskey” which led to the release of a second album, “Yankee’s Rebel Son” for Kapp/MCA. Along the way, Tom’s songs have been recorded by dozens of artists including Charlie Louvin, Rita Coolidge, Bobby Bare and Kristofferson.
After graduating from University of Rhode Island, Lloyd S. Kaplan began his career as a music educator in the Cranston Public Schools (1960-1965) during which time he earned his Master’s Degree at Brown University. After a year at Scituate Junior-Senior High, he moved into the college level in 1966 at both Brown University Extension for two years and Community College of Rhode Island where he remained for 31 years. Professor Kaplan was instrumental in shaping the future of the music department at CCRI. He introduced the Jazz Curriculum as a degree program and courses in Twentieth Century Music, Introduction to Opera, the Creative Process in the Arts, Jazz History, Essentials of Rhythm, Introduction to Music and Woodwinds, and also served as department Chair from 1974-1980. He retired in 1995 as Professor Emeritus. Since 1953, Lloyd also persued a career as a professional clarinet and saxophone player performing in a wide variety of settings including the U.S. Army Band, the Tony Abbott Orchestra, and primarily, with his own jazz group, The Aristocats. In “retirement,” he continues teaching at URI and Coastal Carolina University through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and maintains a full performing schedule with The Aristocats.
While attending Boston University in 1970, singer and blues harp player James Montgomery formed the group which would bring him national recognition as one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. Along with The J. Geils Band and Aerosmith, The James Montgomery Band reestablished Boston as a major music center in the early ‘70s and they were signed to Capricorn Records, home to the Allman Brothers. “First Time Out” in 1973 was a hard-driving, hard-rocking album which introduced the nation to the band’s high-energy approach to the blues. 1974’s “High Roller,” with the legendary Tom Dowd as a co-producer, continued along the same lines and the album’s single, “I Can’t Stop (No, No, No),” became a college radio favorite. A switch to Island Records in 1976 saw the band fusing their Northern blues with the Southern musical gumbo of Louisiana for their self-titled album produced by New Orleans master Allen Toussaint. It was their biggest-selling album and reached #9 on Billboard’s album airplay chart. Since then, he became a Rhode Islander in the late 1980s and released three more studio efforts and several live albums. He is also a philanthropist of note working for more than 30 years with organizations advocating for musicians health care and veterans groups. He currently serves on the Tune In & Tune Up Health Awareness Committee of the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.
Inspired by the British Invasion of the 1960s, Pawtucket guitarist Paul Murphy began delving into the Blues, Jazz and R&B roots of his Rock and Soul heroes. By the mid-1970s, he was considered not only a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of all. He became a member of the popular R&B dance band Tabagi which explored the rhythmic aspects of world music from Reggae to Funk to Afro-Latin. He next joined saxophonist Greg Abate’s jazz-fusion group Channel One which recorded the critically acclaimed “Without Boundaries” in 1981. He spent most of the ‘80s as guitarist for The Groovemasters who explored similar territory to Tabagi, but with the emphasis more on the American aspects of Funk and Soul. In the early ‘90s, he joined the James Montgomery Band. Their 1991 album “The Oven Is On” features Paul’s finest recorded work as a blues guitarist and in a 1990 profile, The Nice Paper proclaimed him “A Sideman For All Seasons.” From there, he joined the Duke Robillard Band as second guitarist. In a review of their 1994 album “Duke’s Blues,” George Graham of WVIA singled out Paul as “…(a guitarist) who really understands the concept of rhythm guitar in the tradition of (Count Basie’s) Freddie Green.” Paul’s career ended tragically that year when he passed away suddenly in Brazil at age 40 on tour with Duke. His legacy is guaranteed by the three internationally released recordings he left behind and by the indelible impression he left on the Rhode Island music scene.
By the time Providence-born pianist Mike Renzi was 13, he had already gotten his union card and begun his professional career. Word spread rapidly about his extraordinary skills as an improviser and he soon found himself leading the house band at legendary Rhode Island jazz clubs The Kings & Queens and Allary while earning degrees from the Boston Conseratory and Berklee. When he moved to New York in 1976, his experiences backing jazz greats such as Ben Webster, Bobby Brookmeyer and Art Farmer and vocalists Blossom Dearie, Chris Connor and Mark Murphy served him well. He started out with Mel Torme and was quickly recognized as a superlatively gifted and intuitive vocal accompanist and arranger which launched a stellar career accompanying and acting as music director for the finest singers of the 20th century including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Cleo Laine, Carol Sloane, Maureen McGovern and, most recently, Tony Bennett. Mike pursued a parallel career in television and movies and racked up an astounding 17 Emmy nominations with 7 wins for Music Direction and Composition. Due to his busy schedule, Mike has released only a handful of recordings as a leader or co-leader, but his legacy as a jazz pianist is secured by his appearances on more than 100 internationally-released albums and two Grammy nominations.
LIGHTING AWARDS: ANDREW POLIN, BOB MORRISSEY AND LeROY BENNETT
In 1972, two young music fans, 16-year-old Andrew Polin of Fall River and 20-year-old Bob Morrissey of Warwick, formed Polico Lighting and began providing stage lights for regional bands including Johanna Wild with Jon Butcher. Growth was rapid and by 1976, they were the lighting designers for multi-platinum band Boston. Among the additional techs they hired during this time was LeRoy Bennett of Warwick. The company’s reputation for innovation and exciting productions led to major tours in the early ’80s with J. Geils, the Allman Brothers, Jerry Garcia, ’Til Tuesday and others. The mid-1980s saw a drop-off in touring concert business, but Polico continued to thrive by concentrating on regional events such as the Newport Jazz & Folk Festivals. In 1995, the partners parted ways with Andrew moving into event production with Presentation Technology A/V and Bob continuing on with a new name, East Coast Lighting & Production Services. Bob remains committed to new technologies and ECLPS’s creative, innovative and award-winning designs have kept them at the top of their profession.
In 1980, LeRoy Bennett became lighting director for then up-and-coming artist Prince on his “Dirty Mind” tour. The success of that tour led to a 14-year collaborative relationship and established LeRoy at the vanguard of his field. As his reputation grew, so did his client base – his resume boasts superstars from every genre including Nine Inch Nails, The Who, Queen, Van Halen, David Bowie, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Madonna, Lady GaGa, Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Paul McCartney. In 2012, he founded Seven Design Works to deliver his award-winning productions to television during Super Bowl half-time shows, Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductions and other special events. LeRoy is recognized worldwide as one of the most iconic innovators in cutting edge production, lighting, and stage design and, in 2016, Total Production International magazine declared him “A Musical Visionary” as he continues to infuse his creative visions on an international platform.