By Paul V. Palange
Like so many of you, music is at the center of some of my more noteworthy memories. There’s the fun of playing trumpet in the school band; the joy and excitement of being with my family at my first dinner show, which featured Johnny Puleo and the Harmonicats; and the feeling that I saw stars in the making after attending an Aerosmith concert in the gymnasium of the high school in my hometown.
Then there are the recollections of attending many shows performed by titans such as the Rolling Stones, Wynton Marsalis and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn. However, nothing beats the remembrances of going to clubs with my soon-to-be wife and dancing to the music made by the likes of John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band and Roomful of Blues.
One of our favorite spots to see Roomful of Blues was the Four Seasons Jazz and Blues Club at Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining in Woonsocket. John Chan expanded his restaurant and established the club in 1986, and under his direction, many top local and international musical artists have appeared at the venue.
A graduate of Providence College, Chan has made a huge impact on the music scene in Northern Rhode Island. His reach, however, extends beyond that region. Also called Egg Rolls and Jazz, the club is known in the United States and beyond. Besides Roomful, Chan has hosted the likes of the late Dizzy Gillespie, Leon Redbone, Pinetop Perkins, Rebecca Parris, Bellevue Cadillac, Young Neal and the Vipers, Commander Cody, Scott Hamilton, Duke Robillard, Greg Abate, Dan Moretti and Daryl Sherman.
In addition to keeping the blues and jazz alive, Chan, who is in his mid-60s, has made many personal contributions to the arts, tourism and nonprofit organizations. He has received several honors, including being inducted into the William Blackstone Society of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and receiving a Business Volunteer for the Arts Encore Award in Small Business.
Furthermore, it was recently announced that Chan will become a member of the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame (RIMHOF), which is based in Pawtucket. His well-deserved induction will be celebrated April 26 at 7 p.m. at his club, 267 Main St. It will be the first of three induction ceremonies this year. Tickets are just $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Also being feted that night is Mike Renzi, one of Chan’s fellow members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
Born in Providence, Renzi is recognized worldwide as a top-flight jazz pianist and a composer for television shows – which earned him seven Emmy Awards – and motion pictures, according to information from the Hall of Fame. He is known as a gifted and intuitive vocal accompanist and arranger and has collaborated with renowned singers such as Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Carol Sloane and Tony Bennett. Renzi is scheduled to perform at the celebration with drummer Vinny Pagano and bassist Paul DelNero.
The second ceremony will be on April 27 at 7 p.m. at the POP Emporium of Popular Culture, 219 West Park St., Providence, to honor songwriter and folk music inductees Tom Ghent and the late David Blue. Songwriter and singer Ghent, who has been making music out of Nashville for more than 50 years, will perform, and there will be a tribute to Blue, who thrived in the Greenwich Village folk scene in New York and is known for writing “Outlaw Man” for the Eagles. Mark Cutler of the hall’s Class of 2015 and Bill Harley of the Class of 2016 will stage the tribute. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. They can be purchased online at www.emporiumofpopularculture.com.
The final ceremonies will be on April 29, starting with the unveiling of the new inductee exhibits at 2 p.m. at the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. It’s located within Hope Artiste Village at 999 Main St. in Pawtucket. The unveiling event is free and open to the public. That will be followed by the hall’s Blues, Educator and Sideman Induction Concert to honor James Montgomery, Lloyd Kaplan and Paul Murphy as well as LeRoy Bennett, Bob Morrissey and Andrew Polin in the technical/lighting category.
The concert will be in The Met at Hope Artiste at 3 p.m. The James Montgomery Band, a favorite of thousands of blues music fans in the Ocean State, will be performing followed by a Paul Murphy tribute jam session, featuring many past RIMHOF inductees as well as collaborators of Murphy over the years. Tickets for the concert are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. They are on sale and can be purchased at www.rhodeislandmusichalloffame.com.
Kaplan’s career has included teaching music literature at the Community College of Rhode Island and heading up its music department. A clarinet and saxophone player, Kaplan formed The Aristocats jazz band about 30 years ago. The group has performed hundreds of shows in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Kaplan has played with some of the top jazz musicians in the region.
The RIMHOF ceremonies promise to be entertaining and affordable events where music fans can make some upbeat memories.