Jammin' Out: Jazz music, theater in Pawtuxet
The Gaspee Days might be over, but the residents of Pawtuxet Village have kept the party going. This summer the Friends of Pawtuxet Village is giving everyone reasons to come and see the village. Throughout the summer and into the fall, the village will play host to many art and cultural events, like chess, a jazz music jam, a theater revue and a sampling of foods from different restaurants in the village.
Marta V. Martinez, the chair of the Friends of Pawtuxet Village, said that the idea for the group came in late 2010, when she and her friends discussed how they wanted to have activities in Pawtuxet Park in order to bring the families in the community together. In 2011, the Friends of Pawtuxet Village came together as a recognized group after they bought chess tables for the park.
“We were a group of Pawtuxet residents who had the same goals and ideas about the village,” said Martinez about the formation of the group. “Everything we do is for the betterment of Pawtuxet Village. We are for the community, by the community,”
Martinez got the idea for the summer events as her children grew older and no longer attended summer camp, so they were just hanging out in the house. Martinez, who is a teacher, believes that teenagers need something to do during the summer that is both educational and fun, which is what inspired her to host arts and cultural events in the park as opposed to math and science tutoring sessions.
“They’re educated in a fun way and they don’t even realize they’re getting an education. The best way to teach is for them to be active and involved. It’s easier to learn and teach when it’s more interactive.”
One example of the interactive learning that the Friends of Pawtuxet Village promotes is the chess club. Chess in the Park, which takes place every Thursday from June to September, allows everyone to come and learn the game. Those who want to join in don’t have to be a member to play, but everyone is encouraged to join. Membership is $10 a year, which helps pay for new chess pieces and the upkeep of the chess tables in the park.
On Thursday, July 11 there will also be a jazz jam in the park. According to Martinez, the jam is not a regular concert where attendees just sit and listen. In fact, Pawtuxet residents are encouraged to take part if they have any musical talent at all.
“It’s part of our mission of getting families together,” she said.
The jazz jam is organized by Terri Giviens, a local singer. Giviens spent many years living in Pawtuxet Village, and is even a member of the Gaspee Days Committee. Because of her years in the village, she has known Martinez for a long time, and offered to assist them with the jazz jam. Giviens also has experience in children’s entertainment, which gave her another reason to help out the Friends.
Giviens shares Martinez’s goal of giving teenagers and children something to help them learn in the summer, and looks forward to continuing working with the Friends of Pawtuxet Village.
“The village really is an amazing area. It’s just a wonderful community full of history and good people,” she said.
Giviens has contacted several local music educators to help out, such as Cranston East Band Director Mark Colozzi and Pilgrim Band Director Chris Pratt. She will also be contacting music educators from URI and the Providence Federation of Musicians in hopes that they will bring their students so that more young people will be motivated to play with the band. If the jazz jam is successful, the Friends hope to have another one Thursday, July 25. There will also be a family concert on Thursday, Aug. 8.
This year will also be the second year that the Friends will have Theater in the Park, a short theater revue performed by The Players from the Barker Playhouse in Providence, the oldest little theater in America. The revue will include three one-act plays, musical numbers and a comedy monologue. Additionally, each member of The Players will write an original introduction for each piece in the revue, and perform it that night. The revue was created by one of The Players, who is known only as Margarita. She will be directing, producing and acting in the event.
“I’ve designed this so that you get various, entertaining, short acts,” she said. “It’s something for everyone. If someone doesn’t get there right at 6:30, they don’t have to ask what happened. It very much harkens to the old days where there would be the town green.”
Theater in the Park will take place on Friday, Aug. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Pawtuxet Park.
Rounding out this summer’s events in Pawtuxet Village is the Taste of Pawtuxet Village. Those who wish to attend will sample foods from several restaurants in the village. Participating restaurants include Basta Italian Restaurant, The Elephant Room, L’Attitude Modern Eatery, Little Falls Café, O’Rourke’s Bar & Grille, Powers Pub, Rim Nahm Thai Cuisine, The Red House Chinese Cuisine, and The Water’s Edge Café.
The sampling will take place on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in The Imperial Room at Rhodes Place. There is a $25 fee per person, and those who wish to pay in advance can pay at Cork & Brew at 2200 Broad Street or Twice Told Tales at 2145 Broad Street. Online payment is also available at www.friendsofpawtuxetvillage.org/TasteofPV.html. Online payments can be made by credit card or through a PayPal account.
All events other than the Taste of Pawtuxet Village are free to the public. The membership dues for the Friends of Pawtuxet Village and a pending $500 grant from the Warwick Department of Tourism, Culture, and Development will pay for the events in the park.