by Ryan Cox ’18
Travel and Leisure ranked Providence the second most-cultured city in America, behind New York City, in 2015. Thrillist ranked it the second best city for college students in the United States in 2016, behind Austin, Texas. Momondo placed it among the most underrated travel destinations in the United States in 2017, along with Albuquerque, Sacramento, and Atlantic City. So what is this mysterious city others describe as remarkably artistic?
The city is Providence, Rhode Island, the one we call home for nine months of the year. For us Providence College Friars, it is no surprise that Providence stands tall alongside these big cities. Events like WaterFire, destinations like Westminster Street, and venues like the Providence Performing Arts Center have made Providence one of the art capitals of the country.
This reputation draws many big-name acts of all kinds to its historic venues. The Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and The Strand, formerly Lupo’s, draw some of the top names in music year-round. In addition to drawing in headline talent, Providence also supports local talent seeking to enter into the music business.
The Met, just north of Providence but still in the Providence metropolitan area, hosts both rising acts and local artists. The venue is known for musical diversity; the Met will host local jazz/funk band Brass Attack and former pop star Aaron Carter within three days of each other in February. PC’s own Adam Hanna ’18 has performed at the Met on a number of occasions as well, proving the Met’s commitment to supporting local artists.
Until it switched to a low-power station, Brown University’s radio station WBRU, 101.1 FM, formerly 95.5 FM, hosted the Rock Hunt, an annual summer battle of the bands in which local rock bands performed for a chance to headline the WBRU Summer Concert Series at Waterplace Park in downtown Providence.
For many of the acts, the Rock Hunt was their chance at local stardom, and scores of bands vied for their shot on the finals stage at the Met, and again at the Summer Concert Series. It is unknown if the Rock Hunt will continue now that WBRU is no longer a statewide radio station. WBRU also features local acts in a segment they call “Home BRU’d,” most recently featuring Providence-based “art rock” band Roz and the Rice Cakes in October 2017.
These are just two examples of the way Providence and Rhode Island as a whole supports its rising musical talents. Bars and restaurants statewide host local acoustic musicians and full bands almost nightly. From Point Street Dueling Pianos to G Pub, Providence’s local, unique businesses recognize and support the same kinds of musical talent that help breathe life into one of the most artsy cities in the United States.
In a business where talent has to constantly fight for performance opportunities, Providence welcomes its rising musicians with open arms, giving them some opportunity in a dog-eat-dog world.