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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: May 19-26

This week: The Temptations and The Four Tops perform, RISD students put on a fashion show, and LEGO fans rejoice

Artist Sean Kenney created this peacock entirely of LEGOs.Handout

So apparently a musician with ties to Westerly is playing a few shows at Gillette this weekend. Not sure if you heard about it. Seems like the shows are sold out, though. If you’re (still) crying about missing out on Taylor tix, shhh. I got you. We’ve got so much happening in Rhody this week — from LEGOs to multiple spring festivals to the cosmic trippiness of Sun Ra’s Arkestra — even ticketless Swifties will be able to Shake It Off.


The Ocean Race fun continues in Newport. Ocean Live Park runs at Fort Adams through May 21. You might sail onboard a Sail Newport J2; experience a “multi-sensory holographic show” via the One Blue Voice Immersive Experience. Discover the Exploration Zone’s many wonders. Plus food, live music, cocktail cafes, kids activities, photo opps, among many other events.


Upcoming highlights: Enjoy a Genova Pesto Championship and a Friday Night Lights High School Sailing Regatta on May 19. On May 20, Watch the Dock-Out ceremony at 12:30 p.m., in-port race from 2-4 p.m., and awards at 4:30 p.m. The leg to Denmark starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. See full event schedule here; more details here. Admission is free with $25 parking at 72 Fort Adams Drive. Buy parking passes online or on-site.


… No, wait, it’s not — this is real, people. Legend alert: The Temptations and The Four Tops are headed to PVD for an epic double-billing at The Vets May 19. If you haven’t lived under a rock, you know all the hits: “My Girl,” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” and more. Get ready to sing. Doors 6:30 p.m., show 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $63. 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence. Details here.



The Players at the Barker Playhouse in Providence kick off their 114th season with 2004 Tony-winner “Avenue Q” May 19. The musical comedy features puppets, humans, and “adult-oriented themes,” according to billing. Think “Sesame Street” but definitely not for kids. Ticket prices vary. Runs through May 28. 400 Benefit St., Providence. 401-273-0590. Learn more here and here.


Welp, this sounds awesome: “Brick Convention,” a LEGO fan-event “filled with hands-on interactive fun,” thousands of bricks in multiple building-zones, dozens of models and displays, professional LEGO artists, vendors and more, according to billing, hits the West Warwick Civic Center May 20 and 21. Meet “LEGO Masters” contestants (where my fellow “LEGO Masters” fans at?) including Christine “Tacos” Blandino of West Warwick. Plus models, photo opps, retro sets and more, according to website. Let’s LEGO. $15 online, $18 door. Purchase tickets by day/time-slot. 100 Factory St., West Warwick. Details here.


Newport is all about that ocean-themed fun this weekend: While Ocean Live Park splashes on at Fort Adams, the 7th Annual Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival hits Bowen’s Wharf May 20 and 21. The free admission fest features, yes, oysters and chowder — plus other fare, live music, cash bars and more. For a taste of what to expect, watch their ‘22 recap video here. Details here.


See what the cool kids are wearing at the RISD fashion show. RISD’s Apparel Design Department hosts a year-end fashion show featuring the designs of the ‘23 graduates at “Epilogue 23″ via runway and installation May 20 at their Fleet Library. $10 to watch the rehearsal show at 4 p.m.; $20 for the main show at 7 p.m. 15 Westminster St., Providence. Tickets only available online.


Meanwhile, RISD’s Graduate Thesis Exhibition kicks off at the Rhode Island Convention Center May 24 with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. The show then runs daily noon to 5 p.m., May 25-June 3, free and open to the public. I went last year; it’s well worth a look around. Details here and here.


Sun Ra fans, beeline to The Met May 21. Much like its original jazz legend — hailed by Rolling Stone as the missing link between Duke Ellington and Public Enemy” — the Arkestra brings creative mystic energy to the stage: “big band swing, outer-space jazz, dancing, singing, chanting and Afro-pageantry,” according to billing.

When Ra died in ‘93, John Gilmore took the helm. When Gilmore died in ‘95, Marshall Allen took over. Now 98 years old — about to turn 99 on May 25 — Allen is out to rock Pawtucket with his psychedelic grooves, beats, spectacle and Arkestra. Let’s get funky with legends. Doors 5 p.m., show 6 pm. $40 advance, $45 door. See here for a taste of what to expect. Learn more here and here.



[taps mic] Providence, it’s time for our TED talk. For the uninitiated, TEDx programs are “local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.” The lineup at TEDxProvidence, according to The Vets: Agonza, Barnaby Evans, Christian Cowan, Daisha Jackson, Dr. Sendurai A. Mani, Frans Johansson, Gabrielle QueenG Gibson, Isabelle Mitchell, Jalisa Ramos, Jason Allard, Jim Owens, John Tarantino, Joshua Roman, Leslie Moore, Mack Scott, Mariam Kaba, Mike Reyes, Thomas Dorwart. From $19. 1 Avenue of the Arts. Food trucks available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Doors open at noon. Session One runs 1-3:30 p.m.; with a break 3:30-4 p.m. Session Two runs 4-6:30 p.m. Details here and here.


You know it’s summer in Tiverton when the Farmers Market moves outdoors. The Tiverton Farmers Market moves to their Sunday summer location: Tiverton Town Farm Recreation Area starting May 21, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Think empanadas, pizzas, soups, breads, fish, stews, salads, cookies, cakes, hummus, veggies, herbs, pastries — plus jewelry, pottery, ceramics, clothing and the like. 3588 Main Road. Details here.


I’m a passionate book lover and Ocean Stater. Rhody has so many talented authors and bookstores that I’ve started a little subsection of this column, “Rhode Reads.” If you’re a local author or a bookstore hosting a local signing, hit me up and you might get featured. In this week’s Rhody Reading News…

Warwick-based poet Candace Williams celebrates the PVD launch of their debut full-length poetry collection I Am the Most Dangerous Thing at Twenty Stories May 25 from 6-8 p.m. Williams will read selections, followed by a conversation with Providence poet Charlotte Abotsi, and audience Q&A. Twenty Stories, one of my favorite local bookstores, curates books and readings like an art gallery. This looks to be fascinating. Free. 107 Ives St. Details on event, book and authors here.



Get ready for a bloody good show with “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” The Tony-winning musical from Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim-turned-Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie hits PVD as Trinity Rep concludes its season with “Sweeney Todd” May 25-June 25. May shows are billed as “previews.” The May 25 show is pay-what-you-will. May 26 tickets from $25. Details here. 201 Washington St. 401-351-4242. Details here.


It’s officially ice cream season and we’ve made a Rhode Island ice cream map, from summer staples like Gray’s in Tiverton to hip vegan joints like PVD’s Like No Udder. #NewsYouCanUse. See map here, and more suggestions here.


Pitbull fans, rejoice: The Grammy-winner brings the beats to PVD’s AMP May 26 and it’s time to dance. Kids today may not know, but back in early aughts, Pitbull meant party. All the late 30s /early 40s peeps in Rhody are ‘bout to get down. I love these Insta posts shared by Pitbull: “Millennials dusting off the ole joints” to jam. (The dude taking off his back brace — priceless.) This is the New England appearance for the “Give Me Everything” singer on this current tour. So party at the AMP, my fellow ‘90s kids: Wear your bootleg jeans and graphic tees. From $75. 8 p.m. Details here.


As we established earlier, I’m a LEGO-art fan. So I’m pumped about this: award-winning LEGO artist Sean Kenney brings his animal sculptures — just take a look at his Insta for a sense — to Portsmouth’s Green Animals Topiary Garden starting May 26. The 14 sculptures in “Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks” runs through Sept. 10. Kenney’s exhibit has traveled from the San Antonio Zoo to Virginia among other spots, so I’m thrilled it’s hitting the Ocean State. (Fun fact: Kenney also guest-judged on the British version of “LEGO Masters.”) Starting May 26, the exhibit will be open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also find a Kenney bonsai tree at The Breakers Welcome Center. Non-members $25 adult; $10 kids ages 6-12. Learn more here and here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin.’

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.