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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Sept. 8-15

Melanie Moore of Cranston dances with the Providence Drum Troupe on Washington Street during the second day of PVDFest 2022 in Providence, R.I.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Sure, we’ve got PVDFest, the Pawtucket Arts Fest, a beer fest, a beach fest, a Kennedy Center Honoree, fireworks, ferris wheels and falcons — but we also have corn.

It’s corn! And I can’t get Corn Kid’s song out of my head. Idea: Can we get Corn Kid to make a Rhody johnnycake video? (Tariq, let’s talk.)

We’ve got a full plate this week, Rhody. Let’s dive in…


Three-time Grammy nominee Grace Potter brings her “Mother Road” tour to The Vets Sept. 8. When I interviewed her in 2020, the Vermonter told me that at one point, she thought she’d quit music and return to house painting. But while scribbling on the chalkboard-painted walls of her apartment, she found she was writing songs. So, after a divorce, a breakup with her band the Nocturnals, marriage and a baby, the powerhouse vocalist is bringing down the house instead of painting it. 8 p.m. From $39. Details here.



Now through Sept. 10, find all sorts of fun in Pawtucket under the large umbrella that is Pawtucket Arts Fest. A few highlights: Pawtucket Flavor Fest runs in restaurants through Sept. 10, and the two-day Slater Park Fall Festival, Sept. 9 and 10, kicks off Saturday at 11 a.m. with an arts marketplace, food truck court, “Pops in the Park” and more, including fireworks that night. Details here.


PVDFest rocks Providence Sept. 8-10, and we’ll have an icon in our midst. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Mavis Staples headlines Sept. 9. Don’t miss your change to see this 84-year-old living legend.

I interviewed the three-time Grammy winner, 14-time nominee/ Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016, when she was on tour with her one-time beau Bob Dylan.


Dylan “proposed to me way back when we first met. I told him I was too young, Now, if he proposed to me, we’d be pushing each other around in wheelchairs,” she said with a laugh.

A singer since age 8 with the Staples Singers, she said: “I’ve had a wonderful life…. I’m living on a high note. I’m the luckiest old girl in the world.” Sept. 9, 6 p.m.


More fest fun abounds. The outdoor arts kicks off Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. EhShawnee and Chachi Carvalho and the International Players rock the first night, and there’s a ticketed opening night party from 7-9 p.m., starting from $35.

Sept. 9 features Staples and Flawless. Sept. 10 is Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival. Throughout the three-day fest, you’ll find art installations, a food truck village, gallery walking tours, Big Nazo, a poetry slam, various live music, PVD Flea, a parade, Art Club block party, and more. See a full schedule and map here. Read more here. Where to eat? Check here.


Icing on the Rhody cake: a special PVDFest WaterFire Sept. 9. The lighting starts at 7:05 p.m. and braziers remain lit until midnight. Expect live music, fire-spinning, glass-blowing, artisan wares, origami, the Starry, Starry Night installation, food and Trinity Brewhouse. Details here.


In another extremely Ocean State collab: Cranston’s Garden City Center becomes a pup-friendly “Beer Garden City” every weekend this September. From Sept. 8-10, you’ll find Narragansett Beer at the gazebo, along with games and live music. Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturday-Monday, 2-6 p.m. Must show ID to purchase beverage. Details here.



Cheers, Rhody! Tiled Barn Brewery in Exeter hosts the 2023 Raise the Barn Fest Sept. 9 from 1-4 p.m. Expect live music, food trucks, souvenir tasting glass and unlimited sampling for beers from some 20 breweries, from Allagash to Zero Gravity, according to billing. $80. Designated drivers are free. One Hemsley Place. Details here.


You had me at car-free. I walk every day in a coastal area — aka no sidewalks. If you do, too, your eyes definitely just popped when you read “car-free,” too. It sounds like utopia, but yes, it’s real. It’s free, it’s car-free, it’s care-free. On Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, join a free Sakonnet Coastal Bike & Stroll and get a chance to ride along the coastline in Portsmouth ... free of cars! Genius. Dogs and kids are welcome. You can bike or walk the route. Meet at 8:45 a.m. at Sunset Cove, located at 706 Park Ave. See map and details here and here.


Ever since I read Helen Macdonald’s stunning elegy to goshawks and falconry “H is for Hawk,” I’ve seen raptors in a new light. Those fascinating, majestic creatures of destruction and descendants of dinos get their weekend in the limelight at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Raptor Weekend Sept. 9 and 10.


There will be live presentations with owls, hawks and falcons, educational programs, and activities for all ages. One day pass for adults $17, kids $12. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium, 1401 Hope St. (Route 114), Bristol. Details here and here.


People… People who love theater… Are the luckiest people in the woooorld. Well, the luckiest in Rhode Island. Because “Funny Girl” hits PPAC Sept. 9. The musical tells the story of Fanny Brice, a girl from the Lower East Side who dreamed of being on stage. You’ll be singing “People” for the rest of the week. Runs though Sept. 16. From $45. Details here.


Whether you spell ‘em johnnycakes or jonnycakes, like them thick or thin, make ‘em with milk or water — if you’re from the Ocean State, you know (and have an opinion) on the pancake-like breakfast treats sometimes called journey cakes or Shawnee cakes. Either way, it’s corn! When I tried it with butter, everything changed. Celebrate Rhody’s Breakfast of Champions with “Jonnycake Day” at Coggeshall Farm Museum Sept. 9. There will be cooking demonstrations, corn-themed games, and more. And yes, there will be fresh jonnycakes to taste — and mixes for sale to make more at home. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Adults $10, kids 4-17 $5. Details here.



Sorry, I was still singing the Corn Kid song… But that’s not the best approach to take into this corn maze. Dare to escape from the 8-acre corn maze at Escobar Farm in Portsmouth! The maize maze is open now for the season, according to the farm’s website. Once you find your way out, treat yourself. Concessions include popcorn, candy, raisins and “butterscotch flavored lollipops in the shape of an ear of corn,” according to website. Ages 12 and up $10, kids 4-11 $8; 3 and under free. Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. GPS: 255 Middle Road, Portsmouth. 401-683-1444. Details and hours here.


Now that the tourists are gone, you might take advance of the warm post-Labor Day season to explore Newport. You’ve seen the Instagram posts. Check out the Umbrella Sky Project IRL. The idea for the colorful public art installation was born in Portugal in 2012 and inspired by “Mary Poppins,” according to its website. Learn more about its origins here, see where they’ve popped up here, and about Newport’s installation here. This is what Instagram was made for.


I love this vibe: Bring your uke, guitar, mandolin, banjo or any instrument you want for a free bluegrass jammin,’ foot-stompin,’ hand-clappin’ old time at Wakefield’s Pump House. Come to jam, or watch. Sept. 12, 6-8 p.m. Details here.


It’s Laurel Canyon vibes Sept. 15, as Forever Young, a solid Neil Young tribute band, rocks the at the Greenwich Odeum, with opener Nicole Gauthier performing the songs of Joni Mitchell. Neil and Joni are two of my favorites — inspirational icons and artists who have always been their own people through and though. I’m looking forward to hearing Gauthier, and Forever Young always puts on a great show — they’ll have you singing all night long. Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m. $25 advance, $30 door. Details here.


It’s summer vibes at a fall fest at the 13th Annual Misquamicut Fallfest Weekend in Westerly. Head to the beach for a ferris wheel, games, dozens of food and craft vendors, family entertainment and live music, according to billing. Sept. 15-17, $10 advance, $12 door. Misquamicut State Beach, 257 Atlantic Ave. Westerly. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin’.

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