Guest post by Travis Webster-Booth, a songwriter who can often be heard at the Spot under his nom de plume, Straw Man Standing.
Where can you go to relax with a beer, munch on avocado frites, and hear the music of eccentric local artists any night of the week? In Providence, that would be The Spot Underground.
I made my way there on a recent “Madcap Monday,” an organized-yet-freewheeling (and free) weekly exhibition of local acoustic music. I parked my car out back (also free) and headed up the steel stairwell with my Martin guitar, equally excited to hear the night’s entertainment as I am to strum a few songs myself.
The first performer, who moonlights as the house cook, warms things up with a few numbers. A bafflingly talented singer-guitarist, who might have been a grunge star 20 years ago, croons a set of classic rock songs. Barely missing a beat, an unassuming chap takes over with a hang drum, lulling the crowd into hypnotic bliss. Following him, a pair of older guys grace the stage for a harmony-laden rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” that reminds me how much I love live music. Then again, I’m used to getting my mind blown at the Spot. Several weeks earlier, a young woman got full attention of the audience with an intimate performance on a full-size harp.
When it’s my turn to play, I saunter to the stage, wind a 1/4” cable through my guitar strap, plug in, sound check, and play. I’ve become so comfortable here that I’ve debuted new songs, improvised tunes on the spot, and played with all manner of accompaniment; on one memorable occasion, a talented beat boxer spontaneously joined me on stage, adding backup vocals to boot. As a performer in Providence, you won’t find a safer or more welcoming environment.
By the end of the night, I’ve made new friends, caught up with old ones, and notched another performance in my belt. Best of all, I could do it all over again at Re:Creation Tuesday, the Spot’s iconic open mic/open jam (also free). And if I’m not in a mood to play, I can duck back in any other night of the week, when top flight bands of every imaginable genre pack the house and command the dance floor.
101 Richmond Street