NORTH SMITHFIELD – It’s a tough time for live music, with few outlets open for its fans and its performers.
But at an outdoor space at a small club by the water in North Smithfield, the show goes on.
Burrillville resident Rob Greyfox has launched the second season of his summer concert series at The Island, and on Friday nights through September, guests to the venue will get the chance to enjoy free entertainment, while keeping their distance from crowds.
“It’s like being on your own island out here,” Greyfox said of the venue, a private club overlooking Slatersville Reservoir where he began holding public live music events in 2019. “Where else are you going to get a view like this?”
In 2020, with most music venues closed as the region looks to curb the spread of Covid-19, new measures have been put in place to keep patrons safe. Nine picnic tables have been situated at a safe distance apart, and only the outdoor bar is open, avoiding the close quarters of the tiny indoor facility.
“We ask that everybody has their masks,” Greyfox said.
A longtime music lover who has worked for concert venues across the country for more than 30 years, including a stint a carrying and setting up equipment for The Grateful Dead, Greyfox has booked the club through fall, with acts playing live rock, blues and funk. His business – Greyfox Productions Audio & Lighting Company – sets up the stage, and works with the artists to create a unique northern Rhode Island music experience.
This week, on Friday, June 26, his lineup will include one of New England’s longest running Grateful Dead tribute bands, Lobsterz from Mars, and “psych rock” power trio The Cosmic Factory.
Vendors and food trucks are invited to the family-friendly shows, although Greyfox noted that it is not a food-focused event, where trucks gather drawing in their own crowds.
“We have a couple of friends with food trucks and they’re willing to come spend the night and listen to great music,” he said. “It’s small businesses helping small businesses.”
And while restrictions have made the events somewhat different this year, Greyfox said he’s happy to be able to offer people something fun to do during a summer marked by cancellations and disappointment.
“I held out and didn’t cancel anything,” he said. “We’re putting on this thing for the community and the neighbors.”
As the series approaches its fourth week in its second year, the organizer notes that there has never been an incident at the gatherings, and he’s spoken to the Better Business Bureau to ensure he’s meeting safety requirements amid the pandemic.
A small bucket by the entry to the free events gives guests the opportunity to contribute something for the organizer and artists.
Upcoming acts include Sublime tribute band Second Hand Smoke, Max Creek tribute band Something is Forming and Rolling Stones tribute band 19th Nervous Breakdown. Most bands have a “hippy vibe,” and are inspired by music from the 1970s, including The Grateful Dead.
“The majority of my acts are that way,” Greyfox said.
Greyfox is also putting on Thursday night outdoor concerts at the Farmstand Cafe in North Scituate, with the first coming up July 9. On Saturdays, he can be found at the Burrillville Farmer’s Market at Stillwater Mills Pavilion, deejaying and making announcements at the community events.
And as more people discover the opportunity to enjoy the private North Smithfield club on Friday nights, attendance is increasing. Guests are welcome to become members at The Island and gain regular access to the facilities, including a boat launch. But it’s not required to attend the concerts and enjoy some fresh air and music by the water every week from around 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.
“Everybody always thought it was an old men’s club,” Greyfox said.”It’s a good turnout. More people are going to be coming to regular shows because there’s nothing else to do right now.”
A complete list of upcoming shows can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/GreyfoxAudioLighting/events/?ref=page_internal. Vendors interested in joining the events can contact the organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.