BURRILLVILLE – The troubadour on the street corner in Pascoag serenades the people seeking their morning coffee or a bite to eat. On this mild September morning car-after-car pulls into the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts as singer-songwriter-guitarist Lincoln Poison, a local, is playing rock music on his acoustic guitar. One driver, a stranger, waves at him.
“Happy as I am to play, I’m happy when someone gives me a wave,” he says.
With music venues either extremely restricted or shut down, some musicians are shut out of work and missing their audiences.
“We can’t to go to clubs like we used to. We have the right to express ourselves without being hurtful to other people,” Poison said.
Unemployment is not Poison’s main motivator for taking his musical talent to the street.
“I like being out there saying ‘hello,’” said Poison. “Not everyone has someone to say ‘have a good day.’ A lot of people live alone. They don’t have someone to say ‘hello.’”
Music for the people is in Poison’s blood. He hails from an arts family. Poison’s uncle is Duke Robillard of the band Roomful of Blues.
“He’s spectacular” said the nephew. “All the boys in our family play guitar.”
What’s more, Poison’s father, Gerald Robillard, a painter, is “an awesome artist,” said the proud son.
Poison “likes all kinds of music very much,” but favors rock ‘n’ roll.
“I had a band I started. The Goners,” he said.
The band played 70 percent original music and 30 percent cover songs. Originality is not always in line with financial success for a band, said Poison.
About his street gigs at outside places such as Dunkin’ Donuts and the IGA supermarket, the musician says it’s not about the money that people might place into his open guitar case.
“I’m not doing this just because I’m out of work,” Poison said. “Really – not the money. Three people today told me to keep doing this, keep playing.”
And he will keep playing.
“There’s no one in Burrillville doing it. It’s not easy to do it by yourself. Not an easy task. But I enjoy it,” Poison said.
Poison, who changed his name legally years ago, will play on. A young man he knows from town stops by the parking lot to cheer him on saying with enthusiasm, “You’re my man!”
On the street, another driver waves at Poison. And so goes the morning.
“More people should be able to express their opinions and themselves. The arts are important,” Poison says, then plays another song on his guitar.