In 2018, the band that I was in during the ’80s, The Probers, reunited. David Ricci, a local record and movie producer, was interested in doing a documentary on the band. That, along with some rumblings of getting inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, led us to rehearse and resurrect some of our most popular hits.
We rehearsed for a year and started a Facebook page. We were surprised to see that we still had a pretty big fan base. The music was timeless and has some great vocals and musicianship behind it. That, along with a pretty good stage show, brought the fans back – so much so that our first gig at the Met had a line around the building before the doors opened.
It was great watching everyone sing along – in fact, it was pure joy. The fact that these fans remembered our music from almost 40 years ago was crazy! That was October of 2019. We had one more gig in February of 2020 … and then the pandemic hit, essentially closing all bars and clubs for the foreseeable future.
The fear of contracting this virus also put a stop to rehearsing for the time being. The silence was deafening. It was sad to see all the shuttered clubs and bars. It’s amazing the things you take for granted and never imagine it being taken away from you.
Every weekend I would go out and see local music. We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have some really great musicians. There are lots of venues right here in Warwick. My favorite was Renegades. Really good bands, no cover and great people. I miss my dancing partners, some of whom I don’t even know their names. I just knew that with a nod of the head we’d be dancing the night away.
I want to take a moment to honor one of Rhode Island’s biggest music fans. His name was Gary Chianese. He would go out most nights and catch local bands. He had all the T-shirts of the bands and would always be styling, wearing them to the gig. He was a big Prober fan! We became friendly and I could message him and have him save me a seat wherever he was going.
Unfortunately, Gary was unable to spend the last few months of his life doing what he loved. The epidemic ended live music for the time being. Before the clubs reopened, he was found unresponsive in his home. I hope he has found a club in heaven and is rocking out every weekend!
Now things are starting to open up a bit. With mask wearing and social distancing, slowly the music is back. So if you get a chance, support your local bands. If you want to check out The Probers, we will be playing at The Last Resort in Smithfield on Sept. 18.