Warwick native and Pawtucket based singer-songwriter John Faraone is turning an undisclosed age on Aug. 2. If things were normal, he would probably be playing a birthday show at one of the many great music venues in Providence to celebrate with a bunch of friends.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this won’t be a reality in 2020. What will be happening is a virtual show the night before, on Aug. 1, when Faraone will be performing from home and broadcasting it via his Instagram page, @JohnFaraone.
All of the proceeds will be going to benefit the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund, which helps a group of organizations who are providing assistance for those who are the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
This group includes ARISE, the Providence Youth Student Movement, the George Wiley Center, the Alliance To Mobilize Our Resistance, Direct Action For Rights & Equality and the Fang Collective.
I had a talk with Faraone ahead of the performance about what made him want to raise money for the fund, setting up his basement for a YouTube series and becoming a father.
ROB DUGUAY: This birthday fundraiser concert you have happening on Aug. 1 will raise money for the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund. How did you come up with the vision for this?
JOHN FARAONE: It came from me reading a lot of friends’ posts on Facebook and social media surrounding Black Lives Matter and everything that has been going on in our country. I didn’t know what to do – it’s one of those situations where you kind of feel helpless while thinking about what one person from the smallest state in the country can do to make a difference. At the same time, I figured that I should at least try, and a buddy of mine who is an activist in Providence and really involved in the community turned my attention to the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund. It’s a conglomerate of a handful of groups that each do work in their own respects, and this particular fund is divvied up between all of them so it’s not just one organization getting all of the money. It’s a good way to split the pot, I guess you could say.
RD: You will be livestreaming this event from your basement at home, which has also been the setting for the “Basement Sessions” series you have on YouTube. So first off, how long did it take you to put up the wood and the lights in the background?
JF: It’s totally a fake wall (laughs) and it took me 10 minutes to put the whole thing together while only costing me 20 bucks.
RD: So far the “Basement Sessions” have had special guests including Roz Raskin from Nova One, Rafay Rashid from Ravi Shavi and Steve DelMonico & Steve Donovan from The Quahogs. How have you gotten these musicians involved?
JF: A few of them have gotten involved from seeing the videos of me performing and asking if they could be a part of it. Roz and Rafay were two of the first musicians that I asked. I love both of their music. They were both messing around with a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and I figured that my basement set up would be a good place for it. The Quahogs and I have been friends forever, so it’s natural that Steve and Steve would be the first ones to come over. I have a bunch of other ones lined up in the queue, so I’ll have to start editing those soon.
I had a baby recently, so it’s been challenging to find the time to put up the videos. Now that things seem to be normalizing again, hopefully I can keep more of those coming.
RD: As you mentioned, in March you became a dad with your son Henry being born. How has it been being a parent over the past few months?
JF: After he was born, it was a really long time until anyone in my family or my wife’s family could see him. It was kind of rough on them and on us, it’s pretty crazy to be stuck in the house and not be able to go anywhere with your wife and your baby who is brand new to the world. As far as babies go, he’s been a super easy baby and wicked laid back. I’ve never been a parent before, so this is a crash course in parenting since I haven’t been able to have any friends and family over to help me out so I can take a nap. I’ve learned how to survive on very little sleep.
RD: Have you been playing any music for the baby? Any good heavy metal or folk music to raise him on the right stuff?
JF: I got him some good heavy metal onesies. I don’t know if its sticking yet, but the first album I played for him that he actually seemed to be into was Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever.”
RD: That’s awesome.
JF: It’s turned into a thing where if he’s freaking out or needs to go to bed, I’ll put it on and within three or four songs he’ll be asleep. He has an affinity for Tom Petty, which is a good thing.
RD: That’s fantastic stuff, that’s great news. After your birthday fundraiser show, do you have any plans for the rest of the summer?
JF: I don’t. I’ve been working a lot, I have two jobs so I’ve been doing that lately. I want to take a vacation but you can’t really go anywhere, so I’ve been doing stuff around the house. I want to go to the beach really bad, but all of the photos I’ve seen are pretty scary with everyone being packed together and not wearing masks. I’ll probably just be hunkered down where I live in Pawtucket.
To learn more about John Faraone, visit johnfaraone.com or follow him on Facebook.