The Parlour

The Parlour

By Rob Duguay

Over the past few months, we’ve covered the digital compilations James Toomey has put together to help out various organizations. Back in May, Toomey released “Making Pawtucket Famous” to raise money for the News Cafe on 43 Broad Street in Pawtucket featuring tracks from the cool little dive’s regular performers. He then released “Line In The Front” a couple months later to provide monetary assistance for the RI Solidarity Fund while having a similar model of local musicians contributing tracks. On September 4, Toomey put out another compilation called “Everyone’s Welcome” to help out The Parlour, which is right over the Pawtucket border on 1119 North Main Street in Providence. The money raised from the album will be going towards the establishment’s GoFundMe page so they can buy their building by October in order to sustain themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea initially came from Toomey having The Parlour’s owner, Gregory Rourke, on his podcast, Where The Living Room Used To Be, last year. From that, he got to understand the venue’s mission of harmonious diversity and supporting the local music scene.

“I really got to understand the inclusiveness they strive for,” Toomey says about having Rourke on his podcast and what The Parlour aims to do. ”They have regular performers who play music ranging from reggae and jazz to country and shanty sings on a consistent basis. It is a space that allows local original bands to perform and build a fan base, and is always more than fair with regard to paying these artists. Even beyond that, their award-winning Tuesday night open mic has either been a place for established artists to come and work out new material or a great starting point for musicians. For me personally, I’ve probably played that room more times than any other space in my 25 years of playing music and touring.”

“I wanted the benefit compilation ‘Everyone’s Welcome’, which is inspired by a phrase on the famous yellow sign outside the venue, to showcase the range of music The Parlour frequently hosts,” He adds. “I reached out to Gregory for a little guidance, essentially went through the archived list of shows and messaged bands that have a certain connection to this special spot. I continue to be blown away by the quick and gracious responses from artists when compiling these benefits. I’m very happy with this support and every little bit helps, but we have a long way to go to reach the goal to ensure this important venue stays in the Rhode Island music scene for years to come.”

So far, the compilation has raised over $750 towards The Parlour’s $75,000 fundraising goal. Rourke is very appreciative of the contributions and it makes him hopeful during a time of so much uncertainty.

“I’m completely amazed by it and I’m very grateful for all the generosity,” Rourke talks about the support The Parlour has gotten through the compilation and GoFundMe page. “The overwhelming amount of support by the community gives me the need to push forward in the midst of great uncertainty. Music is my life and Providence and the community has given me so much of it in my formative years. The Parlour has given me a chance to give back. If we survive this I look forward to continuing to provide a safe space for music and art of all types to grow, transform and uplift. James [Toomey] is doing an incredible job in bringing awareness to our vibrant and talented community and this compilation is a shining example.”

One of the tracks on the compilation is “All Fall Down” from the Providence gypsy blues band Consuelo’s Revenge. Lead singer Amanda Salemi has worked as a bartender at The Parlour for the past few years and the venue has meant a lot to the band’s development.

“When Consuelo’s Revenge started out one of the founders, Nicholas Smyth, started the Tuesday night open mic at The Parlour,” Salemi mentions about The Parlour’s relationship to the band. “From there we developed a strong relationship and I was going there every Thursday on my only night off to catch some local bands I’d never seen. It became a home away from home for me and eventually they asked me to work there. The Parlour became the home for Consuelo’s Revenge shortly after that. We played Aaron Jaehnig’s birthday, New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, and just whenever.”

“With great staff and ownership on top of an intimate stage setting, it became our favorite spot to play,” she adds. “The Parlour means the world to us, to the scene and to me. Providence needs it.”

Those shanty sings Toomey mentioned earlier used to happen on a monthly basis during early Friday evenings courtesy of the Providence sea shanty band Sharks Come Cruisin’. Guitarist and vocalist Mark Lambert has done a lot to support The Parlour, including a Facebook fundraiser that raised over $8,000 after the pandemic shut down happened back in March, and the band contributed the song “South Australia” to the compilation.

“When Sharks Come Cruisin’ plays an amplified set, James [Toomey] gets behind the drum kit for us,” Lambert says on how the band got involved in the compilation. “He got in touch about us contributing a track. We have a long history and strong relationship with The Parlour and we were thrilled to be included. For six years, The Parlour has been home base for our monthly PVD Shanty Sing. We want to do all we can to make sure we can return to The Parlour when it is safe.”

Another musician who contributed a song is Warren native and country rocker Frankie “Ranks” Moniz with “Like It Like That”. Like a lot of other local acts, The Parlour has played an important part in his career as a musician.

“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to contribute some music to such a great cause,” Moniz talks about being a part of this community effort. “The Parlour has been a huge part of my life for the past several years and it is a place where my songs have been played and supported the most. I’m honored to be a part of this great compilation benefit.”

Other acts who have music on the “Everyone’s Welcome” compilation include Pawtucket hip hop artist Chachi Carvalho and his backing band The International Players, Bristol ghost folk songstress Allysen Callery, Providence art funk weirdos Jowl, Attleboro backwoods rockers Cactus Attack and Providence singer-songwriter Kris Hansen. These are just a few of the 24 bands and musicians who are part of the album. To donate and download the compilation, log on to Where The Living Room Used To Be’s Bandcamp page at livingroomutb.bandcamp.com. We need our community to come together now more than ever. It only makes sense to collectively support establishments like The Parlour that have done so much for our culture, our souls and our happiness.

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