Live Bait: Personal stories, musical accompaniment, real fun

Posted 5/31/23

Seven minutes, that’s all you’ll get to make your mark.

Live Bait, an open mic storytelling event, has returns after a COVID hiatus at a new location, the Artists’ Exchange, …

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Live Bait: Personal stories, musical accompaniment, real fun


Seven minutes, that’s all you’ll get to make your mark.

Live Bait, an open mic storytelling event, has returns after a COVID hiatus at a new location, the Artists’ Exchange, located at 50 Rolfe Square, on June 3.

“The premise is that there is a different theme every month,” said one of the event organizers, Tootles Faccenda. “It’s open to interpretation. For example, Clare’s theme for June is Arc, but depending on how you spell it can mean something different.”

The event costs just $10, and those who wish to take up the microphone are given 7 minutes to tell a story related to the theme while having a freestyle musician back them up. The show takes place the first Saturday of every month from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and, traditionally, Faccenda said, the event had a guitarist backing up storytellers, but as Live Bait makes its comeback there will be a rotation of musical guests. Faccenda explained that the musical guest’s job will be to not only play music to fill the space between stories, but to provide a live and responsive accompaniment to the stories themselves.

“It may be sound effects, or playing a song in the background,” Faccenda said.

“You know, a lot of times playing in between stories, or what you may feel inspired by when somebody’s talking,” said this month’s host Clare Alloy. “A lot of people may be a little suspect of adding to another person’s story, which is fair. In this case I think it just adds to the atmosphere. There’s always a conversational aspect to the storytelling, but with the music it is conversation and performance where two people work together but separately. It’s kind of group theater and group therapy.”

Faccenda said that the most important part of the ongoing premise is that the storytellers are not making up tales, but rather telling real stories about themselves and their history.

“It’s not scripted, it’s not comedy, no promos, no preaching… it’s just humans telling stories to other humans,” Faccenda explained.

Alloy said that if someone chooses to exaggerate no one is going to call them on it, but the slogan “no notes, no rants and no standup,” has been the underlying rule of Live Bait. People, she said, can choose to be funny, but it’s not a standard open mic where the goal is to perform. The goal of Live Bait is to share. The true goal, Alloy explained, is honesty.

Faccenda said that unlike Alloy, who joined Live Bait at its inception, she joined on its seventh anniversary.

“It was the anniversary show,” said Faccenda. “My understanding is that Phil Goldman, as the creator (of Live Bait), was a storyteller and a teacher wanted to bring something more to the community and he teamed up with his wife and a buddy, "The Professor" Gregoire, were just like ‘Yeah let’s do this.”

Goldman originally approached Providence bar and art gallery AS 220 with the idea, and for years this became the event’s home. However, after taking a several year hiatus due to COVID, the previous organizers didn’t plan to bring Live Bait back.

“I was actually at the first ever Live Bait,” Alloy said. “I was excited to see what this was. It started with a fairly small crowd, but I could tell right away that this was something I certainly was going to be coming back to.”

After taking a few years off, a group of fans decided to help Live Bait to be reborn. Clare Alloy, Lynn Swanson and Tootles Faccenda have taken up the crown of organizing, thanks to another regular from the old days, in order to bring back a beloved form of expression.

“Marvin Novogrodski actually took over organizing,” Alloy explained. “He was a regular for ages. He didn’t want the show to end, but he wanted to hand over being the organizer to someone else. That’s when the three of us stepped in. We also couldn’t stand the thought of the show ending or even another hiatus… I kept thinking no you can’t do this to me again.”

The first issue in bringing the event back was location. Alloy said that AS 220 seemed to be going in a different direction, so a new location had to be found. After looking around the group came across the Artists’ Exchange and it seemed perfect.

A 501(c)3 non-profit, the Artists’ Exchange is an arts collaborative whose mission is to “create an atmosphere in which creativity, learning and discovery converge and individuality is celebrated.” The venue hosts multiple art studios, a gallery, art boutique, and a secondary venue, Theatre 82, a multi-use performance, meeting and instructional space.

“We found the Artists’ Exchange and it seemed perfect,” Alloy said. “They made it really easy to organize, and it just worked.”

With its comeback at Artist’s exchange every first Saturday of the month for just $10, Live Bait looks to bring an open forum of communication and honesty to all those who need a form of expression.

live, bait, stories, musical


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