The Rick Harrington Band brings blues to Putnam

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Feb. 25, 2013
Rick Harrington and Scott Hopkins ready the microphones before the show. Photos by D. Coffey.
Rick Harrington and Scott Hopkins ready the microphones before the show. Photos by D. Coffey.

What do you get when you put an actress, a truck driver and an elementary school psychologist together? You get the Rick Harrington Band, which played to the delight of a nearly full house at The Stomping Grounds, in Putnam, on Feb. 23. A collection of hardy souls braved the snow and freezing rain to listen to one of the area's busiest rhythm and blues bands.

Rick Harrington started the band nine years ago after picking up a long lost love: his guitar. He got his first guitar after seeing the Beatles play on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. “It looked like a lot of fun,” he said. He took lessons and played for years, but at 16, girls and cars took over. Twenty years later, while working as an elementary school psychologist, he grew friendly with a colleague who loved the blues. “We started jamming,” Harrington said. It was game on.

He took lessons from an area blues guitarist to get back on track. Currently he hosts an open mic/blues jam every Sunday at Cady's Tavern in Chepatchet, R.I., and plays with his band almost every weekend. And when his band isn't playing a gig, he can be found playing bass for Ricky “King” Russell or Chris Stovall Brown, two of the region's accomplished blues musicians.

The Stomping Grounds' co-owner Terry Paquette brought Harrington into the lineup early on. Live music is offered five nights a week. “We offer everything within the volume limit,” Paquette quipped. “Rick comes with a variety of musicians and they are all high caliber. They always bring a crowd.”

Greg Darbee and his wife were there Saturday night to listen. Blues aficionados, they follow the band when they can. “We love the blues,” Darbee said.

Just before 8 p.m., drummer Dan Bunge squeezed himself into the window with his drum set. Scott Hopkins tuned up his bass guitar. Harrington checked the mics. Vocalist Angela Howell finished her sandwich. They launched into “High Heel Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker. And no one seemed to care about the wintry mix falling outside.

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