Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to reflect the correct dates of the shows in question. The Independent regrets the error.
There’s both a music lover in Rob Duguay, 35, and a compassionate soul who wants to bring some harmony to people with autism or even other life-affecting issues.
He is a man with a heart.
“Music has gotten me through some tough times in my life,” said Duguay, a promoter of local bands and who for several years has sparked interest in raising more than $3,000 for people with disabilities. intellectual.
This year – after a short hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic – he reignited fundraising for the cause with a three-day birthday party at three different venues, including this Friday night at the Pump House Music Works. at Peace Dale.
The $10 entrance fee to this location and the other two will be donated to the J. Arthur Trudeau Centre, which provides services for people with disabilities.
Connected events kick off with shows at 9 p.m. tonight at The Parlor in Providence and tomorrow night at the Dusk venue in Providence before the Pump House show Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.
Local bands “How’s About Charlie”, “STRIP MALL” and “Volcano Kings” will open on the first day at the Parlor. The next night at Dusk, Duguay has “Jesse the Tree” coming up, then “The Wormholes” from North Carolina and on tour – the only band that isn’t local – then “The Stupid Robots” and “Toad and the Stooligans”.
At the Pump House he programmed ‘People Eating Plastic’, ‘The Naticks’, ‘Beauquet’, ‘Sun Bears’, ‘Northeast Traffic’ and local favorite ‘Jabbawaukee’.
His long-standing relationship with Rhode Island bands and music makers helped make this seventh annual event possible. Annual might be a bit of a misnomer since COVID has moved ahead of its plans in 2020 and 2021 to bring people together.
Duguay, raised in Connecticut, cemented himself as a Rhode Island resident after attending Rhode Island College in 2005 and becoming involved with the college’s radio station.
He is also a music and entertainment critic, with his work appearing in various state publications including The Independent.
It was a story that started earlier with underprivileged children that sparked the fundraising for the birthday party, however. Emphasis has been placed on autism, the range and severity of symptoms of which can vary considerably.
Common symptoms include communication difficulties, difficulties with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. April is designated as World Autism Month, beginning with the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
A lesson in empathy
“I grew up with a lot of kids with autism, neuropathy and Down syndrome. I was in preschool at a special needs school because I didn’t start speaking until I was three years,” Duguay explained of his early childhood in Connecticut.
“I have to see it, see it up close. It was a part of my childhood that I never forgot,” he said of his placement in a special kindergarten that included child development issues.
He said he had developed friendships with them. Life is not easy for many people, but especially for people with disabilities, added Duguay.
“Having these issues on top of you, working against you, makes it harder,” he said, but paused for a moment before revealing a part of himself that is evident by the work. fundraising he does.
“I am empathetic. I am a naturally empathetic person. That’s exactly who I am,” he said of his desire to use his interest and passion for music to help those living on the margins of life, in need of more support and support than most people.
It extends beyond the Trudeau Center and extends to other programs as well, such as those for those affected by domestic violence and other homeless people.
He said a visit to the Amos House in Providence, which provides services for the homeless, left him “quite blown away by what they have and what they do for people.”
Additionally, Duguay said he was influenced by a friendship with the late John White, a social worker helping people with autism in Rhode Island.
“I passionately love what I do for a living and am grateful to be surrounded by wonderful friends and family. Life for me has been really special in Rhode Island,” he wrote in a blog a few years ago.
music and man
Duguay recalled that his interest in music grew after becoming involved with Rhode Island College radio station 90.7 WXIN at the end of his first semester.
“Finally I got my own Tuesday night time slot for a music-focused radio show called ‘Kickin’ Out The Jams,’ named after a song written by one of my favorite bands, The MC5 “, did he declare.
In January 2008, he took a job at WXIN as an alternative music manager. For three years there, he managed the station’s largest music department, including booking “Rock Hunt” guests for interviews.
“The Rock Hunt connected me with countless local bands and was one of the main reasons I became ingrained in the local music scene in Providence,” he said.
Around the same time, he began doing “album of the week” reviews for Rhode Island College’s student newspaper The Anchor.
Since leaving 90.7 WXIN and The Anchor, he has worked for 920 WHJJ, 94 WHJY, internet radio station and blog 990WBOB, and internet publication GoLocalProv.
“I’ve done over 500 interviews in my career, with local and national artists, and reviewed hundreds of albums,” he said, and for some music fans of the state, it made him a state expert on local groups. and musical trends.
In addition to being a journalist and working in the production and management of sports programs on the radio, he also books music shows under an organization called “Top 5 Fiend”.
It is also a website for advertising his birthday party – around the time of his birthday on April 24 – which donates the proceeds to the Trudeau Center which helps adults as well as children with problems of development as it was a very long time ago.
“I love music. It’s the most powerful thing we have on earth. It can change lives,” he said.