Greetings dear friends and kind readers and welcome back for our first June visit of 2019, and just as the song says, "June is bustin' out all over." Peonies are popping and the Hummingbirds are abundant and all's right with the world (unless you're not a fan of James Holzhauer lol.)

Let's begin this week with a shout out to my former Sun colleague Nan Young, who sang backup recently along with "Ladies from the Edge" for the great Darcel Wilson at the Knick. Wilson, said Nan, "is an amazing vocalist and a truly lovely human being." Wilson performed with members of the Knickerbocker All-Stars, who were nominated for the 2019 Blues Music Award for Souls Blues Album of the Year, for "Love Makes a Woman." The album is a nod to the female R&B, soul and blues singers and dedicated to to the late Aretha Franklin. Speaking of Aretha, I've heard/read wonderful reviews of "Amazing Grace," a concert documentary featuring collection of gospel classics performed over two nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. Eager to see!

What fun it was to drive to Chucktown's Earth Care Farm one day last week to celebrate the birthday of Betty Merner, the beloved force behind Richmond's Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Betty and her husband Mike (of "Merner's Gold" compost fame) have become much-admired South County legends indeed. Betty invited women from all chapters of her life to share a toast so it was pure joy to honor a great woman and to catch up with friends like Cathy Hill, Sally Olsen, Margaret Johnson, Pat McGauran, Ann Marshall, Elsie Swonger and Sharon Riordan.

Get well wishes to my friend Joe Cugini, who is recovering nicely from a little bout of the blahs. I typically join Joe every other Thursday morning on his WBLQ radio show, but since he was under the weather, his charming daughter Betty-Jo stood in for her dad and had WPS Superintendent Marc Garceau as a guest, who made a memorable comment: "It's always a good time to be a Bulldog." With that said, congrats to  Melissa Tallardy on being named WPS "Teacher of the Year," and congrats Kendall Gaccione for winning the WMS William R. Barr’s Prize Speaking Contest, to Dominick Lombard, who took second place and Brooklyn Manfredi, who placed third, as well as to the Westerly Career and Technical Education Team for winning the 2019 Rhode Island Seafood Cookoff for their grey sole sliders. Send pics to share everyone!

Congrats also ... and good luck ... to Joey Medeiros and Pam Rapport, who recently opened Thirsty Gull, a New England Sourced Gastro Pub, right near Toni Scotto's Fresh Cup Café on East Avenue. And a business best wishes to the fashionable Maria Allen, of Bella Vita fame, who opened a "blow out bar" a few doors down from her High Street salon.

My pal Josh Butler alerted me to an event taking place Saturday at Rios' Barber Shop on Granite Street between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to support Max Renzi, the son of WHS 1994 grad Alex Renzi, who was recently diagnosed with alopecia. Stop by to support a good cause and a young fellow with a local connection.

Until next week, dear friends, when we'll talk about the big Dante dinner, ciao bella!

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