Talking About Commas
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Talking About Commas

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | INDIE

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Folkin’ Around: Talking About Commas"

Bear Connelly seems no stranger to the folk scene, but the Rhode Island native has been experimenting with different kinds of sounds since college when he moved out west in hope of inspiration. Mastering guitar, piano, bass, drums, Rhodes, congas, melodica, synthesized strings and mandolin, Connelly plays under the name Talking About Commas. His raw musical abilities have always supported telling stories that captivate listeners.

Now, Connelly has returned home and back to his roots as his music returns to folk. Talking About Commas has become a full band and the change couldn’t be better. With melodic twang and introspective lyrics, the group’s first album, released with Rhody Records, was an interesting and modern take on the genre. The group is currently at work with new material and, with Connelly’s expansive potential, the outcome is sure to be worthwhile.

I caught up with Connelly to discuss his turn to folk music and upcoming projects…

KP: First off, when can OurStage users expect your next album?

BC: I have a couple different projects going on at the moment. One is a very bare bones folk album which will likely be just me playing a couple different instruments a la early Talking About Commas releases. Look for that to be released late spring/early summer. You can hear some demo versions of the tracks here.

As far as another full band album is concerned, we are currently writing for a new album and making demo versions for ourselves in our home studio. This will be our main focus this year and will hopefully be released sometime in early 2011.

KP: You’ve more recently been getting back to your roots. What does being a folk artist mean to you?

BC: It means that I’m writing music for myself and playing it for the people. There are no other driving factors. The music I write is incredibly personal and I enjoy sharing it with others. So for me, being a folk musician is not so much about writing stories about fictional characters but about constantly writing my story — the world as I see it. And hopefully some people can relate to it and enjoy where I’m coming from.

KP: Well, what brought you to the point you’re at now with your music?

BC: Years of studying, writing, playing, listening, discussing and absorbing many kinds of music — basically a lot of trial and error. I’ve played in various bands and in different roles so my past has influenced how I view Talking About Commas (TAC). For the first 4 TAC releases I used to do it all — play everything, write everything and arrange everything. Hell, I even used to record everything. Now I like some help; I seek advice and insight from friends and band members. I create the shell and pass it along to my bandmates/studio contributors to fill it in — bring the songs to life, so to speak. Pete, Ethan and Tom are very influential in how the final product comes out; it’s not just me anymore. I don’t want to be a control freak about the music but I still maintain veto power though! Ha!

KP: Which new tracks should we look for from you and what can you tell us about them?

BC: Our newest song “Just Let me Run” is a favorite of mine. It’s basically two music ideas brought together. The first concludes with this ascending chord progression that is a blast to improvise over. The ending part is kind of an indie rock vamp with syncopated rhythm and repeated lyrics that can really take off. The lyrics are based on a failed fling with perhaps the most illogical woman I have ever met. It’s funny how physical attraction can mask the lack of a real connection and understanding of a person. A demo of it will surface soon to keep our fans in the loop. For now you have to see it live.

KP: What can we expect from you in future?

BC: Now that I’m back in Rhode Island and am fairly settled in the Northeast, you can expect a lot of shows around here. I’ve been playing electric guitar with the trio and the songs have reflected that with new arrangements and new ways to write. So although the main focus is getting the full band Commas off the ground, I will still be playing on the Providence/Boston folk circuit as a solo artist. There is a lot more to come, I assure you. Stay tuned! -

"Pulse Check: on 247 Pulse, 89.3 WUMD."

"... After tuning his musical chops in Montana and California, Bear's returned home to Rhode Island. No longer a solo act, Bear's prepared to give the SouthCoast music scene a lesson in punctuation that's easy on the ears.

Why Talking About Commas?

It comes from a line in my favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The full quote is on my website but I'll get to the point here - it's from a scene where Holden's prep school roommate Stradlater is pressuring Holden to write an English essay for him. Stradlater qualifies his request with "don't stick all the commas in the right place" as if the grammatical correctness of Holden's essay would tip off the teacher that Stradlater was cheating, not the content of the written work. In relation to music, I think if you have a good looking frontman, a huge light show, top notch equipment, etc.: none of it matters if you can't write a great song. On my early albums I played all the instruments (some [like an amateur]) and didn't have access to the best recording equipment. But the songs were still there. It's all about songwriting for me.

Your Only Friend on a Deserted Island

Definitely my Taylor (acoustic guitar). Its been all around the country with me and I wouldn't dare leave it behind.

What Does Montana Have That Rhode Island Doesn't?

The mountains. Montana is called "Big Sky Country" for a reason. Where I lived, in Bozeman, there are these wide valleys book ended by mountain ranges with 10,000+ foot peaks as far as the eye can see. It's just breathtaking. I do love the ocean though, and I didn't really feel like playing Lynyrd Skynyrd covers at the local [Montana] watering hole for the rest of my life.

Give My Soul to Play at…

That's a toughie. I'm kind of a dork when it comes to venues. You name any city and I can probably rattle off some of the coolest places to play around there. An old theatre would be great for acoustics and such but I love outdoor shows. I'd have to say my dreams venue would be the main stage at Newport Folk Festival. Given that I'm from Rhody, it's an immensely historical festival and the view is tremendous! I am aware that that is quite a lofty ambition but as Jeff Tweedy sang "What would we be without wishful thinking?"

Solo or A Little Help From Your Friends?

I think now that I recruited some other players for Sick of Blocking Out the Sun I like playing with a band. It's fun to take a song I wrote on an acoustic and arrange it for a full band. Plus a full band gets the crowd going a lot more than a solo act. I'll still continue to play some solo shows though. I've written over 100 songs and its nice to just bust out any song I want with out worrying if the band knows it or not.

Check out Talking About Commas from 8-10pm Thursday, August 7th on 247 Pulse, 89.3 WUMD.
- By, Jason Perry, correspondent


"...Gentle music with honest lyrics, this CD muses thoughtfully on the hectic modern lifestyle in tracks like "Kids, Jobs, Women & Gods" and "Get a Car," where he urges us to "Gather up your money, stick your thumb out and start running to those places you can't prove exist." I love the vocal sound on "Women & Gods" in particular; Connelly's soft-spoken words challenge the status quo, which makes an intriguing counterpart for the more traditional country stylings. The lyrics read like poetry, although it still manages to sound melodic..." - Beeb Ashcroft


"Sick of Blocking Out the Sun" LP (2008), Released by Rhody records. Available on iTunes and CD Baby

"The Blue River EP" (2007) Self released, out of print

"Love is the Other Side of the Fence" EP (2006) Self released, out of print

"Four Track and Forget: Crude Home Recordings and Other Assorted Attempts at Enlightenment" LP (2005) Self released, out of print

"Variations On Descending Patterns" LP (2002) Self released, out of print.

songs from the band's 4 out of print releases can be streamed at



Talking About Commas is an electro-folk band based out of Providence, Rhode Island. Our music draws from a variety of styles including Rock, Indie, Blues, Americana and Jamband. The band mixes an array of original songs with covers ranging from Neil Young, The Rolling Stones and the Beatles to contemporary bands like Surprise Me Mr Davis and Phish.

Our original songs tend to start as acoustic numbers and then arrangements are expanded with the full band. Bear writes rhythm guitar parts, vocal melodies and lyrics. The songs are then turned over to the band who each contribute by writing their own parts for the song. This process allows for more dynamic, multifaceted compositions and layered arrangements rather than writing a song around one particular progression or melody.

We do play covers and given the strength of our lead guitarist Anthony Lombardo we tend to gravitate towards the rock/blues idiom. As a 4 piece we have covered The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Son Seals, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, The Band, Phish and Townes van Zandt.

Singer/songwriter, Bear Connelly started recording his original songs under the moniker "Talking About Commas" as early as 2001. After performing his original compositions at clubs and festivals throughout Northern California with the band Two Out Rally, Bear has returned to his home state of Rhode Island and is performing throughout New England. Often using a first person approach to songwriting, Bear tackles issues that are a part of our everyday lives from relationships, strength of self, compassion, desires of the mind and heart, authority figures, to the human impact on the natural world.

Talking About Commas' first LP on Rhody Records was released in July of 2008. The album, "Sick of Blocking Out the Sun", was recorded by Pete Morse at Busted Barn Studios in Freeport, ME. It features Morse on electric guitar, lap and pedal steel guitars and bass, Stefen Samuels (of Portland Maine prog-rockers "Eldemur Krimm") on drums and a cameo by RI songstress Allysen Callery on the song "Plea Bargain". It was produced by Tom Newman.

In December of 2008, producer and bassist, Tom Newman joined the live configuration of Talking About Commas which was previously used as a moniker for Bear playing solo. After playing shows as a duo, the band added drummer Ethan Fry. With the existence of the trio, Bear has started to play electric guitar more while the band explores new arrangements for the previously acoustic Commas material. The trio made their live debut at the All Asia Bar in Cambridge, MA in March of 2009.

In September of 2010 the band asked Anthony Lombardo, (a member of Bear's high school band, Purple Monkey Dishwasher) to fill in for Tom at a gig at AS220 in Providence, RI. Despite being a guitarist first and foremost, Anthony accepted the challenge of playing bass for the show. Four months later at the same venue, Anthony played his first show as Commas' new lead guitarist and 4th official member.