2018-12-06 / Around Town

Lupino, a Man of Diversity

By Mark Gorman

Bass players often begin their musical journey playing another instrument. When Dick Lupino was a guitarist at Providence’s Mount Pleasant High School, the band director asked him to switch to bass. Because it was his only hope of joining the school’s band, he did it and he’s never looked back.

Lupino took private bass lessons and eventually was accepted to The New England Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army and played in the band in Germany and New York. Upon discharge, Lupino earned a master’s degree and became a certified music teacher, working in Providence, Central Falls and Las Vegas, Nevada. He finished up his teaching career in the Newport Public Schools in 2006. Since then, he’s been performing music full time and loving every minute of it.

I first heard Lupino play in 1990 at a wild, outdoor Chuck Berry concert in Cranston. Berry was infamous for arriving late to gigs and relying on local promoters to assemble a backing band. And true to his reputation, there was no rehearsal or even a set list that night!

Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. “Chuck showed up with no guitar and got paid around $25,000 cash before he played,” Lupino said. “We were all expected to know his tunes. He didn’t tell us anything, not the name of the song or the key before he launched into tune after tune.”

Lupino has drawn inspiration from a variety of bass players. As a young man, he listened to all the greats, among them Ray Brown, Charlie Mingus, Gene Wright, Scott LaFaro and Eddie Gomez. As he grew older, he was drawn to players such as Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten and Jaco Pastorius.

These days, Lupino is perhaps best known for his long standing Wednesday night jazz series at Sardella’s Restaurant in Newport.

“I’ve just celebrated my 15th anniversary of Wednesdays at Sardella’s,” he said. “Sardella’s is the happening place on Wednesday nights. I have a trio each week that primarily plays jazz and the American Songbook. We have a very reliable group of regulars and of course, other New Englanders, and especially through the summer, tourists from everywhere. I think the combination of good food, a friendly staff and music that features a variety of excellent performers brings them in and keeps them coming back. “

Sardella’s co-owner Patrick Fitzgerald loves having Lupino’s jazz series at his venue. “The biggest compliment we receive is about Dick’s diversity and style,” he said. “He keeps things fresh and exciting every week by bringing in some of the most talented musicians [around]. My favorite is to see the younger generation enjoying the jazz series. We have a group of Salve students every week.”

Lupino has recorded two CDs, Eclectic Nostalgia and December Songs. Both are available locally at Greenvale Vineyards and online at Amazon and CD Baby. For more information, visit dicklupinomusic.com.


WHEN: Wednesday, 7-9:30 p.m.

WHERE: Sardella’s Restaurant, 30 Memorial Blvd.


Return to top