A benefit show to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester this Sunday at Jillian’s is quickly shaping into a local music revival. Headliner Eden’s Lie holds a legitimate claim to being the city’s longest-running original band, but their last Queen City gig was more than two years ago. Alt rocker Jacob Heal won the New Hampshire Idol competition in 2006, but for the past few years he’s focused on carving a musical career in New York City.
In 2009, Bow native Max Cameron abandoned what he terms the “threadbare themes of dejection, self-pity and frailty” explored by his former band Regretmenot to focus on melodic rock, forming Armor and Rage. The new band has only recently begun playing out, after focusing their energy on making studio music.
“We want to bring back rock and roll,” proclaims Cameron, who says he’s become exasperated with punk, screamo and other noisy music. If 11m14s, a four-song EP released early this year, is any indication, they’ve succeeded. The effort evokes Def Leppard, AC/DC and Guns n’ Roses, with Cameron’s vocals and guitarist Kurt Alexander offering a credible Axl/Slash sound.
Alexander sounds like he’s playing with a gold doubloon, not a plastic pick, and the multi-track production, overseen by Enoch Jensen at Eastlake Studios, is first-rate.
“He’s the man,” Cameron said of Jensen. “He’s been doing it for a long time, and he knows exactly how to record you when you’re going for a rock sound.”
The EP is available as a free download to the band’s Facebook friends, and Armor and Rage hope to release a full-length album, Red, sometime next year.
Eden’s Lie, on the other hand, is weeks away from releasing Epiphany Season, a mammoth 20-song undertaking recorded in band front man Jeff Richards’ home studio over the past two years, of which Richards said, “It’s our best set of material and best lineup ever.” Joining Richards are two new members, guitarist Vinny Nault and bass player Rick Cote, along with drummer Dave White, who left in the late 1990s and recently returned.
The band has been booking shows in the region but outside the state, Richards said — “Connecticut, Rhode Island, everywhere but our hometown. Up to 2004, we were playing here all the time. We’re hoping that by putting out the new music and hitting pavement, we can bring it back.”
New Hampshire native and New Hampton Prep graduate Jacob Heal parlayed the two-song demo prize he won on New Hampshire Idol into a deal with New York-based Audiostrike Records, a label conveniently run by Jimmy Landry, one of the judges in the competition. His debut disc, Live Free or Die, was released late last year, and features Landry’s playing and songwriting. Heal will do a short acoustic set at the benefit.
The show came together through the efforts of Matt Dido, who spent several years as a soundman for Purge the Eye and continued to produce area shows after that band broke up. A friend’s daughter approached him about helping the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester’s music program get some new gear, and he began to scout around for bands. When he heard Eden’s Lie was interested in doing a hometown show, he jumped at the chance.
“I heard from Matt that he was looking for bands, and I’m always willing to donate our time for a benefit,” Richards said. “Especially for this charity — what’s better than giving back to Manchester? At that point, it doesn’t matter that you don’t get paid, it’s important. We’ve done a lot of benefits, but none for our home town.”
Dido is no stranger to doing benefit shows. Most recently, he oversaw an effort for the Wounded Warrior Project that helped a local veteran who was injured in Afghanistan. Though he has a full-time job with an area cell phone company, Dido always finds time for such projects, and he considers this one to be particularly worthwhile.
“I’ll raise whatever I can to support the cause; it’s more about wanting to get the word about he what Boys & Girls Club is doing,” Dido said. “There’s a strong music component and strong ties to the area. For me, it’s love for music, and love for the local scene. Any excuse that I can find to get bands together is OK with me.”
Jillian’s is providing the space at no cost; all money raised from the five-dollar door charge will go directly to the charity. There will be a raffle or a silent auction; details were still being finalized, but prizes will include several signed Godsmack memorabilia items provided by the band’s management company.