A strong sense of justice guides Mark Huzar. It’s evident in the music he makes with Tore Down House, the band he formed in 2006 with friend and drummer John Michaud. One Huzar original, “American Farmer,” borrows a riff from the Allman Brothers’ “Every Hungry Woman.” However, the song’s refrain is not about love gone wrong, but about a world turned upside down. Pondering a family farm facing foreclosure, Huzar rails, “Mr. Banker, tell me ain’t you got no soul? Breaking my back in the hot sun trying to dig out of this hole.”
“I get so fed up with the world sometimes, that I have to say what I gotta say,” said Huzar in a recent phone interview. “People are getting thrown by the wayside, losing jobs — it’s terrible.”
When the opportunity presents itself, Huzar and his band do what they can to help. A few years back, he befriended Ed “Lone Wolf” Bedard at the Londonderry Flea Market. Bedard sold handmade trinkets every weekend. “He’s got a million stories,” Huzar said. “He’s one of those guys — a carpenter and handyman, a character.”
Sometime last year, the 70-something man seemed to disappear. Huzar didn’t see his booth at the flea market for weeks, and he grew concerned. Bedard had crafted a dreamcatcher as a wedding present for Huzar and his wife, and he considered him a friend.
So Huzar started asking around. “He was living with this woman for 30 years and she passed away. It was her house, and the state took it away. He had nowhere to go, and then his car got wrecked in the same month. He was homeless.”
Huzar decided to follow the words of his own song: “People starving all over the world, we’ve got the power to make it right.” He and his band held a benefit show at the Flea Market last fall and raised a few hundred dollars for Bedard. A year later, Bedard’s hard times haven’t abated, with a monthly government check barely covering his rent. Huzar went to the New Hampshire state housing authority and signed Bedard up for Section A housing, but he’s on a long waiting list.
“He gets 480 bucks a month from the government and rent is 400,” Huzar said. “He has no vehicle. He has all this stuff to make things, but he can’t get to the flea market to sell it.
So on Saturday, Aug. 22, Tore Down House will play another benefit for their friend. The band will perform for a few hours, and a big part of the fundraising will come from a raffle. Prizes include a gift card from Daddy’s Junky Music, where Huzar works repairing guitars, along with gift baskets made by Huzar’s wife. Michaud’s wife is a photographer; she will offer a sitting.
Huzar hopes other vendors will also pitch in.
“Ed has been a fixture at the flea market for many years selling his handmade one-of-a-kind creations,” he said. “He always had time to strike up a conversation and go out of his way for everyone he met … it’s just not the same without him.”
Tore Down House was named after a 1995 Scott Henderson album.
“I thought it was a cool blues phrase,” said Huzar, adding that while the band owes a debt to Gov’t Mule and the Allmans, “we’re not a jam band in a 20-minute solo sense. We play plenty of tunes people dance to, but if the mood strikes, we’ll jam.”
The group added some serious muscle when bass player Dave Guilmette (Wan-Tu Blues Band, Grinning Lizards) joined late last year. “He definitely fills the bill with us,” Huzar said. “We’ve gone through a lot of bass players.”
It’s been a busy summer for the band; in addition to Sunday’s benefit, they’ll play Makris Steak House in Concord on Friday and Giuseppe’s Showtime Pizzeria in Meredith on Saturday. They’ve had great success in the Lakes Region, performing on Bike Weekend and building a solid following at Tower Hill Tavern in Weirs Beach.
Their set list ranged from the tried and true — CCR, Clapton and Skynyrd — to nuggets from Otis Redding, Rare Earth and Poppa Chubby.
“Some covers we do verbatim,” Huzar said. “Others we take and make our own, breathe a little new life into them.” One highlight is a revved up version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” that passes the original in both lanes.
They’ll also slip in a few originals.
“I woodshedded all last winter and came up with 11 or so tunes,” said Huzar, who hopes to go into the studio and make the band’s first record in late fall or early winter. “We just want to carve a niche with our brand of music in this great big world, mixing some of the classics with our own.”