Take a Dead tribute band, add a blues legend, Vegas staple and “man in black” sound-alike and you’ve got a recipe for summer entertainment in downtown Peterborough.
The upcoming lineup of four shows presented as part of the Peterborough Concert Series at the Peterborough Town House opens June 14 with Fire on the Mountain, a band led by Zach Nugent of the Jerry Garcia Band along with Rob Eaton of Dark Star Orchestra and Vinnie Amico (of jam band moe). The group will perform, of course, an evening of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia tunes. Other artists joining are Jordan Giangreco (the Breakfast), Ryan Clausen (Hayley Jane & the Primates) and Craig Privett.
The concert series is presented by M.E. Productions, founded 15 years ago by concert promoter Seth McNally, who operates his business in Stoddard. The company presents world-class live music in intimate venues, and over the years its roster has included such artists as Martin Sexton, Todd Rundgren, Shawn Colvin and Bela Fleck, among many others of the same caliber.
McNally operates his company with Mike Chadinha, former drummer for New Hampshire reggae band, Roots of Creation, and organizer of the concert series.
Next will be two shows with Recycled Percussion
on June 30. The group of rock musicians, founded by Goffstown native Justin Spencer nearly 25 years ago in New Hampshire, has since competed and performed on “America’s Got Talent,” hosted a regular show at several venues in Las Vegas, opened the 2017 Super Bowl and has a new television show, “Chaos & Kindness.”
A kitchen sink could make an appearance on-stage during one of the band’s shows, as might an electric drill or a hubcap. What these objects all have in common is that they are all instruments the band plays with drumsticks or hands.
The group normally performs at much larger venues.
“Recycled Percussion can adapt to wherever they are,” said Chadinha.
The Spirit of Johnny Cash is the third summer show on tap at the Town House on July 12. Tribute
artist Harold Ford’s voice and physical appearance bear much resemblance to the iconic singer/songwriter.
Raised in the foothills between the Berkshires and Green Mountains on the New York state border, he grew up listening to American pioneer songs and singing duets and harmonies at age 4 with his sister Dorothy, his father on banjo and mother on piano. The experiences he had traveling the country lend a special authenticity to his performance and to his connection with Johnny Cash’s music and storytelling.
“He has that same attitude (Cash had),” said Chadinha of Ford’s show. “I feel Johnny Cash is timeless music all demographics love — from street punks to your grandmother.”
Closing the summer will be a performance by Luther “Guitar Jr” Johnson on Aug. 9 as part of Johnson’s 80th birthday tour. Johnson, a regular performer at the former Rynborn Blues Club in Antrim, performed in Muddy Waters’ band and backed John Lee Hooker in the film, “The Blues Brothers.” Based in Boston, he won a Grammy Award in 1985 and recorded three albums.
Joining him along with his band, The Magic Rockers, will be Magic Dick, who has toured the world playing clubs and stadiums since 1969 with the J. Geils Band. Singapore native Shun Ng completes the bill. He’s performed around the world and caught the attention of such important artists as Quincy Jones.
Chadinha’s aim in creating the eclectic series was to bring more regular music to Peterborough, a known arts community, so people don’t have to travel a long distance for entertainment. The lower level of the Town House is home to Peterborough’s town offices, while the Upper Hall is a 550-seat high-ceiling auditorium with a balcony at the front and stage at the back. The space was rehabilitated last year and until the series began was underutilized.
Chadinha is co-organizer of the annual summer event, Uplift Music Festival, at Greenfield’s Oak Park. The family event, founded in 2012, features local and regional acts who play everything from funk to hip-hop and proceeds benefit local nonprofits. In addition, Chadinha coordinates the also-eclectic live entertainment at Harlow’s Pub in downtown Peterborough, which starts later than the 8 p.m. slot of the Peterborough Concert Series.
“We’re always trying to bring a wide range of programming (to the concert series),” said Chadinha. “The goal is to do it in an affordable way that works for the venue and the size of the town. We’re still in our growing stage.”
The series may evolve into more than one event a month — only time will tell. The town of Peterborough has been very supportive of what M.E. Productions has been doing. Chadinha knows on show nights it boosts the local economy, he explained, because there are 400 more people in town shopping and dining at local establishments.
“We want (the Town House) to be a viable performing arts center,” he said. “We’re so happy and so grateful the town has been so open-minded.”
For tickets to the Peterborough Concert Series and up-to-date concert listings, visit the Facebook page: facebook.com/peterboroughconcertseries.