November 12, 2009


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Blind Lemon Aid does it for the heroes
Area bands play for Liberty House
By Michael Witthaus

For bluesman Brian Templeton, the idea to do a show for Liberty House Veterans Shelter came last Memorial Day, as he watched a Londonderry honor guard lay a wreath at the grave of a fallen soldier. Afterward, a representative from Liberty House, a Manchester transitional home founded in 2004 by Vietnam veteran Don Duhamel, talked about the organization and its mission. During his remarks, the speaker mentioned problems at the shelter with a leaking roof. Said Templeton in a recent telephone interview, “I had this vision in my mind of these guys that fought for our country, and not only are they homeless, but there’s water leaking on their heads.”

With outrage as his spark, Templeton was soon planning the show, which happens Friday, Nov. 13, at the American Legion Post 2 in Manchester. Musical guests include Templeton and his band, Tim Pike, Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks, Mike O’Connell and Lydia Warren.

Templeton’s charity, Blind Lemon Aid, has been doing fundraisers for Massachusetts’s homeless and underprivileged for many years. The group typically mounts one or two events a year. Musicians donate their time, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to beneficiary organizations like Liberty House.

“All the people who are involved are friends of mine or people I’ve worked with,” Templeton said. “I contact the musicians myself, and luckily there are so many people who are willing to help out ... because there’s so many causes and musicians are asked by many different people to do things.”

This year Templeton, who plays solo and also fronts the Radio Kings, wanted to do something in New Hampshire, a place he’s called home for the past six years. Because it was for Liberty House, he decided to hold the event on the Friday after Veteran’s Day.

Soul Band leader Tim Pike will do a rare solo turn. “I’m really excited,” Templeton said. “I’ve not seen him play without the Soul Band — he’s a really, really talented guitar player.”

Boston-based Lydia Warren coaxes a big sound from her Stratocaster and frequently plays alone on a stool. Templeton hopes that he and his core band — bassist Ed Spargo and drummer Rick Forzese — can join the young blues guitarist for a song or two. Warren’s EP Turn It Up reveals a singer with Joan Jett’s sass and Grace Potter’s soul. It’s one of the better local releases this year.

Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks, led by Nick David of Nick’s Blues Mafia fame, also perform. Templeton, who plays keyboards and harmonica and sings, will do a set with Spargo and Forzese; they’ll also back Pike for his set.The evening will feature a memorabilia and collectible auction, with albums and harmonicas signed by blues royalty — James Cotton, Kim Wilson, James Montgomery and Huey Lewis — up for sale. A Fender Stratocaster signed by J. Geils, Johnny A., Charlie Farren and Sal Baglio will also be auctioned.

“The cause is monumental,” Templeton said. “It blows me away that we’re one of the richest countries in the world and not only do we have homeless people but we have homeless veterans. It’s one of the biggest travesties in the world. These people were protecting our freedom.”

Blind Lemon Aid
What: a benefit for Liberty House Veterans Shelter
Who: Tim Pike, Brian Templeton, Mr. Nick & the Dirty Tricks, Mike O’Connell and Lydia Warren.
Where: American Legion Post 2, 251 Maple St., Manchester
When: Friday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20