The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Chris DeSimone. Courtesy photo.

Live at Frank’s Place — Women That Rock with Rachel Vogelzang and Mary Gatchell

When: Wednesday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Music Hall, 2 Young Road, Londonderry
Tickets: Request free seats at

NEMA goes Granite
New Hampshire wins big at awards show

By Michael Witthaus

The Granite State got some serious love at this year’s New England Music Awards, taking home nearly a third of the evening’s prizes. After four straight years of nominations, Manchester-based A Simple Complex ended its Susan Lucci-like frustration, winning Metal Act of the Year. 

Two Concord combos collected plaques: Pat & The Hats for Pop Act and Dusty Gray Band in the Roots category. Both bands worked with Brian Coombes, who won Producer of the Year. 
“What a great night for the music community of the 603,” said Coombes, who runs Rocking Horse Studio in Pittsfield. “It gratifying to see all of the work that we’re doing here … attracting some recognition.” 
Coombes, Pat & The Hats and Greg Hawkes of The Cars closed the evening with a set featuring Hawkes reprising his old band’s “Moving In Stereo.” A finale of “With a Little Help from My Friends” had a cast including Nashua’s Emmarie, a fellow pop nominee.
Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks were named Blues Act of the Year — a shock to bandleader Nick David. 
“We came to the show to network and have a good time, never expecting to win,” David said later. “We didn’t do our due diligence, and that makes it even more valuable … because it was voted by the public.”
Aldous Collins Band, last year’s Best in New Hampshire winner, was 2015’s Live Act of the Year. Technically, the group is not from New Hampshire. Though Collins is a Goffstown native and UNH alumnus, the group is based in Massachusetts, and most of its members hail from there — but a win’s a win.
In 2014, Keene’s Shana Stack Band won Country Act honors. This year, they broke away from a competitive field to win Band of the Year, surprising more than a few fans. In a bittersweet denouement, the group announced in early May that founding member and lead guitarist John Sanchez is leaving to complete a master’s degree. 
Sanchez’s final show happens May 23 at a hometown Miracles In Motion charity event.
A special achievement plaque went to Chris DeSimone. The Frank-FM DJ received The Scene Award for “outstanding dedication, involvement and contribution to the New England music scene.” 
DeSimone heard about the award in advance of the evening from NEMA President Joe Graham. 
“I was speechless,” DeSimone said in a recent phone interview. “He said, ‘Nobody worked harder in the scene than you over the past 12 months. … It seems like you’re everywhere, and no one deserves it more.’ … I was humbled.” 
As host of the Sunday night “Frank’s Local Music Show” on the Nashua (and now Concord) station, he’s welcomed most of the evening’s nominees and winners into the studio to perform live and chat. Even when he’s not behind the microphone, DeSimone tirelessly pursues music. 
On a recent Saturday night, he spent a couple of hours in a Manchester cigar bar discussing his favorite local bands and a radio career that began by spinning Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and never looked back. 
“I’ve had a regular show ever since,” he said. 
Later that evening, he caught a performance by folksinger Jeffrey Foucault and Concord native Laurie Sargent at Amoskeag Studio in the Mill District, followed by a drive across town to see old friends Beneath The Sheets at the recently opened Tin Roof Tavern. 
“It’s funny, because sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough,” he said. “But you can’t be everywhere.”
Two years ago, DeSimone launched Live At Frank’s Place at Tupelo Music Hall. The monthly outreach effort offers performances from homegrown talent spanning from up and comers to established musicians like Gary Hoey, Charlie Farren and Chris Trapper. After two more shows — Rachel Vogelzang and Mary Gatchell on May 20 and Ross Livermore Band in mid-June — the series will end its run in Londonderry and move to a new, as yet undetermined venue.
One possible spot is Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall in Lowell, Mass. A caravan stopping at a new location every month is another idea being tossed around. The station will be a presence at Alli Beaudry’s CD release party Sept. 16 at Tupelo, originally booked as a Live at Frank’s Place event.
“I’m careful to say ‘last show in the series...’ — there’s always a dot, dot, dot,” DeSimone said. “We’ll definitely carry on; we’re not going to let this disintegrate into nothing.” 
As seen in the May 14, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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