The Hippo


Nov 21, 2019








Aldous Collins Band. Courtesy photo.

Aldous Collins Band with Freevolt and Gang of Thieves

When: Saturday, May 10, at 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester

Party in the back room
Aldous Collins Band brings its rugged soul to Shaskeen

By Michael Witthaus

 Aldous Collins is having a good year, and it shows no sign of slowing down. His five-piece band released a debut EP in January, won a New England Music Award for Best New Hampshire Band in February. The group came close doing it again at the Limelight Magazine Awards the following month, finishing as runner-up for best in Massachusetts (his current home).

As the Aldous Collins Band ramps up for what looks to be a busy summer festival season, it is spending a lot of time in the studio. Three new songs went up on iTunes in April: “Set It On Fire,” “The Station” and “I Don’t Care.”  A video filmed in Venice Beach for the latter tune, a reggae-infused good-time romp, just hit YouTube. The goofy clip features a dancing banana, bodybuilders, bums  and a German shepherd in a G-string. 
There’s a bit of a coastal vibe to his music, but the affable Collins is really a cold-weather Jack Johnson, a snow dude who found his muse. Before returning home to put together a band, he had a job in the snowboard industry. 
“I worked in Oregon on Mount Hood, but I moved back to make my way in music,” Collins said in a recent interview. “The lineup is really solid now … it was always good, but if you don’t have the freedom to really go for it, it doesn’t work.”
Though he presently lives on Boston’s South Shore, Collins is a Granite State native. For close to a decade, he’s performed regularly at Manchester’s Shaskeen Pub, holding down a solo residency in the Irish bar’s front room for the past several years. His First Tuesday appearances are frequently pop-up parties, with friends stopping by to jam with Collins, who plays acoustic guitar and sings. 
“I grew up in Goffstown, and I am up there all the time,” he said. “I get together with a lot of people that I grew up with at the Shaskeen. I love New Hampshire, and I’m very devoted to them.”
 Occasionally, he brings his full band and the action moves to the larger back room. 
The rock solid combo features Berklee grad and lead guitarist Michael Rahman, bass player Matt Nourse — “on the scene for a while and very steady,” said Collins — and drummer Nick Asta, the newest member. Grammy winner Steve Smith sits in on percussion and vocals when he’s not touring with his band, Dirty Vegas. Also doing double duty is trumpet player Sam Dechenne, who usually plays with regional reggae stars John Brown’s Body. 
All hands will be on deck at the Shaskeen on Saturday, May 10, when the Aldous Collins Band performs. Opening the show are two reggae groups, Gang of Thieves and Freevolt, led by Michael Bernier. 
“Michael is my good buddy and will be in the spotlight more than the others because he deserves it,” said Collins. “He’s very hard-working, and he is also an activist, a very committed guy.’
Collins is a frequent in-studio guest on Bernier’s syndicated Evolvement Radio show, and the two recently recorded a song together. 
“It’s called ‘Brotherhood,’ and I will probably jump in with his band and play it at the Shaskeen,” said Collins. 
It’s hard to pick a name for Collins’ brand of rugged soul, which at turns evokes Bob Marley, James Brown and David Byrne, to name just a few. The band describes it as Indie funk; pulsing rhythm punctuated with raucous horns. 
“For me, a horn, especially a trumpet … what it does is brighten the night and brings happiness to the music,” said Collins. “I just like it to be a party, and there’s something about a trumpet that makes it a party.” 
As seen in the May 8th issue of the Hippo.

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