30 years of playing; Chuck & Mud and friends plan benefit at Hanover.
They've played beautiful music together for 30 years and they wanted a party to celebrate the occasion.
So Chuck Demers and Marie Anne Rocheleau-Demers, aka Chuck & Mud, went out and rented a nice hall (the Hanover Theatre) and rounded up their legion of musical friends (including guitar phenom Duke Levine and local favorites the Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band). Now all they need to do is bake a very large cake for all of us who plan to show up Saturday night to celebrate with them.
Now, this is not their wedding anniversary. They got married 23 years ago, on July 5, 1986, which they refer to as "non-Independence Day." This would be their musical anniversary, harking back to the day they first performed together at the former Paddock Lounge on Portland Street in Worcester, which Demers pegged as "a combination neighborhood bar and dive bar."
Yes, the Hanover is many, many steps up the elegance ladder, but after delighting audiences for so long, the duo has earned the right to resplendence.
"Chuck and Mud are gifted songwriters and truly great people who communicate passion and humor and joy in their live performances,'' said Walter Crockett, a local musical legend in his own right who also plays lead guitar with C&M. "They love people and they love music. It's good therapy to play with them, and boy do I need therapy (We all do, Walter). Plus you can never really tell what Chuck will do next: he refuses to follow a script, but it usually always often mostly turns out for the best."
The Hanover big gig is a benefit for the day job that has allowed C&M to keep on plucking all these years: Chestnut Nursery School, 6 Institute Road. Demers has been director of the school 22 years and Rocheleau-Demers is a teacher there. The event is multi-faceted: There will be a special children's fest at 4 p.m., featuring the puppetry and music of Kim Webster, magic by Jason Arakelian and our honorees, Chuck & Mud and the Hole in the Dam Band.
Then the evening show will be a two-parter. Part 1 at 8 p.m. will include, in order of appearance, the grown-up set-list version of Chuck & Mud & the Hole in the Dam Band, featuring Crockett, Sten Gustavson, Mark Manuel and Joe Zupan; Riverbend, with Myra MacLeod, Ron Carlson, Mary Carfagna and Rob Huffman
And a tribute to the late Pete and Leona Clemente, founders of Clemente Music Studio, featuring videography by Amy Devlin and music by Peter Clemente Jr. and Joe D'Angelo. Then Chuck & Mud come back, with special guests Ric Porter and Fran McConville this time. (We told you they have lots of musical friends.)
Then there will be a 15-minute intermission to take a breath and buy a libation before Part 2 starts at 9:30. Here's the illustrious line-up: Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band featuring Bob Dick, Dave Dick, Dan Nowlan and Ken Taylor; the Duke Levine Band with his royal self and Kevin Barry, Lorne Entress and Mike Rivard; then our tireless hosts return, this time with the tuneful Chet Williamson in tow; and the capper will be a grand finale with EVERYONE (good thing it is on the rather expansive Hanover stage) as well as a few not-as-yet-seen friends such as Valerie Crockett, Paul Della Valle, Lydia Fortune and Todd Benson.
"It is a loose community of musicians who pretty much all know each other and have played together at one time or another, and who share the same musical tastes, which include melodic songs with strong choruses and full harmony, hot solos, and a basically Americana approach to the repertoire - the range from bluegrass and country to rock, blues and sometimes a little R&B and light jazz," Walter Crockett said. "This is not to knock any other kind of music, it's just what we do."
And they do it so well. But who could imagine all this back 30 years ago when the Paddock Lounge owner unwittingly set a new chapter of Worcester musical history in motion. "Chuck and I had played music at a party. That's how we met," Rocheleau-Demers said. "Then he asked me to sit in on a couple songs down at the Paddock, which I did, and at the end the owner said `Come back next week, Chuck, and bring her with you.'"
Chuck & Mud's 30th Musical Anniversary
When: 4 p.m. Saturday (children's show) and 8 p.m. (grownups)
Where: Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester
How much: Matinee, $10; evening, $25 and $35.
CUTLINE: (1) Marie "Mud" Rocheleau-Demers, her husband, Chuck Demers, and mandolin player Fran McConville rehearse recently for Saturday's show. (2) Pianist Sten Gustavson, Mud and Chuck rehearse.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/PAUL KAPTEYN