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Local musicians take center stage at Granite State Music Festival

  • Nick Phaneuf plays with the Tan Vampires, the Dover-based band is guitar player in, during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Phaneuf also played with a couple of different local acts at the music festival. Between gigs and teaching music full time, he is able to pay the bills with his craft. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Nick Phaneuf plays with the Tan Vampires, the Dover-based band is guitar player in, during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Phaneuf also played with a couple of different local acts at the music festival. Between gigs and teaching music full time, he is able to pay the bills with his craft.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The Tan Vampires' set list and its last minute tweaks sits on stage during their set at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The Tan Vampires are a band from Dover, New Hampshire.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The Tan Vampires' set list and its last minute tweaks sits on stage during their set at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The Tan Vampires are a band from Dover, New Hampshire.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Faith Griffin, 8, hula hoops on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Faith Griffin, 8, hula hoops on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Carolyn Mallon, left, lays a kiss on her son Harry Schackay, 5, while sitting with her daughter Amelia, 8, and Fred DubŽ while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Carolyn Mallon, left, lays a kiss on her son Harry Schackay, 5, while sitting with her daughter Amelia, 8, and Fred DubŽ while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The band Midnight Snack performs on stage at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. They are a Boston-based eight person group. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The band Midnight Snack performs on stage at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. They are a Boston-based eight person group.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tina Poirer, of Concord, lays with her daughter Grace, 10, while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tina Poirer, of Concord, lays with her daughter Grace, 10, while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jackson Wokes, 11, blows a bubble while hanging out with his brother Jamie at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The boys came with their father to watch local bands and hang out in the park. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jackson Wokes, 11, blows a bubble while hanging out with his brother Jamie at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The boys came with their father to watch local bands and hang out in the park.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Carly Griffin, 6, climbed a tree to get a better view at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Carly Griffin, 6, climbed a tree to get a better view at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jay Downs, dressed in a chicken suit, dances on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Downs is a volunteer with the festival and the chicken suit is a vestige of a former Deerfield-based local music series named Chicken Jam. Chris Kofer, who brought the suit, organized Chicken Jam and now sits on the board of the Granite State Music Festival. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jay Downs, dressed in a chicken suit, dances on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Downs is a volunteer with the festival and the chicken suit is a vestige of a former Deerfield-based local music series named Chicken Jam. Chris Kofer, who brought the suit, organized Chicken Jam and now sits on the board of the Granite State Music Festival.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Jared Griffin dips his daughter Carly, 6, while dancing to the Crunchy Music Boys music with his family on the lawn at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jared Griffin dips his daughter Carly, 6, while dancing to the Crunchy Music Boys music with his family on the lawn at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Nick Phaneuf plays with the Tan Vampires, the Dover-based band is guitar player in, during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Phaneuf also played with a couple of different local acts at the music festival. Between gigs and teaching music full time, he is able to pay the bills with his craft. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The Tan Vampires' set list and its last minute tweaks sits on stage during their set at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The Tan Vampires are a band from Dover, New Hampshire.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Faith Griffin, 8, hula hoops on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Carolyn Mallon, left, lays a kiss on her son Harry Schackay, 5, while sitting with her daughter Amelia, 8, and Fred DubŽ while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The band Midnight Snack performs on stage at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. They are a Boston-based eight person group. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tina Poirer, of Concord, lays with her daughter Grace, 10, while listening to music at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jackson Wokes, 11, blows a bubble while hanging out with his brother Jamie at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. The boys came with their father to watch local bands and hang out in the park. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Carly Griffin, 6, climbed a tree to get a better view at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jay Downs, dressed in a chicken suit, dances on the lawn during the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. Downs is a volunteer with the festival and the chicken suit is a vestige of a former Deerfield-based local music series named Chicken Jam. Chris Kofer, who brought the suit, organized Chicken Jam and now sits on the board of the Granite State Music Festival. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jared Griffin dips his daughter Carly, 6, while dancing to the Crunchy Music Boys music with his family on the lawn at the Granite State Music Festival in Concord on June 22, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

To get one of the 24 slots at this weekend’s Granite State Music Festival, bands needed to be local and play original music. No AC/DC covers allowed. In a state known more for its mountains than its musicians, the response might surprise you.

Festival director Scott Solsky got 300 applications, and nearly 100 of them met the requirements. Half of the acts played yesterday and half will play today, beginning at 11 a.m. on the bank of the Merrimack River, behind the Everett Arena in Concord.

And here’s another surprise: A number of the performers are making a living here off their instruments.

Nick Phaneuf, 30, of Dover, performed with three bands yesterday, including his own Tan Vampires, which has been compared to Neil Young and Death Cab for Cutie. Their songs have been picked up by MTV, and the band is soon to release its second album – on vinyl. They sometimes play four or five nights a week in New Hampshire, Boston and New York, and between the shows and five days a week of teaching music in Portsmouth, Phaneuf can afford his mortgage and health insurance.

“It’s not glamorous, but it’s very fun,” said Phaneuf yesterday, between sets. “I consider myself extremely lucky to be making a living teaching and playing music.”

If you missed the Tan Vampires yesterday, you can catch their performance this year at New Hampshire Public Radio by visiting
nhpr.org/post/tan-vampires.

Dan Walker, 34, a singer-songwriter from Madbury has played alongside Merle Haggard and Roseanne Cash. He followed his performance in Concord yesterday with another elsewhere in the state. Walker said it took him about five years to get established, but now he’s playing gigs four or five times a week, either at clubs and bars or festivals.

Like Phaneuf, Walker pays his bills by performing and teaching music lessons and songwriting.

Will Kindler, 25, of Wilton isn’t there yet but he’d like to be. He works as a gardener and fits music in on the side. He’s released two albums with musicians at the Rocking Horse Studio in Pittsfield, and he sits in with other bands when he can.

Kindler doesn’t like doing self-promotion and doesn’t even have a website. Still, two of his songs were recently picked up for a new Irish movie called A Kiss for Jed Wood that is coming to the States in July. The better of the two songs, he said, is called “Device of Desire,” a song about a “red-blooded” male who’s not especially faithful to his girlfriend.

How did a filmmaker in Ireland find Kindler’s music in Wilton? “I don’t really know,” he said yesterday. “I got a letter from Ireland one day.” The filmmaker bought the rights to both songs.

Musicians said yesterday they wished more people viewed their work as something with value, something worth paying for.

“My generation sucks,” said Kindler. “I do much better with the 40- to 60-(year-old) crowd. My generation grew up thinking everything was free.”

Phaneuf shares that same sentiment from the stage when he performs, telling audiences that if they want original music to continue, they need to pay for it.

“I’ve never lived in a time when people bought records,” said Phaneuf, who was in college when Napster arrived and made it easy for people to share music for free. “And a CD as an object has never had value. People rip it and put it on their iPod and forget about it.”

The Tan Vampires are trying to change that by putting their music on vinyl but also including a digital download. Their next record, due out soon, will be the same. They are hoping an album with big art will mean more to fans.

Solsky, the festival organizer, has run into the same frustration with people wanting live music for free. For that reason, he was insistent that everyone performing this weekend be paid.

“People will say, ‘Why don’t you come into my bar and play for free, for the exposure’,” Solsky said. “Well, why don’t you come to my house and cook dinner for my friends for the exposure? You wouldn’t do that.”

Jennifer Sienko of Northwood and her son were happy to pay for what they heard yesterday. They joined Tia Andrighetti of Northfield and her two children for the performances. Their kids take music classes with Solsky, who plays in two bands and teaches music at Shaker Road School in Concord in addition to organizing the festival.

The women wanted their kids to hear a variety of music, and they wanted to support Solsky. Andrighetti is coming back today.

“It’s really an amazing quality of music,” Sienko said yesterday. “It’s just very professional.” The two families made a day of it yesterday, with lawn chairs and a picnic blanket.

Andrighetti also appreciated the family friendly atmosphere. Tickets are $20 for an adult, but kids 9 and younger get in for free. Parking is $5. There’s a beer tent for the grown-ups and face painting for the younger set. The ice cream and burgers from Arnie’s are intended for both.

For a list of today’s lineup, visit granitestatemusicfest.org.

(This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Scott Solsky’s name.)

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

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