For Rob Azevedo of Pembroke, showcasing musical talent is his latest project in a long line of them 

  • Rob Azevedo of Pembroke sits on a couch where he wants to bring music into his barn in the back yard of his home. Behind the couch are some of the posters of his favorite writers and actors. Azevedo and his partner plan on bringing music starting in March of 2022. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Rob Azevedo of Pembroke sits in a couch where he wants to bring music into his barn in the back yard of his home. In the back of the couch are some of the posters of his favorite writers and actors. Azevedo and his parter plan on bringing music starting in March of 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The stage where Rob Azevedo of Pembroke wants to bring music to his barn located in the backyard of his home.

  • Rob Azevedo of Pembroke looks up at a wall of famous people he has collected in the barn where he wants to bring music in the back yard of his home. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 11/30/2021 5:20:20 PM

Rob Azevedo of Pembroke plays hunches, straight from his gut.

A freelance writer, his instincts once told him to fly to Las Vegas, fully believing he’d secure an interview with famed boxing promoter Don King. Or maybe he’d land a press pass for the fight that weekend, a heavyweight bout featuring the champion, Evander Holyfield.

He once dragged his brother to Colorado at the 11th hour, confident they could grab two of the five tickets available for a tour through writer Hunter S. Thompson’s Woody Creek home.

Another time, he smelled something cooking, potentially a dream come true, at a little bar on the Jersey Shore. He convinced his friends to go with him, saying, “I know he’s going to be there, I know it,” referring to Bruce Springsteen.

He thought he could write books, poetry and screenplays. Fast forward to today, three months after Azevedo moved to Pembroke, and now he believes the Suncook Valley will enjoy coming to his barn this spring to hear music played by Granite State bands.

He staged two shows before his unheated barn got too cold, expecting maybe 40 people and doubling that number instead. This project, called Pembroke City Limits, is an offshoot from his radio show, “Granite State of Mind.”

More than most or perhaps anyone in the area, Azevedo, who works full-time as a sales rep for Keene Medical Products, has dedicated a big chunk of his life to promoting bands, giving them air time to play, interviewing them, getting the word out that an eclectic mix is out there, waiting to be mined.

“In three months I thought we put on two great shows,” Azevedo said “We had a great show last Saturday. It was 37 degrees and people just bundled up. We had hay on the floor and an act from Massachusetts and two from Manchester. There were RVs in my yard.”

His barn is decorated with photos and drawings of people like Thomspon and Dylan and Kerouac, leaders of the Beat and Hippie Generations whose independent and rebellious spirits, disdain for authority and writing skills touched him years ago and never left.

Speaking about Thompson, whose book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” put him on the literary map, Azevedo said, “There’s so much about his personality that I admired, his writing and the way he lived his life and the friendships he had.”

He said he’s heavily influenced by Thompson’s writing style, a conversational, first-person stream-of-consciousness that mixes humor, sarcasm, anger and critical thought, woven together in work that was both fiction and nonfiction, sometimes blending the two.

Thomson spent a year with the Hells Angels and got stomped when the Angels began to believe they were being exploited for his personal gain. The book came out nonetheless. Thompson didn’t care.

Azevedo’s urge to bust out, to make noise, to prove that truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction, turned his mind into a conveyor belt of ideas, much of it centered around music.

He was also restless and immature at Plymouth State College 30 years ago. He drank a lot and was arrested for fighting, and he’s an open book while reminiscing about the old days.

“I was more insecure then, and short-tempered,” Azevedo told me. “I was willing to do things that I would not do now. I was not a father or a husband. I would not have thought twice about punching someone out. Now I don’t want to fight, but it’s not like I could not handle myself.”

He’s a big guy, burley up top and, at 52, boasts a complete head of hair. And while his fists have since retired, Azevedo never lost his energy to create.

He grew up in Melrose, Mass., and opened Zazza Productions, a business in which Azevedo rented space at bars and patrons were asked for a $10 donation to watch Boston-area talent.

At least that’s believable. You need confirmation before buying some of these other life experiences in the Azevedo file.

“He’s a purveyor of entertainment, really,” said friend and former radio partner Dave Cummings of Epsom. “He’s had a unique sense of how to get people smiling and bring them into his fold. But the most inspiring thing about Rob is how he will take a plan and see it through.”

Azevedo shows you the story he wrote about King and Holyfield 20 years ago for a now-defunct magazine. He convinced the editor to pay for his trip to Vegas. He hoped a contact out there would furnish him with an exclusive interview. The friend knew schedules, for the promoter and the fighters, Holyfield and John Ruiz.

“He’s in the mayor’s office,” the source told Azevedo by phone, referring to King. “This is your only shot.”

He took a cab to the mayor’s office, worked his way in to the office as a member of the press and noticed the other reporters there had nothing to say.

“I asked him about regrets and he answered all of my questions,” Azevedo said. “I thought if I could get a few of these quotes all at once, I’d have my story.”

He wasn’t nearly done reporting, however. Before he could hail a cab, King appeared in the lobby and reiterated that he liked Azevedo’s questions. He gave him a ride in his limo, yet more time to interview the colorful boxing promoter known for his tall hair and his prison time for voluntary manslaughter.

King invited Azevedo to the after-party. His contact gave him a press pass for the fight, providing Azevedo with a ringside seat, in front of all the celebrities at Caesars Palace.

He wrote and produced movies shown at the annual SNOB Festival, a forum for independent filmmakers, and twice was honored for his work. He wrote a book about the meaningful bond he had with his mother, which didn’t surface until two weeks before her death. He wrote poetry, published as well.

“Half of the (stuff) I do is pretending I know what I’m doing and then throwing (stuff) against the wall, see what works,” Azevedo said.

It works for Azevedo. He has a lot to say about what he’s done, where’s he’s been, but he’ll pull back and listen patiently anytime someone else has the mic.

Other evidence showing that Azevedo wasn’t full of baloney was the video he showed me from 17 years ago, of Bruce Springsteen playing, unannounced, at the Stone Pony, one of the centers of the Asbury Park music scene. Azevedo, one of about 250 lucky music fans that night, stood within spitting distance of The Boss.

His instincts had told him that since a friend of Springsteen’s was the headliner that night, he could very well show up at the Pony, one of his neighborhood bars.

“I had hunches about Springsteen,” Azevedo said.

Still in his chilled barn, with its photos of the Beat Generation and Larry Bird and the Boss, Azevedo broke out photos of his trip to Colorado to visit Thompson’s home. There, he sat in the kitchen, the place killed himself, near the old typewriter that the founder of Gonzo Journalism used to write his books.

Now, after living in Manchester for 20 years, he’s here, in Pembroke, ready to introduce entertainment found nowhere else in town. He’s working with local promoter and producer Jeff Weber. The music will return with the warmer weather. By then, Azevedo hopes to add poetry and literary readings.

He thinks the idea will catch on. He feels it.

“I’ve had a lot of luck just off of instincts,” Azevedo said. “Once the hunches start to add up, you’ve got to start trusting them.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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