Hometown heroes Aces & Eights headline ‘Play It Forward’ event

Fundraiser benefits Nashua Community Music School

Photo by GEORGE PELLETIER Musicians perform at Hollis’ Alpine Grove for the 5th annual ‘Play It Forward’ event Saturday. The event’s proceeds benefit NCMS.

NASHUA – Consider it the rock of ages.

Legendary Nashua band Aces & Eights once again invited students from the Nashua Community Music School to perform with them at the 5th annual Play It Forward show to benefit NCMS on Saturday night at Hollis’ Alpine Grove.

The evening provided live music, dancing – lots of it – and raffles, all for a good cause.

The sold-out show offered live music from different eras and genres, to a crowd as equally diverse.

During a sound check, the band backed up NCMS students, who sang Madonna’s “Borderline.”

“Every year, the students at the school practice and sing a few songs,” said saxophonist Dan Magarrell. “The band actually builds itself around the students, to back them up on a few tunes.”

Guitarist Rob Dual, a former NCMS board member along with Magarrell, stated that the torch had been passed to A&E founding member, guitarist Dave West.

“This started five years ago,” Dual said. “I recruited this guy (West) to be on the board with the ulterior motive of getting A&E to do a fundraiser. And at the time, we said, let’s get the kids up there and it’s gotten bigger and bigger.”

It originally started with just a few songs, and just a few kids, Dual told The Telegraph.

“This is a nonprofit school,” West said. “Money raised helps with the heat and helps if the roof leaks.”

NCMS instructor and guitar and ukulele maestro Mike Loce was part of the night’s house band.

“It’s great to be part of a good cause,” he said “It’s important to raise money for the school, and also raise awareness. Plus, it’s a great night out for everybody.”

Trash Talk, a “Recycled Percussion-like” drum troupe, under the tutelage of NCMS percussion instructor Ray Aucoin, opened the show, leading into a rousing rendition of Queens, “We Will Rock You,” with the full band.

Lindsay Rinaldi, executive director for NCMS and a vocalist herself, said the night means everything to the 35-year-old nonprofit, which serves greater Nashua, by offering private music lessons, group classes, music outreach programs and summer camps, to name just a few.

“What this event does is it helps make sure that we can continue to keep offering these high-quality programs and concert experiences, at an affordable rate for everyone in the greater Nashua area,” she said.

Rinaldi added that the school’s tuition is kept at a rate, “which doesn’t cover our operating costs – rent, employees, that sort of thing. We try to keep our programming as financially accessible as humanly possible. So, events like this are really key.”

The school also offers an active scholarship program, “Music for All.”

“That is available for students of any age,” said Rinalidi. “It’s not just for kids. It can be for seniors on a fixed income, or folks that are going through temporary financial hardship due to job loss or medical emergency.”

Ensuring that Nashua’s next generation of rockers reach their high notes is a task that Rinaldi is proud to champion.

“Music can be a beacon, a light in the life,” she said. “We want to make certain that people can have access to that even when things get a little rough.”