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Return to ’76 w/Lunch at the Dump
Fri, Aug 2 @ 6:30 pm
Doors at 5:30pm | Show at 6:30pm | 21+
About Return to ’76 w/Lunch at the Dump
Hop in the DeLorean—we’re going back to 1976: The Press Room is opening its doors to the public for the first time and Lunch at the Dump has been the best bluegrass band on the Seacoast for four years already. Flash forward to today and some things haven’t changed so much— The Press Room is still Portsmouth’s go-to for the best live music around and Lunch at the Dump is still going strong. We’re very excited to honor our history with this great band as we bring back some “1976 pricing” in tribute to the good ol’ days.
About Lunch at the Dump
Lunch at the Dump began as an informal gathering of pickers just learning to play their guitars, fiddles, banjos, and mandolin in the spring of 1972. Peter and Matt Leavenworth had heard of some musicians living in an old brick former tourist home in Davisville, New Hampshire called the Amesbury. With bassist Brian Coleman, also from Concord, they began to drop in regularly to join mandolinist Jim Barthelemy, guitarist Ron Langley, and banjo-player Rick Millon for jam sessions. Over the next few years, this group gradually honed their instrumental chops and vocal abilities while sitting around the stove in the Amesbury’s kitchen or at Rick’s house in nearby Webster. A core repertoire of traditional bluegrass and old-time instrumentals was blended with versions of contemporary folk tunes by writers like Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, and John Prine.
While playing out in bars was sporadic at first, they eventually began a regular summer gig at a local roadhouse called the Glendon, located conveniently a few hundred yards from the Amesbury in Davisville. With a pink exterior and aquamarine interior, and the charismatic Bovee family as hosts, the band felt very much at home. Known temporarily as the Kearsarge Mountain Valley Boys, the band was joined by fiddler John Holden during this period (1974-75). The exposure that the growing crowds at the Glendon gave the group induced them to begin looking further afield for jobs. Meanwhile, a chance encounter with a carrot cake reportedly retrieved from the local landfill prompted the adoption of a new name -Lunch at the Dump. And, despite the refusal of a few restaurants to display their name and several attempts to try out alternatives, the name stuck.
By the fall of 1975, the band was playing more frequently around New Hampshire. Rick Millon had left the band to devote more attention to his masonry and construction business and Brian had left for the University of New Mexico. Veteran bassist Chris Pimentel of Newmarket, recently of Flavored Air, joined the group and the band began making some of its first professional recordings. The band was included in the lineup of several New Hampshire Folk Festivals, as well as guest appearances at bluegrass festivals in Vermont. They also participated in many fiddle and banjo contests, getting tracks on two records made for the Craftsbury Common banjo contests in 1974 and 1975. Lunch at the Dump also began to expand their playing orbit, gigging in Maine and Massachusetts as well as making two trips to the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
By 1976, the six-piece band membership had shifted into half the band living in the Warner area and the other half based in Newmarket. The seacoast section began picking up small gigs as Snack at the Dump. In the fall of 1976, guitarist and mandolinist Stan Chew had moved into the seacoast area after playing with a bluegrass band in New Mexico and started jamming with the Newmarket contingent. By early 1977, the band had become a four-piece outfit centered in Newmarket and also began featuring string-swing and jazz standards, in addition to traditional bluegrass and newgrass. In the summer of 1977, the band was invited to be the stage band for the off Broadway bluegrass musical, The Robber Bridegroom at the American Stage Festival in Milford, New Hampshire. Temporarily joined by a pianist and music director, the band learned thirty-two pieces for the musical over a two week period in June. The experience was a wonderful education and they reprised the part the following summer (1978) in a production of The Robber Bridegroom put up by the University of New Hampshire theater department in Durham.
Lunch at the Dump increased its schedule for the next two years, playing at festivals and clubs throughout northern New England. Although several recording sessions produced demos, the band never put out an album and some of these early recordings are available elsewhere on this web site. Faced with the perennial difficulty of making a living from music alone, the band eventually succumbed to financial pressures. Lunch at the Dump broke up in late 1979, with members going off on other projects. Ron Langley moved to northern Vermont where he and his wife have played contra dance music for many years. John Holden played with the Black Water String Band and, later, Brown Hill and more recently, The Chip Smith Project. Jim Bartelemy has played with Valerie and Ted Blachly in The Mink Hills Band for many years, later joined by Peter Leavenworth in the mid-1990s. Stan Chew and Chris Pimentel played together, first as a duo, and then as a rock band. As the Drones, this included Matt Leavenworth and in the later 1980s as the Boys, Peter Leavenworth. Stan also went on to found the Maldens whose repertory was largely original music. Matt Leavenworth moved to Boston where he has made a living playing music, first in The Boogaloo Swamis and later as a sideman for bands and recording sessions too numerous to mention. Peter Leavenworth initially went on to start the acoustic band Second Hand Rose, then joined The Electric Caves, The Fenders, and played pedal steel exclusively in Pony Express. Lunch at the Dump frequently got together for informal reunions throughout the 1980s and 1990s but for the past fifteen years, LATD has been gradually increasing its gig schedule. In May, 2007, they recorded their first CD at Hi-n-Dry Studio in Cambridge, with much help from their friends Billy Conway and Laurie Sargent of the Chip Smith Project. With the addition of longtime bluegrass bassist Pete Soukas on guitar in 2005, they play regularly throughout New England, joined by Matt and Stan when available.