The lowdown on the rockin’ part of the race

The Fletchtones perform as runners pass by during Thursday’s Rock ‘N Race 5K in downtown Concord on May 19, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
The Fletchtones perform as runners pass by during Thursday’s Rock ‘N Race 5K in downtown Concord on May 19, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

While it’s important not to lose sight of the real purpose of Rock ’N Race – to raise important and much-needed money to help the Payson Center – it’s also never a bad idea to point out the fun and novel elements that help make Rock ’N Race what it is, specifically, the music.

The capital city plays host to a slew of community events, including many road races, but none involve quite as much live music as this one. While the total number of acts varies slightly from year to year, there’s basically always about a dozen or so performers set up at different locations all around the route of the race providing the soundtrack – and in many cases, the energy – for the runners and walkers.

For a lot of performers, Rock ’N Race is their Woodstock – after all, the race draws about 6,000 participants each year, not to mention the hundreds or even thousands of spectators who just like to come out and cheer people on and take in the show. That’s a pretty big crowd for musicians who are used to playing at places like True Brew and Chen Yang Li.

One of this year’s performers, Linda Magoon with the group Bow Junction, is excited to play this event once again – Bow Junction has played at it for at least 10 years now, Magoon said.

“Cancer has affected all of our band members in some way,” she said of why the event is significant to the three-piece band. “Plus, it’s an opportunity to play in front of 6,000 people. It’s one of the highlights of our calendar – we enjoy it.”

Bow Junction will be at their familiar venue of the Golden Gese quilt shop on Liberty Street, the same spot they’ve played at just about every year, Magoon said. The group plays bluegrass and Americana music, so Magoon said they’re not exactly putting the “rock” in Rock ’N Race.

“It’s just a lot of fun to play in it, and it beats running in it,” she said.

We would tend to agree.

Zack Jones is the music director at Parker Academy, and the students at that school have been playing at the race for a few years now, he said. Last year’s group was called Occasional Piracy, but there’s a whole new group this year (save for one holdover from last year), and they haven’t quite pinned down a name yet. For now they’re going by the High School Ensemble.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to get out and play in the public for other people,” Jones said. “There’s over 6,000 people running by them as they’re jamming out and playing their songs, so it’s kind of a big deal for them. It’s one of the few times that they play truly out in public during the year.”

The school typically has about 50 students in total, and it’s a special-education school, one in which students deal with a variety of issues from anxiety to autism. Jones said his music classes serve as much as music therapy as education, and this public performance aspect is a big part of that.

As for the tunes they’ll be playing, you’ll probably recognize most, if not all of them.

“For example, we’ll play some rock/blues-type tunes, Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes, tunes by The Clash, we’re doing a CCR tune – it really covers quite a lot,” Jones said. And the students are the ones who pick the music.

“That’s really the key, is it’s very student centered.”

A full listing of the bands and where they’ll be playing is below, and if you’re real clever, you might just be able to catch them all. Just don’t get in the way of all the runners.


  • David Shore’s Trunk of Funk – Main stage (State House)
  • Mad Dog – 24 S. Spring St.
  • Supernothing – Gov. Hugh Gallen Office Park, Spaulding Hill/Londergan Drive
  • Scott Solsky – NEA (9 S. Spring St.)
  • Matt Poirier – 80 School St.
  • Parker Academy High School Ensemble – Parker Academy (33 Pleasant St.)
  • From the Earth – 60 School St.
  • The Fletchtones – Centennial Inn (96 Pleasant St.)
  • Don Bartenstein – New Hampshire Hospital (36 Clinton St.)
  • Bow Junction – Golden Gese (22 Liberty St.)
  • Something Wicked – Granite State Pharmacy (5 Clinton St.)
  • Boom Shiva – Gov. Hugh Gallen Office Park, Orchard Drive

Author: Jon Bodell

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