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Musical Opportunity

Granite State band gets grant to record EP

Black Agnes Band, a New Hampshire 

Michael T. Dunbar, 21, of Hampton, a student at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to write and record an EP of original songs.

Dunbar has been performing in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine for three years with the band Black Agnes, and the new recording will be mark the group’s second album of Dunbar’s original works.

Dunbar, the son of Michael and Susanna Dunbar of Hampton, took inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s collection of poems “Four Quartets.” These pieces, among the last Eliot wrote, ponder life and spirituality, and themes of the four elements of earth, water, wind and fire are woven throughout the prose. Dunbar explained in his grant proposal that he will do the same with his EP project.

The title song is “Mason Jar of Home,” an upbeat work about connections and roots. It was influenced by the jar of soil from Hampton that Dunbar keeps on his desk in his dorm room. It references elements of Earth and the autumn season.

“The grant is for $3,550, as well as a $400 weekly stipend for (when he) researches and composes the music,” said Dunbar, who is scheduled to graduate from college in 2015.

The album is slated to be recorded this summer at Rocking Horse Studios in Pittsfield; CDs are scheduled to be sold at Bullmoose Records in Portsmouth and on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

In addition to Dunbar on vocals, guitar and keyboard, the band includes bassist Nico Zottos of Epping, drummer Brian Finnell of Hampton and Collin Garcia, of Strafford, on guitar, mandolin, violin and saxophone. Dunbar, Zottos and Finnell graduated from Sacred Heart School in Hampton. All four band members graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, where they were the school’s house band.

Meanwhile, Black Agnes, which has a reputation for serving up 1960s and 1970s dance music, will be playing a host of local venues in coming months, including Cafe Nostra in Portsmouth, Breaker’s Lounge at the Ashworth Hotel at Hampton Beach, Wakefield Opera House and the Stratham Fair.

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