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Entertainment Highlights: Battle of the Bands Winner Takes Stage at Lebanon Opera House

  • The Cirque Mechanics, an acrobatic circus group, will bring their show to the Hopkins Center in Hanover for two performances next week. (Courtesy photograph)

    The Cirque Mechanics, an acrobatic circus group, will bring their show to the Hopkins Center in Hanover for two performances next week. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Front Bend won a battle of the bands in Lebanon’s Colburn Park and earned a gig at the Lebanon Opera House. (Courtesy photograph)

    Front Bend won a battle of the bands in Lebanon’s Colburn Park and earned a gig at the Lebanon Opera House. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Cheryl Wheeler will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the revived Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. (Courtesy photograph)

    Cheryl Wheeler will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the revived Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The Cirque Mechanics, an acrobatic circus group, will bring their show to the Hopkins Center in Hanover for two performances next week. (Courtesy photograph)
  • Front Bend won a battle of the bands in Lebanon’s Colburn Park and earned a gig at the Lebanon Opera House. (Courtesy photograph)
  • Cheryl Wheeler will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the revived Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. (Courtesy photograph)

Lebanon jam band Front Bend entered last summer’s Upper Valley Battle of the Bands competition much the same as they craft their original melodies: They get an idea, and they run with it.

When Lebanon High School juniors Dan Maurer, Joe Lauziere and Chris Lovejoy jam in one another’s basements, their approach is to create a riff that works, and build on it with lyrics and structure. “A lot of it is just random,” said bassist Maurer, who will take to the Lebanon Opera House stage with his bandmates tonight in a double bill with Derek and the Demons, a Windsor-based rock band that is part of the What Doth Life? collective of groups that meet and collaborate in Windsor.

Just as the members of Front Bend have no set outcome in mind when they craft their songs, they had no grand visions for what their participation in the Battle of the Bands contest, held at the end of May in Lebanon’s Colburn Park, would bring. Maurer, Lauziere and Lovejoy had only begun jamming the prior summer, so “we weren’t really expecting anything,” Maurer said. “We just wanted an opportunity to play.” But the judges and the audience liked what they heard, crowning Front Bend the victors of the contest, which came with a cash prize, a recording session at Tuck’s Rock Dojo in Etna and a chance to perform at the Lebanon Opera House, which they’ll do at 7 tonight as part of the venue’s “@ Home” series of free concerts.

The members of Front Bend hadn’t logged much stage time when they took part in the Battle of the Bands, but they were seasoned musicians who first bonded over their mutual appreciation for classic and psychedelic rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s as Lebanon Junior High School students. Over the years, the trio has performed in a handful of groups together, playing mostly covers. They took a few stabs at writing their own material, but “we couldn’t without sounding really mainstream-y,” Lovejoy said. After a few months’ hiatus from making music together during their freshman year of high school, the trio formed Front Bend in the summer of 2011, and quickly developed a sound that was their own.

“We’re really into this one more,” Lovejoy said, “because it’s a very common genre, but we have so much more fun with it, because we can just play and play and play and never get bored with it … It’s a genre we can really jam in.”

For all of its short history, Front Bend’s modus operandi has been a laid-back one, focusing on creating a good jam and never looking too far into the future. But winning the Battle of the Bands has opened new possibilities, and they’re eager to ride the wave toward greater exposure in the Upper Valley and beyond.

“All we want to do is write and record as much music as possible and play out as much as possible and show it to other people and see what they think,” Maurer said. “We just enjoy the thrill of being onstage and presenting something you made to other people. Our only goal is continuing to do that, hopefully on a greater scale.”

Front Bend performs in the “Rock @ Home” concert with Derek and the Demons at the Lebanon Opera House tonight at 7 (free, but donations accepted for the bands). Visit www.soundcloud.com/front-bend to listen to some Front Bend jams. To hear Derek and the Demons’ debut album, visit derekandthedemons.bandcamp.com.

Best Bets

Cirque Mechanics, an acrobatic circus group that draws inspiration from America’s industrial past, brings its “Birdhouse Factory” show to the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ Moore Theater on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. Influenced by Diego Rivera’s industrial murals and Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick comedy, “Birdhouse Factory” is set in a Depression-era factory where workers interrupt their routines to save a bird who gets caught in a boiler. The show is nearly sold out, save for a few Dartmouth student tickets, but any unsold seats will be made available starting at 1 p.m. Monday. Contact the Hop box office at 603-646-2422 to check for availability.

∎ One of New England’s hardest-working songwriters, Cheryl Wheeler’s songs have been covered by everyone from Kenny Loggins to Bette Midler to Garth Brooks. Wheeler keeps a busy touring schedule, and she’ll return to the Upper Valley, one of her longtime haunts, at 7 p.m. Saturday at the revived Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction ($30).

∎ The Brattleboro-based choral quartet Windborne stops at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Norwich tonight at 7:30 as part of their winter concert tour. Their program will include both traditional and contemporary vocal music from the Americas, Corsica, Bulgaria and elsewhere ($15 suggested donation).

Jazz

Fresh from a New Year’s Eve show at Windsor’s Juniper Hill Inn, Gerry Grimo and the 10-piece East Bay Jazz Ensemble bring their swing-era sound, mixed with some blues, big band and jazz standards, to Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction tomorrow at 8 p.m. ($13).

On Stage

The musical Peter Pan, based on J.M. Barrie’s tale of a magical boy who refuses to grow up and the children who fall under his spell, closes its run at Northern Stage in White River Junction this weekend, with performances at 7:30 tonight through Saturday night, and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.northernstage.org for more information and ticket prices.

Bar and Club Circuit

Jason Cann performs his weekly set at Harpoon Brewery in Windsor tonight at 6.

∎ Singer-songwriter Joey Leone performs at Firestones Restaurant in Quechee tonight at 8.

∎ The outlaw country group Hi-Way 5 from Fairlee plays Salt hill Pub in Lebanon tomorrow at 9 p.m. The pub also hosts the central Vermont blues-rock group Jeanne and the Hi-Tops at 9 p.m. Saturday. And every Tuesday, the pub is home to live traditional Irish music sessions starting at 6 p.m.

∎ The Boston-area rock and Americana band Girls, Guns & Glory comes to Salt hill Pub in Newport for a show at 9 p.m. Saturday.

∎ Frydaddy plays Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon tomorrow at 9.

∎ Guy Burlage performs for diners at The Common Man Restaurant in Claremont at 5 p.m. Sunday.

∎ The Canoe Club in Hanover has guitarist Rowley Hazard tonight, Dr. Burma frontman and guitarist Ted Mortimer tomorrow, guitarist Phil Singer on Saturday, pianist Will Lowry on Sunday, and pianists Gillian Joy on Tuesday and John Lovejoy on Wednesday.

Open Mics, Jams

Jim Yaeger leads an open mic tonight at 7 at Artistree Community Arts Center in Woodstock.

∎ Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland has an open mic hosted by Gregory Brown at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

∎ Wednesday is open mic night at Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, starting at 8.

∎ The Colatina Exit in Bradford has an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

∎ An open mic led by Dave Clark takes place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shepard’s Pie Restaurant on Route 4 in Quechee.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover has a Monday night open mic that starts at 7:30.

Entertainment Highlights appears each Thursday. Email news of upcoming events to kbryan@vnews.com.