Rookie Rockers: Weirs Beach club turns Wednesday nights over to kids

LACONIA — The son of a drummer, Bret Loring began laying down beats as a young boy, but recalled that apart from sitting in with his father seldom found opportunities to play with other musicians, let alone musicians his own age. This summer Loring, who with his wife Krista owns and operates the Paradise Beach Club at Weirs Beach, has provided young, aspiring musicians in the Lakes Region with the venue and opportunity he once longed for.

Loring has opened the club to the "Rookie Rockers" every Wednesday evening, between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. when anyone 18 or younger can play their instrument or sound their voice on the stage.

"It was something we'd talked about," Loring remarked, "But it really came to me this year."

Loring said that he wanted to do something for kids in the community who were interested in playing music. He approached the Police Department and the School District, both of which have sponsored the program. He arranged with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission to put his liquor license in "safekeeping" from 10 a.m. on Wednesdays until 1 a.m. on Thursdays, agreeing not to serve alcohol at the club during those hours. "We cover up all the alcohol and some of the pictures," he explained, "to make club as kid friendly as possible." All children and adolescents are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent.

"It's a kids jam," Loring said. "We provide the drums. The amps. The monitors. Mic up everything and I'm at the mixing board," he continued. "We give them a sense of playing on a big stage. Make them feel like rock stars."

Clutching his drumsticks, Jacon Marshall, 13, was the first to arrive this week. At the club a week earlier he discovered that Dedric Salway, 14, a classmate at Laconia Middle School, played guitar. After playing together for the first time, the two spent the following week rehearsing the Green Day classic "When I Come Around" in anticipation of returning to the club.

Before long Jacob and Dedric were joined by Alex Amann, 16, of Gilford, a bass player, a second guitarist, Brady Ellsworth, 13, Northfield, making his first appearance at the club, and another drummer, Tyler Dixon, 10, of Meredith.

Jacob sat patiently at the drum kit while the others tuned their instruments and adjusted their amps. Loring, assisted by Gordy Gourlay, who teaches drums at Greenlaw's Music Store, tended to the sound system and mixing board, between visits to the kitchen where he grilled burgers for the moms and dads in the audience.

Jacob hit the beat and the newborn band plunged into "When i Come Around." The second time through, Gourlay remarked "the kids are just finding their way." Tyler took a turn on drums, moving his father to remark "he's more comfortable up there than sitting here with us."

The original quartet turned to jamming. "Jacob and Alex laid down a beat, we chose a key and played,"Dedric said. Both Brady, who was playing for the first time outside his bedroom, and Dedric traded leads flashing their fingers along the fretboard. Before long classic rock gave way to electric blues as the boys hit their stride.

By 8:30 p.m. a girl rapper who was expected had not arrived and talk turned to finding a singer. "None of us sing," Dedric confessed.

Apart from providing a venue, Loring, who counts a number of professional musicians among his friends, hopes to "call on some big names to come up and meet the kids." He said that he knows drummers who have played with Boston, Alice Cooper, The Tubes, Extreme and other well known bands who he believes would be willing. "It would give the kids something to look forward to," he said.

In addition, Loring said he may approach a recording studio about donating some time to offer the kids a taste of how to put together a recording. "They could learn to record a song.

Loring is as excited about the venture as the kids. "I look forward to Wednesday nights more than Friday and Saturday," he remarked. As the band played, he paused between the kitchen and the table, looked to the stage and said "isn't this great! They're becoming a band and making friends.It's my dream come true."

Amy Lafond petitions court for early release to home confinement

LACONIA — Amy Lafond, the SUV driver who hit two teens who were walking along a sidewalk on Messer Street after leaving Middle School on April 19 of 2013, has petitioned the Belknap County Superior Court for a sentence reduction of three years.

Lilyanna Johnson, 14, was killed and Allyssa Miner, now 16, was seriously injured.

Drafted the language herself, Lafond filed a motion asking for permission to enter into home confinement under the "strict supervision" by the N.H. Prison for Women and undergo nine months of intensive outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program.

She acknowledged that the Corrections Policy and Procedure rules do not allow prisoners convicted of second degree assault to be released on administrative confinement and that she had to petition the court.

Lafond, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide and one count of second degree assault on May 29, 2014. The minimum penalty for each conviction is 3 1/2 to 7 years and Judge James O'Neill ordered them to be served consecutively — meaning once she has served the 3 1/2 years for negligent homicide she will begin serving the 3 1/2 years for second degree assault.

As part of a plea agreement, six months of the second sentence was suspended for good behavior. Lafond was credited with 247 days of time she served while she was awaiting trial and incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Corrections, which was credited toward her first sentence. She also has a total of $260,000 in restitution payments to make.

The Belknap County Attorney's Office has not filed a response to Lafond's motion, but if there is an objection on its part, then it will be filed with the court. A hearing on the motion and its objection will be held and the victims will be notified. It would be the decision of court to allow or not to allow the victims to speak openly or to submit statements in writing.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen was unavailable for comment yesterday and Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said he had not read the motion or conferred with Guldbrandsen, so he declined to comment. Adams anticipated speaking with her next week.
In her motion, Lafond said she has completed a 9-month intensive substance abuse treatment program and is being housed in the Wellness Block on the state's Prison for Women in Goffstown. She said she has maintained academic excellence in her career- and technical-classes and is earning a computer certificate.

Lafond said she has been incident free and is working in a security-sensitive job in the prison library. She said she has completed a parenting class, a health-relationships class, and a life skills seminar.

While in prison she participates in AA, NA, various spiritual classes, yoga, and the Concord Women's Book Club.

Northfield woman apparant tragic victim of home fire

NORTHFIELD — A 58-year-old Oak Hill Road woman died yesterday in what police said initially appears to be a smoking accident. She is not being identified until her family is notified.

Police Chief John Raffaelly said police and emergency crews were called to 560 Oak Hill Road at 2 p.m. yesterday for a report of a dead body on the front lawn of a house.

The caller reported that it appeared there had been some kind fire. Raffaelly said the caller was a neighbor who had driven by and had seen something unusual on the lawn.

Raffaelly said it there were char marks on a chair in the house as well as a half-burned cigarette on the floor near the chair. He said the woman's clothing was burned.

Police said they verified that the victim been alive at 12:30 p.m. when she received a food delivery.

At 3 p.m. a N.H. State Medical Examiner had arrived and Raffaelly said they were also waiting for a State Fire Marshal to arrive. He said the victim had been taken to the coroner's office in Concord for an autopsy.

No further information was available at press time.


CAPTION: (Northfield smoking victim) N.H. State Medical Examiner Jennie Duval examines the area where emergency responded from the Northfield Police and the Tilton-Northfield Fire Department found the body of a victim who lived in the home. Holding a sheet used by police to protect the ground from contamination are Northfield Police Sgt. Jim McIntire, left and off-duty Northfield Police Sgt. Michael Hutchinson. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)