By Brett Peruzzi, Contributing Writer
Bolton/Stow – During Edward “Chip” Allen’s career as a software engineer, his music had to take a back seat to earning a living. But now that the Bolton resident is retired, at age 63, he’s definitely turning up the volume with his musical partner Kyle Jarger, 57, who is a Stow resident and works as an electrical engineer at a local technology company.
“This is my first regularly gigging band, and it didn’t happen for me until I was 60 years old,” Allen observed. “So for certain things people shouldn’t let age curb their ambitions.”
Together, the duo performs in local bars and restaurants under the moniker The Super Acoustic Dogs. They are accomplished musicians – between the two of them, they play acoustic and electric guitar, bass, harmonica, and mandolin, and both sing as well. They supplement their sound on some songs with drum tracks, and also utilize an array of guitar pedals for special effects, including Jarger achieving a sitar-like sound to replicate the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood.”
The band formed in early 2016 when Allen placed an ad on Craigslist and Jarger responded.
“I had just quit a five-person band which I had formed two years earlier,” Allen recalled. “I was tired of all the scheduling issues and diverse musical opinions, so I decided to try to form a duo.”
Both played down their musical backgrounds despite their mastery of a wide range of instruments and material.
“I was self-taught until I was in my early fifties, when I learned a bit more about music by singing in a Framingham church choir and took piano lessons,” said Allen.
“I’ve been playing guitar, bass, and keyboards since I was about 12 years old, and only had piano lessons as a teenager,” explained Jarger. “The music of Led Zeppelin took over our neighborhood in the mid-1970s and I’ve played music as a hobby ever since.”
The band’s set lists include dozens of well-known rock, pop, and country songs from the 1960s to the twenty-first century, so the crowds dancing at their performances range from grandparents to twenty-somethings. When a band plays everything from Neil Diamond and Arlo Guthrie to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and Green Day, it’s bound to have broad appeal.
“We made a conscious effort to come up with a repertoire that would allow us to play songs familiar to people with different tastes,” said Allen.
“I think it helps that we have children that listen to and expose us to newer music styles, pushing us to try new things rather than staying in our comfort zone,” added Jarger.
The duo’s following is increasing with every performance, and Allen is able to put more time into seeking out additional gigs, which means they play out more than ever, usually about once a month. They have an email list of over a 100 people that keeps everyone up to date on where they’re playing next, and a Facebook page as well. Fans have been known to come from not just other parts of Massachusetts, but also New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to see them play. Recent gigs have ranged from the Marlborough Country Club to the Horseshoe Pub and Ground Effect Brewing taproom in Hudson, to the Elks hall and Lookout Farm taproom in Natick.
“We play for ourselves and really enjoy it when we hit a difficult harmony or instrumental passage just right,” Jarger said. “But when audience members recognize it and show their appreciation, it is an incredible feeling.”
Allen added jokingly, “Sometimes people applaud so heartily that for a brief moment, I wonder if someone recognizably famous has just entered the room behind where we’re performing.”