I recently got an email from a former student of mine who was a talented artist. He was in my art class when I taught at Warsaw Middle School in Pittsfield. It seems he has a rock band now and is having some success with it, including a gig at the Maine Love of Recovery Music Festival at Clark’s Cove Farm in Walpole on Saturday, Aug. 27. The free show is sponsored by the Rockers In Recovery organization (www.rockersinrecovery.org), a topic that came up in our conversation that found that former student — who wishes to go by Budaka instead of his birth name — and I chatting recently over the phone. Rockers In Recovery is a for-profit media organization that aims to help anyone who suffers with drug addiction/alcoholism through music, education and recovery partners.

Q: Can you tell me a little more about this band of yours? Is it a duo?

Budaka: Well, it’s really taken off. It started as a duo with Rob Carlton — he’s a guitar player I met in 2014. We got together and it jelled immediately. We started writing songs, and within a month we were playing gigs. We picked up session players for the first year trying to find the right fit for the rhythm section, but it wasn’t until this year that we really found these two players that we feel are in the band. So it’s really not a duo anymore. RC Budaka is a full-blown band now, and we have two committed guys for the rhythm section who are really talented and nice guys — guys you can get on the bus with, you know what I mean?

Q: Who are these two new members?

Budaka: Aaron Neily is our drummer; he’s from central Maine. And then there’s Brian Templeton, who is our bassist, and he’s got a pretty cool history: He’s worked with Smash Mouth and all kinds of people.

Q: Now, besides yourself, does anyone else in the band provide vocals?


Budaka: No, I’m the only vocalist. Aaron does some back-up singing but not so much. It’s kind of the standard, classic rock band set-up — I do play harmonica in a Jason Ritchie or John Popper style: modern kind of staccato harp work.

Q: How’s your summer shaping up?

Budaka: Well, some pretty big things have happened for us. We opened for Steven Tyler in Laconia; that was really cool. We were in Ion magazine — that was pretty nice for us. We have some pretty big things coming up.

Q: Like what?

Budaka: We’re going to be in this year’s New England Music Awards show at the Hard Rock Café (on) Sept. 9. But Aug. 27 is the next big thing coming up; it’s Rockers In Recovery in Walpole, and we’re working with John Hollis. He has a radio show in Miami and he’s on the ‘net and is really involved in this charity. There’s going to be an all-star band there at Walpole, and we’re going to be the featured Maine band — they have a featured band for each state that they do this in. John communicated with us, and we developed a relationship. He listened to our album (“Right Here Right Now”) and loved it. He’s given us this opportunity, which is starting to open up all these other opportunities. We’re really excited and think that this is one of the bigger things we’ll be doing this summer besides the Hard Rock Café show.

Q: Let’s talk about that first album of yours. When did it come out?


Budaka: In 2015.

Q: Are you working on something new?

Budaka: Yes, we were actually in the studio yesterday with Bob (Colwell, who’s Root Cellar Studio is located in Hallowell), and we have two songs completed, and we’re working on another 12- or 13-song album. We’re not sure, but we’re probably going to release the songs one by one. Oh, and it’s ironic because one of the first songs is called “Leave It Alone,” and is specifically about addiction. We were writing that and then John Hollis communicated with us, and we told him about that song. I guess that’s what locked us in. One of our goals is to get that song released before the 27th if we can to support the show.

Q: Is there anything that you’d like people to know about you and the band?

Budaka: Never give up! It’s never too late. I mean, I’ve been doing this music since high school and it’s never really blown up. I got moderate success in Houston, but here I am at 47 and things are really taking off and coming full circle. I think people are craving that classic rock sound — they’re kind of done with the emo/scream stuff — and I think people are excited to hear some rock music and that’s what we offer. We’re bringing something new to that palette.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Budaka: Just that I believe in the power of music — a healing power — and I’ve always believed that music can be a sort of therapy and certainly a way of communication. It’s definitely been that for me — a form of expression beyond my physical art, like painting and all that kind of stuff. But I’d really like to focus on this Rockers In Recovery show — I’d really like to get people to show up. I mean, that’s the big deal because there are a lot of people out there hurting from addiction, especially from the opioid thing in Maine. It’s a free concert, that’s important to mention, and it’s in Walpole on this big, beautiful farm. It’s going to be a wonderful experience. (www.rc.budaka.com)

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.