Musician Will Evans returns to Fitch for benefit

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If you're going to host a benefit to raise money for your high school, it can't hurt to lure a National Rock Dude to perform at the event.

Better yet?

Maybe the NRD is an actual alumnus - thereby adding a bit of "hometown guy makes good" sparkle to the whole event. Consider Saturday's benefit for the junior class of Fitch High School in Groton, taking place in the school's auditorium.

The headliner is singer/songwriter Will Evans - currently solo after years of scouring the country with the infectious roots-rock act Barefoot Truth. Evans graduated from Fitch High School in 2003 and says the idea of going back to his alma mater has special qualities.

"My favorite memories of Fitch are looking forward to performing in the school talent shows and the Mister Falcon Pageant," Evans says. "I guess I was already focused on music as a career, and it'll be kind of neat to come back and hop on that stage again."

The program will be a Falcon-happy trifecta. Along with Evans, the bill also features the Fitch High School Jazz Band as well as Fish House - a very fine ska-tinged alt-rock band whose members are part of the Fitch class of '14. Fish House's debut EP, "Fish are Friends, Not Food," came out in December.

Speaking of new recordings, Evans will preview songs from "Wishin' Well," his recently-completed first solo album. The album was recorded at Scott Riebling Studio in Raynham, Mass., and produced by Evans and Riebling. Paul David Hager, renowned for his work with Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and the Goo Goo Dolls, mixed the record.

Evans describes the songs and sound of "Wishin' Well" as a conscious attempt at a different style of writing.

"I definitely wanted to move away from the comfort zone of Barefoot's rootsy rock, and there's a different lyrical context with substance," he says. "I tried to address some deeper, even political issues rather than, you know, the good-time 'let's get messed up' songs."

"Wishin' Well" will be officially available from iTunes and other download sites on Feb. 12.

With Barefoot Truth on an indefinite - perhaps even permanent - hiatus, Evans said he embraced the challenge of working solo, independent of the collective "band" process. He decided to try an online fundraising campaign to finance the album - and was humbled and flattered when fans contributed the entire budget.

"I thought, 'Wow, there are people who are genuine in that they want to hear this," Evans says. "It energized me and gave me the confidence to finish writing material and to not disappoint. I couldn't have done this otherwise.'"

Plus, the generosity of fans in raising the money also resonated with Evans in playing the Fitch benefit.

"Absolutely I thought about that," he says. "It never hurts to try to help out."

In that spirit, Evans is bringing copies of "Wishin' Well" and sundry merchandise to the event - and all proceeds go to the benefit.

Benefit for the Fitch High School Class of 2014 with Will Evans, Fish House and the Fitch High School Jazz Band, 7 p.m. Saturday, Fitch High School Auditorium, 101 Groton Long Point Road, Groton; $10; (860) 449-7200, http://www.groton.k12.ct.us/fhs.

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