By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Five Shrewsbury residents collectively known as Tension have been volunteering to perform classic rock hits at fundraisers and family events for 10 years. The idea to form a band started when John O”Brien realized he shared more in common than an interest in golf with his buddies Joe Arcabascio and Joe Cantin, better known as “Sammy” because he's a huge fan of rocker Sammy Hagar.
“Joe and “Sammy” were at my house, preparing for a golf tournament,” O”Brien relayed. “When one of them noticed I had a guitar in the corner, we got talking and it turned out that I knew three chords and each of them knew three chords. So laughing over a beer we said, “Hey, we should start a band!” We talked about this band for a year before it ever came to fruition.”
The band came together when O”Brien, the lead vocalist, and Arcabascio and Cantin, the rhythm and bass guitarists, were joined by Tim Proch, the lead guitarist, and Steve Grip, the drummer.
“We were all playing acoustic guitars,” O”Brien said. “We invited Steve and asked if he's play drums with us. He laughed and said, “Call me when you guys get electric guitars.” Within two months, we all went on a spending spree, picking up electric guitars, amps and a PA system. We spent the better part of that year just jamming in my basement, figuring out what we could and couldn's do.”
They figured how to find many three-chord songs including “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Louie, Louie” and “Wild Thing.” In 2002, they were ready to entertain an audience at a neighborhood block party.
“When we played the song “Taking Care of Business,” it easily had to be a 45-minute jam,” O”Brien recalled. “It was the funniest thing because for our encore, we came back and played it again.”
As weekly rehearsals continued, the band's skills and repertoire increased. In 2005, they hosted a major Valentine's Day party for about 350 friends and family members.
Since then, Tension has headlined numerous fundraisers including “Sham Rock the Foundation,” a St. Patrick's Day Dance held annually from 2007 through 2010 at Maironis Park to benefit the Shrewsbury Education Foundation.
“I actually went out and hit the pavement, drumming up sponsors for the event,” O”Brien said. “We weren's just playing music at the dance; we became advocates and went out and promoted the event.”
In 2009, Tension answered the call when the Shrewsbury Republican Town Committee asked them to perform at “Oldies for Old Glory” at the Shrewsbury Italian American Victory Club. Funds raised went to the purchase of new American flags, which were placed in front of the town's schools and municipal buildings.
“The band is a bunch of dads who are supportive of our families, our friends, and we'se had opportunities to raise money for great causes,” O”Brien said.
Tension will appear at the fifth annual “Celebration in the Garden,” scheduled for Saturday, June 15, at the historic Fallon House, to benefit the Shrewsbury Public Schools.
“We'sl play an acoustic set as background music during the silent auction while people are mingling,” O”Brien noted. “Later in the night we'sl switch over to electric guitars.”
To commemorate the band's 10th anniversary, Tension booked its first club gig Friday, April 26, at 9 p.m., at the Celtic Tavern in Northborough.
“We'se never really wanted to play clubs; it's always been about doing benefits,” O”Brien said. “But we decided this will be great for our friends, our families and the community to be able to go out and enjoy ourselves. Everybody deserves a good time.”