Local rock band’s new popularity is 51 years in the making

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Brian Kimball, Joyce Gingras, Joe Reilly, Jim Vuona, Mike Moran and Matt Kimball

Shrewsbury – The core members of the Shrewsbury-based band Dark Horse have been together for 51 years. Now, after years of putting their music on the “back burner,” they are ready to rock out again.

The core includes Mike Moran, Joe Reilly and Brian Kimball. Moran and Reilly met in 1967, in junior high while on the same Little League baseball team. They also shared a passion for music – Reilly played the guitar and Moran the drums. They started a band with another teammate named Rick Cormier. Then Brian Kimball (who was a bit older and in high school) joined.  The band was initially called ‘Extension” and soon they were playing school dances.

They continued to play through and professionally beyond high school. Dark Horse is known for playing the music of The Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and other classic rock bands.

“We played all over New England in clubs, colleges and school dances and we had a booking agent that booked us all over the place,” recalled Reilly. Eventually, Cormier left and the band became Dark Horse.

Jim Vuona, Shrewsbury’s Fire Chief, joined the band within the last year, after booking them to play at a summer BBQ he was hosting. He joined in on vocals, went to a few rehearsals and before he knew it he was a member of the band.

Vuona remembers them playing at his junior high dances and opening for some now-famous bands.

“We opened for Aerosmith actually,” Reilly noted. “It would’ve been about 1970 and our booking agent said ‘I’ll put you in with these guys. Watch them, they are about to sign with a major record label.’”

While Aerosmith went on to fame and fortune, Dark Horse took another path – other careers, marriage and families – but they continued to play a few gigs here and there. Band members came and went.

One of their newer members is Joyce Gringas. A friend of the band for 35 years, she followed them from gig to gig. Eventually, she got her chance to perform when they heard her sing karaoke about five years ago. They were blown away by her amazing vocals and she has been with the band ever since.

The youngest member, Brian’s son, Matthew Kimball, is just 21 years old. He started while in high school setting stage lighting. He plays guitar and keyboards.

“The band has had a resurgence due to the fact that the new people, Joyce, Matt and Jim, bring a lot of new talent, skills and vocals that we didn’t have,” Kimball said. “They have ranges and they can sing songs that we could never do before so I think a lot of what’s gotten things rolling again is their talent and enthusiasm.”

Their next gig takes place Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at the Italian American Victory Club on Dewey Road in Shrewsbury. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will benefit the UMass Cancer Walk. There will be raffles and prizes.

They are also booking events and may be contacted at [email protected] or on Facebook.