By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing editor
HUDSON – Singer-songwriter and bassist Stephen Powell began performing as a teenager with two rock groups in and around his hometown of Hudson. After graduating from Hudson High School (HHS) in 1985, he recorded CDs and toured with hard rock groups nationally and internationally.
Now residing in Sterling, Powell continues to perform with several groups and is planning more reunion shows.
“It is pure love to play music,” he said of his longtime passion. “It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
One of Powell’s early 1980s bands, known as Child, eventually included lead singer Paulo Bettencourt of the HHS class of 1981. In 1986, Powell and Bettencourt formed the hard rock band Flesh with the singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Cherone and drummer David “Gonzo” Gonzalez.
Flesh made his debut in 1986 at the now closed Narcissus nightclub in Kenmore Square, Boston.
“It was our first gig in Boston and definitely a stepping stone,” Powell noted.
Soon after, they became known for bringing great voices – and equally big hair – to the Boston music scene.
In addition to a writing contract with EMI Music Publishing, Flesh received two nominations for Outstanding Local Hard Rock Band from the Boston Music Awards in the early 1990s. They released an eponymous CD in 1993.
In the mid-1990s, Flesh toured 30 cities nationally as the opening act for hard rock band Extreme. Venues ranged from a 2,700-seat theater to small clubs.
“We went from playing venues like the Orpheum Theater in Boston to stages where you felt like you were standing on a pool table,” Powell recalls.
Flesh continued to perform regularly until 1997.
Explore rock styles
Ready for another musical adventure, Powell and Cherone invited the Dempsey brothers – lead singer Tommy and drummer Robbie – to form the band Super Zero.
“Super Zero was still hard rock but a little more pop punk,” Powell explained. “I love what Flesh did, but Super Zero was lighter and more fun.”
Their 1997 CD, “Attack of the Air Monkeys,” sparked a recording deal with Japanese label Big MF Records. The release of their 2001 CD, “Hogwash”, coincides with a tour of Japan.
“We made our travel plans – then 9/11 happened,” Powell said. “We were already signed up, so we went to Japan and did the tour. The audience was very grateful.
Super Zero played all over New England for the next two years.
Then in 2006, Flesh released his second CD, “The Lost Book of Malchus”. Also in 2006, Flesh launched its first of several recurring reunion exhibitions at the Hudson Portuguese Club.
Other venues where Flesh has presented reunion shows include Foxborough’s Showcase Live at Patriot Place and Malden’s Mixx360 Nightlife. Pandemic restrictions canceled their 2020 concert at the Regent Theater in Arlington.
“The flesh will definitely come back together,” Powell promised. “We grew up and learned together. We are like a family. “
Powell has performed regularly in recent years throughout County Worcester with the classic rock band Doctor Robert.
In addition, members of the group Super Zero get together for songwriting sessions.
Connections with the hometown
Now, Powell is also working with two other HHS alumni.
At the end of 2020, classic rock band Rumor HAZIT welcomed him as a member of the group. Several decades ago, Powell met drummer Bob Begg and guitarist Tony Frias, both HHS alumni in 1979. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Powell’s older brother Jeff, performed in a group with Begg and Frias. They practiced in the Powell family basement.
“I thought it would be a lot of fun playing with these guys,” Powell said. “I really admired them when I was a kid.”
On Saturday May 15, Stephen Powell will perform with Rumor HAZIT at the Hudson-Concord Elks Pavilion. Find event details on Rumor HAZIT’s Facebook page. Also follow his other groups – Flesh, Super Zero and Doctor Robert – on Facebook.