The Youngsters to celebrate music and ‘connection’ at The Rex with June 16 benefit show

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T.J Murphy, left, and Matt Conway of RecoverYdia outside West High School in advance of a June 16 fundraiser for their organization at The Rex Theatre featuring The Youngsters, a band formed by Murphy and fellow West High School classmates in 1980. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – From a quick scan of the headlines on any given day, it becomes apparent that our society is unraveling. Individuals are isolated and alienated from one another—problems exacerbated by the pandemic, ubiquitous political bickering[1], and a morass of violence and selfishness—resulting in spikes in addiction and mental illness.

“We all know that something is unraveling, and the unraveling transcends politics,” said T.J. Murphy, drummer for the Manchester band The Youngsters and co-founder of RecoverYdia, a non-profit organization dedicated to using art and storytelling to bring people together to make meaningful human connections.

And one way humans connect is through music.

“I’ve always gravitated to music as a way of bringing people together,” said Matt Conway, a Derry native and Murphy’s partner at RecoverYdia. “It’s our common language. It’s the Rosetta Stone.”

On June 16, The Youngsters, featuring the Milford-based folk trio Decatur Creek, will take the stage at The Rex Theater in Manchester to commune and connect using said common language of music. [Ticket link below ⇓ ]

The Youngsters formed in 1980 when the band members were freshman at Manchester West High School, and for the past four decades, they’ve continued to reunite on a near-yearly basis. Despite the musicians living on separate coasts, they find ways to connect and continue to play the music they love.

The band began with guitarists Jeff Guild and Chris Williams, who shared an affinity for classic rock legend Neil Young—hence, the band’s name. Then Murphy joined the pair to “jam until dawn” in their parents’ basements, said Murphy.

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The Youngsters performing in 2021 at the Rex for the annual RecoverYdia benefit concert. Photo/Carol Robidoux

And the band was born. The Youngsters then added bassist Chris Fox in the late-80s, rounding out the sound.

In June of 2021, after playing at their 25th high school reunion at Murphy’s Tavern in Manchester, The Youngsters reunited to play their first show at The Rex in support of 10,000 Candles for New Hampshire, an event organized by Recoverydia to raise awareness for of the suffering caused by isolation and to remember the loved ones lost to addiction and mental health struggles.

“It was a great opportunity to bring together the message of 10,000 Candles with the reunion,” said Murphy.

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Matt Conway shows off this year’s Youngsters T-shirt, available for $30 to benefit the work of RecoverYdia. The concert is their organization’s primary fundraiser in support of their work, chronicling the stories of those in recovery as a source of hope and inspiration.Photo/Carol Robidoux

Conway—who grew up around music and dabbles with the harmonica, guitar and piano— said the show is a microcosm of the message of connection that RecoverYdia shares throughout New Hampshire communities. “We can come together in love, support one another and know that there’s hope,” he said. “Hope can be created out of nothing.”

Conway and Murphy began organizing events to raise awareness in 2019 after attending a candlelight vigil in Derry for people who lost loved ones to addiction. The idea for 10,000 Candles hatched from the two men’s goal of gathering 10,000 people throughout The Granite State in the communities of Manchester, Nashua, Dover, Derry and Keene to share stories of recovery and music.

“We’re bringing people together for a common cause and to bind the community together with music,” Conway said. “The answer is each other.”

Based on psychologist Bruce Alexander’s Dislocation Theory of Addiction, the two founders of RecoverYdia believe that by bringing people and communities together to make the aforementioned connections, hope is spawned, and suffering through addiction and mental illness can be assuaged, if not eradicated.

“We’re trying to lift people’s spirits by being together and enjoying music,” Murphy said. “We don’t commune anymore and [humans] are hard-wired to commune, as all primitive cultures did.”

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Matt Conway, left, and T.J. Murphy outside West High School, Murphy’s alma mater. They recently took a quick tour of Murphy’s old stomping ground in advance of the June 16 benefit show at The Rex. Photo/Carol Robidoux

RecoverYdia is non-denominational and all proceeds that are raised go toward 10,000 Candles and the organization of future events. “We’ve never taken a paycheck,” said Murphy.

As for those consumed by the cynicism that pervades modern times, who remain dubious about the healing powers of human connection, Murphy’s message is straightforward. “I’d tell them ‘I love you and come see us’,” he said.

Conway agrees. “Just come out and connect,” he said.

Tickets for The Youngsters Reunion Benefit featuring Decatur Creek are $25 and can be purchased online or at The Rex Theater box office. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.


[1]  In the interest of complete candor, this correspondent cannot exonerate himself when it comes to writing cynical or incendiary columns, political rabble-rousing and, occasionally, fanning the flames of negativity.



About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: