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The Hardway Connection’s 25th anniversary show this evening was intended to be nuthin’ but a party: Last year, this P.G. County soul combo won a Cammy Award and was receiving offers to tour Scandinavia, Europe, and Japan. But in December 2001, tragedy struck. Bassist and band co-founder Andre Spears was killed by his girlfriend, who then killed herself. Shockingly, this was the second time tragedy had hit Hardway. Vocalist Bobby Brown had been murdered under similarly unusual circumstances back in 1996. Guitarist Robert Owens says he’s “still stunned” by what happened but that he feels inspired to try even harder for his lost bandmates. No simple bar band, Hardway—which specializes in heartfelt gospel- and blues-rooted rock—should be more than capable of both paying homage and moving forward. The band plays at 4 p.m. at Ford’s Wonder Bar, 4595 Livingston Road, Indian Head, Md. $25. (301) 283-5324. (Steve Kiviat)