News & Notes 20/09/03

Covid-19 updateAs of August 31As of September 7
Total cases statewide7,2757,476
Total current infections statewide228238
Total deaths statewide432433
New cases141 (Aug. 25 to Aug. 31)201 (Sept. 1 to Sept. 7)
Current infections: Hillsborough County7884
Current infections: Merrimack County1620
Current infections: Rockingham County7755
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

The number of hospitalizations in New Hampshire due to Covid-19 continues to be low. During an Aug. 25 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that while just under 20 new infections per day were reported in the previous week, there were fewer than 10 people hospitalized with the virus the day before, on Aug. 24 — the lowest number since early March. “We continue to see good trends in our numbers. But we believe this represents low but persistent community transmission in many areas of our state,” Chan said.

During the same press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that FEMA had accepted New Hampshire’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance Program, just days after the state submitted it on Aug. 21. The program, which was issued through an executive order from President Donald Trump on Aug. 8, provides additional federal unemployment relief of $300, retroactive to Aug. 1. Sununu also announced that the minimum amount of unemployment is being raised to $100 for all Granite Staters, making all filers eligible for the federal benefits.

On Aug. 26, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery announced that it is recommending a plan submitted by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner to establish rapid testing sites at community health centers across the state. The following day, during a press conference, Sununu announced that the state will be purchasing 25 rapid Covid-19 test machines to be placed at each community testing center. “The machines are called Quidel Sofia Antigen Rapid Covid test machines,” he said. “We’ve already started looking into buying these machines. … Depending on the backlog, it may be weeks or maybe even a month or so before these devices might be up and running.”

During an Aug. 27 press conference, state Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced that all long-term care facilities in three New Hampshire counties — Belknap, Coos and Grafton — have entered into Phase 3 under reopening guidelines that were outlined on Aug. 13. Phase 3, Shibinette said, begins once all non-outbreak facilities in that county see a continuous drop in coronavirus cases over a 14-day period, criteria that Belknap, Coos and Grafton all met. “What this really means is the lifting of restrictions around visitors, so having up to two visitors, and then also lessening the restrictions around communal dining and activities,” she said.

On Aug. 28, Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-17, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least Sept. 18. It’s the eighth extension he has issued since originally declaring a state of emergency on March 13.

Details of all of Sununu’s Emergency and Executive Orders can be found at

Masks in Concord

The Concord City Council nearly unanimously approved a city-wide mask ordinance during an Aug. 31 meeting via Zoom. After hearing public testimony for nearly two hours, councilors voted 14-1 to require people to wear masks in city buildings and businesses such as retail stores to attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Violators of the ordinance would receive a warning, followed by a fine of $15 for each additional offense. Masks are not required for children under the age of five, nor for those with underlying health issues that would prevent them from wearing one. The ordinance is in effect now through Jan. 2, 2021.

Opioid response

New Hampshire will receive funding for the second phase of the State Opioid Response Program from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will cover the first year of funding as part of a two-year, $56 million award that will help the state continue the success of its first two years of SOR funding, which totaled more than $55 million and helped create a better access and delivery system for residents with an opioid or substance use disorder. The first phase established The Doorways-NH, opening up access to services to ensure that no one in the state has to travel more than 60 minutes to begin the recovery process.

According to the release, a CDC survey estimated that about 13 percent of adults have increased their use of substances during the pandemic. “The Doorways continue to see increasing requests for services, with almost 1,000 residents seeking help last month alone,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said in the release. The new SOR funds will help expand the Doorways program, and other needs like overnight respite, stimulant misuse and expanding recovery support services will be addressed.

Safe voting

The New Hampshire National Guard is delivering personal protective equipment and election materials to towns and cities to use at polling places in the upcoming elections, according to a press release. The PPE includes masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and single-use pens and pencils. Other precautions, such as social distancing and sanitation measures, are being taken for anyone who wants to vote in person on Election Day for both the primary and general elections. According to a press release from the Secretary of State’s office, informational mailers have been sent to every household in the state as part of a public awareness campaign to inform voters about their voting options. There are resources for checking registration status, requirements for absentee voter registration, information about how to obtain an Absentee Voter Registration Packet and more. The mailer can be viewed online at

5K civil action

The State of New Hampshire has filed a civil action to prevent the Worldwide Push Foundation based in California from promoting or conducting road races in New Hampshire and to refund race registration fees from races that were canceled in 2019 and 2020, according to a press release from the office of Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. Worldwide Push Foundation promoted the “Margarita Madness 5K,” scheduled to take place in Loudon on Oct. 12, 2019, and the website and social media posts said the race would benefit the “Worldwide Push (Push Until Success Happens) Scholarship Foundation,” according to the release. The organization allegedly collected thousands of dollars in registration fees but did not obtain the necessary permits and licenses and failed or refused to refund registration fees. In late 2019, WWPF began advertising Margarita Madness 5Ks races at Rollins Park in Concord on July 11 and in Northfield on Oct. 24. “The race on July 11 did not take place, and WWPF has failed to obtain the necessary permits and licenses for the October race. To date, WWPF has collected a total of over $30,000 in registration fees,” the press release reads. The lawsuit claims that WWPF has committed nine violations of New Hampshire charitable trust laws and the Consumer Protection Act, each of which carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Anyone who has registered for the Margarita Madness 5K Run/Walk in New Hampshire and has not received a refund can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau online at

Concord Hospital employees who want to work toward an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree can now get a significant tuition discount at Granite State College, according to a press release. The college also offers a Surgical Technologist Training Program at the hospital that can translate to credits toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at Granite State.

The Derry Garden Club recently presented the Community Star award to the Marion Gerrish Community Center, which provides 192 nonprofit organizations rooms for their meetings and is involved with community events such as Derry Fest and Frost Fest, and Derry’s farmers market and annual road race, according to a press release.

NASA has selected proposals from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Dartmouth College in Lebanon to better understand the sun’s interaction with the space around Earth, according to a press release. Each school will receive $1.25 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study, and NASA will implement up to two out of five proposals, the results of which will help protect astronauts, satellites and communications signals, according to the release.

A second full-service retail office of St. Mary’s Bank in Nashua is expected to open in mid-October, according to a press release. Part of the Westside shopping plaza, the office will feature new technology in the form of four interactive teller machines, with representatives at the credit union’s remote center in Manchester offering live assistance before, during and after normal branch hours.

Southern men

Musical veterans band together as Once An Outlaw

The five members of Once An Outlaw have a long history in Southern rock. Macon, Georgia, native Chris Hicks played guitar with the Marshall Tucker Band for many years. Chris Anderson, born in Florida and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, spent time in the Outlaws, as did bass player Jeff Howell — who also toured with English blues rockers Foghat.

A.J. Vallee was mentored by Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires and played in the Southern Rock All-Stars before joining guitarist Chuck Farrell in the Allman Brothers centric band The Peacheaters, called “the greatest tribute act in America” by Outlaws founding member Henry Paul.

“They capture the spirit and passion of the Allmans, and that ain’t easy,” he said.

With all that shared experience, however, it took time and fate to make them a band.

“We’ve all enjoyed being a small part of their legacies, and being able to go out and play these songs for people,” Hicks said of his membership in the Southern rock brethren, during a recent interview that included Anderson and Farrell. “Even though we’ve all been in these bands at different times, we’ve never really played together that much.”

Hicks was set to hit the road with Marshall Tucker this summer in support of Charlie Daniels’ Fire On The Mountain anniversary tour, but those plans were dealt a one-two blow — Daniels’ death and Covid-19. So when Farrell rang up Anderson with an offer for him and Hicks to head north and play a few shows, both were ready.

They left Nashville, where both currently live, in mid-August, arriving for an abbreviated Bike Week in Laconia. Five sold-out socially distanced shows “went really great,” Anderson said. “We had a ball. … People really seemed to enjoy it.”

Their sets featured a mixture of hits from the many groups they’ve played in, songs like “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Hurry Sundown,” “Can’t You See,” “Heard It In a Love Song,” “Take the Highway,” ”Slow Ride,” “Fool for the City,” “Tell Mama” and others.

Hicks was happy to leave hot and humid Tennessee to play for a live audience after months of down time.

“People are just ready to get out and see some music,” he said. “They’ve been quarantined for so long, you know there’s a lot of energy on both sides.”

He also relished an opportunity to jam with Anderson, whose resume includes Grinderswitch, Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“I’m not saying this to promote the show,” he said. “Chris Anderson has always been one of my favorite guitar players. You have to see him play to know what I’m talking about — it’s just a natural, very heartfelt thing.”

Unlike Hicks and Anderson, Farrell and Vallee are native New Englanders, and Howell hails from upstate New York. But geography doesn’t matter, Farrell said.

“It’s in you,” he said, adding he loves that “there’s no brain hemorrhaging with this music; you just go out and do it,” he said. “It’s a language — in the front it’s three guys playing guitar, with a great rhythm section and everyone having a good time.”

A native of the Allmans’ home base, Hicks discovered the harmony guitar and jam ethics of the genre at a very young age and was captivated. He was also taken with the freewheeling spirit evoked by the music and its players.

“In 1968, my great uncle told me, ‘The hippies have moved in down the street; let’s go look and see what they’re doing.’”

The Allman Brothers Band lived at nearby Idlewild South Farm, a commune that gave their first album its title.

“It’s right outside of Macon, which grows the best mushrooms in the world. That’s why they made their logo like that, they like them so much,” Hicks recalled. “The first thing I saw was a beautiful blonde girl naked riding a horse on the side of the road. I said, ‘You know what. this is gonna be pretty cool.’ It only got better from there.”

Featured Photo: Once An Outlaw. Courtesy photo.

Once An Outlaw
Saturday, Sept. 12, 1:30 p.m. (Gates at Noon)
Where: Alpine Grove, 19 S. Depot St., Hollis
Tickets: $25 and up at
The Bob Wolfman Band opens

The Music Roundup 20/09/03

Get festive: Warm up for the unofficial end-of-summer weekend with Slack Tide members Chris Cyrus and Mike Seavy. The jam band blends a wide range of elements into their sets, and Cyrus cites influences like Jack Johnson, Sublime and Reel Big Fish. He’s also a big fan of ’60s psychedelic rockers like Cream, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and, of course, the Grateful Dead. Thursday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., Penuche’s Music Hall, 1087 Elm St., Manchester,

New crew: Offering old-school country & western music, Route 603 debuts with a few familiar faces from the Concord music scene, featuring Mary Fagan singing lead on Hank, Merle and Cash covers, along with her own originals, backed by Tom Wright on Fender Telecaster and BJ Steinberg on pedal steel. Upright bass player Jock Irvine and drummer Ed Raczka provide rhythm. Saturday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m., Purple Pit Coffee Lounge, 28 Central Square, Bristol,

Crossing over: When he’s not with his band Double Crossers, Paul Driscoll keeps busy as a solo performer, playing a lot around his home base of Milford, including an early show at the spot where he returned to live gigs in May, post-quarantine. Along with a tasty catalog of originals, Driscoll covers everyone from Tom Waits to Tyler Childers, Black Keys, Bruce Springsteen and Sawmill Joe. Sunday, Sept. 6, 9 p.m., Trombly Gardens, 150 N. River Road, Milford,

Hand-picked: With a name taken from a line in the John Prine song “Paradise,” Peabody’s Coal Train is a local supergroup packed with rustic charm, with a set list ranging from old murder ballads to Townes Van Zandt covers. The band’s chemistry is obvious: six voices in harmony, exhibiting deft instrumental interplay and, above all, the joy of making music. Thursday, Sept. 10, 6 p.m., Jane Lewellen Bandstand, Riverway Park, Contoocook, also webcast on Facebook Live.

Bill & Ted Face the Music (PG-13)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted Theodore Logan are way old, dude, but are still trying to write the song that will unite the world in Bill & Ted Face the Music, the 29-years-in-the-making sequel which is available in theaters and at home.

And — in an option that would be particularly appreciated for kids’ movies released via the Video On Demand model — you can rent or purchase the movie for home viewing (about $19.99 to rent, $24.99 to purchase and, via Apple, there’s an option to purchase all three Bill and Ted movies for just under $35).

Bill (Alex Winters) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) found success as the band Wyld Stallyns — but that success peaked some decades ago and since then they have been releasing increasingly meh albums and playing to ever dwindling crowds. At least they still have nice homes in San Dimas with their wives, Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes), who, as the movie reminds you, were medieval princesses who hitched a ride away from medieval times in the boys’ time-traveling phone booth back in the 1980s. Bill and Ted also have late-teen/early-twentysomething daughters: Bill’s is Thea (Samara Weaving) and Ted’s is Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine). The girls are, it appears, best friends and dedicated music fans if not musicians themselves.

So life is OK, maybe — but apparently the future is not. Bill and Ted’s failure to write the song to unite all people is causing instability in space and time. Kelly (Kristen Schaal) arrives from the future to tell Bill and Ted that they have until 7:17 p.m. to write their big song or all of reality will collapse, as evidenced by the weird blips in time that have already started (George Washington disappearing from the crossing of the Delaware to reappear in place of Babe Ruth at a baseball game, for example). At least, Kelly, the daughter of Rufus, Bill and Ted’s original friend from the future (played in the original movies by the late George Carlin), believes that’s what needs to happen. Her mom, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) from the future, thinks maybe Bill and Ted just need to exit the world of the living by 7:17 and in the service of that sends back a killer robot (Anthony Carrigan), Terminator-style.

That robot is maybe the best distillation of this movie’s blend of broad action and supreme goofiness. He is single-minded but not super good at his job and his reactions are fairly hilarious — blending the movie’s self-awareness and silliness.

Also a charming mix of self-awareness and silliness are Reeves and Winters delivering their late-1980s California teen accents and holding their Bill and Ted facial expressions with complete earnestness, especially since, hold on to your lattes fellow Gen-Xers, they are now in their mid 50s. They seem like they’re having fun with this goofy trip down memory lane and the movie has real affection for them. As in the previous two movies, we get current Bill and Ted meeting up with future Bill and Ted and the increasingly angry and bizarre versions of themselves that they meet are cartoony fun. Also as in earlier movies, we get historical figures (Billie and Thea try to help their dads by forming a band with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix and Mozart) and Death (William Sadler, reprising his role from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), whose reunion with Bill and Ted is strained because they had some legal troubles when he left the band.

Bill & Ted Face the Music feels almost more like a public service, like one of those beloved comedy show Zoom reunions, than a real movie. It feels like it was designed to serve nostalgia and silliness and give you a 91-minute break from the world, which is exactly what it does. B

Rated PG-13 for some language, according to the MPA on Directed by Dean Parisot with a screenplay by Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon, Bill & Ted Face the Music is an hour and 31 minutes long and is distributed by United Artists.

The New Mutants (PG-13)

Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

I got in my car and drove to an actual theater to see The New Mutants, a very “get ready for a five-part franchise!” movie about characters in an X-Men universe.

The movie didn’t offer me, a movies-only follower of the X-Men stories, any specific indication of when we are in the X-Men cinematic universe timeline and only the occasional mention of the X-Men by way of tie-in. Wikipedia says that while the movie once had sequel hopes, the Disney purchase of Fox means there probably won’t be a Part 2. So, a movie that feels like it wasted all its time on setting up characters that will never pay off feels especially like a missed opportunity.

Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt), called Dani, is our way in to this corner of the expanded mutant universe. After a mysterious something crashes through her reservation, destroying everything and everyone (including Dani’s beloved father) in its path, Dani wakes up in a hospital bed in a locked room in an institution. Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) tells her that she is being held here, for her own safety, until they can figure out what her special ability is, which Reyes says manifested itself during the “tornado” that destroyed the reservation. There’s a bunch of yada-yada-ing about Dani knowing it wasn’t a tornado and Reyes telling her it was and then later that it wasn’t and either the movie did a clunky job of explaining the whole discovery-of-Dani’s-powers thing or I was too bored by this part of the setup to pay attention or some amount of both.

Dani eventually meets the other “patients” at this facility, other teens with abilities: Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy) can disappear at will, conjure swords from thin air, has a puppet that can turn into a real dragon and is super mean (all of this is connected to her deeply disturbing and traumatic childhood, which feels like a too-dark story element that this underbaked potato of a movie doesn’t earn). Rahne (Maisie Williams) is a sweet girl who turns into a wolf and quickly befriends Dani. Sam (Charlie Heaton) used to work in the Kentucky coal mines and can blast off and zoom around and, er, stuff. Bobby (Henry Zaga) is from a wealthy Brazilian family, likes himself a lot and can flame on, Human Torch-style (Wikipedia suggests that this isn’t an entirely accurate way to describe the character’s powers but, whatever they were in their comics source material, that’s how it’s portrayed here). Dani doesn’t know what her powers are but she hangs out with the others, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and hoping that perhaps this whole hospital stay is the first step on the road to X-Men membership.

The bare bones as I’ve described them sound promising, and elements of this movie have good ideas behind them. But the movie takes half of its run time, maybe more, to get going. And while the characters are potentially interesting I didn’t find myself particularly invested in the stories of any of them. The stakes feel low, not in a “personal story versus saving-the-world” way but in a “we’re saving stakes for the second movie” way.

Would I feel differently about this movie if I hadn’t made my first trip to a theater since forever to see it, if it had been on Disney+? I’d probably be more inclined to forgive some of the weakness because, hey, Williams is frequently doing interesting things with her character and it’s only 94 minutes long. But no matter the viewing experience, The New Mutants isn’t quite X-Men enough to make you feel like you’re watching an X-Men movie, even one of the Logan or Deadpool side-project variety, but it isn’t strong enough to stand as its own story either. C

Rated PG-13 for violent content, some disturbing/bloody images, some strong language, thematic elements and suggestive material, according to the MPA on Directed by Josh Boone with a screenplay by Josh Boone and Knate Lee, The New Mutants is an hour and 34 minutes long and is distributed in theaters by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Florida Man

by Tom Cooper (Random House, 379 pages)

“Florida Man” became a meme in 2013 because of the bizarre headlines that seem in endless supply in that state, such as “Florida Man Wearing Crocs Gets Bitten After Jumping Into Crocodile Exhibit at Alligator Farm.” (True story, circa 2018.)

Florida Man is also the title of Tom Cooper’s second novel, and both the title and cover design suggest that the story within will be equally wacky. It is not, unless you thought Breaking Bad was a zany comedy.

It is, instead, a slow-burning, low-voltage thriller that spools profanely from the worst opening sentence since “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Cooper almost lost me on the first page, and three other times: the two pages of opening quotes (which include, bizarrely, the Miami Dolphins Fight Song, although the reason for its inclusion becomes nauseatingly clear later); the three-page table of contents that lists five categories and 114 chapters; and a two-page cast of characters, which is totally unnecessary unless you’re writing a play.

But then, in the amount of time it takes for a small plane to fall in flames from the sky, nearly clipping two 17-year-olds in medias res, he reeled me in and dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the last page.

He is not so much a writer as a magician, turning a scruffy, flea-bitten, divorced man whose most loyal friends are a pack of feral cats into someone you pull for, someone you can’t abandon at page 20 or 200, because you care what happens to him, which, because he is a Florida man, is a lot.

Reed Crowe, the same teenager we meet having sex with his girlfriend on the first page, is divorced and has lost a child less than 10 pages later. He has parlayed a bale of marijuana he took from that burning plane into a generally miserable existence as proprietor of a tourist trap that makes I-95’s South of the Border look elegant, and a one-star inn served and populated by people who look like extras in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Crowe has a premonition that things are about to get even worse when a sinkhole swallows a lime tree in his backyard on what was already a “three-aspirin morning.” (Sinkholes, by the way, are but the first in a long line of reasons that “Florida Man” is a meme, rather than “Georgia man” or “Tennessee man” — Florida has so many horrible things going for it, besides the hurricanes, such as sinkholes, pythons and alligators. Just add beer, and Florida men neither live long nor prosper.)

The vanished tree begins a protracted chain of disturbing events, which include the sudden appearance of a real human skull in one of Crowe’s cheesier attractions at the Florida Man Mystery House, felonious behavior by Crowe’s longtime friend and employee Wayne Wade, and, most ominously, the emergence of a grotesquely deformed villain called “Catface,” who, as it turns out, was a survivor of the plane crash that the teenaged Crowe witnessed, and has spent every minute since then imagining how he would get his revenge.

Florida Man also has the same rich color and tautness, and the vivid sense of place of the AMC series, raising similar questions about why people stay in pocked places, both literal and figurative, for so long. It could hold its own as a series over at least two seasons, maybe more.

That said, I’m not sure I enjoyed this book as much as I suffered through it. But I can say the same about Breaking Bad, which is widely acknowledged as one of the best series of all time.

Breaking Bad, however, I never wanted to end. Florida Man seems to go on at least 50 pages longer than necessary, despite two perfectly good ending points that Cooper blows by.

However, that was another 50 pages in which I didn’t care if it was raining, or not raining enough, or if the dishes were piling up in the sink or if the president was tweeting. So we’re good. Call it Florida Man Makes Good Despite Bad Beginning. A-

When publishers consider the potential value of a manuscript, one thing they want to know is how many other books have been published on the subject. There’s a secret formula, some Goldilocksian number that indicates there’s interest in a topic, but not so much that it’s been overdone.

It’s mystifying, then, that there’s such a vast compendium of books about habits: bad habits, good habits, 7 habits, 5 habits, 3 habits, atomic habits, million-dollar habits, billion-dollar habits.

Apparently publishers think we are most inclined to try to change our habits around New Year’s Day, as there are at least two 2019 titles slated for paperback release the last week of December: Good Habits, Bad Habits, the Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick by Wendy Wood (Picador, 320 pages), and Tiny Habits, the Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg (Mariner, 320 pages).

That seems wrong. The best time for change is the advent of fall, with its invigorating changes in temperature, and children’s (theoretical) return to school.

Right now, the leading book of habit-changing is James Clear’s Atomic Habits, the paperback version of which costs more than the hardcover on Amazon, weirdly enough. (Avery, 320 pages. Because apparently 320 pages is a popular choice for habit books.)

But the father of all habits, of course, was the late Stephen Covey whose 7 Habits of Highly Successful People was released in 1989 and launched a brand. A 30th-anniversary edition came out in paperback in May (Simon and Schuster, 464 pages), if you don’t already have one of the 40 million copies already sold.

Or you could just forget about this self-improvement stuff altogether and just indulge in Melania and Me, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s account of her friendship with the first lady, which if it wasn’t over already, is as of the book’s publication this week (Gallery, 352 pages).

Album Reviews 20/09/03

Young, Planetary, Locations I Can’t Place (Hidden Home Records)

Sometimes when I’m wading through all the new promos, I picture myself like a wizened Gandalf, looking for a bright shiny band of hobbits who surprise me just enough to warrant stopping for an extra puff from my super-long pipe. These Idaho boys look like any other slip-on-clad emo band, and they sound like it too, at first, the nerd-boy vocals, the angular guitars, all that stuff, but this EP is possessed of an abundance of heart; they don’t sound like they’re just trying to impress the girl next door who works at the Rite Aid; they’ve actually listened to old emo, the real stuff. I mean, it’s either that or they’re bummed that they didn’t have enough money to sound super-polished (and boring), but I really hope it’s the former, I really do. “Dig” is wicked punky, and one of the guys does a little screamo shtick that isn’t terrible. I wish upon these young emo hobbits a long, exciting adventure. A

Norah Rothman, enough (Hidden Home Records)

This up-and-comer techno-folkie has made a few entry-level splashes in a country-wide (but mostly Los Angeles-centered) circuit that would make most local artists think they’d arrived in force. She’s fishing for Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones comparisons, which I’d be happy to provide; her songs are dandelion-puffs of pretty, her voice a hooty combination of both aforementioned ladies, with a latently powerful hint of Shawn Colvin. She’s politically active, for all that’s worth; in 2018 she founded Earhart, a playlist/interview platform dedicated to “uplifting female, trans, and gender-nonconforming music artists,” and that’s all well and good, but what this boils down to is a sort of chill-mode Goldfrapp for yoga class, chocolate mousse for the working woman’s soul. “Wolves” gets its slow-finger-snapping steez from Otis Redding, and there’s a cover of, believe it or not, Madonna’s “Borderline,” stripped down to a stop-and-start elevator-torch duet with dulcet tenor Blush Wilson. The bareness of the package gets a bit tiresome; I would have liked to hear a bit more effects, but I could certainly nap to it. B

Retro Playlist
Eric W. Saeger recommends a couple albums worth a second look.

The original intent for this space was to leverage the “opportunity” Covid was handing us to look back on some older reviews I’d tabled in these pages and perhaps shine a light on them again. Fact is, even though it’s now been months since I began writing this, it wasn’t until today that I broke into the vault (in other words, my now retired hard drive) and took a look at some really old stuff.

The measure of decent art is gauging how it’s held up to the test of time. Trends come and (mostly) go, but these past years have mostly seen a blur of disposable junk. If you ask me, it seems like the entire decade of the Aughts was one big kaleidoscopic series of really unpalatable trends, as bands stretched out DIY capabilities, efforting not just to put out the odd record on a lark but also to even build their own imprints. So an endless tsunami of records has been coming at us at once, with no rhyme or reason, the eclecticism made even more unintelligible by the widening gap between working-class kids (who generally listen to music for the music) and college-educated, postmodernism-indoctrinated hipsters (who only seem to like music that really sucks melodically, which, on face, often seems to be the point).

Out there in the online sea, there’s an old L.A. Weekly column about the Top 20 worst indie bands. Arcade Fire was on there, perhaps unfairly, and a bunch of others. They caught hell for it, of course; the humorlessness that’s part and parcel of hipsterdom simply doesn’t allow for rational debate about basic melodic worth. Back in 2007, I knew something was rotten in Denmark, but I nevertheless decided to recommend KlaxonsMyths Of The Near Future. Remember those days, the “nu-rave scene,” and how mediocre dance music was so important? Talk about shaky ground. I said back then that the genre “may be on to something, but there’s plenty of room in this newborn genre for more angst and artisanship.” Funny how that never happened, isn’t it?

One thumb-up I’ll stick with is Acid House Kings’ Music Sounds Better With You, from 2011. A mixture of decent-enough twee and 1960s girl-group, the best thing that record did was avoid having xylophone on it for the most (mfw wishing I’d made this column about hipsters playing xylophones during the worst musical era in history, not that I can’t later on, if I feel like it). It was interesting enough as a Columbia House throwback, but yeah, there was xylophone on one song, which, thankfully, I completely forget.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Email for fastest response.

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• On Sept. 4 all the new CDs will come to the stores and pirate sites, and one of them will be Chemtrails Over The Country Club, the latest from Lana Del Rey. Technically it will be out on Sept. 5, because she wants to get on my nerves, but whatever, let’s put her under the microscope and have a few laughs, which is overdue I suppose. You see, cool tech-infused chillout music from quirky hot chicks already peaked decades ago with Portishead, Goldfrapp, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, various Massive Attack collaborators, and two billion others, so I have been a bit lax in keeping up with Lana Del Rey, who, because she is hot, has gotten away with portraying a breathless 1950s-torch cartoon character up until now! But wait a minute, welcome to the Snark Garage, missy, where I, the veteran mechanic, will pop open my toolbox full of tools that even I can’t identify and find out the dilly, for my awesome readers! I’ll admit I liked her first album, the self-titled one from 2010, and still have it around here somewhere, I don’t know, but apparently fame has made Del Rey a little crazy, because all sorts of critics and haters have been busy labeling her as anti-feminist. OK, let’s lift the hood and see if the new single, “Doin’ Time” isn’t stupid. Hm, it’s got a little bit of a hip-hop vibe but no hip-hop beat, like this’ll probably be on the radio a lot. She’s singing about someone treating her like crap, which I don’t get, like, isn’t that what a relationship is about? OK, everyone, wash your hands in the messy oil-stained sink and we’ll move on to the next nightmare.

• Who’s Bill Callahan? I don’t know or care, but he performed under the name Smog until 2007, and Domino Records has released his music, which automatically means it’s probably not completely unlistenable. In the early Aughts, one of the guys from Tortoise helped produce an album, which made him sound less sucky, and now he is 54 and supposedly still hawking his bread-and-butter sound, lo-fi, repetitive alt-country. The new album, Gold Record, includes a song called “Breakfast,” which is composed of two boring chords, and he sings like your dad’s creepy friend from the autobody shop, yay bad music.

• Post-punk oldsters Throwing Muses are from Rhode Island, and I always thought they kind of sucked, which only means you probably like them, just to make me mad. What they used to sound like was Versus trying to write bad B-side songs for The Go-Go’s, but who knows, maybe there is something on their new album, Sun Racket, that won’t make me think of empty Coke cans full of cigarette butts on the side of the highway, which is basically what their songwriting has always evoked. Well well, “Dark Blue” is pretty nasty and no-wave, loud and stupid, better than anything I’ve ever heard from them before.

• Let’s take it home with the new Hannah Georgas album, All That Emotion! She’s Canadian and has won Juno awards and “music prizes.” Yes, but has she ever beat up a cab driver? That’s my rock star test. I think the new song, “That Emotion,” sounds like Francesca Belmonte at first blush, but if I listen to any more of this disposable chill-pop I will fall asleep, so forget it. — Eric W. Saeger

Local bands seeking album or EP reviews can message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

In the kitchen with Debbie Burritt

Debbie Burritt of Pembroke is the owner of the Sweet Crunch Bakeshop & Catering Co. (, find her on Facebook @sweetcrunchbakeshop), a mobile food trailer offering fresh-baked cookies, cookie ice cream sandwiches and other treats. The trailer appears at events across New Hampshire, usually featuring around a dozen flavors of cookies that Burritt bakes on site, from traditional favorites like chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles and coconut macaroons to more unique options like maple cream and s’mores. Vanilla is the most common ice cream flavor that Burritt uses in her cookie sandwiches, but other flavors are available depending on the event and the time of year. Prior to launching the trailer, Burritt graduated from Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., with a degree in culinary arts before holding multiple chef jobs in Vermont, Virginia and the Boston area. The Sweet Crunch Bakeshop & Catering Co. will be a featured vendor at the Queen City Pride Festival at Arms Park (10 Arms St., Manchester) on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 2 to 8 p.m.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

It’s always either side towels or oven mitts, because I’m constantly pulling cookies out of the oven and rotating flavors out.

What would you have for your last meal?

I’d love gnocchi with wild mushrooms and roasted vegetables in a nice cream sauce.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

The Foundry in Manchester has really impressed me the most.

What celebrity would you like to have seen trying one of your cookies?

Julia Child would’ve been one for the books! In my off season I do cookie gift baskets and I have some celebrity clients, like [Shark Tank investor] Daymond John.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

My favorite is what I refer to as the Cowboy Cookie, which is basically everything and the kitchen sink thrown into a cookie. My version is an oatmeal cinnamon cookie with raisins, pecans and chocolate chips. Cowboy cookies are a big deal out west.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

I’ve noticed an uptick in gourmet doughnut places. Plant-based eating is huge now too.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I like to make pizzas with all kinds of veggies, always with onions and garlic but also sometimes with mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. During the cooler seasons I love to make soup at home.

Maple carrot cake with maple cream cheese icing
From the kitchen of Debbie Burritt of the Sweet Crunch Bakeshop & Catering Co.

3 cups shredded carrots
4 eggs
½ cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

For the icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound butter, softened
3 cups 10X sugar
2 teaspoons maple extract
⅛ cup maple syrup

Combine carrots, eggs, oil, sugar and maple syrup, then add salt, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Grease and flour an eight-inch round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 60 minutes. Mix together cream cheese icing ingredients and spread between layers and outside of cake. Keep refrigerated.

Pair wine with tomatoes

What to drink with hearty sauce, gazpacho and more

Look, I know, when you think beach time and summertime, you don’t think about porters and stouts. I don’t either, except sometimes I do.

From May through September beer enthusiasts are drinking and talking about beers that are crisp, fresh, light and bright, and that’s great. I’m all for it. Most of the time in the summer, that’s what I want too.

You have to shake things up, though. You just do. Sometimes things just get a little too crisp and a little too bright, and nothing resets your palate in summer quite like a rich porter or stout.

Now, OK, I’m not suggesting that you crack open a Guinness at 1 p.m. on a blazing hot summer day at the beach. You’d regret that move. Not every day is a blazing, hot summer day at the beach, though. Especially in New England — though admittedly perhaps not this summer — you have plenty of days at the beach or at the lake or in the mountains where cool breezes stand out more than the fiery sun, so seize those moments and treat yourself to something a little richer.

Imagine taking in the summer sunset on a cool, clear New Hampshire evening with a decadent coffee stout. It’s truly hard for me to imagine something more relaxing and more satisfying than that. I want that experience right now and I think you should want it too.

This notion really came to me a week or so ago when I was on vacation enjoying a porter called “Portah” by Barnstable Brewing of Hyannis, Mass. The deep richness and complexity was unlike anything I’d drunk recently and it was invigorating as I, wait for it, took in the sunset at the beach.

Here are four stouts and porters you should try this summer.

Granite Stout by 603 Brewery (Londonderry)

This is big on chocolate and coffee and I really do think that’s what the doctor ordered. I think summertime is about enjoying something a little extra. Maybe you say yes to that ice cream run on a Tuesday night because it’s summer. Or maybe you have this decadent, delicious brew instead of the ice cream. (Or you have both.) At 8 percent ABV, this is one you can savor over the course of an evening.

Campfire by Throwback Brewery (North Hampton)

This is a smoked robust porter, which, yes, makes it the perfect accompaniment to a campfire or to hearty, grilled meats and barbecue, so says the brewery. This brew is in fact robust, but at 6.4 percent ABV this is much more palatable in terms of its heft than you might be thinking. You’ll pick up smoky notes for sure, along with pronounced rich malts, but again, neither is overpowering. In addition to grilled meats, I think this would pair well with a wide range of foods.

Draken Robust Porter by Kelsen Brewing Co. (Derry)

While the roasty, toasty malts are the defining characteristic here, I think you get a bit more sweetness on this one than you might expect. To that point, the brewery says, it has flavors of dark fruit and raisins, in addition to coffee, chocolate and caramel. This one has layers of complexity to appreciate and savor.

Black Cat Stout by Portsmouth Brewery (Portsmouth)

If you get this on tap, the brewery uses nitrogen, which produces a thick, rich, creamy brew boasting big flavors of chocolate and coffee. This one is pretty dry, and I mean that in a good way. I wouldn’t really refer to a stout as refreshing but this is very easy to drink and one I wouldn’t hesitate to order on a summer day or evening.

What’s in My Fridge
Things We Don’t Say by Wandering Soul Beer Co. (Beverly, Mass.)
This was tremendous. Just one of those beers that makes you say, “Yup. That’s real good.” This is a “New England Double IPA brewed with flaked oats, white wheat, and aggressively dry hopped,” according to the brewery. It’s got the citrusy burst that you want, coupled with a balanced finish — and not overly bitter. Find this one for sure. Cheers!

Pimm’s Cup

Drinks with John Fladd

At this point in my life I’ve more or less made peace with my physical appearance, which can best be summed up as “rumpled.” I’m mostly OK with the fact that very few people will ever describe me as dapper. I will probably not be invited to sophisticated cocktail parties in the Hamptons, where I will casually lean against a doorframe, dressed in a crisp linen suit, making small talk with elegant women and men with monocles. And yet… There are days in late summer, when the heat and humidity collaborate to suck a person’s will to live right out through their pores, when the idea of drinking something civilized becomes extremely appealing.

That’s where Pimm’s comes in.

Pimm’s is a quintessentially British drink. Although brownish in color, it’s a gin-based liqueur that the Brits have sipped in a reserved sort of way for the past 150 years or so, while watching cricket or orphan-taunting, or whatever the Victorians were into. The traditional cocktail made with Pimm’s is called, reasonably enough, a Pimm’s Cup.

Here’s the thing about the Pimm’s Cup: It requires what English people call “sparkling lemonade” and a shocking amount of garnish. In the past I’ve always drunk a pared-back, minimalist version of the Pimm’s Cup — basically a Pimm’s and soda, with a single, important garnish. It has always struck me as being cold, crisp, and perhaps a little bit classy.

But, if I’m going to recommend a Pimm’s Cup, it only seems like due diligence to compare the two versions. And in the spirit of “in for a penny; in for a pound” it makes sense to go even a step further and compare both of them against an over-the-top premium version. So I did.

Sleek, Minimalist Pimm’s Cup
2 oz. Pimm’s
7 oz. plain seltzer
3” section of cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and bruised

1) In a tall glass, add ice, Pimm’s and seltzer.
2) Cut a three-inch section from a cucumber. Cut in half lengthwise, then lay it facedown on your table or counter. Spank it vigorously with the back of a spoon.
3) Yes, I know what I said. Just do it.
4) Add it as garnish to the drink, stir and enjoy.

Truth be told, this was the version of the cocktail that I was rooting for. It is crisp and classic.

Official Pimm’s Cup
2 oz. Pimm’s
5 oz. lemon soda (I used SanPellegrino)
2 orange wheels
2 slices cucumber
1 fresh strawberry, sliced
sprig of fresh mint

1) To a tall glass, add two slices each of orange, cucumber (unbruised) and strawberry slices. Feel free to cram them roughly into the bottom of the glass.

2) Add ice.
3) Add the Pimm’s and lemon soda.
4) Stir and top with a sprig of fresh mint.

I didn’t want to admit it, but this was a step up. Each garnish shone through and this was — OK, not superior to Version No. 1, but definitely more nuanced. Things become classics for a reason.

Trying Too Hard Pimm’s Cup
2 oz. Pimm’s
2 oz. homemade lemon syrup
5 oz. plain seltzer
2 orange wheels
2 slices cucumber
1 frozen strawberry
sprig of fresh mint

1) Make lemon syrup. Bring equal parts lemon juice and sugar to a boil with a pinch of salt. (Four lemons gave me about 1¼ cups of juice) Take it off the heat as soon as the sugar has dissolved, then steep the zest of one lemon in the syrup for about half an hour. Let it cool, then strain out the zest, which might make it bitter if you left it in.
2) Arrange orange and cucumber slices around the inside of a tall glass, so they look impressive from the outside.
3) Add ice.
4) Add Pimm’s, lemon syrup and seltzer. Stir gently.
5) Top with a sprig of fresh mint and a frozen strawberry. (The reason for using a frozen strawberry here is that when you freeze fruit, sharp ice crystals form that puncture the cell walls inside the berry. When you add the frozen berry to this drink, it looks like a proper, self-respecting strawberry, but it oozes strawberry juice into your cocktail, while still putting up a good front.)

The extra work and fiddly details were actually worth it. This version was definitely the sweetest of the three and if you are looking for that clean, pared-down taste, this is probably not the version for you. But the freshness of the mint and the flavors of the fruit really set off the taste of the Pimm’s itself.

After drinking three Pimm’s Cups, I feel as rumpled as I look.

Featured photo: Pimm’s Cup. Photo by John Fladd.
John Fladd is a veteran Hippo writer, a father, writer and cocktail enthusiast, living in New Hampshire.

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