Original music on tap

Lakes Region brewery hosts Charlie Chronopoulos

Amidst the challenges of 2020, Twin Barns Brewing Co. in Meredith continued to offer live music along with craft beer. That is scheduled to continue on Jan. 8 when singer-songwriter Charlie Chronopoulos appears, on the heels of a new album he released at year’s end.

Chronopoulos said in a recent phone interview that the seven starkly rendered songs on Chesty Rollins’ Dead End reflect daily life struggles he sees in his home state of New Hampshire.

“There’s this backward narrative of poverty around this area,” he said. “A lot of these are real stories that I wove into a record. … I would call it northern rock and soul.”

He carefully alludes to the shame and desperation of addiction on “Solomons” and “God In The Details,” then confronts it head on in “Middlesex,” a loping shuffle that recalls a former band member lost to heroin. “He went to Hollywood and found a rubber band,” Chronopoulos sings. “Coming of age, it came and went.”

Punctuated by deft fingerpicked guitar riffs, “Glass Factory” lays out the themes haunting the record. “I can tell you all about the fragile things we make,” Chronopoulos sings in a near-wail. “They spend their lives about to break, should stay up on the shelf.”

Much of the storytelling comes from his theater experience. Among other projects, Chronopoulos worked with American Repertory Theatre on Witness Uganda, which later went to Broadway as Invisible Thread.

“A lot of the cast overlapped with the team that worked on Hamilton,” he said. “So I got to see that take off.”

The raw honesty in his lyrics also reflects a decision to pursue an artist’s life close to home — “a lounge singer, that’s what I am, I’m not some touring national act” — and what he’s been exposed to as a result.

“I play a lot of rural bars, and I see the other side of things,” he said. “I’m not trying to take a political stance on it, but I see the humanity in a lot of the struggle. My mother’s side of the family had a lot of death to heroin in the last few years and displaced family members hopping around. My little sister, she’s on the spectrum, finding housing for her has been tough. All these things ended up coming out in the songs one way or another.”

Its title is an amalgamation of a famous stripper — “she had 77-inch guns ‘like deadly weapons’ was the way they sold her” — his mother’s maiden name, and Chronopoulos’s early life experience.

“I realized that … certain pursuits, things that I thought were the goal, were actually a dead end,” he said. “I needed to tie them off. They weren’t my path.”

He played sparingly over the pandemic-scarred year.

“I called a few of the places that were still able to be open during the summer and told friends of mine that ran the bar that I’d play for free,” he said. “They were working at half capacity with people still showing up expecting the same service and show; I knew they couldn’t swing it.”

With an open guitar case for tips, Chronopoulos played and sang.

“People wanted to help,” he said, adding that the overall response to original music like his was heartening. “In the food industry, we want to eat a salad that’s from the local farm, but for some reason music is supposed to just come out strictly for scale…. I’m supposed to be counting streams, all that nonsense. That’s what I’ve been railing against artistically for the last 10 years anyway; it’s just self-sabotaging.”

Chronopoulos looks forward to sharing his new material at Twin Barns.

“The place is great, they’re such cool people,” he said. “The beer’s amazing [and] their protocol isn’t insane — there’s a lot of space and good ventilation. It’s a cool old barn and it sounds amazing in there. When they invited me I said that regardless of Covid, we could probably do this safely and make it a good show.”

Charlie Chronopoulos
When
: Friday, Jan 8, 5 p.m.
Where: Twin Barns Brewing Co., 194 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith
More: facebook.com/twinbarnsbrewing

Concerts

Venues

Palace Theatre

80 Hanover St., Manchester

668-5588, palacetheatre.org

Stone Church

5 Granite St., Newmarket

659-7700, stonechurchrocks.com


Shows

A Natural Woman (A Carole King Tribute) Friday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m., virtual concert via Palace Theatre

SOUP (featuring members of Slack Tide and Clandestine) Friday, Jan. 8, 8 p.m., Stone Church

Dave Gerard & Tim Theriault Saturday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Stone Church

Jeff Daniels with music from his album Alive and Well Enough Tuesday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m., livestreamed acoustic concert via Palace Theatre

Brooks Play Brooks (Garth Brooks tribute) Friday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., virtual concert via Palace Theatre

Wood & Bone Friday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., Stone Church

A Night of JGB & The Dead Saturday, Jan. 16, at 5 and 9 p.m., Stone Church

The All New Piano Men (hits from Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Freddy Mercury & more) Friday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., virtual via Palace Theatre

Russ Condon & Tim Cackett of Town Meeting Friday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., Stone Church

Brian O’Connell Fellowship Saturday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m., Stone Church

Dave Gerard Thursday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m., Stone Church

Featured photo: Charlie Chronopoulos. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/01/07

Twang: Enjoy country music from singer and guitarist Jackie Lee, who borrows nicely from Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and others masters of the genre. She’s a regular at this and other Lakes Region venues. Expect a setlist with classics like “Ring of Fire” — her version is a solid recreation of the June Carter Cash original — along with a few modern favorites. Thursday, Jan. 7, 8 p.m., Tower Hill Tavern, 264 Lakeside Ave., Laconia. See facebook.com/jackie.lee.967806.

Song: A series of virtual concerts kicks off with Natural Woman, a tribute to legendary singer and songwriter Carole King. The evening of music, originally scheduled as a live audience show before the winter Covid-19 surge forced a change of plans, will focus on King’s breakthrough album, Tapestry, which became a blueprint for multiple generations of female performers. Friday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m., the show is presented by the Palace Theatre. Stream tickets $15 at palacetheatre.org.

Giggle: Despite the challenges, comedy shows remain popular in the pandemic. Veteran Steve Scarfo performs two nights in the repurposed movie theater that’s now home to the Headliners franchise. Born in Maine, Scarfo came up in the Boston club scene and once took part in a hilarious mashup of Survivor and Last Comic Standing that’s worth checking out on YouTube. Friday, Jan. 8, and Saturday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m., Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 707 Huse Road, Manchester, tickets $20 at chunkys.com.

Flame: Tradition lives, even in these socially distanced days, as Carl Solo provides musical entertainment for the annual Christmas Tree Burning Party at an Auburn dining and drinking hub. It’s the 25th year for the event, as pines go up in flames and a heartfelt goodbye is offered to the worst year ever (though music fans may argue for 2016), along with food and libations. Saturday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m. Auburn Pitts, 167 Rockingham Road, Auburn, more at facebook.com/Carl-Solo-105864034170907.

Lighten: Arguably the hardest-working man in local music, Brad Bosse recently announced plans to scale back his performing schedule to weekends only and pursue a career in real estate, pivoting from rocking houses to selling them. Here’s to the best for Brad, whose deep catalog of covers and regular venue selfies will be reduced but thankfully not extinguished for good. Monday, Jan. 11, 8 p.m., The Goat, 142 Congress St., Portsmouth, more at facebook.com/Brad4Bosse.

At the Sofaplex 21/01/07

Wolfwalkers (PG)

Voices of Sean Bean, Maria Doyle Kennedy.

In 1650, young girl Robin Goodfellowe (voice of Honor Kneafsey) and her father (voice of Sean Bean) travel to Ireland on order of the Lord Protector (voice of Simon McBurney). He’s tasked Papa Goodfellowe with killing all the wolves in the forests of Kilkenny to make it easier for woodsmen to cut down the trees. But these woods are inhabited by not just wolves but wolfwalkers, according to local legend, who are people that can turn into wolves while asleep and, in either form, communicate with other wolves. Robin, a plucky girl who wants to help dad in his work, happens to meet a wolfwalker, Mebh (voice of Eva Whittaker), a plucky girl not unlike herself. Because of a little misunderstanding involving Robin’s pet bird Merlin and a trap Mebh had set to keep humans out of the forest, Mebh also bit but then healed Robin. The girls become friends, with Mebh explaining that the human form of her mother has been sleeping for a while, with her mother’s wolfy spirit somewhere unknown and the ever-shrinking woods full of increasingly hostile humans.

The animation here is truly lovely, an illustrated picture book of rich landscapes and vibrant wild areas, which contrast nicely with the gray and angular people and town under English control. Common Sense Media ranks the film at age 8+ and that’s probably pretty accurate. Though I let my younger kids watch some of the less scary scenes, the movie does portray the bloodlust and general cruelty of the wolf-hunting (and Irish-oppressing) Lord Protector in some stark ways, getting across menace that is plenty frightening for all that it isn’t openly gory. (Also, we might come to root for the wolves but they’re still pretty wolf-y with their teeth and their growls.) The movie also does a good job at conveying the genuine sweetness of Robin and Mebh’s friendship and the girls’ blend of fear and bravery. This movie is co-directed by Tomm Moore, who also co-directed/directed the much lauded animated movies The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. The beauty and engaging storytelling of Wolfwalkers has me eager to check out those films as well. A Available on Apple TV+.

Film

Movie screenings, movie-themed happenings & virtual events

Venues

Chunky’s Cinema Pub

707 Huse Road, Manchester; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, chunkys.com

Cinemagic

with IMAX at 38 Cinemagic Way in Hooksett; 11 Executive Park Drive in Merrimack; 2454 Lafayette Road in Portsmouth; cinemagicmovies.com

LaBelle Winery

345 Route 101, Amherst

672-9898, labellewinery.com

Red River Theatres

11 S. Main St., Concord

224-4600, redrivertheatres.org

Wilton Town Hall Theatre

40 Main St., Wilton

wiltontownhalltheatre.com, 654-3456

Shows

Red River Virtual Cinema Red River Theatres is currently offering indie, foreign language and documentary films via a virtual cinema experience. Recent additions include City Hall, a documentary about Boston city government. See the ever-changing lineup on the website.

Saved by the Bell Trivia Night Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Chunky’s Manchester, 21+. Reserve a spot by purchasing a $5 food voucher per person.

Our Hospitality (1923) silent Buster Keaton film accompanied by live music performed by Jeff Rapsis screens on Sunday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Admission is free but a $10 donation is suggested.

The Storytellers a week-long series of silent films accompanied by live music performed by Jeff Rapsis at Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Monday, Jan. 11, through Friday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. each night. Admission is free but a $10 donation per person is suggested. Films: Monday is Destiny (1921) from director Fritz Lang; Tuesday is Intolerance (1916) from director D.W. Griffith; Wednesday is Spiders (1919) from Lang; Thursday is Way Down East (1920) from Griffith; Friday is The Saphead (1920) starring Buster Keaton.

Princess Bride Trivia Night Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Chunky’s Manchester, 21+. Reserve a spot by purchasing a $5 food voucher per person.

Peter Pan (1924) silent film accompanied by live music performed by Jeff Rapsis screens on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Admission is free but a $10 donation is suggested.

Dawson’s Creek Trivia Night Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Chunky’s Manchester, 21+. Reserve a spot by purchasing a $5 food voucher per person.

Star Wars Trivia Night Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Chunky’s Manchester, 21+. Reserve a spot by purchasing a $5 food voucher per person.

Soul (PG)

Soul (PG)

A middle-aged man hangs between life and “the Great Beyond” just as his dreams of being a working musician appear to be coming true in Soul, an animated movie from Pixar.

Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) teaches band to high school students, who have varying degrees of interest in his instruction, but his real passion is to get a full-time paying gig as a professional jazz musician. He has chased this desire, to much disappointment, for years. His mom, Libba (voice of Phylicia Rashad), urges him to quit chasing this dream and accept the teaching position (and its pension and health care and steady paycheck) permanently. But then Joe has an audition with Dorothea Williams (voice of Angela Bassett) for a position as a piano player in her jazz band. He gets a chance to play a gig with her that night that could put him in as a regular. So delighted is Joe as he walks down the street contemplating this new future that he doesn’t realize there’s an open pothole in his path until he’s fallen into it.

He suddenly finds himself a bloop of glowy, vaguely person-shaped blueness, headed on a pathway through the stars up to what he’s told is the Great Beyond. Joe is definitely not interested in the Beyond; he wants to go back to the city and play jazz. Luckily, the afterlife doesn’t have the strictest security ever and he’s able to stumble away from the path to the Beyond and into the Great Before, a sort of nursery area for new souls. He’s mistaken for a mentor and is given new soul 22 (voice of Tina Fey) to mentor. His task is to help her find her “spark” and get her ready to go to Earth.

But 22 wants none of Earth and its whole “life and eventual death” thing. She’s had lots of mentors — all of whom have given up in frustration at her lack of a “spark.” Joe sees an opportunity; he’ll help 22 find her spark and earn the badge that lets her go to Earth and he’ll take the badge to return to his body and she can stay in the soft new souls land forever. Thus do they set off to find 22’s purpose.

Along the way, Joe and 22 do make it to Earth for a bit, though 22 winds up in Joe’s body and Joe winds up in the body of an emotional therapy cat. That cat, who (as Joe) can talk (at least to 22) and do things like push elevator buttons, is the most actively kid-like element of the movie. Similar to how Inside Out used personifications of emotions and personality traits rendered as physical spaces, Soul gives dimension to spiritual elements — for example, a place called “in the zone” where living people’s souls go when they’re playing a great basketball game or lost in a musical performance, and a variant of that location where souls go when they’ve lost connection to life and greater purpose. Soul is thoughtful and beautiful and I’m not sure I totally understand who this movie is for.

I mean, it really is beautiful — beautiful looking in how it blends the different visual ideas about an afterlife with the “real” world, beautiful sounding in its lovely score that mixes jazz and other musical styles. And it has some really beautiful ideas about life and what gives a person’s life meaning. I recently finished a rewatch of the series The Good Place, so maybe I am particularly susceptible to big-picture “what does it all mean” ideas rendered with a bit of cartooniness. I liked this movie and I think I would have liked it even more on a big screen, where I could have been even more enveloped in all the visuals. But where Inside Out was tethered to the kid-world by the girl the emotions operated in and the kid parts of her life experience, like imaginary friends, I’m not sure how kids connect to Soul. My younger kids saw parts and seemed to enjoy the music and the little soul blobs, but there is a level of zaniness missing here. (And the “lost souls” idea is expressed in a way that feels just disturbing enough that it would stick with younger kids, perhaps popping up in their brains at, like, 2 a.m.) I rewatched the movie with my elementary-aged kid and her interest seemed to wane as the movie went on. The idea that singular focus on your big break, the life milestone that will really “start” your life, will cause you to miss what your actual life is, for all its joy and heartbreak, is interesting to me. Do such concepts have any meaning to kids? I mean, my kid laughed at some of the butt jokes, so it wasn’t a total loss.

This doesn’t make the movie less successful as a, like, piece of film but as a PG movie on Disney+ it did make me wonder if when this movie goes on during family movie night, it will be the kids falling asleep and fiddling with an iPad while the parents are paying rapt attention. B+

Rated PG for thematic elements and some language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers with a screenplay by Pete Docter & Mike Jones & Kemp Powers, Soul is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by Disney. It is available on Disney+.

Featured photo: Soul

Exercised, by Daniel Lieberman

Exercised, by Daniel Lieberman(Pantheon, 464 pages)

Your resolution is to exercise. Hasn’t it always been? Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman, however, offers reasons to sit down and think about exercising before you actually do it.

Lieberman isn’t an athlete or an exercise scientist, but a professor of human evolutionary biology. In his words, “I study and teach how and why the human body looks and functions the way it does.” His Harvard lab is about skeletal biology and is well worth a visit just to see the image of a skeleton running there (projects.iq.harvard.edu/skeleton).

As such, Lieberman brings a fresh perspective to the business of exercise in his quest to understand what is normal, and what is abnormal, about contemporary human beings in motion. We all know what we’ve been told in recent years: that aerobic exercise can help stave off disease and lengthen lifespans, that too much sitting is deadly, that the slothful American lifestyle is an aberration of what the body is designed to do. Forget all that. We did not evolve to exercise, at least not in the way we think of exercise today.

Lieberman eviscerates some myths about exercise and confirms others as truths in his research of primitive societies like the Hadza tribe in Tanzania, the legendary Tamahumara long-distance runners of Mexico, and American extreme athletes, like those who participate in Ironman contests.

Along the way, he tackles the athletic compulsions (or lack thereof) of animals like gorillas and dogs, noting that unlike his dog, “I never see adults leap out of their cars … and sprint as fast as possible until they gasp for air.”

Studies of gorillas and chimpanzees — and also human beings in hunter-gatherer societies — show that they don’t go out of their way to exert themselves, much like many Americans today.

“For most of the time, our closest ape relatives are sluggards that live a sort of perpetual Sabbath,” Lieberman writes.

While demonstrably hard on the human skeleton, sitting still is “an ancient, fundamental strategy to allocate scarce energy sensibly” — and at times, long periods of sitting are good for us, as when we are able to sit quietly for a long time to focus on something important, like reading a book or playing chess. (The Germans have word for such periods of intense concentration: sitzfleisch, which crudely translates to “butt flesh,” Lieberman writes.)

In fact, there is evidence that humans might have evolved to be “especially averse” to exercise, he says, noting that even when we are sitting quietly our bodies are still at work, burning 70 or so calories an hour on internal processes such as digestion and moving blood around. Even people who are highly active burn more calories through basic body maintenance than through exercise, a man who weighs 180 pounds burning about 1,700 calories in 24 hours with no running, biking or squats.

That does not mean, however, that you can throw out the New Year’s resolution, at least not if you want to feel good, be healthy and live long.

Lieberman himself runs, albeit slowly, and admits to doing so even during research in societies that look on any uncoerced physical activity with suspicion. “Why would anyone run if they didn’t have to?” one of the Tarahumara runners asked him, incredulously. In fact, in many societies around the world, people would laugh themselves silly if confronted with the Spandexed American earnestly huffing on a city street, Peloton or treadmill. These people, while still enjoying plenty of leisure and sitting, move more than we do, whether just by walking to get to their destinations or chasing down goats on foot. In fact, most modern humans walk less than we used to, and when we walk we carry less stuff, Lieberman writes.

Having established himself as an expert on pretty much everything (even digressions into topics such as how different cultures sleep are engrossing), he goes on to weigh in on perennial questions such as can you really lose weight by walking more, is running bad for your knees, and, perhaps most importantly, how can we make ourselves exercise regularly? (Forget doing it for the endorphins; the runner’s high, Lieberman says, likely evolved to increase sensory awareness in our ancestors who ran as they hunted, and not everyone experiences it anyway.)

Federal guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, which amounts to 21 minutes a day. That’s one-sixth the amount of activity that people in non-industrial societies get.

Lieberman brings a keen wit to the subject and a seemingly limitless supply of contemporary analogies. (In memorable passages, he likens evolutionary trade-offs to the Jane Austen novel Mansfield Park and notes that most superheroes come by their powers indirectly, unlike Batman, who works out). He also draws from an extraordinary well of experiences, to include dogsledding through Greenland and participating in the man-versus-horse marathon in Arizona. This is a guy you want at the head of the table at your dream dinner party. Until that happens, consider him an erudite companion on the fascinating journey that Exercised provides. A

BOOK NOTES
If you don’t want to exercise but want to be healthier, happier or lose weight, there’s only one option: change your diet. As always, there’s a fresh crop of dieting books out this month to help with the post-holiday pounds. (Eventually, let’s hope, the post-pandemic ones, too.)

Here are a few worth of attention:
The Case for Keto, by Gary Taubes (Knopf, 304 pages) — The author of The Case Against Sugar and Why We Get Fat wants us to eat fewer carbs and more fats.
The How Not To Diet Cookbook, by Dr. Michael Greger (Flatiron, 256 pages) — Seriously, you had to know this was coming when Greger’s first book, How Not To Die, was released.
Fast This Way, by Dave Asprey (Harper Wave, 288 pages) — A bullet-proof guide to becoming the high-performing human you were meant to be, the publisher promises.
Anxiety-Free With Food, by Liana Werner-Gray (Hay House, 352 pages) — On relieving stress, depression and anxiety by using food as medicine, like Hippocrates advised.
Body Love, by Kelly LeVeque (Morrow, 384 pages) — Journal your way to a healthy lifestyle in 12 weeks by focusing on “the fab four” — protein, fat, fiber and greens.
Finally, just in case 2021 is not, in fact, better than 2020, there’s The Meateater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival by Steven Rinella (Random House, 464 pages). If nothing else, you’ll want to read the introduction, titled “The Surprising Danger of S’Mores.”

Books

Author events

K WOODMAN-MAYNARD Author presents graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Online, via Zoom. Thurs., Jan. 7, 7 p.m. Registration required. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

REBECCA CARROLL Author presents Surviving the White Gaze. Virtual livestream hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., Feb. 2, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call 436-2400 or visit themusichall.org.

DIANE REHM Author presents When My Time Comes. Virtual livestream hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., Feb. 23, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call 436-2400 or visit themusichall.org.

SUSAN CONLEY Author presents Landslide. Hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Online, via Zoom. Thurs., Feb. 11, 7 p.m. Registration required. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

THERESA CAPUTO the star of TLC’s Long Island Medium will present “Theresa Caputo: The Experience Live” at the Capitol Center for the Arts (44 S. Main St. Concord, ccanh.com) on Wed., April 7, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $39.75 (with option for a VIP Photo Op for an additional $49.95).

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit bookerymht.com/online-book-club or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com/gibsons-book-club-2020-2021 or call 224-0562.

TO SHARE BREWING CO. 720 Union St., Manchester. Monthly. Second Thursday, 6 p.m. RSVP required. Visit tosharebrewing.com or call 836-6947.

Language

FRENCH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE CLASSES

Offering remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week winter session runs Jan. 21 through Feb. 25, with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Spring session dates TBA. $225. Visit facnh.com/education or call 623-1093.

Featured photo: Exercised, by Daniel Lieberman

Album Reviews 21/01/07

Laraaji, Moon Piano (self-released)

In news from the weird, we present this New York pianist, an 80-year-old cult artist whose forte is sparse ambiance for New Agers who’d like their brains to kindly stop for a second. Apparently the big sell is that these slow, deserted improv pieces were recorded in a Brooklyn church, but quite honestly, that’s an effect that could have come by way of a few decent knob twists on the part of an engineer, not to harsh anyone’s mellow about it, particularly if you love whatever he’s done before. I mean, a well-played acoustic piano is a sound to behold; my parents were both M.A. graduate pianists of New England Conservatory, so I was spoiled absolutely rotten in that regard, and therein lies my rub: This is, in the end, a one-man jam session focused on careful, reflective non-songs, largely minor key experimentations comprising various series of notes that will appeal to not overly cultured art-freaks. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but for me, regardless of this guy’s training/pedigree/whatever, it’s non-eventful. B

Hunter, 1960 (self-released)

Hunter Stamas is a Portsmouth-by-way-of-Nashua singer who’s led her band through a few albums now, this one being the latest. It’s stunningly polite, this stuff, heavy on the guitar jangle, squeaky clean vocal tracks that could certainly amaze young YouTube addicts and the fedora-hatted denizens of your favorite bars and eateries (opening soon, I hope, dear God). To dispense with the vulgarities, the production values are decent (a lot more pro-sounding than most of the local material that gets flopped onto this desk) and the songs generally stick to a specific formula (ditto), making it something of a contender you might place in your SoundCloud queue between the first Miley Cyrus album and basically anything by Bonnie Raitt. I know that might sound a bit weird, but from my seat it’s not unusual at all; Stamas is a commercial-oriented songwriter who’s come close here; there’s a ’60s Yardbirds/girl-group vibe at work that’s actually pretty unique. B+

Retro Playlist

Jazz comes in all sorts of flavors, not that you’re required to know even that much about the genre if you’re a budding newbie aficionado of it. Sometimes jazz guys will throw different genres into their recipe, as I discussed six years ago, in January 2015, when I wrote about Three Rivers, an LP from Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion. A Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame bass player, Goods has toured with Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, which speaks to a pedigree he earned after studying under legendary Blue Note Records legend Ron Carter in New York. With regard to his own (original) stuff, I’d anticipated mellow-ish fusion a la Spyro Gyra, but it was really more a modernized Return to Forever, although in some cases not so modernized when considering the outright hard rock workouts found in such tunes as the title track. There’s definitely a heavy influence afoot here; album opener “Soul Glow” has, as I put it back then, “a suspended-animation riff that proves he can restrain himself from going all-out Pelican-metal, but the desire is there,” as indicated by every plonk of his Rickenbacker, not to mention the grungy sounds of guitarist Ben Butler, “a real treasure who punches up every guitar sound from Al di Meola to Blue Oyster Cult on that one track alone.”

Speaking of Ron Carter, he released a full-length on Blue Note Records in 2007, Dear Miles, which was discussed in this space. With a resume packed with guest spots on – get this – over 3,500 albums, Carter had more than earned the right to rely on his past association with Miles Davis, who kept Carter on for most of his 1960s output. It was harmonically uncomplicated, I noted: “With Roger Squitero on board strictly to fortify percussion, the only harmonic instrument within this outing’s four-piece framework is the piano of Stephen Scott, who is kept crazy-busy with the job of re-creating various Miles Davis grooves for this sort-of-tribute LP (ex: in order to shrink the big band sound of ‘Gone’ from the Evans/Miles Porgy & Bess collaboration into these confines, Scott takes on the horn parts).”

Obviously a great one for wonks of both Miles and bass in general.

PLAYLIST

A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Way kool, everything’s back to normal, with plenty of new albums coming out on Jan. 8! Or so I thought, it doesn’t really look like a ton of stuff, but at least there’s something, starting with the new album from Barry Gibb, called Greenfields! Gibb is, of course, one of the founders of that old disco band The Bee Gees. He was the pretty-handsome one who looked like God’s idea of a male Farrah Fawcett, but now, guess what, he looks like a trucker who’d beat you up for driving a sissy electric car. But that’s what happens to all of us, like one time years ago, my boy-ees and I were walking around near the Worcester Centrum, and these three girls came up to me and insisted I was Michael Hutchence from INXS, and it took forever to convince ‘em otherwise, up to and including my refusal to speak in an Australian accent, but nowadays … well, never you mind about nowadays, and that’s what happens, so don’t get old, I’m serious. Oh whatever, we’re supposed to be talking about this old disco has-been, who became a “knight” in England, like, can you imagine if 10-foot-tall alien monsters landed here and demanded to fight our planet’s “knights,” so we had to trot out Paul McCartney, Elton John and this dude? We’d be doomed, just like this album’s lead single, “Words Of A Fool,” is doomed to be mistaken for a Matthew McConaughey cover of a Willie Nelson song. It sucks, let’s move on.

• Swedish post-punk ruffians Viagra Boys release their second LP, Welfare Jazz, any minute now. The single “Ain’t Nice” is terrific, a grungy, messy soundsystem thing that krazy-glues Chainsmokers to Big Black. It’s awesome.

• British folk-rock dude and former busker Michael Rosenberg goes by the stage name Passenger because he knows that no hipster kids would buy an album by someone with a ridiculous name like Michael Rosenberg, you know? I wonder how long the person-who-goes-by-a-band-name trend will continue, don’t you? If it does continue for much longer, I hope these “bands” will start thinking of cool “band names,” like if I were going to use a band name as my own name, I’d probably call myself, er, I mean my band, something like Tell Grandma It’s Polka And Watch Her Epic Reaction When The Crazy Kicks In. Cool, huh? Oh, I don’t care if you think that, and besides, that Van Halen tribute band I talked about forming a few weeks ago never materialized, so no bands for me, just writing in this latest column about this one-dude-band here and his new album, Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted. I’m watching the video for the tune “A Song For The Drunk And Broken Hearted,” and it’s pretty dumb, like he’s sort of cosplaying as the Joaquin Phoenix version of The Joker, and the six or eight people in the crowd are razzing him, and then he launches into the song, a strummy, harmonica-powered ditty that sounds like Conor Oberst trying to sound like Bob Dylan. It is very “meh,” if that’s your thing.

• Lastly we have Dangerous: The Double Album from cowboy-hat singing dude Morgan Wallen, who got arrested for public drunkenness outside Kid Rock’s gross bar in Nashville. On the title track he sings-raps like a total redneck, like the guy from Primus but not joking around. It’s kind of cool I suppose.

Meredith Touma

Meredith Touma of Derry is the owner of Sal Terrae Seasonings (salterraeseasonings.com, and on Facebook and Instagram @salterraeseasonings), a company offering four hand-crafted spice blends using various herbs, salts, peppers and other ingredients. Named after the Latin translation of “salt of the Earth,” Sal Terrae started last April as a grassroots project when Touma, a stay-at-home mom for 14 years, began sharing her spice blends with neighbors, friends and community members. Over the summer she brought her spices to farmers markets in Nashua, Bedford and Exeter. Sal Terrae’s spice blends, each of which is prepared at Creative Chef Kitchens in Derry, are the Classic, with local lavender and fennel; the Italian, with herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, basil and oregano; the Inferno, a hot, earthy blend with Trinidad scorpion and ghost peppers; and the Beach, which has cinnamon, oregano, clove, ginger, mace and smoked paprika. Four-ounce bottles of each of Touma’s blends are available at The Grind in Derry, Mr. Steer Meats in Londonderry, the East Derry General Store and Donahue’s Fish Market in Plaistow. Online ordering is also available.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

I love to cook, and anyone who’s always in the kitchen knows the importance of a good, sharp knife.

What would you have for your last meal?

Just a regular simple broth fondue. We like to season that with the Inferno blend.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I have a soft spot for the East Derry Tavern. The food is spectacular. I have known [owners] Sam and Lina Patel for years … and they’ve done a magnificent job turning it into a gorgeous town gem.

What celebrity would you like to see trying one of your spice blends?

Definitely Gordon Ramsay. I know it’s very cliche, but he’s actually been a culinary inspiration of mine for 20 years. I’ve been following him even before he had all of his TV shows. We’ve eaten at The London in New York City, which is a stunning restaurant. … It would be an honor to be able to thank him for his inspiration.

What is your favorite spice blend that you make?

The Beach. I use it on everything from salmon to brisket and pork ribs.

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

Home cooking. People are forced to … be creative in the kitchen and to make things at home they would normally eat while out. There are so many Zoom classes out there now that you can sign up for.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Coq au vin is probably my No. 1 go-to meal, especially in the winter season. I love cooking with chicken thighs. I give them a really hard sear and make them with tomatoes, carrots and tons of mushrooms.

Sal Terrae roasted corn and shrimp chowder
From the kitchen of Meredith Touma of Sal Terrae Seasonings in Derry

1-pound bag frozen corn
1 can unsalted creamed corn
3 to 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 pounds medium peeled and deveined shrimp (marinated in 1 tablespoon Sal Terrae Beach seasoning at room temperature for about 10 minutes)
1 package chicken sausage (Buffalo or sweet apple), sliced into coins
1 large onion, diced
2 to 3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1 red pepper, julienned
3 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Place frozen corn on a lined baking pan, toss with chopped bacon and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until bacon is cooked entirely. Set aside. In a wide stock pan, sauté onion in olive oil for five minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, celery, carrots, sausage and red pepper. Sauté on medium-high until the sausages brown slightly. Add one tablespoon of Sal Terrae Inferno seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir in cream and add potatoes. Let simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If you prefer a creamier chowder, use an immersion blender to break up the potatoes. Return to a rolling boil and add shrimp, creamed corn and roasted bacon and corn mixture. Cook until shrimp are cooked evenly (about 3 to 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Featured photo: Meredith Touma

Southwest inspired

Trio’s Cafe & Cantina to open in Salem

A new eatery coming to Salem later this month will offer family-sized meal kits, as well as other lunch and dinner items, with fresh ingredients and a unique Southwestern flair.

Trio’s Cafe & Cantina, due to open in the Breckenridge Plaza on North Broadway in the coming weeks, gets its name from the owners — a “trio” of generations of the same family that includes general manager and Salem native Julie Manzer, her mother, Janet, and father, Paul, and her two daughters, Tanna and Keira Marshall.

Manzer, who previously owned the Purple Finch Cafe in Bedford, said she learned about the vacant restaurant space last August from her best friend in high school.

“My friend had wanted me to own something around here where I grew up, and so I ran it by my family and we decided to look into it,” she said. “Originally I was going to do breakfast and lunch, because that was kind of the world I was used to … but with Covid it seemed to make more sense to focus on takeout and family meal deals.”

It’s that concept, combined with Manzer’s love of Southern California and Tex-Mex flavors, that sets the menu at Trio’s apart. Meal kit options will include tacos, enchiladas or fajitas, with either chicken or steak and flour or corn tortillas; various soups and chilis by the quart; and tray-sized or take-and-bake bowls, like a chili and macaroni and cheese bowl with sour cream and tortilla strips, a plant-based protein bowl with sweet potato, black beans and avocado, and a citrus chicken bowl with bacon, tomato, greens, cheddar cheese and onion.

There are several sandwich, burger and side options that you’ll be able to order via either takeout or dine-in. The Southern “Steuben,” for instance, will feature barbecue pulled pork, coleslaw, melted cheddar cheese and ranch on grilled country white bread, while the Philly torta has steak, onion, bell peppers, queso, jalapeno, avocado and chipotle mayonnaise on a tolera roll. A “comfort kitchen” section of the menu has plated options like beer-braised steak or half-roasted chicken with veggies, pulled pork chipotle barbecue macaroni and cheese, and tempura-battered fish and chips with a lime cabbage carrot slaw.

Trio’s is also rolling out a menu of Southwestern-themed house cocktails, in addition to some bottled beers, wines and seltzers, and white citrus or seasonal red sangrias with fresh fruit.

“I have a fresh-squeezed orange juice machine, so we’ll have a house margarita that has a little bit of that in it,” Manzer said. “We’ll also have bloody marys and marias, and mimosa flights.”

Trio’s Cafe & Cantina
An opening date is expected in the coming weeks. Visit their website or follow them on social media for updates.
Where: 264 N. Broadway, Unit 105, Salem
Anticipated hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
More info: Visit trioscc.com or find them on Facebook and Instagram

Featured photo: Left to right, are: general manager Julie Manzer, her father Paul Manzer, older daughter Tanna Marshall, mother Janet Manzer and younger daughter Keira Marshall. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

Lone Star eats

Texas-style BBQ food truck opens restaurant space in Milford

Regina and Jeremy Davison gained a devoted following after the launch of their Texas-style barbecue food truck on Elm Street in Milford in late July. Now, after moving a few miles down the road, the couple is continuing that success at a brick-and-mortar location.

R & J Texas-style BBQ On Wheels, according to Regina Davison, will still be open outdoors as a mostly takeout operation. The new space, which opened last week in the former Pizza Top restaurant directly adjacent to the food truck, introduces indoor seating and expands the menu to include a wide variety of items not previously available, from breakfast options and weekly specialty burgers to mixed cocktails, spiked milkshakes and more.

Whether you order pulled pork or beef brisket on a sandwich or as a combo plate — the meats are smoked overnight for 12 hours and 16 hours, respectively — you’ll get a ton of it.

“Texas-style means a lot of fat, a lot of grease and a lot of food,” said Regina Davison, a native of Dallas who came to New Hampshire about eight years ago. “What you would get at a normal restaurant, you get three times that much here. So you have enough for lunch, dinner and probably for lunch the next day.”

An entree plate of brisket with either chicken, sausage, pulled pork or pork chops will come with three sides and a serving of cornbread. Davison makes all of her own sides from scratch, like baked beans that are prepared for six hours with pulled pork, bacon and brown sugar. Other sides include fresh collard greens, Gouda macaroni and cheese, chili cheese fries, grilled green beans with fried bacon, coleslaw, and potato salad with white or brown gravy.

Recently Davison has added items like catfish, steaks and fried chicken; smothered chicken or pork chops with gravy, bell peppers and onions; and macaroni and cheese bowls topped with chili, brisket or pulled pork.

Breakfast is now available all day from the new location too.

“I’m creating my own hash that’s going to be with brisket or pulled pork, and then I have what I call a Momma’s breakfast burrito,” she said. “We have pancakes and waffles as well.”

Beginning this week Davison has introduced a “Wednesday Burger Madness” menu featuring a selection of specialty burgers only available on Wednesdays. They include options like the Davison Burger Extraordinaire, cooked medium and topped with bacon, two fried eggs, Gouda cheese, arugula, onions and a house sauce; and the Williams Beast Burger, which has pulled pork and pieces of ribs on top of a double meat patty, also with bacon, onions and a bourbon barbecue glazed sauce.

A drinks menu is also new for the indoor space, with a small selection of bottled beers, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shakes (with the option to add a liqueur like Kahlua or amaretto), and mixed cocktails, like margaritas, mimosas, hurricanes and Texas rum punch.

In addition to keeping the truck open for takeout orders, Davison said it will remain available for event catering.

R & J Texas-style BBQ On Wheels
Where
: 183 Elm St., Unit 3, Milford
Anticipated hours: Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 9 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (breakfast is available all day)
More info: Visit rjtexasbbqonwheels.com, find them on Facebook or call 518-0186

Featured photo: Breakfast brisket burritos. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 21/01/07

News from the local food scene

Salem market moves indoors: The Salem Farmers Market will move indoors for the remainder of the winter beginning Sunday, Jan. 10, at a new location at 369 S. Broadway in Salem (the former location of Rockler Woodworking), according to a recent post on its Facebook page. The year-round market, which normally operates indoors from November through about April or May, has been outdoors at Salem Marketplace since this past March. According to Bonnie Wright of the market’s board, limited hours of 10 a.m. to noon each Sunday will continue in the new location. Visit salemnhfarmersmarket.org.

Blind wines: Join WineNot Boutique (221 Main St., Nashua) for a blind tasting of cabernet sauvignon wines on Thursday, Jan. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants will taste nine wines, each of which will be hidden in brown bags, paired with varieties of cheese, chocolates and appetizers. After tasting each wine, you’ll be asked to vote on your favorite. Separate tables and chairs will be set up for each attendee with its own individually prepared plate. The cost is $40 per person and face masks are required when entering the store. Visit winenotboutique.com.

Get in the spirit: LaBelle Winery recently unveiled a new line of spirit infusion kits under “The Winemaker’s Kitchen” collection of handcrafted culinary products, according to a press release. Six natural flavors — juniper berry citrus, cinnamon vanilla, spicy bloody mary, triple citrus twist, vanilla bean old-fashioned and cranberry vodka — are included in the line, all of which are used to incorporate into a pre-existing alcoholic spirit of your choice. Simply add your favorite liquor to the infusion jar and let it rest for approximately a week. According to the release, kits are available to purchase online or by visiting LaBelle’s Amherst location. Each kit includes one Ball jar with instructions and assorted herbs, spices and fruits for infusion. They can also be shipped or delivered locally. Visit labellewinery.com.

Makris restaurant takes a break: Concord’s Makris Lobster & Steak House has temporarily closed its doors as of Jan. 1, according to a recent post on the restaurant’s website attributed to the Makris family. “We have come to a last-minute hard decision, after some deep thought, that it is in our best interest to shut down for a couple months due to Covid restrictions and lack of staff,” the post reads. “Our plan is to renovate and reopen stronger than before.” The post goes on to say that a reopening date for the restaurant is “to be determined” sometime in the future.

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