Northern song

Record release show among Area 23 events

An off-the-beaten-path Concord restaurant and taproom is doing all it can to keep original music alive in New Hampshire. Area 23 was among the first venues in the state to revive live entertainment when lockdown was lifted last spring. Owner Kirk McNeil continues in these cold months, lately offering Saturday night “swap sets” that give two local artists an opportunity to showcase their talents.

“We all have something to say about our experiences in the world; we’ve all been touched by a certain song or songs in our lives,” McNeil said recently, when asked to explain his commitment to the regional scene. “Supporting local music helps those fresh voices and experiences come into the world and reach more ears.”

Many of the acts appearing at Area 23 began at the midweek open mic, including Littleton-based Thrown to the Wolves, which will celebrate its first full-length CD with a release party on Feb. 26. The rootsy duo consists of singer-songwriter Higher Frequency — who answers to Freak while declining to reveal his birth name — and fiddler JD Nadeau.

Freak is an amalgamation of a high-country Tom Waits and the Illustrated Man. Ink covers much of his body and all of his face. The habit began as a fascination with his father’s tattoos, and eventually he became an artist. He said in a recent phone interview that he first thought of facial tattooing as a seven-year-old.

“Doing it for the first time was revelatory,” he said. “I wasn’t really comfortable with me until I started. … When I looked in my mirror after I had my first session on my face, I said, ‘Oh, there you are!’”

Musically, Freak’s moaning, growling songs are filled with images of hellhounds, fire and fury; mostly, his unbridled singing is about rejecting all of that.

“I don’t need to believe one way or another to be a good human being,” he said.

“Just love your fellow man and cherish your own soul,” sings the minister’s son on the lead track to the forthcoming Right Side of Wrong, Wrong Side of Good. “I don’t need your Heaven, and I don’t need your Hell — to be a better man, I just found myself.” 

Freak is self-taught; he picked up guitar a few years back.

“As soon as I could put three chords together I wrote my first song,” he said.

The woman he wrote it for was not as enamored of his foray into music.

“The more I wrote, the more she hated it, and the more in love with it I became,” he said.

Nadeau’s galloping fiddle adds a wealth of spice to their tunes; it’s hard to think of them without the texture he provides. When they met at an open mic in Newport Center, Vermont, a couple of years back, Freak thought he only played guitar. They did a dozen songs together that night and met up a few weeks later at Nadeau’s apartment.

“Our styles weren’t fitting,” Freak said, noting that when Nadeau mentioned his other instrument, “I was like, ‘You play fiddle? Why didn’t you bring that up before?’”

The spark thus lit, the two would play their first gig at a festival in upstate New York originally booked for another band that, in Freak’s words, “went south.” He didn’t want to give up the slot, and meeting Nadeau made it an easier choice. A line from a song in progress gave the duo an appropriate name; that was over two years ago.

In mid-2019 a friend in the Concord band The Rhythm Upstairs invited him to Area 23’s Wednesday open mic. He and Nadeau got up and played a few songs. Soon after, they were offered a gig.

“First time I met him I was not expecting his music to be what it was,” McNeil said. “But I was in no way disappointed.”

Given its interesting beginnings, his growing audience is a pleasant surprise, Freak said.

“I never expected when I picked up the guitar that I would play in a band, or that people would like my music,” he said. “It even took me a few years to be like, ‘OK, there’s not that many people lying to me.’ So I just kind of rolled with it. Everything that I’m doing now is like a bonus … because it was never expected when I started this.”

Upcoming at Area 23
Friday, Feb. 5 – Dillan Welch
Saturday, Feb. 6 – Ross Arnold and Steve Butler
Friday, Feb. 12 – Brian Munger
Saturday, Feb. 13 – Hometown Eulogy
Friday, Feb. 19 – Mikey G
Saturday, Feb. 20 – Chip and the Figments
Friday, Feb. 26 – Thrown to the Wolves
Saturday, Feb. 27 – Ken Clark and Chris Fitz
Every Wednesday – open mic
Every Saturday – jam (2-5pm)
All shows run 7 to 11 p.m. except Saturdays

Featured photo: Thrown to the Wolves. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/02/04

Song pull: A weekly open mic night continues apace, hosted by Brian “Burnout” Peasley. The middle moniker is a nod to his punk rock days, though lately he leans toward roots and Americana with his bands Hometown Eulogy and Raid The Larder. Peasley also played mandolin support on Will Hatch’s most recent album. A rich local music scene means anything can happen at the basement hoot. Thursday, Feb. 4, 8 p.m., Penuche’s Ale House, 16 Bicentennial Square, Concord, 228-9833.

Make good: Her original booking last April canceled due to Covid, singer-songwriter Becca Myari finally debuts at an Auburn restaurant, bar and favorite local hang. With percussive guitar and a lilting voice, Myari is a charming performer who mixes inventive originals with covers. Her version of Tom Petty’s “Cabin Down Below” was a highlight at the recent Rex Theatre tribute. Friday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m., Auburn Pitts Bar & Grill, 167 Rockingham Road, Auburn, 622-6564.

Gotta giggle: A Rhode Island comic with an impressive list of credits, Brad Pierce headlines a bill with four other standups and host Pete Andrews. Pierce’s TheGoldenMic YouTube channel has over 300,000 views and videos featured on the two Jimmy (Kimmel & Fallon) late night shows. He’s performed with some big names, including Jim Gaffigan and Jerry Seinfeld at NYC’s Gotham Comedy Club. Saturday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m., Kathleen’s Irish Pub, 90 Lake St., Bristol ($5), 744-6336.

Super brunch: Start off big game day with Nate Comp singing and playing, because whichever side of the Tom Brady divide you land on, everyone agrees brunch is a good thing. Comp is a constant presence on the area music scene, as a member of D-Comp Trio (and duo), as well as perennial host of open mic at Wild Rover and KC’s Rib Shack and, for this appearance, as a solo performer. Sunday, Feb. 7, 11 a.m., Copper Door Restaurant, 41 S. Broadway, Salem, 458-2033.

At the Sofaplex 21/02/04

Finding ‘Ohana (PG)

Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono.

Pili (Peahu), a geocaching champion, sets out on a real treasure hunt to help pay her family’s bills in this adventure-packed kid-friendly movie set in Hawaii.

Pili, 12, and her brother, Ioane (Aiono), an older teen, have come to Hawaii with their mother, Leilani (Kelly Hu), to visit their grandfather, Kimo (Branscombe Richard), who is recovering from a heart attack. The visit is their first one back to the family home since the kids were little and their father, who was in the Army, died. Leilani is frustrated to find that Kimo has a slew of bills that need paying, Pili is disappointed that she had to forgo a summer at geocaching camp and Ioane is all teenager-y about the lack of Wi-Fi — though he perks up a bit when he meets girl-teen Hana (Lindsay Watson). Pili is drawn to a journal she finds and a story her grandfather tells her about a long-ago explorer and some hidden treasure. She sets out with new buddy Casper (Owen Vaccaro) to find the mountain where a series of clues from an old journal should bring her to what she’s hoping is enough olden-days pirate-y gold and whatnot that she can pay her family’s bills without their having to sell their Brooklyn apartment (and possibly leave their city lives behind).

Mixing the best parts of The Goonies, the Indiana Jones sense of adventure and some Drunk History-style storytelling, Finding ‘Ohana is plucky fun with moments of well-executed family drama that manages to pretty seamlessly flow with the comedy and action. Other than some kissy business with the teens, the movie feels pretty older-elementary-schooler-friendly without being a chore for adults to sit through (it is just self-aware enough about its Goonies-ness to be charming in its nostalgia). B+ Available on Netflix.

Palmer (R)

Justin Timberlake, June Squibb.

Palmer (Timberlake) is released from prison and returns to his small home town (in, I think, Louisiana) to live with his grandmother, Vivian (Squibb), and try to start over in life. The small town-ness makes that extremely difficult — everybody knows his trajectory from promising high school quarterback to man who took part in a burglary that went bad. But his grandmother’s reputation in her church also helps to get him his job as janitor at the local elementary school.

Vivian is strict with Palmer but a giving person; when Shelly (Juno Temple), the woman renting a neighboring trailer from Vivian, takes off, Vivian watches Sam (Ryder Allen), her elementary school aged son. Sam is sweet and happy despite his family turmoil and loves all things fancy, especially a cartoon princess show and its costumes and merch. This makes school difficult for him but he is confident in his personality and his interests, despite the bullying from kids and some adults — and he has an understanding teacher in Miss Maggie (Alisha Wainwright).

When Vivian dies, Sam is basically left alone. Though Palmer initially plans to send Sam to child services, his own childhood experiences with family upheaval lead him to agree to take care of Sam while they wait for Shelly to return. Palmer, Sam and to some degree Miss Maggie, who sort of hovers on the edges (initially, it seems, to make sure Sam is all right but later because, you know, Palmer is played by Justin Timberlake), become a kind of found family, with Sam and Palmer helping each other to find some stability.

For all that this movie has some grim and violent moments, it is a sweet and gentle story — but sweet fancy molasses, is it slow. You know the joke that goes, “I spent a year in [some boring place] one weekend”? Palmer is the movie version of that. It goes exactly where you think it will but it takes so very long getting there. This movie sets the scene just fine but then hangs around making sure, “Do you get it? Do You GET IT?” for an unnecessarily long time and it does this repeatedly. You could cut a good 30 minutes out of this movie and lose nothing. The slow-pokey-ness of the pacing and the needless repetition of story points (that Palmer’s old friends are jerks, Shelly is a mess, Sam is bullied) cut into the impact of Timberlake’s basically average to above average performance and Allen’s realistic-kid-like performance as Sam. B- — Available on Apple TV+

Penguin Bloom (TV-14)

Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln.

Sam Bloom (Watts), an athletic Australian mother of three sons, becomes paralyzed from the bra-strap down during an accident on a family vacation. Months later, the family is still having a hard time coping: Sam is depressed, her oldest son Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston) feels guilty about how the accident happened, Sam and her husband Cameron (Lincoln) haven’t figured out how to relate to each other and her younger sons, Rueben (Felix Cameron) and Oli (Abe Clifford-Barr), are just generally sort of missing their withdrawn mother. But then they find a young black-and-white magpie on the beach and name her Penguin. The bird and Sam’s role caring for the bird give the family something new and hopeful to coalesce around and help Sam find her way out of her grief.

There isn’t much to this movie, which is based on a true story. It is a pleasant movie with a palatable amount of inspirational storytelling. The Bloom family Australian home has a casual beach feel — which is sort of fun to look at, in an interior design magazine way, and consider things such as how machine washable all the upholstery looks (which feels accurate for a house with three young boys) but how uncluttered the house is (which feels more aspirational than realistic). Nobody’s performance is horrible. And … the bird is cute. There are worse things to fold your laundry to. B Available on Netflix.

The Dig (PG-13)

Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes.

Edith Pretty (Mulligan) hires excavator Basil Brown (Fiennes) to help her unearth archaeological finds in a field on her property in this movie based on a true story of a true dig in Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England.

The work was sort of a pet project of hers and her late husband’s. He didn’t live to see the uncovering of whatever is hiding in the large and centuries-old mounds in their field and now she has learned she doesn’t have long to live either. The project is also happening as the British Museum is securing all of its treasures elsewhere and another dig is rushing to finish excavation on a Roman site before the country plunges into war with Germany — this is summer 1939 and everybody knows they are weeks away from their world changing.

The Dig starts off as a slow look in on a Downton Abbey-ish world — Edith dresses for dinner by herself at the large country home tended by several servants. She and Brown slowly form a sort of friendship over their excitement about the dig and their desire to keep bigger museums and organizations from taking over. It’s interesting — the process of uncovering what they eventually realize is an Anglo-Saxon ship — but it is also a bit pokey with a lot of character beats that seem to go nowhere. About halfway through, we meet several new characters including Edith’s RAF-bound cousin, Rory (Johnny Flynn, the Mr. Knightley of 2020’s Emma), and a husband-wife archaeologist duo, Stuart Piggott (Ben Chaplin) and Peggy Piggott (Lily James). They add a welcome bit of soapiness to a movie that then becomes surprisingly story-filled and emotionally affecting in the final 30 or so minutes. The Dig is a nice bit of drama based on real history — if you can stick with it. B Available on Netflix.

The Little Things (R)

The Little Things (R)

Three difficult loners find themselves in each other’s orbit during the investigation into a serial killer in 1990 Los Angeles in The Little Things, a pretty standard midwinter thriller movie.

In the mix with horror movies, the occasional goofy comedy and, in February-ish, romance-y movies, the early part of the year usually tends to bring sort of procedural, man-on-the-hunt-for-enemy movies. Sometimes the enemy is the human trafficking organization that kidnapped the guy’s daughter (Taken), sometimes it’s wolves (The Grey). Sometimes it’s a woman on the hunt (Miss Bala). These low-pressure movies fill the space around the Oscar releases that are still coming into theaters during these weeks that, in normal times, are the thick of awards season. And even though everything about movies and awards is all haywire right now, The Little Things still feels like it’s meeting the need for a “police-y thriller starring an older but still credible-as-action-hero actor.”

In this movie, that actor is Denzel Washington, playing sheriff’s deputy Joe Deacon, called “Deke.” He works in the Bakersfield area now but was once an L.A. County sheriff’s detective. He’s sent back to L.A. to pick up some evidence and so we get to see him interact with old friends and coworkers who are basically not happy to see him. He was one of those great but difficult detectives and he left under … circumstances.

He bumps into Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), a rising star detective who also seems pretty difficult. Baxter is tightly wound and cocky — and under a lot of stress as he is the lead investigator in a serial killer case. A handful of women have been found murdered with similar patterns to the violence and state of the bodies.

Aspects of those cases remind Deke of a never-solved case featuring murdered women from his days in Los Angeles, a case that seems to have led to, as we’re told, a divorce and a heart attack and his move to a new city. Because Baxter has heard impressive things about Deke’s investigative abilities and because Deke is still obsessed with that old case, the men eventually start working to solve these new murders together.

Which is how loner number three enters the picture: Albert Sparma (Jared Leto). Even if he never killed anyone, Albert would be described as a “creepy serial killer type.” Violent crime seems to be, whether he actively participates in it or not, a hobby he has really gotten into, with his books on famous serial killers past, his active-at-all-times police scanner, his gross response to seeing crime scene photos and his whole “I am a serial killer” vibe. He is de-Li-ghted when Deke and Baxter take an interest in him. Are they going to Break The Rules in pursuit of him? Would I have ordered a large popcorn and said “heck, why not” to at least a small amount of butter?

You can currently see this movie in theaters or you can make your own popcorn and watch it on HBO Max through Feb. 28. And, sure, go ahead, watch it. This movie is fine. I’ve seen worse things in winter movie viewing. Would I recommend building a whole move night around it? Maybe not; the extremely “what you’d expect” story beats and the general “it’s a grim world out there” perspective of this movie doesn’t exactly add up to anything fresh or surprising. The movie is unnecessarily over two hours long and needed to either shave off a good 30 minutes or add some kind of more substantial subplot to justify its length.

The movie comes off, I think, as generally better than it is because of the lead actors. I could probably watch a made-weary-by-the-job Denzel Washington pick up dry cleaning and search for a missing library book and would find it at least medium-compelling. Rami Malek is every young cop character ever trying to balance the bleakness of the job with a sunny home life. He plays Baxter with just enough weirdness that it gives the character a twitchy edge. Leto feels like he’s at least having fun, throwing All The Acting at his role.

If that doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation it’s because it’s not — it’s more like “if you are already paying for HBO Max and can basically see this movie for free there’s no specific reason to avoid it.” In a normal time, this movie probably would have come and gone with little notice and become a thing you could snooze to on cable six months later. (It was the No. 1 movie in theaters last weekend, according to media reports.) But, hey, silver lining I guess, now you can fall asleep at the slow parts or give up at one of the umpteen flashbacks that very slowly unfurl Deke’s Bad Thing that Happened Back When all from the comfort of your own home. C+

Rated R to violent/disturbing images, language and full nudity, according to the MPA on Written and directed by John Lee Hancock, The Little Things is two hours and 7 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. It is available on HBO Max through Feb. 28.

Featured photo: The Little Things (R)

This Is the Voice, by John Colapinto

This Is the Voice, by John Colapinto (Simon & Schuster, 320 pages)

John Colapinto can blame his raspy voice on Jann Wenner.

Twenty years ago, he was working for Rolling Stone when Wenner, the magazine’s owner, put together a rock band composed of the magazine’s staff. “I had just turned forty-one and I jumped at the opportunity to sustain the delusion that I was not getting old,” Colapinto writes.

His performance as the group’s lead singer, however, turned out to be a bit too exuberant, and soon after, his voice turned to sandpaper. When the condition persisted, Colapinto saw doctors who found a growth, a polyp similar to the career-ending one that Julie Andrews suffered.

Faced with the loss of his voice, or at least the one he was used to, Colapinto realized how integral his voice was to his sense of self. This Is the Voice is his exploration into an aspect of humanity that gets little attention: how our ability to make sounds and connect them to thoughts is central to what makes us human.

Yes, animals have language too, but Colapinto argues that what emanates from humans is vastly different. His parakeets can emulate human speech and remember words, but they can’t figure out how to use those words to get what they want. His birds may be able to learn to say the word “seed” but they can’t translate that ability into demanding seed from within their cage.

Colapinto’s quest to learn more about the voice is a promising scaffold on which to build a book. Unfortunately, his personal story is a short one and it is soon abandoned for a more textbook-like analysis of the development of language. He begins with a deep dive into how babies learn language, a process that borders on the miraculous, given that children learn to talk by hearing “the half-mumbled, sporadic, random talk all around them (like the murky, overlapping conversations in a Robert Altman movie). It turns out, the 1999 film Baby Geniuses should have been a documentary, not a comedy.

“In one study, 2-year-olds were shown mysterious objects like an apple corer and told just once that it is a ‘dax.’ Though never again told this word, they recalled it weeks later when asked to point to a picture of the ‘dax’ on a screen,” writes.

Newborns are physically unable to talk, because the larynx and tongue aren’t yet in the right places; that takes a couple of months. It will take six to eight years before a child can articulate as deftly as an adult. And Colapinto explores other curiosities of language, such as that humans and birds must learn vocal expression from others of their species, while all other mammals can develop their distinct voices independently, without exposure to the language.

Also, human speech is unique in the animal kingdom because of its gender differences. “All other mammals are vocally monomorphic: their roars, barks, meows, and baahs sound the same whether made by a male or a female of the species.” Most human adult males, however, communicate at a pitch that is an octave lower than that of women, Colapinto writes.

The complexities of language and the mysteries of its development have been the subject of scholarly debate and study for centuries. Colapinto delves into that work by accompanying a researcher to the Brazilian village where a primitive tribe known as the Pirahã live. This is a rehash of a 2007 New Yorker article titled “The Interpreters.”

It’s interesting, but by this point the reader feels led down an overgrowth jungle path; we were promised a book about voice, not about language. He gets back on topic with a fascinating discussion of what’s known as “vocal fry,” a low-pitched, creaky way of talking that has been described elsewhere as “the way a Kardashian speaks.”

Sure enough, Colapinto says “the first reports of the vocal fry epidemic” appeared in 2010, when the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians had the most viewers. Kim Kardashian, he says, is the “the epidemic’s Patient Zero” and the sound is essentially a human growl. As unpleasant as most people perceive the sound, it “has become a way for women to level the vocal playing field with men, who … use their more baritone voices to dominate in conversations.” (Don’t accuse Colapinto of misogyny; he also detects vocal fry in George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.)

Also interesting is a section on how dialects and accents have evolved as sort of “territorial marking” and why so many New Englanders eschew the “r” in their words, a phenomenon he describes as “r-lessness.”

The penultimate chapter, “The Voice of Leadership and Persuasion,” looks at political rhetoric, focusing on Adolf Hitler and former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Trump supporters, stay away from this one.

However, the chapter lends an immediacy to the topic and helps to lead Colapinto back to his own “scarred and aging voice” that was the genesis of the book. “My voice, with its nicks and scars and telltale rasp, tells its own history of my life, just like yours does,” he writes. It’s a satisfying conclusion, though the reader might think it takes too long to get there. Recommended for New Yorker subscribers, aging singers and language buffs; not for lovers of Kardashians. B-

Nothing says “I forgot about Valentine’s Day” like a box of drugstore candy. Nothing says “I’ve been thinking deeply about this important day in our relationship” like a box of candy plus a book.

That’s even more true now that Amazon and the USPS have apparently adopted “yeah, whenever” as their delivery slogans. But if you order quickly, you have a shot at getting one of these titles before Feb. 14. There’s something for everyone here, from lovers of music to lovers of dogs.

Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less, edited by Daniel Jones and Miya Lee (Artisan, 208 pages). These are vignettes about love compiled from The New York Times’ popular “Modern Love” column.
Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life by Alex Christofi (Bloomsbury Continuum, 256 pages). This won’t be out until March, but for fans of the Russian novelist it looks worth the wait: a biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky focusing on three great loves of his life. Pre-order and print out the receipt.
Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Knopf, 256 pages). Technically, you can give this just for the title. But the stories about love and relationship are great, too, to include one about an engaged couple debating the proper number of ritual goat sacrifices for their wedding.
The Course of Love, by Alain de Botton (Simon & Schuster, 240 pages) A Seattle Times review of this novel called it “A living, volatile portrait of how two very different souls love, complement and aggravate each other.” An Evening Standard review said, “It may even save some marriages.” Worth a try.
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis (HarperOne, 192 pages). The late Christian apologist and creator of Narnia analyzes four kinds of love: affection, friendship, erotic, and love of God.
Modern Love, True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption, edited by Daniel Jones (Crown, 304 pages). This is another compilation of the “Modern Love” columns in The New York Times, these longer than 100 words.
Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, edited by Cathy W. Barks (Scribner, 432 pages). American novelists in the Jazz age, the Fitzgeralds loved each other prolifically in person and on paper. They probably won’t mind if you borrow a line or two to breathe in your beloved’s ear.
Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You, by Clive D.L. Wynne (Mariner, 272 pages). Yes, you can buy this one for yourself.

Featured photo: This Is the Voice, by John Colapinto

Album Reviews 21/02/04

Practice, Not A Game (self-released)

Practice is the stage name of one Michael Tapper, a New Yorker who’s played drums for We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen and a couple of other bands. The nom is an in-joke that I suppose is funny to some; the backstory is that NBA great Allen Iverson kept repeating the word during an interview to troll the gathered press corps who were on his case for not showing up for team practices. And that’s about as deep as things get these days with one-man one-offs, not that I’m trying to put a hex on Tapper if he’s going to go further with this project, a sometimes-deep-but-mostly-not stab at Hot Chip-ish house. It doesn’t hurt that Tapper’s voice sounds similar to that of TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe in mellow mode a lot of the time; with all the from-the-mountaintop reverb the beats get, a voice like that makes everything more downright approachable. Weird, when he harmonizes with himself it sounds like Duran Duran. A

Asiahn, The Interlude (Since The 80s Records)

Imagine Toni Braxton evoking Lorde on a Smoky Robinson tip. Then imagine that sort of #BlackLives-steeped vibe finding a home on a soul-centric record label that’s trying to be the polar opposite of Motown in the area of artist-exploitation. That’s a logical direction in which to turn for any singer, let alone one who’s written tunes for Pitbull, Drake, Lil Wayne and so on, someone who wants a solid platform for the out-and-proud songs she’s held in reserve for however long now. Rather than beating the silly love song horse to death, the theme of this EP is self-care expressionism, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t romantic or whatnot. In fact it is, which is of course quite fitting in these times of endless isolation and second-guessing everything we do. “My World” kicks off the festivities with a 1970s-bedroom-radio miasma; “Gucci Frames” mixes understated trap beats with megaphone-whispered nothings muttered into the void; “Messed Up” tables waterlogged post-bling afterparty ambiance. A

Retro Playlist

This week we revisit a couple of albums I covered exactly six years ago, in 2015. Back then, the albums I was actually kind of psyched about included Colin Hay’s Next Year People. Hay used to be in Men At Work, so I was mildly excited to see if he could recreate the “magic” of their ’80s hit “Down Under,” but of course he couldn’t, because if he had I would have found joy for a few moments. No, instead it was a lame Van Morrison type song which, obviously, warrants no further examination.

Anyway, the main focus that week was the usual two-album tandem, first focused on Hyperview, an album from Pennsylvania band Title Fight. The short-version takeaway was “sometimes a band’s sound changes so much they should really just change their name,” being that the band had suddenly sworn off the Drive Like Jehu roots-emo approach of their first album and gone almost totally Joy Division. Today, I have no idea why I said that the switch was a display of good judgment, seeing as how plenty of people actually like Drive Like Jehu. Maybe I was trying to tick those people off, which is a pretty safe bet, but then again, maybe my stomach was, at that time, fully capable of tolerating yet another band that ripped off Joy Division. I really have no idea.

The other defendant that week was a buzz band from Los Angeles called Street Joy, with their self-titled EP. Not that I don’t have more important things to do than Google the band to see if they’re still together, but there was promise, at least with the opening song, “Wandering in Your Mind.” The idea there was “BRMC-meets-Strokes lo-fi garage-raunch, decorated nicely enough with some old-school Iggy hollering.” Another song, “Moon,” sounded “like Strokes doing a slow, bullhorn-powered version of something Alice Cooper left off the Billion Dollar Babies album.” In other words it was mostly Strokes pickpocketing, which was, I stated, “worthy of placement on a Ford Focus commercial, if that sells you.”

Given that I haven’t heard a peep from the band since 2015, they probably didn’t even soundtrack a My Pillow commercial, which is just sad.


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• On Friday, Feb. 5, all the latest CDs come out! Remember when that used to mean something, when all the new records would come out on Tuesdays, and your edgy, hip record store would write all the new albums in erasable Sharpie on a whiteboard, and when the clerk wasn’t looking you’d draw little skulls and other edgy transgressive things on the whiteboard, and it was all so fun and exciting, and then everything went online and rock ’n’ roll died its last death? Oh, well, Tower Records and Strawberries and all those things are all gone, converted into Dave & Buster’s and emergency soup kitchens or whatever, but I’ll have you know that there are still several record stores in New Hampshire, like Bull Moose in Portsmouth, Metro City and Music Connection in Manchester, Pitchfork in Concord, and four different Newbury Comics. To be honest, I haven’t been in a record store for a year, because of the plague, but anyway, some or all of our local record stores will be blessed with brand new stuff on the 5th, starting with Medicine At Midnight, the newest “slab” from corporate grunge charlatans Foo Fighters! Supposedly the band recorded this album in a haunted house, like weird things kept happening during the recording sessions. The weirdest thing I can imagine is my actually being impressed by the album’s second single, “No Son of Mine,” but here we go, it’s queued up on the YouTube. Eh, it’s OK, a punkish, grindy tune that’s part WWE entrance theme and latter day Jello Biafra. Pointless but OK.

• British rapper Slowthai has finally gotten around to releasing his second album, Tyron, which is on the way and scheduled for a Feb. 5 release date. The lead single, “Mazza,” features A$AP Rocky as the main guest, adding his usual spit-takes to Slowthai’s agile Eminem imitation. The beat is made of creepy, Postal Service-like minimalist weirdness, if that floats your boat.

• Haha, I thought the whole “John Carpenter making albums” thing was just a passing meme, but here’s another one, titled Lost Themes III: Alive After Death. The idea behind this is that Carpenter didn’t use all the two-note songs he wrote for his movies, like the two-piano-note theme to Halloween, the murky mess he wrote to soundtrack The Thing, you know, all those things that sounded like Keyboard Cat but in real life, not a meme. The sort-of-title track, “Alive After Death,” is just spooky and whatnot, the backdrop to an animated film. It’s like the intro to that movie Creepshow but not with Scooby Doo-level animation.

• Finally this week, it’s The Weather Station’s new album, Ignorance, hot off the presses and whatnot! If you’re the type who likes decent-enough folktronica and whatever, you might enjoy this album, because frontwoman Tamara Lindeman is like a cross between Sia and Aimee Mann. “Tried To Tell You,” the single, isn’t bad at all, like a low-budget Lana Del Rey with a pulse.

A drink named…

During the 1920s and 1930s, if you were young and had the means, Paris was the place to be.

The war had ended — at least everyone thought so. In the boom times of the Roaring Twenties the arts flourished like they never had before. The French embraced jazz, experimental art and edgy literature. Unencumbered by Prohibition, Parisians were extremely open-minded about cocktails (and indeed, many other fun things as well). American authors and artists moved there in droves.

They stayed through most of the ’30s. The Great Depression hit France as hard as anywhere, but things seemed just as bad at home, and again, there were cocktails. And if you were young, and beautiful, and American in Paris in the 1920s and ‘30s, the place to be was Harry’s New York Bar, on the Rue Daunou. Hemingway drank there. George Gershwin composed An American in Paris there.

And then there were the drinks. Harry’s claims to have invented the bloody mary. Also the Sidecar and the French 75. And this one.

What’s that? What’s it called? Um — er —

HEY! Look over there! Is that an oscelot?!

Anyway, the thing to keep in mind when you are making this particular drink — Excuse me? What’s it called? Darling, let’s keep this pure and special. Let’s not complicate things with too many questions.

As I was saying, the thing to keep in mind when making this particular drink is that while it is, at its core, a relatively straightforward cocktail, it lends itself to more and more elaborate ingredients and techniques. It is easy to slip down a rabbit hole of obsession. As I did.

The Recipe:

1 1/2 ounces mid-level gin (I’ve been drinking Death’s Door lately)

1 1/2 ounces fresh squeezed tangerine juice (OK, you’re going to use orange juice. You know it. I know it. All I’m saying is that I made this with tangerine juice and it is good that way.)

1/2 teaspoon absinthe (Seriously, no more. Absinthe is a very serious player and she is not here for your nonsense.)

1/3 ounce (2 teaspoons) Oleum Saccharum — see below. (Again, let’s face reality. You’re going to read about OS, nod, then probably not make it. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a project. You can replace this with the same amount of grenadine, which will also give your final drink a lovely color.)

1 ounce lime juice (This was not called for in the original recipe, but this drink benefits from extreme cold and a little extra acidity.)

1) Shake all ingredients over ice until skull-shrinkingly cold.

2) Strain into a chilled coupé glass.

3) If you insist on a garnish, then apply one high-octane cocktail cherry with stem. (I’ve been liking Luxardo lately).

This is a lovely cocktail that looks sophisticated and paces itself well. In spite of having just a few ingredients, its flavor is complex. It takes thought and reflection to sort out the fruitiness of the juice and the licorice notes from the absinthe. It lends itself to thoughtful consumption. Is it too sweet? Is it sweet enough? Seriously — licorice? Is the tangerine juice assertive enough? Should I have gone with the orange juice that Harry suggested? What if I played around with ruby grapefruit juice? These questions are to be expected if you’ve made this well. I like to think of it as an intellectual’s cocktail.

And that, my friend, that is how you make a Monkey Gland. Yeah, I know. Would you like another?

Oleum Saccharum
Oleum Saccharum is at its heart a homemade syrup of citrus oil and sugar. It requires you to use a technique called maceration, which is not as naughty as what you’re thinking, but in this case just as self-indulgent. It is the name for extracting juice or oil from fruit with sugar.
Using a vegetable peeler — the Y kind works better for me than the type that looks like a paring knife with a glandular condition — remove the outermost layer of rind from some well-scrubbed citrus fruit. In my case, I used a combination of tangerine and lime rind. (See above.) If you can, try not to get any of the white pith that is beneath the rind; it will add a bitter note to your syrup. (Unless you’ve gotten sucked down the rabbit hole and want to play around with bitterness. In that case, you’re on your own.)
The recipes I’ve found call for 200 grams of rind to 150 grams of sugar. I never have that much fruit rind available; just use a 4:3 ratio (that’s 1 to .75). Alternately, if you are the type of person who plans and thinks ahead, you could save rind in your freezer until you’re ready to make a batch of this.
Combine the rind with sugar and let it sit for about six hours, stirring or shaking occasionally.
After letting it macerate (stop giggling), use a small funnel to pour your oleum saccharum into a tiny bottle. If you leave the rinds in the funnel to drain for an hour or so, you can get a few more precious drops. Store it in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Featured photo: What’s in a name? Photo by John Fladd.

Wine with Valentine’s Day

Celebrate with chocolate and red wine

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day? With red wine and chocolate, of course! The wine should be rich with fruit to the nose and palate but not too “jammy.” It should have subtle tannins and be “just a little dry” to counter the sweetness of the chocolate.

The chocolate should be among the best you can find, with a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher, because dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients compared to chocolate with a lower percentage of cocoa. So a good red wine with excellent chocolate is a must not just for Valentine’s Day but for the entire month.

A great wine to pair with a dark chocolate is a 2015 Stewart Merlot by Stewart Cellars, originally priced at $39.99 and on sale at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet at $19.99. Michael Stewart, founder of Texas MicroSystems, a Houston-based company that produced personal computers and servers for the telecommunications industry, and a lover of fine wine, settled in Napa Valley in 1999. He and his wife, Anne, entered the wine business by purchasing a majority interest in the Juliana Vineyard in the eastern section of Napa Valley. Since then, Stewart Cellars has become a family venture with their children, James and Caroline, along with Caroline’s husband, Blair, joining in the enterprise. Stewart Cellars, a very small production winery, is noted for its cabernet sauvignon, sourced from grapes grown in the finest vineyards in St. Helena and Atlas Peak.

This merlot has a dark, thick (almost opaque) purple color, with the characteristic orange rim, and strong notes of cherry and plum to the nose, less dominant to the tongue. The tannins are subtle and the taste is long. California merlots tend to be more fruit forward than merlots grown elsewhere. Typically raspberry and blackberry with strong mocha and chocolate notes prevail through complex nuances of leather and tobacco. Unfortunately, with the release of the movie Sideways, entire vineyards of merlot were pulled, resulting in a paucity of the grape in California. Fortunately, this wholesale destruction of this superior varietal did not affect the plantings in Bordeaux, and now, almost 20 years later, merlot can be appreciated as the third most popular wine in the U.S. after cabernet sauvignon and red blends.

Now to the question of what kind of chocolate to pair with this luscious wine! Local candy makers, including Granite State Candies, Van Otis and Dancing Lion, which uses Jivara chocolate from Ecuador, offer superlative dark chocolate. Locally available, and wonderfully delicious, is Divine 70 percent cocoa chocolate, sourced from São Tomé, a volcanic island off the coast of Africa, and Lily’s 70 percent cocoa chocolate, traded in compliance with Fair Trade Standards, sweetened with stevia, an extract from a South American shrub.

So settle back, relax, appreciate the labor that went into this wonderful pairing of a rich, full-bodied wine, with the full mouth feel of a smooth, dark chocolate.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Paul Lynn

Paul Lynn of Raymond and his partner, Carolyn D’Amico, launched Java Joe’s (59 Route 27, Raymond, find them on Facebook @javajoesraymondnh), a drive-thru shop offering specialty coffees, teas and various breakfast items, in 2015. Lynn built the 300-square-foot drive-thru himself and roasts his own coffee beans in house, which include Colombian, Sumatran and several other varietals. Java Joe’s also features a full line of espresso drinks, including macchiatos and chai lattes, and egg and cheese sandwiches available on English muffins, bagels or croissants. (Pictured are Paul Lynn and his partner, Carolyn D’Amico. Courtesy photo).

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A perforated spatula.

What would you have for your last meal?

I’m quite a big fan of king crab legs. They’re my favorite thing to eat.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I’d have to say CR’s in Hampton. I don’t get to go there as often as I’d like, but I’ve never been disappointed. Everything is always flavorful and memorable.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from Java Joe’s?

I’d like to get the opinion of Elon Musk. He’s innovative and brilliant, and I think I would value his opinion.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

The house roast [coffee], hot and black, with sugar, and a bacon, egg and cheese croissant.

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

Takeout is trending, but also just trying to figure out [how to get] takeout with locally sourced, farm-to-table [items].

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I really like cooking Mexican food, like tamales and tacos.

Homemade Béarnaise sauce
From the at-home kitchen of Paul Lynn of Java Joe’s in Raymond

¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
3 sprigs tarragon
3 sprigs chervil
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 egg yolks
Kosher salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter

Combine vinegar, wine, herbs, shallots and peppercorn and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Strain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Combine vinegar reduction, egg yolks and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a cup. Melt butter over high heat and transfer to a measuring cup. Using an immersion blender, place the head into the bottom of the cup and turn it on. Pour hot butter into the cup. Continue pouring until all butter is added (the sauce should be thick and creamy). Whisk until sauce is thickened. Whisk in chopped tarragon and chervil and serve.

Featured photo: Paul Lynn. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

The bomb

A deep dive into the steak bomb and its many variations

What is a steak bomb? Visit nearly every pizza or sub shop across New Hampshire and you’ll find this as an option on the menu. Most shop owners leave little debate as to what makes up this sub’s core ingredients: grilled steak, usually shaved, tossed together with onions, green or red peppers, and mushrooms.

“It’s really just a steak and cheese [sub] … [but] with extra toppings,” said Mikhail “Mikey” Bashagurov, owner of Mikey’s Roast Beef & Pizza in Hooksett.

Then there are variations, including the type of cheese used and the type of bread. The bomb gets really fancy when you start adding toppings, like Genoa salami or pepperoni, or hotter ingredients, like jalapenos, banana peppers or hot pepper relish.

Salami? Jalapenos?

The steak bomb sub is the flagship menu item of Danelly’s Subs and Pizza in Nashua, which has been in business since 1960. Danelly’s manager Christopher Smith said the sub, known simply as the “Bomb” on its menu, continues to be among the shop’s top-selling options.

“A lot of places that serve them with salami will shred it so that it gets mixed in with everything else,” Smith said, “but here, our Genoa salami is left as whole slices that we put on the top of the sub. What that does is it prevents the cheese from sticking to the paper when you unwrap it.”

The steak bombs available at Danelly’s come in eight-inch, 10-inch or jumbo 30-inch-sized sub rolls, delivered fresh at the shop six days a week from the Boston-area Piantedosi Baking Co. In lieu of mushrooms, the subs also feature tomatoes added to the grill.

“Once everything is shredded and all of the veggies are mixed in, then we kind of line everything up in a straight line on the roll, put some provolone cheese on top and then a layer of salami on top of that,” Smith said. “The cheese melts and the steam from the meat warms up the salami.”

Other shops don’t include salami or other less traditional toppings, but if you want them, just ask. Mikey’s Roast Beef & Pizza’s basic steak bomb is either shaved steak or steak tips, along with peppers, mushrooms, onions and American cheese, but they’ll add whatever you’d like.

“Personally, my favorite way is with cut up bacon to match the texture, and with barbecue sauce,” Bashagurov said.

Still, he said, the core ingredients are what matter most.

“It’s a very simple sandwich, so the best way to make it great is to pay attention to great ingredients,” Bashagurov said. “We use fresh veggies and fresh shaved steak. I shave mine from a New York strip loin, which is a really good cut of meat.”

Steak bombs are also one of the more popular sandwich options at each of The Common Man Roadside locations, which include two on either side of Interstate 93 in Hooksett, as well as in Plymouth and Manchester. The sub features shaved sirloin steak, American cheese, green peppers, sauteed onions and bacon bits, according to Bill Boynton, director of public relations and community engagement for Granite State Hospitality, which owns each store.

Where the sub came from, as well as how and when the term was coined, is unclear. John Constant of Constantly Pizza in Concord said that the steak bomb, even though it’s closely associated with New England, could have been an offshoot of the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

“We do them with a seasoning blend that we make here, on a sub roll, a wrap or what’s called a homemade pocket, which is a pita bread that we make in house,” Constant said.

Your steak bomb, your way

If you prefer your subs with an extra kick, some shops, like Ciao’s Pizza in Nashua, offer “atomic” steak bombs, featuring hot pepper relish, banana and jalapeno peppers and hot sauce with the steak and cheese. Danelly’s, according to Smith, also has an option specific to its bombs known as “the works,” with mayonnaise, pickles and “hots,” or hot pepper relish.

But even if you come across a sub shop that doesn’t explicitly mention the term “steak bomb” on its menu, chances are you can still order one. That’s the beauty of being able to customize your sub, said Jeremy Nadeau, proprietor of Nadeau’s Subs, which opened in sixth location on Jan. 20 inside McLaughlin’s Country Market in Concord. Nadeau’s also has a shop in Exeter and four in Manchester, the oldest of which has been in operation since 1969.

“If you were to ask 10 people what a steak bomb is, you may very well get 10 different variations,” Nadeau said, “so instead, we just say ‘steak and cheese’ and we let you build your bomb. … We have people come in and get a steak bomb and it’s different for every person.”

Since every sub at Nadeau’s is custom made to order, there’s no official set standard for steak bombs — you can choose from shaved steak or steak tips, a sub roll, pita pocket or wrap, American, Swiss or provolone cheese, and a variety of condiments, veggies and other add-ons.

In Amherst, Bentley’s Roast Beef is another shop that doesn’t advertise any of its sub options as “steak bombs,” although you will find an option there that is similar and unique.

“We sell a lot of steak and cheese [subs], probably more than 50 a day,” Bentley’s owner Ali Ewiess said. “We actually take our fresh roast beef, shred it and cook it on the grill with green peppers, sauteed onions, melted American cheese, mayonnaise and our homemade barbecue sauce. … We don’t buy frozen steak.”

Where to get a steak bomb

While this is not a complete list of restaurants in the Granite State offering steak bomb subs, here’s a snapshot of some of the places that offer their own unique takes on the classic New England staple, from hotter options like “atomic” steak bombs, to steak bomb pizzas, calzones, omelets and more.

7 Star Pizza & Restaurant (235 Main St., Nashua, 889-8810, offers steak bomb subs in two sizes, with mushrooms, onions, peppers, ham, salami and pepperoni. There’s also the “cherry bomb” sub, featuring barbecue sauce and hot cherry pepper relish, and large or small steak bomb pizzas.

Atkinson House of Pizza and Roast Beef (51 Island Pond Road, No. 2172, Atkinson, 489-1879, offers a steak bomb sub with grilled mushrooms, peppers, onions, cooked salami and melted American cheese. Other steak sandwich options include a steak and egg sub.

Beefside Restaurant (106 Manchester St., Concord, 228-0208, offers a steak bomb sub on its menu, featuring four ounces of beef with onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and hand-cut salami. Other options include a barbecue beef brisket bomb, served with beer battered fries.

Bentley’s Roast Beef (134 Route 101A, Amherst, 883-2020, has various steak sub options, including one with char-grilled marinated steak tips.

Bill Cahill’s Super Subs (8 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 882-7710, find them on Facebook @billcahills) is a local shop known for its large-portioned sub options, including the steak bomb but also the Italian bomb, which has salami, hot ham, mortadella and provolone cheese, cooked on the grill with peppers and onions.

Blue House Roast Beef & Pizza (21 Birch St., Derry, 818-4363, offers various subs on its menu, including a steak bomb but also a larger super steak bomb and an egg bomb.

Bobola’s Restaurant (9 Simon St., Nashua, 577-1086, offers a steak bomb omelet, featuring shaved steak with peppers, onions, mushrooms and your choice of cheese.

The Bridge Cafe on Elm (1117 Elm St., Manchester, 647-9991, offers a steak bomb quesadilla, featuring onions, peppers, mushrooms, marinated grilled steak, salsa, sour cream, black beans and cheese.

Brookside Pizza (563 Route 106 N, Loudon, 783-4550; 151 Manchester St., Concord, 224-6905; offers a traditional steak bomb, as well as the Brookside bomb, with sausage, pastrami, steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, condiments and American cheese.

Ciao’s Pizza & Subs (495 Amherst St., Nashua, 889-3111, has various “bomb” options under its sub menu, like a traditional steak bomb, and an “atomic” steak bomb with hot relish, jalapeno, banana peppers and hot sauce.

The Common Man Roadside Market & Deli (1805 S. Willow St., Manchester, 210-2801; 530 W. River Road, Hooksett; 25 Springer Road, Hooksett, 210-5305; 484 Tenney Mountain Highway, Plymouth, 210-5815; offers a steak bomb with shaved sirloin, American cheese, green peppers, sauteed onions and bacon bits on a sub roll. There’s also a “chicken bomb,” featuring the same ingredients, but with grilled chicken instead of steak.

Constantly Pizza (39 S. Main St., Concord, 224-9366; 108 Fisherville Road, No. 3, Penacook, 227-1117; offers various “bomb” options on its sub menu, like a traditional steak bomb, a “chicken bomb” and a “pastrami bomb,” which has grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and mustard. The eatery also does a steak bomb pizza with a savory cheese sauce.

Courthouse Pizza (147 W. Pearl St., Nashua, 882-7200, has a foot-long steak bomb sub, featuring onions, green peppers, bacon, salami, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Danelly’s Subs and Pizza (87 Allds St., Nashua, 882-6820, offers various types of “bomb” options on its sub menu, including a steak bomb, as well as a ham bomb, which replaces the salami slices with ham.

Famous Village Pizza (116 Main St., Pembroke, 485-8940, offers a traditional steak bomb, as well as a sausage bomb, both of which come in two sizes.

Giovanni’s Roast Beef & Pizza (14 Broad St., Nashua, 882-5757; 379 S. Willow St., Manchester, 644-5757; 141 Main St., Salem, 894-6003; 207 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 434-9021; 209 W. River Road, Hooksett, 935-9820; has various sub options on its menu, including a steak bomb that comes in two sizes.

Great American Subs (44 Nashua Road, No. 3, Londonderry, 434-9900, offers various steak subs on its menu, including a 21-inch steak bomb, an Italian steak sub with marinara sauce and provolone cheese, and a Greek steak sub with olives, Greek dressing and feta cheese.

Hollis House of Pizza (22 Ash St., Hollis, 465-7200, offers steak bomb subs with either steak tips or shaved steak, and American, Swiss, cheddar or provolone cheese.

Hot Stone Pizzeria (174 Eddy Road, Manchester, 518-5020, offers a traditional steak bomb sub, as well as a steak bomb pizza with peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese.

Jitto’s Super Steak (3131 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, 436-9755, has various “bomb” options, like steak bombs, “super steak specials,” with extra steak and extra cheese, and chicken bombs. Steak bomb pizzas are also available.

Joey’s Diner (1 Craftsmen Lane, Amherst, 577-8955, offers a steak tip bomb sub with peppers, onions, mushrooms and American cheese.

Mikey’s Roast Beef & Pizza (21 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 623-0005, offers steak bombs with mushrooms, peppers, onions and American cheese, and your choice of either shaved steak or steak tips. You can make it a chicken bomb by substituting grilled chicken for the steak.

Nadeau’s Subs (776 Mast Road, Manchester, 623-9315; 100 Cahill Ave., Manchester, 669-7827; 673 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 644-8888; 1095 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-4411; 48 Portsmouth Ave., Exeter, 580-4445; 11 Eastman St., Concord, 715-1474;, while not explicitly stating it has “steak bombs” on its menu, makes all of its subs customizable to order with your choice of veggies, condiments and other add-ons.

Naji’s Pizza (109 Route 101A, Amherst, 886-5543, offers various “bomb” options on its sub menu, like a traditional steak bomb, an “atomic” steak bomb with hot relish, jalapenos, banana peppers and hot sauce, and pastrami or roast beef bombs.

Nashua House of Pizza (40 E. Hollis St., Nashua, 883-6177, offers a “Texas-style” barbecue steak bomb on its sub menu.

Pizza 911 (108 Webster St., Manchester, 625-2201; 401 S. Willow St., Manchester, 782-5443; 742 Mast Road, Goffstown, 232-7767; has various steak sub options; the “Bomb Squad” for example, features shaved steak, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, Genoa salami and American cheese, while “The Boyz in Blue” has shaved steak, Buffalo chicken tenders, provolone cheese and blue cheese dressing.

Pizza Express (245 Maple St., No. 2, Manchester, 647-7885, and Pizza Express II (865 Second St., Manchester, 222-1212, offer various steak subs with Syrian bread on its menu, including a steak bomb with mushrooms, peppers, onions, cheese, bacon and salami.

Presto Craft Kitchen (168 Amory St., Manchester, 606-1252, has a steak bomb option on its “stick” sandwich menu, featuring sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, salami, American cheese and mayonnaise.

Professor’s Pizza and Sports Pub (290 Derry Road, Hudson, 883-0100, offers steak sandwiches with shaved steak or steak tips. The steak bomb includes American cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms, salami and pepperoni.

The Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118; 137 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 552-3091; 112 Loudon Road, Concord, 415-0444; 149 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 204-5088; offers a steak bomb with shaved steak, or you can make it a chicken bomb by substituting grilled chicken tenders for the steak.

Rocco’s Pizza Bar and Grill (297 Derry Road, Hudson, 577-9866, offers steak bombs and chicken bombs featuring teriyaki chicken.

Romano’s Pizza (27 Colby Road, Litchfield, 424-0500, offers various steak sandwiches on its menu, with either shaved steak or marinated steak tips.

Simon’s Pizza & Roast Beef (2626 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-2900, offers a traditional steak bomb, as well as a teriyaki steak and cheese sub.

Sub Station (1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 625-1800, offers its signature sub known as the “Torpedo,” which features custom blended shaved steak, grilled with peppers, onions, mushrooms, cooked salami and melted American or provolone cheese.

Suppa’s Pizza (5 Lawrence Road, Salem, 328-5460, has various steak sub options, including the eatery’s signature steak bomb, and a “cherry bomb” sub with provolone cheese, barbecue sauce, hot peppers and tomato sauce. Steak bomb pizzas are also available.

Tessi’s Pizzeria (15 Ermer Road, Salem, 893-2818, offers a steak bomb calzone with sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms and salami, in addition to various steak sub options, and even a chicken kabob bomb with lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese and house dressing.

TJ’s Deli & Catering (2 Pittsburgh Ave., Nashua, 883-7770, offers various sub options, including steak bombs, egg bombs and grilled chicken bombs.

USA Subs (66 Crystal Ave., Derry, 437-1550, offers various sub options available in three sizes, like a steak bomb with peppers, onions, mushrooms, cooked salami and American or provolone cheese. You can also substitute the meat for mesquite barbecue or teriyaki steak.

Val’s Pizza and Subs (75 Route 13, Brookline, 672-9600, offers various “bomb” options on its sub menu, like steak bombs, chicken bombs or sausage link bombs.

Vintage Pizza (241 Candia Road, Manchester, 518-7800, offers a traditional steak bomb with grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms and American cheese, or you can make it a chicken bomb by substituting the steak for grilled chicken.

Wilton House of Pizza (28 Forest Road, Wilton, 654-2020, has steak bombs and chicken bombs, both of which are available in two sizes and come with sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese.

Yianni’s Pizza (410 S. River Road, Unit 9, Bedford, 624-5700, has various steak sub options, like a steak bomb with grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers, served on an Italian roll.

“Bombs” beyond the steak sub
The term “steak bomb” doesn’t always have to be in reference to subs. Constantly Pizza, for instance, offers a steak bomb pizza that uses American cheese as the base and is topped with shaved steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and mozzarella. You can also get it as a calzone.
In downtown Manchester, The Bridge Cafe on Elm Street features a steak bomb quesadilla on its lunch menu, which features marinated grilled steak in addition to peppers, onions, mushrooms, salsa, sour cream, cheese and black beans. Steak bomb omelets are even a menu item, at Bobola’s Restaurant in Nashua and Dracut, Mass.
If you love the combination of peppers, onions and mushrooms but want something other than steak, several eateries serve “chicken bombs,” which most often will swap it out for grilled chicken. Constantly Pizza also offers a “pastrami bomb” as a sub, pizza or calzone, which adds Swiss cheese and mustard to the mix of veggies, while Danelly’s has a “ham bomb” sub.
“The ham bomb is one that’s a bit counter-intuitive, because it replaces the salami, not the steak, but it’s an option that a lot of people like,” Smith said. “We’ve gotten orders for Italian bombs, and we do also have one customer who regularly comes in and orders a roast beef bomb.”

Featured photo: Steak bomb sub from The Common Man Roadside Deli & Market. Courtesy photo.

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