New crew

Revamped, Jason Spooner Band hits Concord

The Music in the Park concert series sponsored by Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts in nearby Fletcher-Murphy Park continues on June 13 with Jason Spooner Band. The quartet rose to prominence in the mid-2000s and became a fixture on the New England festival circuit with five studio albums, most recently Chemical in 2014 and 2019’s Wide Eyed.

Dan Boyden took over on drums a few years back, but the band’s lineup remained constant otherwise, until original bass player Adam Frederick and keyboardist Warren McPherson left for family reasons in the days just prior to the pandemic. London Souls bassist Stu Mahan and Dawson Hill, a keyboard player with a perfect swampy touch, joined in early 2020.

“We had this tectonic shift … but it’s led to really good things,” Spooner said in a recent phone interview. “It was very, very nerve-wracking when it happened because it was like two pillars of the table coming off.”

The new crew made for “a re-energized band,” Spooner said. “Everyone’s equally fired up [and] rowing in the same direction; it’s amazing how far that goes. You get into a rehearsal and feel like everybody’s pumped to be there, to work on stuff and grow. Coming out of last year, we’re playing a lot more theater shows, bigger venues and cool openers.”

The fresh start included revisiting tracks initially done one to two years ago to give them an extra sheen; Spooner hopes to release them as singles. The process was refreshingly unrushed.

“This latest effort feels like it’s a little more marinated, we had time to make it … the songs feel comfortable in their own skin,” he said. “We did it in such a relaxed, unfettered way, there were just no limitations.”

One standout is the slow burner breakup song “Wanted to Say,” evoking Aja-era Steely Dan with help from horn players Phil Rodriguez and Brian Graham, who’ve toured with Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds.

“They just came in and we all wrote the lines on the spot,” Spooner said. “It was a super collaborative effort; I love the vibe they contributed.”

The new members joined organically. Boyden and Mahan are longtime friends.

“He’s kind of the alpha bass player around Portland,” Spooner said. “Stu also played and toured with Eric Krasnow, who of course is kind of royalty in the jazz, funk and jam scene, so he’s a monster.”

Finding Hill was pure serendipity.

“We were down at Sun Tiki Studios in Portland, a cool little studio with neighboring rooms where bands play simultaneously” — and the walls aren’t super-soundproofed, Spooner recalled. “We were packing up after a three-hour rehearsal, and all of a sudden we heard this other band. Dan looked at me with this stank face he’s pretty famous for and said, ‘Who the hell is that over there?’ We heard this real nice Little Feat, Dr. John playing — just, you know, a guy who had done his homework.”

Along with lineup changes, Spooner is taking a fresh approach to recording. “I’m hopefully getting a little wiser in terms of how records are made, what my best practices are, and how to do things effectively,” he said. “I’ve been known to be OCD from time to time. I’m the eldest child; I’ve always been kind of the point person on things.”

Lately, writing in the studio has replaced Spooner’s old habit of bringing the band well-formed songs, forging a fraternal bond and shared purpose.

“Skin in the game is big with bands,” he said. “A lot of the rifts happen if two guys are on one page and the other two are on another … whatever the dissonance may be, it’s never a good thing. It can lead to like bigger rifts and breakups and things like that. So now it’s feeling really good. Everybody contributes and has a role.”

Jason Spooner Band
: Sunday, June 13, 2 p.m.
Where: Fletcher-Murphy Park, 28 Fayette St., Concord
Tickets: $12 at ($8 livestream available)

Featured photo: Jason Spooner Band. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/06/10

Local music news & events

Beach music: Part of a tour working its way up the East Coast, Ballyhoo! and Tropidelic help usher in summer at Hampton with a deck show. Tropidelic fuses reggae and hip-hop Thursday, June 10, 8 p.m., Bernie’s Beach Bar, 73 Ocean Ave., Hampton, tickets $20 at

Northern soul: Toward the end of last year, Charlie Chronopoulos released Chesty Rollins’ Dead End, an album that reflected “the backward narrative of poverty” in his home state of New Hampshire. It touched on friends and family lost to addiction, and the struggle of everyday life; “fragile things” that “spend their lives about to break.” Friday, June 11, 7 p.m., Molly’s Tavern, 35 Mont Vernon Road, New Boston. See

Throwback time: Local bands pay tribute to Prophets of Punk at the first in a three-week series that will include nights featuring Bruce Springsteen (June 19) and AC/DC (June 26). The lineup thus far has Dank Sinatra covering Social Distortion, Dana Brunt doing Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” and The Damn Nobody’s take on Bad Brains’ “Against.” The Graniteers do Blondie and, in an apt display of attitude, one of their own songs. Saturday, June 12, 8 p.m., Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester. See Facebook.

Hard-hitting: As if their sound couldn’t get any heavier, a New England Rock & Metal Showcase will feature doom rockers Dead Harrison playing with two drummers for the first time ever. The packed lineup includes Infinite Sin, Dawn of End, Machine Gun Mayhem, and King Polo. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a mechanical bull for riding, which is, uh, very metal? Saturday, June 12, 6 p.m., Granite State Music Hall, 546 Main St., Laconia, tickets $10, see

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (R)

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (R)

Lorraine and Ed Warren once again battle the demonic in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, a perfectly acceptable bit of old-fashioned good-versus-evil horror.

I’ve always liked the chemistry between Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine, who can see and even communicate with a spiritual realm, and Patrick Wilson’s Ed, who in this movie literally holds her purse. The pair show up with their years of experience in investigating the supernatural and set up cameras and holy water and tackle each incident with a combination of belief and a follow-the-evidence approach to untangling how someone or someplace has become demon-inflicted. But they are also a married couple who really seem to like each other and who have just enough of a sense of humor about what they do — such as when Lorraine makes a joke about having met Elvis both before and after he died. They’ve always been good characters and this movie uses them more or perhaps just more centrally than I (dimly) remember in the previous two movies.

Here, we catch up with Ed and Lorraine during the exorcism of 8-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). He’s giving the full demon performance — face boils, cringing when hit with holy water, contorting his body unnaturally. Though in the body of a child, the demon is strong enough to knock around all the other exorcism participants — the priest, David’s parents (Paul Wilson, Charlene Amoia), David’s older sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook) and Debbie’s boyfriend Arne (Ruairi O’Connor). Horrified at what’s happening, Arne at one point grabs David and yells at the demon to leave him alone; “take me” Arne yells, to which the demon apparently thinks “don’t mind if I do.” David is released by the demon and Ed sees Arne soak up the creepy make-up job of the demon face.

Unfortunately, the demon knocks Ed out of commission for a bit, so he can’t warn Arne and Lorraine about what has happened. Soon, though, Arne, Debbie and all the dogs at the kennel they live above know that something is up.

The big evil here is not quite as visually interesting as a creepy doll or an even creepier nun, the baddies in previous Conjuring universe movies. But that’s OK; the movie takes the emotions of the situations seriously and serves up scariness in the moment but it doesn’t seem super concerned with selling you on its big demon narrative or connecting back to story points in previous Conjurings (though there are fun little Easter eggs). You can be in this movie for Ed and Lorraine and their married-couple-investigating-weirdness situation without really having to spend a lot of brain power remembering anything to do with the demon. It’s bad, it wants to do bad things. Sure, you could ask a bunch of “why” questions, but you could just let Farmiga and her late-1970s/early1980s riff on Victorian collars and sleeves kind of carry you through the movie. (I thought way more about Lorraine’s various looks than the story’s demon/exorcism mythology.)

So is tone why I find these movies basically, low-effort enjoyable? Everybody hits the right energy level, the right taking-it-seriously level — is that plus the Farmiga-Wilson duo the secret sauce of the Conjuring movies? Whatever it is, The Devil Made Me Do It, which is in theaters as well as on HBO Max, is another example of that kind of well-made, medium quality, enjoyable but forgettable horror. B-

Rated R for terror, violence and some disturbing images, according to the MPA on Directed by Michael Chaves with a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is an hour and 52 minutes long and is distributed by Warner Bros. in theaters and on HBO Max through July 4.

Featured photo: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (R)

Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead (Alfred A. Knopf, 589 pages)

Sometimes, even if you are looking forward to it, a hefty book can seem overwhelming. It’s going to be such an effort to get through this, you think to yourself. But that’s not the case with this well-written, inventive book. Instead of feeling like work, reading this story propels your imagination forward making it one of those books that’s so darn difficult to put down. This one is a joy from beginning to end.

The book begins with twin infants, Marian and James, who are rescued from a sinking cruise ship in the early 1900s. Their mother is presumed drowned. Their father is the eventually disgraced captain of the ship who chose to protect the babies’ lives by accompanying them on a lifeboat, thereby abandoning the ship and crew. He goes to jail for dereliction of duty and the children are sent to be raised by a distant and detached uncle. James shines with his artistic and compassionate traits, while Marian, who is fearless, becomes infatuated with adventure and “flying machines” which she sees as a method of obtaining freedom. She decides she wants to be a pilot who will circle the globe someday, achieving the “great circle” that will connect everything, including the seemingly isolated events in her life.

After struggling to assert herself and to be heard in a male-dominated world, Marian does become a legendary pilot, fulfilling her life’s dream. She is seen as a leader, a role model and an inspirational teacher to other women.

Though her plane crashes and Marian loses her life, her lessons and joy at following adventure live on to impact future generations of women looking for the courage and bravery to persist in their own dreams. Marian is the Thelma and Louise of her generation, living life and dying on her own terms.

Meanwhile in the 21st century Hadley Baxter is an actress playing the role of Marian Graves in a biographical movie. Hadley is also an orphan and like Marian was also sent to live with her emotionally detached uncle. She has lost her way in life, a little too much drug use, a little too much freedom as a child, and a little too much abuse by the male-dominated Hollywood community. As a child, she read a book about Marian and was grabbed by her life, her fearless adventures and her courage.

Of course she agreed to play the role when asked. In recreating Marian’s life story on screen Baxter borrows from her lessons and learns to fight back against many of the patriarchal and societal restrictions on women in the film industry.

In the end, Hadley uses Marian’s courage and conviction to overcome frustration and emotional blocks in her own life. So yes, in its truest sense, this is a story about girl power done right. Marian’s message to Hadley, heard loud and clear over the years, is one of empowerment. You are brave for even trying. Forget what they say and go for it.

Her very favorites, though, are the accounts of the far north and the far south, where ships’ rigging sags heavy with frost and blue icebergs drift freely, arched and spired like frozen cathedrals…. Bravery at the poles seems appealingly simple. If you go there, or try to, you are brave.”

One of the things that make this book so delightful to read is the amount of research that went into each chapter. The exquisite detail makes this historical fiction seem as real as any event you’ve heard about. You want to know more about the characters, the connections, and what’s going to happen next. It’s got adventure, lovers, bootleggers, hunters, bush pilots and artists. Shipstead takes us to Prohibition Montana, Alaska, Seattle, wartime London, wartime Alaska, a German POW camp, the South Pacific and finally an around-the-world flight. Even though the book takes us on so many separate journeys, they all work together and are eventually connected, like points on a circle.

It’s not easy for an author to jump between one storyline and another, and it’s even more difficult to connect those storylines when they happen almost a century apart, but Shipstead manages to do this with literary style. Even when they make poor decisions, you cheer for the main characters to continue. The enthusiasm and personal empowerment in each timeline is addictive. You end up caring about the women and their lives and you begin to connect the dots — it turns out it’s all related. Even though we may feel separated, we are all in this together. Women’s struggles over the ages have more in common than we might think.

Great Circle is a lovely, fascinating and inspiring, fast-paced read, perfect for the beach or just as a book that will keep you entertained and intrigued until its last page. Very highly recommended. A


If there’s a graduate in your life, they are hoping you will send them a gift. You can be lazy and just send money, or be classy and send them money in a book. But you can do better than Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.

For starters, consider How to Change, the Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman (Portfolio, 272 pages). She’s a behavioral scientist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business who promises evidence-based strategies for success.

More challenging but equally on point: Becoming a Data Head by Alex J. Gutman and Jordan Goldmeier (Wiley, 272 pages). This new book promises to teach us how to “think, speak and understand data science, statistics and machine learning.”

In Making College Pay (Currency, 176 pages), economist Beth Akers argues that a college education is still worth the money, if done smartly. She offers some controversial advice, saying that your major matters more than your school, and that it might be smart to finance your education even if you can afford to pay as you go.

For high school graduates, consider 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College(Adams Media, 240 pages) by Charlotte Lake. A little silly in places (one “bucket list” suggestion is to spend a day pretending you go to a different school), some of the suggestions are a nice antidote to collegiate stress.

It’s a little edgy for high school grads, but college graduates might enjoyYear Book (Crown, 272 pages), a collection of biographical essays about comedian Seth Rogen’s early life and career.

Then, of course, there’s the perennial favorite The Naked Roommate (and 107 other issues you might run into in college) by Harlan Cohen (Sourcebooks, 560 pages). Now in its seventh edition, the book and its derivatives (e.g., The Naked Roommate, For Parents Only) could probably pay Cohen’s bills for the rest of his life, but he also published a new one this year: Win or Learn: The Naked Truth About Turning Your Every Rejection into Your Ultimate Success (Simple Truths, 152 pages). — Jennifer Graham

Book fairs

Author events

CAROL DANA Penobscot Language Keeper and poet presents. Part of the Center for the Arts Lake Sunapee Region Literary Arts Series. Virtual, via Zoom. Tues., June 15, 5 p.m. Visit

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, QUIARA ALEGRIA HUDES AND JEREMY MCCARTER Authors present the launch of their new book, In the Heights: Finding Home. Hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Virtual, via Zoom. Tues., June 15, 8 p.m. Registration and tickets required. Tickets cost $40 to $44. Visit or call 224-0562.

STACEY ABRAMS Author presents Our Time is Now. Hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Virtual, via Zoom. Tues., June 22, 7 p.m. Registration and tickets required. Visit or call 224-0562.

PAUL DOIRON Author presents Dead by Dawn. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., July 1, 6 p.m. Tickets cost $60 to $180 per table. Visit or call 436-2400.

Call for submissions

NH LITERARY AWARDS The New Hampshire Writers’ Project seeks submissions for its Biennial New Hampshire Literary Awards, which recognize published works written about New Hampshire and works written by New Hampshire natives or residents. Books must have been published between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2020 and may be nominated in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s picture books, middle grade/young adult books. All entries will be read and evaluated by a panel of judges assembled by the NHWP. Submission deadline is Mon., June 21, 5 p.m. Visit

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

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

GOFFSTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2 High St., Goffstown. Monthly. Third Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Call 497-2102, email or visit

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email

NASHUA PUBLIC LIBRARY Online. Monthly. Second Friday, 3 p.m. Call 589-4611, email or visit

Featured photo: Great Circle

Album Reviews 21/06/10

Kleiman, Toltech EP (AlpaKa MuziK)

It’s been a really long time since I felt like an international techno scene influencer like I was back in my New Times Media (RIP) days, but here and there a release will pop up out of nowhere, usually one that’s so minimalist and/or cheesy that I end up feeling like an idiot for giving it any attention in this space, like, jeez, I could do better than this with a 1989 Casio keyboard. Yeah, it’s either that or the artist is a newbie with like 24 Beatport likes, which is what I’d expected here, but it turns out Mexican producer Gabriel Kleiman is an actual player in his country’s techno-festival scene, acting as an organizer for the Ometeotl Festival for one thing. This shortie is two new songs and a remix from German minimalist Lampe, the latter serving as a tracklist-padding add-on of the core track, a cleverly syncopated beach-chill nicety with a Yello “Oh Yeah”-style bomp-bomp vocal and a polite but elegant drop. That really leaves only the original mix of “Smoking Mirror” left to examine; that one’s made of a robotically buzzy dance vibe and one sample that loops around like a drunken housefly. It’s cool with me. A

Information Society, Oddfellows (Hakatack Records)

Due out in August, this is only the eighth-or-so album from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul synthpop band, which made its biggest splash with its self-titled 1988 record, whose most famous song, “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy),” was the impetus for two zillion fashion victims asking each other “bro, isn’t this a remix of Duran Duran’s ‘New Moon on Monday’?” at the dance clubs. Forget Stranger Things and whatnot, these guys are the real Eighties deal; in fact, their 2016 LP Orders of Magnitude was filled almost halfway with covers from such bands as Human League and Sisters Of Mercy (along with an inexplicable rub of Exile’s “Kiss You All Over”). Whatevs, it’s now [current year], and we should talk about their new tunes, for instance “Bennington” (New Order meets Gary Numan), “Would You Like Me If I Played A Guitar” (buzzed-up neo-goth sort of like Front Line Assembly) and “Room 1904” (chockablock with all the Flock Of Seagulls/Simple Minds vibe you could want). It’s like they haven’t missed a beat; a nice cozy foray into today’s ’80s-nostalgic zeitgeist. A


• Patiently but relentlessly, the sands of time keep slipping through life’s hourglass, and blah blah blah poetic stuff, which brings us to the present, when, on June 11, new albums will appear, to entice you to either buy some of them, or retreat back to your Fortnite Tamagotchi Discord server and wait for a decent album to come out so that you can post your enthusiasm to your favorite AOL chatroom or whatever platform you use when awkwardly attempting to communicate with humans. Like most of the time, there are a few albums to choose from this week, and so, like the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch, I shall first give all these new albums a preliminary one-second mini-review before we get to it, a la “Hate … hate, hate … loathe entirely,” etc., but wait, maybe Path Of Wellness, the new album from Olympia, Washington-based Sleater-Kinney, will be OK, I just don’t know at the moment, but I’m assuming they abandoned their riot grrrl trappings long ago and just sing edgy versions of “Kumbaya” these days. You do, of course, know these girls; there’s whatsername, and there’s also Carrie Brownstein, one of the stars of Portlandia, the mildly-amusing-at-best nerd-centric sketch-comedy show that never fails to come off like Woody Allen trying too hard and therefore paradoxically being even less funny than real thing. But I digress, which is a necessity, of course, because elsewise this column would be very short and always end in “loathe entirely,” so let’s go on to the goings-on, which involves listening to the new single “Worry With You.” It’s OK, slow-ish Weezer-rock with a Pavement aftertaste, and the hooky chorus is fairly decent, nothing to hate but really nothing to remember either.
• Speaking of subdued riot grrrls, look gang, it’s Garbage, with a brand new album, No Gods No Masters! You know Shirley Manson and her gang of post-punk knaves from such unmemorable nonsense as “Stupid Girl” and “I Think I’m Paranoid,” but now we’ll see if they can still pull off sleepy edgy bar-band steez with their new title-track single! It’s actually not bad, basically a cross between early Cure and Devo, cheap Mario Brothers synths and everything in place, for your ’80s throwback party or whatever you people do to keep sane nowadays.
• Gee, look at the time, another five minutes has elapsed, which means it’s time for Australian stoner-indie goofballs King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard to release a new album, this time titled Butterfly 3000! For once, the band is keeping all the relevant details close to the vest, and there are no advance songs available to listen to at this writing, but whatever songs are on this album, they’re probably loud and psychedelic. I know that doesn’t help much, not that I’ve ever been much of a help in the first place, but I can tell you that a new video based on the last eleventy-gorillion Gizzard albums was just released on YouTube, by some gamer grrrl named Josephine Paquette! It’s basically gameplay from a random video game, and then some edited video of the opening theme from The Sopranos, and then a few lines from the Gizz album “Infest the Rat’s Nest.” What’s that? No, my life’s trajectory has not been changed by these developments either.
• We’ll bag this week with a quick look at Maroon 5’s new single, “Beautiful Mistakes,” from their new LP, Jordi! The guest feat is Megan Thee Stallion, and it is so awesome, if you like late-career Coldplay, boy band emo, guys in ’90s tracksuits and people named Megan!

Retro Playlist

Let’s turn back the clock to 10 years ago this week, back to all the horror that was going on before all the quantum levels of horror that we have now. Naturally, the horror I had to deal with then was in the form of albums, for instance the self-titled album from Wisconsin-bred alt-chill feller Bon Iver. It wasn’t his first album, but it was indeed self-titled. Do you remember when that was a thing, and I’d just sit here guzzling Jagermeister and making jokes about annoying hipster bands that Stephen Colbert had to pretend he liked because it’s part of his job? I do. Anyway, that album contained his latest slow, faraway bummer tune, “Calgary,” which, I diagnosed, “sounds like Pink Floyd holding their noses while they sing, for ‘effect.’”
Wait, don’t leave yet, the two featured albums were both good. There was Total, the first full artist album from Bosnian producer SebastiAn, who at the time had been hawking his (arguably) darker side of the Ed Banger sound for going on seven years. There were 22 songs that were like Hot Chip but a hundred times more buzzy, with melted retro-disco (“Love in Motion” recalls Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s a Winner”), along with, as you’d more or less expect, some dubstep headbanging on the wild-ass title track. If you think of the Ed Banger sound, one of the first things that leaps to mind is, of course, the French Justice duo, and in fact one of those guys (Gaspard Auge) helped out on “Tetra,” which wasn’t what anyone would have expected but instead “actually a chill curve, proffering fake classical in and around its unhurried beat.”
The other LP under the coroner’s lights that week was Between Us, from Americana pop-folkie Peter Bradley Adams. I rank that dude in the same class as Amos Lee and Norah Jones, like, if you hate his music there’s literally something wrong with you. Compared to his earlier stuff, this album featured more drums and mandolin and whatnot, “as though there was a directive from on high that he start phasing out [his] lone-spotlight busker image.” But the slightly higher noise level only evidenced a broader range to his really unbelievable songwriting ability. (Cameron Crowe also loves the guy’s stuff, if that means anything to you.)

Two takes on pinot grigio

How location is key for this summertime favorite

Pinot grigio, long the favorite of art gallery openings and summer garden parties, is an Italian wine made from a light, red-colored grape. This has long been the go-to wine for the summer. Typically bright and citric, it can vary depending upon its terroir — the soils upon which the vines are planted and the climate in which they flourish. But this wine can go beyond summer garden parties.

Known as pinot gris in the Alsace region of France, pinot grigio is widely grown in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. This region is northeast of Venice and the province of Veneto, bordering Austria and Slovenia, and includes the city of Trieste. The grape is also grown in San Joaquin, Sacramento and Monterey counties in California. The wines produced from these two distinctly different terroirs are incredibly different. California pinot gris wines are lighter-bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste, with perhaps a bit of pepper or arugula to the tongue. Pinot grigio from Italy is more often light and lean, crisp and acidic without that peppery note of arugula. But the prevalent colors and tastes go beyond that.

Our first wine is the Italian version of pinot grigio, coming from the Collio Goriziano hills of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The 2019 Attems Venezia Giulia Pinot Grigio Ramato (available at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets, reduced in price from $19.99 to $9.99) is a superb example of this Italian varietal. The color is the palest of pink, without becoming clear. While citric, it is not intense, in that it has an underlying sweetness, with floral nuances of citric blossoms. To the tongue it is balanced with the acute citric notes to the edges of the tongue, and a residual nuttiness as the finish recedes, long and with a very slight tannic sense of roasted hazelnuts. This is an excellent wine for an aperitif, or to pair with a rich salad, pasta, fish or chicken.

The Attems dynasty has produced wine as far back as 1106. The long-established family founded the Collio Wine Consortium in 1964. In 2000, the vineyard was passed on to the Frescobaldi family, another centuries-old Italian family. However, the farming and production has not been streamlined with time. The 120+ acres are farmed responsibly, with organic feeding of green crops turned back to the soil. The color and creaminess come from its short time in barrel aging.

Our next wine comes from a brand owned by the beverage giant and largest California wine exporter, E. & J. Gallo. The 2020 Dark Horse Pinot Grigio (available at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets, reduced in price from $10.99 to $8.99) is a great wine for a hot summer afternoon. It has a green cast that is almost clear in color. The nose is citric, almost grapefruit. To the tongue it is “clean and crisp” with strong citric notes. The winemaker, Beth Liston, sources the grapes for the wines she makes from over 400 vineyards across the Central Coast to create wines that outperform their price point. This is a wine that can be incorporated into a great white sangria, laced with sweet fruits, such as apricots, strawberries, and pineapple. This wine can hold its own against a chicken piccata, if your taste in wine is not along chardonnay lines. I had it with a plate of very cheesy macaroni and cheese, and it cut right through the richly dense mac and cheese.

This comparison is but another example of how the terroir, a region’s soil, topography and climate, can influence the product — the wine. To this we add another factor: the winemaker and how the wine is made. The California wine is produced in stainless steel vats, kept cool during maceration to ensure the wine remains crisp and citric. The Italian wine, while also made in a cool environment, spent a short time in oak barrels to impart a “creamy sweetness” and reinforce that slight pink color the juice has from spending a little time on the skins. It is more than interesting; it is just plain fun to see how a grape varietal can produce such divergent colors, scents and tastes.

Featured photo:

A drink for young groundlings

With the approach of Midsummer’s Eve, my teenager has some thoughts about what we should be drinking.

Harvest: I’d like to briefly discuss Titania, the fairy queen of William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

She is strong-willed, powerful and, most of all, beautiful. In my opinion Titania is one of the only female characters that Shakespeare paints as equal to their male or masculine counterparts. He made her free-spirited; this is remarkable because women in Shakespeare’s work are often portrayed as subservient and weak. When Oberon, Titania’s jealous lover, decides to make her look like a fool, we see her true self. Titania, having been intoxicated by a mysterious purple flower by Oberon’s servant Robin (Puck), falls in love with a man cursed to have a donkey’s head. Instead of treating Bottom (the aforementioned donkey-man) as less than her, she treats him as her equal, showering him in luxuries and attending to his needs. This in my opinion shows who Titania is and why she is one of the best female characters the bard ever wrote.

This nonalcoholic cocktail is inspired by “Love-In-Idleness,” the purple flower in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is a mysterious, almost magical change that happens as the ingredients are mixed together.


4-6 ice cubes
2 ounces butterfly syrup (see below)
6 ounces cold butterfly tea (see below)
2 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice
12 drops rose water

In a tall glass, combine the ice, syrup and tea. It will be a beautiful midnight blue.
Add the lemon juice. It will change dramatically to a rich, violet color.
Add the rose water and stir.
Think magical thoughts while you drink this.

Normally, 12 drops of rose water would be about seven drops too many. Rose water is tricky stuff and you are always running the risk of making something taste like soap. In this case — given the backdrop of Midsummer’s Eve — too much is just about right. Making this blue cousin of lemonade extremely floral is what you wanted but didn’t know that you wanted. The sweetness of the butterfly syrup plays off the sharp, acid sourness of the lemon juice well, and you are left with an aftertaste of roses — a little like a mostly forgotten dream.

A father’s notes:

First of all — and let’s get this out of the way immediately — this drink is delicious as is, but would be arguably enhanced by the addition of two ounces of a floral gin, Hendrick’s for example.

Secondly, some observations on butterfly pea blossoms:

Butterfly peas (clitoria ternatea) (Yes, I know. Stop it.), or blue sweet peas, come from Asia and make a beautiful, subtly flavored tea. When exposed to acid, the deep blue color of the tea (and, in this case, the syrup) changes to a rather splendid purple color. The blossoms themselves (which I purchased via Amazon) have a very mild flavor and are really here for their color.

Butterfly tea – Combine 10 grams of dried butterfly pea blossoms with 4 cups of almost but not quite boiling water. (Boil the water, then take it off the heat for a minute, before adding it to the pea blossoms.) Let the blossoms steep for 3½ minutes, then strain and chill the tea.

Following up on the Midsummer Night’s Dream theme, this tea has a very background-flavory character. This is not a Titania or Oberon tea. This is a Philostrate tea — maybe a Background Fairy No. 2 tea. Imagine a jasmine tea, but not as floral; maybe jasmine tea’s personal assistant.

Butterfly syrup – Combine one cup of sugar with one cup of water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let it boil for another 10 to 15 seconds, to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, then add three grams of dried butterfly pea blossoms and let them steep for half an hour. Strain and bottle. Store in your refrigerator indefinitely.

Featured photo: Before (left) and after (right) the lemon juice is added. Photos by John Fladd.

Shawna Deeley

Shawna Deeley was a cook at The Village Cafe in Bradford when the pandemic forced its shutdown last year. After learning that the cafe would not be reopening, Deeley and her husband, Bill Yulov, decided to use their stimulus checks to invest in a brand new business venture — she now runs The Russian Dumpling Co. (find them on Facebook and Instagram @therussiandumplingco), a food trailer offering traditional Russian comfort options made from scratch. The concept, Deeley said, was inspired by Yulov’s family’s recipes — items include Russian-style pierogi with a few varying ingredient fillings, like potato scallion and cheddar, or sweet potato, mushroom and onion; as well as pelmeni, or Russian dumplings stuffed with beef, chicken or mushroom. Borscht, a traditional beetroot-based stew that can be served hot or cold, is also available with or without steak, along with carrots, cabbage, garlic and onion. Deeley said The Russian Dumpling Co. is one of the regular featured vendors at the Northlands Live drive-in concert series every Friday and Saturday at the Cheshire Fairground (247 Monadnock Hwy., Swanzey) and is also available for private events.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

I feel like I’m constantly walking around holding my spatula.

What would you have for your last meal?

I love Vietnamese pho. I used to live in Seattle and places that had pho were on pretty much every corner.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I would say Moritomo [Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar] in Concord. They have really awesome sushi. There’s also a tiny place in Brookline called Juanita’s that does amazing Mexican food.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from your food trailer?

Keanu Reeves. I feel like he’d be such a fun guy to talk to.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

I think the chicken pelmeni is my favorite. They’re dumplings with ground chicken and herbs in them that are almost like little raviolis.

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

I feel like I see a lot of little Mexican places all over the place now.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

We make homemade pizzas quite often. One of my favorite ones that we do has the lox smoked salmon. We put that on a pizza with cherry tomatoes and maybe spinach or arugula and it’s the bomb.

Sirniki (Russian farmer’s cheese pancakes)
From the kitchen of Shawna Deeley of The Russian Dumpling Co.

1 pound farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese
½ cup flour
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil or other cooking oil
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup raisins (optional)

Combine ingredients in a mixer or by hand, then form the batter into little cakes in a saute pan at low to medium-level heat. Serve with butter, honey, sour cream or your favorite jam or compote.

Food & Drink

Summer farmers markets

Bedford Farmers Market will be Tuesdays, from 3 to 6 p.m., in the parking lot of Wicked Good Butchah (209 Route 101), starting June 15. Visit

Concord Farmers Market is Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, on Capitol Street. Visit

Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market is Wednesdays, 3 to 7 p.m., at 1 W. Broadway. Visit

Milford Farmers Market is Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 300 Elm Street in Milford. Visit

New Boston Farmers Market will be Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the corner of Route 13 and Meetinghouse Hill Road, June 12 through Oct. 9. Visit

Salem Farmers Market is Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Tuscan Village South (12 Via Toscana Drive, Salem). Visit

Warner Area Farmers Market is Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the Warner Town Hall lawn. Visit

Weare Real Food Farmers Market will be outdoors on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 65 N. Stark Hwy. in Weare. Visit

Featured photo: Sirniki (Russian farmer’s cheese pancakes). Courtesy of Shawna Deeley.

Hawaii in a bowl

Poké Spot now open in Manchester

A new fast casual concept now open in Manchester specializes in customizable Hawaiian poké bowls, featuring sliced raw fish with a variety of bases, sauces and toppings to choose from.

Poké Spot, which opened May 17 in The Shoppes at 655 South Willow, is the latest venture of Steven Jiang, who also owns Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Concord. According to Jiang, poké (pronounced POH-kay) is a traditional Hawaiian dish with roots in Japanese and other Asian cuisines that has become popular in the United States in recent years.

“I know a lot of people that love poké but can’t get it anywhere around here,” Jiang said, “so I want to make it easier for people to get it and also bring fresh ingredients here to Manchester.”

Jiang described Poké Spot as a “Japanese-Hawaiian Chipotle,” in which customers can either choose from one of several signature poké bowls or build their own. All bowls come in one of two portion sizes — regular, featuring up to two scoops of proteins, and large, with up to three.

Building your own poké bowl starts with choosing your base (sushi rice, brown rice, quinoa, spring mix or wonton chips), followed by the protein. While most of the proteins feature sliced raw fish (tuna, salmon, yellowtail or octopus), tofu is also available as a vegetarian option.

The next steps feature your choice of green onion, jalapeno, red onion or cilantro to be mixed in with the base and protein, followed by one of eight sauces that are all made in house.

“We have the house poké sauce, which is probably the most traditional sauce that everybody uses back in Hawaii,” Jiang said. “It’s a soy sauce base, mixed with sugar and mirin. … I would say it’s a little bit of a spicy version of a teriyaki sauce.”

Other sauce options include miso lime, spicy mayo and sesame ginger vinaigrette. You can further customize your poké bowl with nearly a dozen additional toppings, including seaweed or crab salad, or masago (fish eggs), as well as vegetables like radishes, carrots and microgreens.

The final step involves choosing your “crunch,” or the featured ingredient at the very top of your bowl. Those options include sesame seeds, wasabi peas, crispy onions, shredded nori (dried edible seaweed) or furikake (Japanese rice seasoning).

If this all sounds like a lot to choose from, Poké Spot does also have a selection of eight signature bowls on its menu, with pre-selected arrangements of bases, proteins, veggies, sauces and toppings that Jiang said are all based on corresponding flavor pairings. There is a small offering of specialty drinks too, including imported Japanese teas and canned Hawaiian Sun tropical drinks with flavors like passion fruit, lychee and guava.

Advance online ordering is available through the website, and the eatery will soon offer its own delivery service to the Manchester and Bedford areas. Two additional Poké Spot locations, in Nashua and Rochester, are currently in the planning stages.

Poké Spot
: 655 S. Willow St., Suite 100, Manchester
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
More info: Visit or follow them on Instagram @pokespotnh

Feautred photo: Poke spot. Courtesy photo.

May the best eats and sips win

Taste of the Region returns (in person!) to Derry

From pizza, tacos and macaroni and cheese to locally produced brews, spirits and sweet treats, there will be an array of foods and drinks to discover during the annual Taste of the Region, happening on Wednesday, June 16. After the pandemic forced the event to go virtual last year, Taste of the Region is back at its normal spot at Derry’s Tupelo Music Hall for 2021, this time under a large tented space outdoors.

More than 25 restaurants, breweries and other businesses from Derry and a few surrounding towns will be offering samples and vying for your vote in at least one of three categories — “savory,” “sips” or “sweets.” Each vendor can opt to participate in one, two or all three of them.

“We’ll have one entrance into the tented area … and people will be able to move among the tables,” said Ashley Haseltine, president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event. “They can either sample as they go or sit down at the tables at the outdoor restaurant area that the Tupelo has set up for this season.”

This year’s participating vendors include a combination of returning and new faces to the local dining scene. Destination India Bar & Restaurant, which opened its doors on East Broadway in Derry earlier this year, is among them, as well as The Nutrition Corner, a Derry shop offering protein smoothies and teas, and Bellavance Beverage Co. of Londonderry, which Haseltine said will act as a liaison between attendees and even more local businesses.

“They’re a distributor, so what they’re actually going to be doing is offering products from some of our other Chamber members that can’t make it to the event themselves,” she said.

Other vendors will include Kiss the Cook Macaroni & Cheese, a Derry-based business offering a few types of homemade macaroni and cheese to go; The Residence at Salem Woods, a senior living facility that Haseltine said will be offering tacos; and Rig A Tony’s Italian Takeout, which has in the past featured a display of desserts like coconut macaroons and whoopie pies. Clam Haven, also owned by Rig A Tony’s founder Lisa DeSisto, will be at the event as well.

During the tasting, attendees are invited to vote for their favorite item in each of the three categories. Haseltine said each onsite vendor will have a code you can scan with your phone, which brings you to an online voting system. If you especially like what you try, vendors will also be selling discounts on gift cards and certificates during the tasting.

Attendees can also now pick up a “dining passport” at the Chamber or at any participating restaurant or brewery, getting a stamp with each purchase that they make. Stamps will then be redeemed during the event for your chance to win an outdoor fire pit.

“We wanted to find ways to keep the core of the event intact, while also creating revenue opportunities for everybody participating,” Haseltine said.

Taste of the Region
: Wednesday, June 16, 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Outside the Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry
Cost: $35 admittance per person (includes full access to food and drink tastings; tickets are available both in advance online and at the door, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Kyle B. Ross Memorial Scholarship Fund)
Event is rain or shine. Masks are recommended but not required.

Participating food and beverage vendors
Bellavance Beverage Co. (
Casa Java Cafe (
Clam Haven (
Daydreaming Brewing Co. (
Destination India Restaurant & Bar (
Doire Distilling (
Kiss the Cook Mac & Cheese To Go (
Kona Shaved Ice (
La Carreta Mexican Restaurant (
Long Blue Cat Brewing Co. (
The Nutrition Corner (
Nutrition in Motion (
Pipe Dream Brewing (
The Red Arrow Diner (
Rig A Tony’s Italian Takeout (
Rockingham Brewing Co. (
Sal’s Pizza (
The Residence at Salem Woods (
Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar (
Windham Terrace Assisted Living (
Zorvino Vineyards (

Feautred photo: The Residence at Salem Woods. Courtesy photo.

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