The Music Roundup 21/06/17

Local music news & events

Throwback time: A tribute band before they were cool, The Youngsters formed back in 1980, bonding over a shared love for the music of Neil Young. The group’s core members, Chris Williams, Jeff Guild and TJ Murphy, went on to pursue solo efforts, occasionally reuniting for shows like this one, a fundraiser for 10,000 Candles, which supports families coping with loss from suicide or addiction. Thursday, June 17, 7:30 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, tickets $20 at

Lion laughs: After a successful initial event recently, Funny Friday continues with a three-comic bill led by Ray Harrington, who’s built a name for himself on the West Coast with an album on Standup Records and a special on Hulu, along with Mark Turcotte, organizer of the annual Maine Comedy Festival and a favorite in his home state. Rounding out the night is fellow Mainer Leonard Kimble. Friday, June 18, 7:30 p.m., Lions Club, 256 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, $10 at

Boat sing: Specializing in the genre that arguably got its name from the Christopher Cross song “Sailing,” Boat House Row plays yacht rock, the mellow sound of the mid-1970s embodied by Cross, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and Hall & Oates. Polished, smooth and designed for yuppies tied to docks at Newport or the Cape, it’s easily digested and washed down with champagne. Sunday, June 20, at 1 and 4 p.m., Tupelo Drive-in, 10 A St., Derry. Tickets are $22 per person or $75 per car at

Fab faux: It’s The Beatles al fresco at a scaled-down Shea Stadium as Studio Two kicks off a summer series of concerts in a downtown Nashua park. The youthful tribute band faithfully recreates John, Paul, George and Ringo in their British Invasion days, before they stopped touring. Upcoming performers in the series include Catfish Howl on June 29, Twangtown in mid-July and B Street Bombers on Aug. 3. Tuesday, June 22, 7 p.m., Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua,

Hometown girl: Though she relocated to the West Coast in early 2018, MB Padfield always returns home for a summer full of beach shows like this one on a flatbed truck parked outside a Hampton bar. Padfield has had success with her own efforts — a new album, Surface, is in the works (she recently posted a song in progress on Facebook) — and with session work, like a co-write on Yeti Tactics’ Guest House, released last October. Wednesday, June 23, 9 p.m., The Goat, 20 L St., Hampton Beach. See

At the Sofaplex 21/06/17

Spiral (R)

Chris Rock, Max Minghella.

And also just a bit of Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Rock’s character’s father. This movie, which was released in theaters in May and is now available for rent, is subtitled “From the Book of Saw,” putting it in the general Saw universe (the police know about and remember Jigsaw and his killings and the various helpers he had). Here, a new computerized voice is telling victims that he wants to play a game, involving police officers who have committed assorted wrongs. Police Det. Banks (Rock) is sent with his new young partner, Det. Schneck (Minghella), to investigate the first of the spiral killings (so called because the Jigsaw-ish spiral symbol is part of the killer’s imagery) and then becomes the person who receives the messages (some in the form of body parts) sent by the killer.

Parts of this movie feel like Rock working out some new comedy material — a bit on Pilates and infidelity, for example. These parts feel a bit shoved sideways into the movie but they’re probably better suited to him and the character than some of the more melodramatic moments. The movie’s ideas about policing aren’t sketched out well enough to make this a horror movie that Says Something. It’s more like Spiral is using a veneer of Saying Something to give a superficial update to the same red-stage-blood goriness.

I can’t remember what ever drew people to the Saw movies — was it the “cleverness” of the Ironic Punishment Division traps? Was it the audacity of the gore? Was it Cary Elwes? What is Cary Elwes up to these days? (Stranger Things and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, according to the Internet Movie Database — ooo, hey, and Mission: Impossible 7 … good for him!) Where were we? Right, Spiral. D+ (The plus is for the existence of the cast, not that the movie does anything good with them.) Available in theaters and for rent on premium VOD.

Oslo (TV-MA)

Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott.

Based on the Tony-winning play, HBO’s Oslo tells the true (true-ish, basically, according to Wikipedia) story of the efforts of a married pair of Norwegian diplomats to get unofficial but face-to-face communication going between representatives of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization — without involving (or requiring any official acknowledgment from) any of the men at the top. The hope of Mona (Wilson) and her husband Terje (Scott) is that without any of the trappings of the more formal negotiations happening in Washington, D.C., perhaps people, talking to each other in a private setting one on one, can forge relationships on which true diplomacy can be built. The movie does a good job of making this moment in history (1993) seem like one full of hope and potential — which gives the movie real stakes and narrative tension. Good performances all around. B+ Available on HBO.

Dog Gone Trouble (TV-Y7)

Voices of Big Sean, Pamela Adlon.

Trouble (Big Sean) is a well cared for dog and companion to extremely wealthy Mrs. Vanderwhoozie (voice of Betty White) who finds himself tossed out like yesterday’s filet mignon when she suddenly dies. Inadvertently sent out into the big city, Trouble befriends (sort of) the grumpy pit bull Rousey (Adlon) and eventually a human, Zoe (voice of Lucy Bell). But when Vanderwhoozie’s heirs (Marissa Winokur, Joel McHale) realize the only way they can get her fortune is by taking care of Trouble, they send animal tracker Thurman (voice of Wilmer Valderrama) to find him.

This movie has some interesting ideas (probably too many) and some decent voice talent, but the movie overall never quite gels. The story feels half-baked and scattered, as though someone was still trying to figure out how to fit all the parts of this movie together. I wish the movie had also dialed back the meanness a little and turned up the animal antics. C Available on Netflix.

In The Heights (PG-13) | Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (PG)

In The Heights (PG-13)

A group of longtime friends and neighbors chase their various dreams In The Heights, the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first big hit Broadway musical.

Unlike last summer’s Hamilton, which was a filmed version of the stage production, this movie takes us into Washington Heights with characters walking through a (mostly) real world (with occasional forays into delightful fantasy).

Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) owns and operates a bodega but dreams of the day when he can move to Dominican Republic, where his late parents were from, and own a bar on the beach. He employs his teen cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV) and lives with Claudia (Olga Merediz), whom he and everybody in the neighborhood call Abuela, though she’s not technically his grandmother. When it seems like his dream might become a reality, he considers taking both Sonny and Abuela with him.

But of course leaving Washington Heights would mean leaving Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), the girl he’s known forever but still doesn’t seem to know how to get up the courage to ask out. Vanessa also has her leaving-the-neighborhood dreams, in the form of an apartment downtown and a career involving fashion. For now she works at a local salon (with characters played, delightfully, by Stephanie Beatriz, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Dasha Polanco).

Vanessa’s friend Nina (Leslie Grace) has moved outside the Heights. She’s home for summer after her first year at Stanford and even though her college career is the pride of the neighborhood she is torn about returning to school the next year. She didn’t feel welcomed or like she fit in there.

Nina dropping out would break her father Kevin Rosario’s (Jimmy Smits) heart, especially since he sold part of his taxi business to pay for her tuition. But her living nearby would suit his dispatcher Benny (Corey Hawkins), Nina’s high school sweetheart, just fine.

And to all this inner turmoil and drama add a crushing heat wave that eventually snuffs out the power neighborhood-wide.

I’m not the first critic to observe that after the last year and a half out here in the real world (or, I guess, stuck inside here in the real world), the world of In The Heights with its packed dance floors and street parties and people hanging out with each other feels like a color-saturated peek at some glorious forgotten existence. If you’re not quite ready to squeeze into a space at a bar, perhaps viewing In The Heights in a theater with other humans is a good reentry outing. Or you could watch it at home on HBO Max until July 11. Or both! (I didn’t immediately watch the movie again after the first viewing but I guarantee between the time I write this and the time you read it I will have seen at least parts of it several more times.)

I won’t pretend to have any objective chill about this movie. I’ve been excited about it since I first saw the trailers a hundred years ago in the pre-pandemic times and I was excited when I sat down to watch it and I was excited throughout. This movie is great fun. It is jam packed with music and dancing thoroughly soaked with Latin and hip-hop influences. Even though this is a movie with a fairly high number of core characters, everybody has the space to create a relatively fleshed out person with a mix of motivations and desires and complexities. And, though the movie clocks in at nearly two and a half hours, it all feels like two and a half hours well spent. (And if the movie wanted to slow down to spend more time showing us the arroz con pollo, pasteles and the rest of the dinner spread at a big set-piece party in the middle of the movie, I wouldn’t have minded that either.) Even when the movie wanders into slightly syrupy territory the charm of the whole endeavor keeps the train from ever jumping the track.

Is this movie perfect? If it’s not, it is at least perfectly suited to my entertainment needs at the moment. Does it have flaws? Probably, but I was too busy being delighted to really take note of them. I’ll go watch it a couple dozen more times and let you know. A

Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive references, according to the MPA on Directed by Jon M. Chu with a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes (from the musical with a book by Hudes and music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda), In The Heights is two hours and 23 minutes long and is distributed by Warner Bros. in theaters and on HBO Max.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (PG)

Peter Rabbit and friends get up to more mischief while their human caretakers are just as weird as ever in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, a live-action movie filled with animated animals.

Bea (Rose Byrne), the painter who acts as a gentle and forgiving surrogate mother to a bunch of animals living in the country including Peter Rabbit (voice of James Corden), marries Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), the slightly unhinged nephew of the late, grumpy Mr. McGregor of “Mr. McGregor’s garden/rabbit-pie-maker” fame. After a to-the-near-death battle during the last movie, the younger McGregor and Peter have made peace, even if Peter imagines giving Thomas a few rabbit feet to the face at the idea of his being Peter’s new father figure and Thomas keeps mentioning to Bea how nice it would be to have some human children.

Thomas is nevertheless supportive of their animal-filled life and is even helping Bea self-publish her book about Peter and his siblings — Flopsy (voice of Margot Robbie), Mopsy (voice of Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (voice of Aimee Horne) — and his cousin Benjamin Bunny (voice of Colin Moody). Peter enjoys the fame that comes with being the star of a locally beloved children’s book but he’s not so sure how he feels about being called the naughty or mischievous one. And when big-time publisher Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo) says Bea’s books could be bestsellers but might she consider painting Peter as more of a Bad Seed, Peter becomes even more uncomfortable with how he’s perceived. While Bea is initially concerned that her bunnyverse will become fodder for some hipped up movie made by an American director (one of this movie’s many winks at itself), she eventually follows Nigel’s suggestions to put the bunnies into more bankable clothes (jeans, high tops) and adventures (space). After all, his other client, who wrote a children’s book about a butterfly, is doing great with his amped up skateboarding butterfly books. Bea’s willingness to compromise isn’t all about earning herself a publishing-house-gifted sports car; she also wants to use the money to preserve even more land for her animals to frolic in, with said frolicking demonstrated by Thomas in a scene that really helps to highlight what a delightful oddball his character is.

Honestly, I could watch a whole movie just about the tightly wound but deeply in love and approval-seeking Thomas and the earnest but kooky Bea. Gleeson and Byrne have great weirdo chemistry and they are both fun characters in their own right.

Of course, this is a movie for kids, so we get bits of these people, probably as a little treat to me and the other adults bringing their kids to this movie, sprinkled in all the animal hijinks. And those are fine too. I feel like the 2018 Peter Rabbit had more murder in everyone’s hearts — Peter and friends trying to kill the new McGregor, McGregor trying to rid his garden of all the animals. Here, it’s more about everyone adjusting to each other or figuring out their roles in this new circumstance. What this means for the movie is more cartoony silliness but less threat of actual harm, which makes the movie more fun overall. My older elementary-school-aged kid had a good time with the movie and laughed out loud several times — as did I, and occasionally we both laughed at the same parts.

During a trip to the city, Peter meets a rabbit who is even more of a grifter named Barnabas (voice of Lennie James). This sets in motion a whole heist sequence that is fun and keeps the energy up in the movie’s second half.

I think Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway improved on the first movie, making this kids property more parent-friendly and easily enjoyable. B

Rated PG for some rude humor and action, according to the MPA on Directed by Will Gluck with a screenplay by Will Gluck and Patrick Burleigh (based on the stories and characters from Beatrix Potter’s books), Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is an hour and 33 minutes long and distributed by Columbia Pictures. It is currently in theaters.

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

Overloaded, by Ginny Smith

Overloaded, by Ginny Smith (Bloomsbury, 325 pages)

Science writer Ginny Smith’s Overloaded, while not the most sparkling prose you’ll read this year, does a yeoman’s job at explaining, in understandable language, the workings of the brain and what controls it. Mindfulness has its place, but in fact, our thoughts, emotions and memories are the sum of what Smith calls “a turbulent sea of neurotransmitters.” And sea is not just a figure of speech. “It seems to me that the answer lies not in the wiring of our brains, but in the chemicals that bathe them,” Smith writes.

Smith starts by assuming that we have forgotten everything we learned in high school and teaching a sort of CliffsNotes class in Neurology 101: the differences between sensory and motor neurons, the duties of the synapse, how electrical signals flow. Along the way, like a good professor, she introduces some interesting people, such as Luigi Galvani, the Italian scientist who figured out how to make the legs of dead frogs twitch (inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), and two European scientists who shared the Nobel Prize in 2006 even though each disagreed with the other’s work. (Nice to know that even Nobel Prize winners can bicker like crows.)

From there Smith delves into eight typical areas of interest regarding the brain: memories, motivation, mood swings and fear, sleep, hunger and satiation, decision-making, love and attraction, and pain.

In the chapter on memory she darts from treatments for PTSD to imprinting in ducklings to the long-term effects on the neglected children in Romanian orphanages. It’s a skillfully woven collection of stories, but unfortunately, offers no significant or surprising information on how to maintain our own memory.

The chapter on motivation delves into research on primates and mice and does a good job of explaining how dopamine works and why its effects decline over time. Again, however, the chapter held more promise than it delivered. Any real-life application might have to do with drug or alcohol withdrawal, not how to get motivated to exercise or clean the house.

By “Mood Swings and Scary Things,” I’m on to the pattern. Smith dangles an interesting topic in front of me — sharks! — and then swims away. After a quick dip in the mechanics of the fear response, she’s suddenly musing about the moods of a childhood tortoiseshell cat. And on it goes.

By the time we come to sleep, which Smith considers the brain’s greatest mystery, I’ve given up on getting any practical application for my life, and I’m only here for the anecdotes. Admittedly, they are good, such as the story of a strange illness that spread throughout Vienna in 1916 and came to be known simply as “sleepy sickness.” (People would feel generally unwell at the start, and then, as the illness progressed, spend more and more time asleep. Eventually they fell into a coma and died, basically sleeping themselves to death.)

The illness killed about one million people over 10 years and eventually disappeared, and there still is no consensus on the cause, although it must have had something to do with hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls sleepiness and wakefulness.

Here, too, we finally get to Alzheimer’s disease, and theories about sleep deprivation might be connected, since during sleep, a sort of rinse cycle of the brain sweeps out waste that is believed to be involved in the development of dementia.

By now we know that in “Food for Thought” we’re not going to get any dieting tips. In fact, unhelpfully, Smith even writes, “There is currently only one really effective treatment for obesity: bariatric (or weight loss) surgery.” Also, she confides that when she is quite reasonably attracted to the pastry tray at a breakfast buffet, she deals with temptation by: filling her plate with fruit and yogurt. At this point, she reveals herself to be some freak of nature, sort of like the aliens in suits in Men in Black, so she has diminished cred in the ensuing discussion on eating disorders.

Finally, you’ve probably heard of St. Elmo’s fire, but how about St. Anthony’s fire? That’s another strange disease, this time in medieval France, in which poor people were afflicted with severe pain in the extremities. (Eat the rich — they never got it.) It turns out that the people were getting sick from a fungus that grew in the rye used in bread and beer. Even stranger, this discovery eventually led to a substance that is much more familiar today — oxytocin.

Overloaded suffers from an overload of English spelling (Smith teaches at the University of Cambridge), an overload of the author’s personal anecdotes and, most egregiously, an overload of exclamation marks. It won’t be the best book you read this year; in fact, let’s hope it’s the worst. But it’s a serviceable summer read for the intellectually curious. C


With Father’s Day upon us, can we reflect on the problem that there is no equivalent of “chick lit” for men?

That said, we have scoured the internet and solved your gift-giving problem. Pair one of these with a box of Wicked Whoopies and you’re done.

For dads who love golf:Best Seat in the House, 18 Golden Lessons from a Father to His Son, by Jack Nicklaus II and Don Yaeger (Thomas Nelson, 224 pages). The son of PGA champ Jack Nicklaus reflects on his dad and the sport.

For dads who love cars:A Man and His Car, Iconic Cars and Stories from the Men Who Love Them, by Matt Hranek (Artisan, 240 pages)

For dads who watch Fox News: Tales from the Dad Side, by Fox personality Steve Doocy (William Morrow, 224 pages). This one’s been out a while, but genuinely funny, and the stories about son Peter (now a White House correspondent) are a hoot.

For dads who hate Fox News: Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by Brian Stelter (Atria, 368 pages). The author is not without bias: he’s an anchor on CNN. Paperback version is out this month, too.

For dads of a certain age: Sinatra and Me, In the Wee Small Hours, by Tony Oppedisano (Scribner, 320 pages). The singer’s longtime confidante spills the tea.

For dads of a certain age more into rock than Sinatra: The Collected Work of Jim Morrison, edited by Frank Lisciandro (Harper Design, 584 pages). He was only 27 when he died, but the Doors’ front man left 28 handwritten journals, which are among the private and public writing assembled here.

For dads who like humor: Daditude, by Chris Erskine (Prospect Parks Books, 180 pages). A popular syndicated columnist writes on the “joys and absurdities of modern fatherhood.

And finally, not that we’re typecasting, for dads who like to grill: How to Grill Everything, by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 576 pages). A famous food writer shares his secrets on grilling everything from steak to desserts.

Book fairs

Author events

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.

TERRY FARISH Meet-and-greet with picture book and young adult author. Kingston Community Library, 2 Library Lane, Kingston. Thurs., July 8, 3:30 p.m. Registration required. Visit

CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE Author presents The Exiles. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., July 13, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

MEGAN MIRANDA Author presents Such a Quiet Place. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., July 20, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. 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


DOWN CELLAR POETRY SALON Poetry event series presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Monthly. First Sunday. 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: Overloaded

Tractors and beer

Help ease the lawn mowing frustration

Last year, I bought a riding lawn mower. My wife said I could, so I did. I bought a used one because I’m thrifty.

First, the battery needed to be replaced. Then the mower deck wouldn’t stay level. Fast forward to this spring and it was leaking gas, which, you know, seems troublesome.

I took it to the mechanic and a few days later he called me and said, “You buy this used?” I answered in the affirmative. He said, “You know this engine isn’t even meant for this machine?” I did not know that but he fixed it as best he could and wrote in big capital letters on the receipt: “Not guaranteed for anything.” I’m feeling really good about the whole situation.

Right now, it’s sitting in the front lawn, where it currently won’t start, again.

What I’m trying to say is, this machine has made me drink a few beers recently. After our most recent fight, I grabbed an Export American Golden Ale by Shipyard Brewing Co. I needed something light that I didn’t need to think about in the moment.

I read “golden ale” and my first thought was that this is going to be just a light Pilsner, but this has a lot more malt character than I was expecting. It features a little sweetness and a touch of richness that gives this brew character. By the way, this is hardly a new brew; it’s Shipyard’s flagship brew, first introduced in 1992. This is definitely a good yard work beer, regardless of your lawn mowing situation.

Here are a few more beers that have recently helped me through these tough times.

Hoponius Union Hoppy Lager by Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham, Mass.)

It’s not an IPA but it’s awfully similar. Unlike a traditional IPA, this is fermented cold and aged for extended periods. As the brewery says, this combines West Coast IPA hops and lager yeast fermentation. The result is a tremendous all-around beer that features huge citrus aroma, lots of tropical hop flavor and a clean, dry finish. This is a longtime favorite of mine.

Winni Ale by 603 Brewery (Londonderry)

The brewery says this one is still its top-selling beer, which is a testament to the brew considering today’s hop-crazed beer culture. This is a rich amber ale that features a little sweetness but finishes with a little burst of citrus hops. Honestly, it reminds me a lot of the Shipyard Export Golden Ale.

Pale Ale by Newburyport Brewing Co. (Newburyport, Mass.)

Call it what you want but to me this is just a toned down IPA and, man, sometimes that’s just perfect. It’s crisp, bright, refreshing and not too hoppy, but it still has plenty of citrusy hop character. When you’ve spent the day toiling in the yard with finicky small engines, this is a perfectly drinkable choice to help reward your efforts and patience. You’re going to want to have a few of these.

One to Try
Not too many craft brewers are offering Belgian-style Tripels these days, instead focusing on expanding and experimenting with the IPA style. It’s all about consumer demand, we get it. There’s something about the style I’ve always enjoyed: flavorful, complex and approachable, despite loads of alcohol. With that in mind, it caught my eye to see Granite Roots Brewing in Troy offering its Face Plant Into Rock Belgian Tripel, which features a “clean malt flavor, slight bitterness and a touch of coriander to finish dry…,” according to the brewery. This is one I’ll be trying to track down.

What’s in My Fridge
IPA by Stoneface Brewing Co. (Newington)
This is one that I just keep coming back to. It’s bright and hoppy, boasting big dry hop flavor and aromas. There is something comforting about this just being labeled “IPA,” too. It is what it is, and what it is is a great, all-around IPA. Cheers!

Featured photo: Export Golden Ale by Shipyard Brewing Company. Courtesy photo.

Tara Collins

Tara Collins of Derry is the owner of Collins Cupcakes (, and on Facebook and Instagram @collinscupcakes603), a homestead business she started about four years ago that specializes in all kinds of flavors of made-to-order cupcakes for any occasion. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Collins has lived in New Hampshire for more than a decade. Baking cupcakes started as a hobby for her — she would share them with friends, family and co-workers before encouragement among them eventually inspired her to turn it into a business. Her mother, Deb, who taught her how to bake growing up, even helped her choose her company’s logo. Collins Cupcakes offers a variety of cake, filling and buttercream flavors to choose from when placing your cupcake order — popular flavors have included salted caramel apple, chocolate peanut butter, lemon blueberry and strawberry shortcake. A minimum of a dozen cupcakes is baked per order, with at least a 48-hour notice requested.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

My absolute must-have item is my mixer. It’s a really large KitchenAid commercial mixer. I can’t live without it.

What would you have for your last meal?

It would be a carne asada burrito with extra guacamole, from Filiberto’s in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a small, family-owned place that is open 24 hours and grills carne asada all day long. It’s unbelievable.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

We are obsessed with Trio’s [Cafe & Cantina] in Salem. Their food is consistently good. The birria tacos are my all-time favorite, and I also love the Mexican street corn tenders and the churro fries.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from Collins Cupcakes?

Stevie Nicks, hands down. I love her so much that getting to talk to her and eat cupcakes with her would be a dream come true.

What is your personal favorite cupcake flavor that you offer?

My favorite is the lemon blackberry, because it’s such a good flavor combination. It’s a vanilla cake base with a blackberry filling and a lemon buttercream.

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

The way we get our food, whether it’s groceries or from restaurants, has changed so drastically over the last year. … The other thing we’re seeing is more ghost kitchens popping up too, which is such a cool concept.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

I love to make fresh guacamole in the summertime, and in the fall I love making apple pie. Those would be my two favorites if I had to pick.

Basic buttercream recipe
From the kitchen of Tara Collins of Collins Cupcakes in Derry

2 sticks of butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar

Use your favorite mixer to cream the butter. Add in a pinch of salt and the vanilla. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Continue mixing until well blended. Frosts approximately 12 cupcakes, but is also great for any dessert that requires frosting.

Featured photo: Tara Collins

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!