Traveling solo

Sarah Lee Guthrie finds her own voice

Two New Year’s Days ago Sarah Lee Guthrie wrote on Instagram, “Good morning 2020, I love you already.” With a few West Coast shows booked ahead of playing in the band on her dad Arlo’s national tour, the future gleamed. But in early March, right after she got to Solvang, California, the world shut down.

Guthrie holed up there, releasing videos made in a culvert near the Santa Ynez River. Songs came from her life as “a link in a chain of folk singers,” starting with grandpa Woody Guthrie, with selections from Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs.

A pair of originals from the so-called Culvert Sessions — an aching ode to her late mother and the longing “Seven Sisters,” a performance inspired by a full moon — hinted at the core of her hejira.

“I hadn’t really stepped into what could be known as a Sarah Lee Guthrie solo career after breaking up with Johnny [Irion, her husband and musical partner since 2000],” she said in a recent phone interview. “I’ve been kind of dipping my toes in all kinds of different directions to determine how to capture me, my essence. How do I put it down there?”

Beyond that, isolation was a totally new feeling that sparked waves of energy.

“I hadn’t actually lived alone ever in my entire adult life, and it’s the first time I was actually in one place for two whole months,” she said. “Then I found this amazing little portal of creativity. … I loved it.”

After lockdown was lifted, Guthrie found her way to Austin, Texas, where her sister Cathy now lives. The move sparked her latest creative flowering. The Guthrie Girls & the Stage Door Johnnies is a honky tonk band that holds down a weekly residency at Sam’s Town Point, a no-nonsense, music-forward bar located at the city’s southern tip.

The new effort took shape when Guthrie reluctantly agreed to play a folk jam.

“I’ve played listening rooms, theaters and schools, libraries and coffee houses all over the world, but bars … I’m just not good at them,” she said. But her sister wasn’t buying it, telling her, “just get over yourself and play.”

Her first night, “all these guys started to join me on stage, kind of uninvited, but really funny,” she said. “It was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to go grab my guitar, I’m going to grab my bass, let’s jam. I’m going to go find a drummer,’ [and] all of a sudden I have a band. … This place sucked me in and I have not left because it is so fun. My entire view of how to make music, why we make music, my relationship to music, just totally shifted.”

The nature of her employment also changed. The two sisters work behind the bar at Sam’s when they’re not performing, a situation necessitated by her father’s retirement from touring and live shows.

“I’m laid off and she’s laid off in a sense. She was working for my dad, and also making music with Amy Nelson in Folk Uke,” she said.

Cathy’s ex, Ramsey Millwood — the two share a child — is a singer-songwriter who owns and runs the bar.

Guthrie rapidly assimilated into Austin life.

“It’s really its own country,” she said, “and the coolest thing is that there’s so many great musicians, living a very unpretentious lifestyle going around from club to club. Our favorite people are always there, Charlie Sexton or Charley Crockett or Paul Cousin….”

Her uncle, folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, stopped by recently.

“This is a haven for people like Jack. There’s old cars in the back. We have one of my dad’s buses there that we’ve been fixing up and the guys all love to sit around and talk about what needs to be done to it. And a bunch of singing cowboys; I was like, ‘Jack, you gotta come hang out with us.’”

Leading a band is exhilarating, liberating, she said.

“Playing with Arlo and my brother, I’m just a little sister, a daughter,” she said. “Coming into a territory where I’m actually driving is feeling really good; I’m empowered. These guys have great taste, there’s great music. I’m inspired, and I love singing with Cathy. Having a band that loves coming to play your songs! It’s just like, oh man, feeling that for my own self. … It’s been life-changing.”

Looking back at her long-ago ’gram post now fills Guthrie with regret’s opposite.

“I did love it,” she said. “I know that it’s been a hard year, but … we spend so much time trying to decide whether it’s good or bad; I’m just over it. I just want to experience. I’m an optimist, so I saw the good in 2020 like you wouldn’t believe. … I’m so much happier.”

Sarah Lee Guthrie w/ Tristan Omand
Saturday, Aug. 14, 2 p.m.
Where: Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Newmarket
Tickets: $25 at ($30 at the door)

Also Friday, Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m. at Brewbakers, 48 Emerald St., Keene ($25 at with Charlie Chronopoulos.

Featured photo: Sarah Lee Guthrie. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/08/12

Local music news & events

Gallery get down: Although he’s performing with his band, Dan Blakeslee has a portfolio of original drawings that are also museum-worthy; the Newport Folk Festival commissioned him for its 50th anniversary poster in 2019. Part of the Art After Work series, Blakeslee and the Calabash Club have an authentic, rootsy sound carried along with the busker energy that launched him in the Boston subways. Thursday, Aug. 12, 5 p.m., Currier Museum Of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, free, but reservations recommended at

Al fresco farewell: The final weekend of Tupelo’s outdoor experiment starts with Greg Hawkes performing songs from his old band The Cars with Eddie Japan, fittingly on the same fateful day that live music was rocked in March 2020. When indoor concerts resume with Three Dog Night on Aug. 20, proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 PCR test done within 72 hours or less will be required for entry. Friday, Aug. 13, 6 p.m., Tupelo Drive-In, 10 A St., Derry. Tickets are $22 per individual and $75 per car at

Let loose laughter: Around the time she got sober a few years back, Amy Tee was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The comedian chose to mine the experience for some great and enlightening material. “By diminishing the stigma of what mental health looks like, I had an opportunity to show people that it looks very different from what people think,” she said, adding that the catharsis of sharing “felt almost like amends.” Saturday, Aug. 14, 8:30 p.m., Chunky’s Cinema Pub, 151 Coliseum Ave, Nashua, tickets $20 at

Hear his heartbeat: After spending a few years as a child actor, Peter Noone switched to singing with Herman’s Hermits. “Musicians are so much more fun than actors and actresses,” he said in a 2018 interview. When he hooked up with uber producer Mickie Most, the hits happened, starting with Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “I’m Into Something Good” and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.” Sunday, Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m., Flying Monkey, 39 Main St., Plymouth, tickets $69 and up at

Local luminescence: An outdoor summer concert series continues with married duo Brad Myrick & Tanya Dutt, the latter known by her stage name Tanya the Empress and her work in synth-pop band TRLOGY. Myrick is a gifted guitarist with an international reputation, as well as one of the biggest boosters of the regional scene as admin of the New Hampshire Music Collective Facebook page, a great resource for fans. Wednesday, Aug. 18, 6 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott, 70 Constitution Ave., Concord,

At the Sofaplex 21/08/12

Val (R)

It’s the documentary you didn’t know you needed about Val Kilmer, narrated with Val’s words read by Jack Kilmer, Val’s son and an actor himself. Val tells the story of Kilmer from a childhood of making movies and having fun with three brothers in the suburban greater Los Angeles area through his career that often seems like a long, only occasionally successful attempt at finding acting jobs that really speak to him. He played Iceman in Top Gun and was a Batman but his real passion seems to be for a Mark Twain movie that he was attempting to get off the ground by touring with a one-man theatrical production called Citizen Twain (according to Vulture, since Kilmer suffered extensive loss of his voice due to throat cancer and its treatment, that production has turned into Cinema Twain, a filmed version of the play that he was touring with pre-pandemic). It’s an intriguing project and one that helps you to understand Kilmer the artist as opposed to just Val Kilmer, Hollywood celebrity. This movie is itself the project of Kilmer’s long love of shooting video and the fact that he saved boxes of footage from his life over the years. Thus do we get to see him clowning around with babyfaced Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn backstage at a play they all worked on long ago and footage of his family, including a movie-loving younger brother who died as a teenager. The movie feels like a scrapbook, collecting his own video, clips of movies and interviews and other souvenirs from his life. It’s a fascinating approach to a biography and an interesting glimpse at acting as a life’s work. B+ Available on Amazon Prime.

Jolt (R)

Kate Beckinsale, Stanley Tucci.

Also Laverne Cox, Bobby Cannavale, Jai Courtney and Susan Sarandon on occasional narration.

Lindy (Beckinsale) has extreme impulse control issues. It’s not that she drinks too much or dates too many of the wrong men (though, as she explains to her therapist Dr. Muchin, played by Tucci, she’s done these things too). When provoked by the irritations and annoyances of everyday life and everyday jerks, Lindy responds by beating the tar out of the provocateur. She’s tried drugs, extreme sports and military service as ways to dampen or channel-elsewhere these impulses but nothing works until Dr. Muchin outfits her with a vest that gives her an electrical jolt at the press of a button. With this button she’s able to not grievously injure the jerk giving a hard time to the valet outside a restaurant or the rude waitress inside as she nervously attempts a first date with Justin (Courtney). 

After the first date goes unexpectedly wonderfully, Lindy is excited for their next date, but her joy at a possible new relationship turns into rage when she learns that Justin has been murdered. Detectives Vicars (Cannavale) and Nevin (Cox) won’t tell her much about Justin but Lindy knows just enough to start her own violence-filled investigation of his death. 

I feel like this movie, with its aggressive, self-conscious Bad Girl Attitude and overall low-rent feel, would have annoyed me had I seen it in a theater. But at home, drinking my own beverages and eating my own snacks and ignoring whatever chores need doing so I can give enough of my attention to Beckinsale’s performance, which is mostly made up of the rocker girl wig and a bunch of impressively high-heeled boots, I find I don’t need quite as much from a movie. Which is to say Jolt is kind of silly and junkfoody and totally fine. Beckinsale seems like she’s having fun, Cox and Cannavale seem like they’re having fun. Yes, the movie finds Lindy more spunky and charming than I do, but she’s not actively grating. 

In some better version of this movie, more could have been made about the ideas of free will, impulse control and Lindy’s ability to pick and choose how much to put up with and not. But this movie doesn’t dive that deep. It floats along the surface at a fast enough clip to be a solid choice for the thing that’s on when you don’t want to have to pay too much attention to what you’re watching. C+ Available on Amazon Prime.

The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad (R)

Harley Quinn and a few lesser characters from the first movie return with the added benefit of Idris Elba as Bloodsport in The Suicide Squad, which is somehow the title of this sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad.

Or not a sequel? I’ve seen this movie talked about as some kind of complete departure from that 2016 film or reboot of the concept, despite some carry-over characters and what, to me, felt like a pretty similar set-up. As with Will Smith’s Deadshot in the first movie, Bloodsport is an imprisoned expert assassin, top-notch marksman and a girl dad who join a Suicide Squad mission to help his young daughter. The last movie had Killer Croc, a kind of crocodile man; this movie has Nanaue (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), a giant shark man. The first movie had Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) selling her “bad people doing good things” idea and she returns for this movie but on the ground a lot of her “America, at any cost” cynicism seems to be delivered by Peacemaker (John Cena), a not super bright take on a flag-waving hero but fairly demented and with a mean, dark streak. Jai Courtney’s Boomerang and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag also return.

The movie starts with the Squad — or Task Force X, as is their official name — in the middle of a mission on the island of Corto Maltese and things are not going well. Then we jump back to see how the squad — or, as we quickly learn, the squads — came together. The overall mission is to sneak into this country that is newly under control of military leaders after a coup and find and destroy the Jotunheim, a secret lab where a project called Starfish, reportedly involving alien tech and some kind of creature, is kept. We can’t have Starfish falling into the wrong hands, Amanda tells the crew, which also includes Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), whose superpowers are shooting deadly polka-dots and really hating his mother, and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), who much like her late father, Ratcatcher 1, uses a mind control device to call and control rats and also has a rat friend who hangs out with her at all times. Perhaps someone should have mentioned this to Bloodsport, who has a lot of childhood rat-related trauma.

There is a version of this movie that really works, that leans into the whole rat thing (which I think is maybe one of the movie’s better elements) and the cartoony weirdness of some of the characters and the nature of the mystery that is Starfish, which is extremely silly but also fully acceptable in this kind of story and has these little elements of sadness. You get to see about 30 or so minutes of this movie at the end of The Suicide Squad, which, as with last year’s Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), is when the movie really gets going. Ah, this, I found myself thinking while the gang was all together fighting a very campy [spoiler alert], this is a fun movie. Robbie is fun, Elba is fun, all the rat business is skin-crawly but also weirdly fun.

But then there’s everything that comes before this, like 90 minutes of before, when this movie just doesn’t feel switched on. I think part of this is due to a structure that keeps many of the most charismatic characters apart for long stretches of time, which means there are good chunks of this movie when we’re not hanging out with Bloodsport or Harley Quinn or the duo of Ratcatcher 2 and Nanaue. There’s a jerking around of locations (and of the timeline, which does at least come with some visually clever fonts) that I think kept me from getting really engaged in the story. The movie’s whole vibe made me feel like it should have been funnier and more lively than it is. Head-explodiness and general stage gore seems to have replaced aggressive quippiness but after a while feels just as repetitive and wearing.

The Suicide Squad feels like a collection of missed opportunities. C+

Rated R for strong violence and gore (like, so much gore; but silly, in a zombie movie kind of way?), language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity, according to the MPA on Written and directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad is two hours and 12 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is in theaters and available on HBO Max through Sept. 5.

Vivo (PG)

An anxious kinkajou travels from Havana to Miami to deliver a musical love note in Vivo, a bright and lovely animated musical with original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Miranda also provides the voice of Vivo, a kinkajou (a sorta monkey-like animal that Wikipedia explains is in the same family as raccoons). Vivo lives with Andrés (voice of Juan de Marcos González), a musician who performs daily in the square with Vivo singing and dancing along. The two have a happy life until the day that Andrés gets a letter from Miami. Andrés’ onetime musical partner (and the woman he loved but never told his feelings to) Marta Sandoval (voice of Gloria Estefan) is having her farewell concert and would like Andrés to come and maybe even perform. Andrés is excited at the prospect of seeing Marta again and showing her the love song he wrote for her. Vivo is not so sure about all this travel and change.

After first resisting, Vivo comes around to the idea of a Miami trip but when he goes to tell Andrés, he finds his friend has passed away. At a memorial for Andrés, his nephew’s widow, Rosa (voice of Zoe Saldana), and her tween-age-ish daughter Gabi (voice of Ynairaly Simo) come from their home in Key West to pay their respects. Andrés’ friend gives Gabi a suitcase containing some of his old instruments, knowing that Gabi, like her father and great-uncle, loves making her own music. Vivo sees his chance to fulfill Andrés’ wish to give Marta his song and stows away aboard the suitcase.

Once in Key West, Gabi is delighted to learn that Vivo has followed her and is excited to help him fulfill his mission. There are, of course, hurdles: they have to find a way to get to Miami, they have to find a way to ditch Rosa and, once Vivo is spotted, Gabi and her new animal companion are chased by aggressively nature-loving, rules-following Sand Dollar girls (voiced by Katie Lowes, Olivia Trujillo and Lidya Jewett), the scouts that Gabi’s mother would like her to make friends with.

Gabi is a purple-hair, adventure-loving, improvise-her-way-through-situations girl who has had some difficulty building new relationships since the death of her father. Vivo is a plans-and-routine-loving monkey who doesn’t enjoy being out in the big wide world — at least, at first. Their friendship and Miranda’s songs form the core of this movie, with its beautiful tropical colors (including a magical take on a neon-colored Miami) and Latin-inflected music.

Miranda’s songs are very Lin-Manuel Miranda-esque, which I like; it’s been a summer of his music for me, what with In the Heights and my kids getting really into Moana. I found the music here and the different song styles and how they tell the story of the characters they’re connected to really charming and thoughtful. As a piece of art that I enjoyed, Vivo was fully engaging and something I could see myself happily viewing again.

I watched this movie with my kids and the animal antics of Vivo and the songs were a hit with the younger kids, though their attention did wane at parts. (They later watched it about three more times in the space of 12 hours, so the movie clearly grew on them.) My older elementary schooler enjoyed the movie more or less throughout, particularly Gabi, who loves the drums and bright colors and is perfectly happy being who she is.

Vivo is a cheery movie with a nice kid adventure story and some good messaging in all those sunny visuals and songs. A-

Rated PG for some thematic elements and mild action, according to the MPA on Directed by Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords with a screenplay by Kirk DeMicco and Quiara Alegría Hudes, Vivo is an hour and 35 minutes long and distributed by Netflix, where it is available for streaming.



Chunky’s Cinema Pub
707 Huse Road, Manchester;
151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua;
150 Bridge St., Pelham,

O’neil Cinemas at Brickyard Square
24 Calef Highway, Epping

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord

Rex Theatre
23 Amherst St., Manchester


Back to the Future (PG, 1985) at the Rex Theatre on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. with a portion of the proceeds going to SEE Science Center. Tickets cost $12.

The Goonies (PG, 1985) will screen Wednesday, Aug. 11, at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham at 7 p.m. including a treasure hunt. Doors open an hour before showtime for a hunt for boxes of goodies. Tickets $4.99.

21 + screening of The Goonies (PG, 1985) on Thursday, Aug. 12, at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham at 7 p.m. with themed cocktails and an in-theater treasure hunt (doors open an hour before showtime). Tickets cost $4.99.

CatVideoFest 2021 (NR, 2021) screens at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15, at 1 and 3:15 p.m.

Swan Song (NR, 2021) screens at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15, a 3:45 and 6:45 p.m.

Pig (R, 2021) screens at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15, a 12:30 and 6:15 p.m.

Free Guy (PG-13, 2021) a sensory friendly flix screening, with sound lowered and lights up, on Saturday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m. at O’neil Cinema.

Tangled(PG, 2010) at the Rex Theatre on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12.

The Lorax (PG, 2012) a “Little Lunch Date” screening at Chunky’s in Manchester, Nashua & Pelham on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 11:30 a.m. Reserve tickets in advance with $5 food vouchers. The screening is kid-friendly, with lights dimmed slightly.

Frozen (PG, 2013) at the Rex Theatre, on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m. with a portion of the proceeds going to Ballet Misha. Tickets cost $12.

Featured photo: The Suicide Squad. Courtesy photo.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens, by Alex Michaelides (Celedon Books, 333 pages)

Alex Michaelides’ first book, The Silent Patient, was a runaway best seller. That’s a situation that an author both loves and fears. Loves because, well, best seller! Fears because now that he’s hit the highest spot how does he maintain that kind of momentum?

The Maidens is an OK book. It is definitely not a great or even a compelling book. I’ve tried to not compare the writing to The Silent Patient, but it is near impossible. Essentially, the author’s fears came true. Readers like me are comparing it to his first book and are finding that this one comes up short.

In this suspense novel, Mariana is a grieving fairly recent widow and group therapist who gets contacted by her niece Zoe from Cambridge University. A murder of one of Zoe’s friends has prompted her to reach out to have Mariana come to Cambridge and assist if possible in finding the perpetrator. The story then follows the traditional cat and mouse game that seems to be played in all murder mysteries.

Except that this storyline has an intelligent woman who suspects a professor of committing a murder and yet she agrees to meet privately with him several times. Not such an intelligent thing to do. Apparently this guy has put her under the same spell that he casts on his female students (and which causes a devoted entourage of women to wear long white dresses as they flock around him at a funeral).

It’s difficult to get behind both Mariana and Zoe as protagonists. They simply make too many illogical decisions. History of both of them having mental illness including depression is mentioned often and (I think) the reason for that is to cast doubt on both women’s actions and deductions.

Sigh. Can men in particular please write away from that tired trope? Mental illness especially in women does not mean that you throw all caution aside. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you throw all sensibility to the wind.

There is also an attempt to make the story something more than it is by invoking the aura of Greek mythology and secret societies. None of it ever seems to click. It never really makes any sense.

I love good pacing and I have to say that the pacing in The Maidens is off. Lots of time spent describing something of no importance and not enough time explaining why someone would take a particular action. And don’t get me started on the dialogue and situation descriptions — clunky and contrived to get a point across.

Professor Fosca suggested they have coffee and dessert in the sitting room, and Mariana reluctantly followed him into the next room. He gestured at the large dark sofa by the fireplace. “Why don’t you sit down?”

Mariana felt unwilling to sit next to him and be that close to him it made her feel unsafe, somehow. And a thought occurred to her if she felt uneasy being alone with him, how might an eighteen-year-old girl feel?

She shook her head. “I’m tired. I think I’ll skip dessert.”

Don’t go, not yet. Let me make some coffee.”

Before she could object, Fosca left the room, disappearing into the kitchen.

Spoiler alert, even though Mariana feels uncomfortable, even though she’s a therapist who works with dangerous people, and even though she suspects Fosca of murder, she stays for dessert with him, alone.

Michaelides tries so valiantly to make Mariana come across as strong and intuitive and it doesn’t work. We are left shaking our heads and wondering where her common sense is.

Look, I hate giving a book a bad grade. I know it takes guts and pure determination to write a book. It takes even more to write a second book after you’ve hit the jackpot with your first, but this book is just meh. Not inventive, no real character development and situations that feel forced. It feels rushed (“The numbers are great on your first book, let’s take advantage of that and pump out another while your name is still fresh”).

Should you read it? If you’re on vacation and it’s the only book available, sure, you should read it, but (and I’m going to be brutally honest here) there are so many other really good books out there to read before you pick this one up.

By all means read The Silent Patient, which is a fantastic book and worthy of all its praise, but this one? I’m just not putting it on my “books you must read” list. If you’re interested in following how writers write over the course of different books, then go ahead and read it, but if you’re looking for an exciting page-turner then move along, there’s nothing to see here.


— Wendy E. N. Thomas

Book Notes

Serious question: Do we care what Bill Gates reads anymore?

Because, ugly divorce and apology tour aside, he still thinks we do, sending out his usual reading suggestions even though the whole books-with-Bill-by-the-fireside thing has lost its appeal in light of Gates’ association with Jeffrey Epstein, now earnestly regretted on CNN.

In his blog this month, Gates reveals that Vaclav Smil, a Canadian economic policy analyst, is his favorite author, although he suggests Smil is too brilliant for most of us with average IQs. (His writing is “too detailed or obscure for a general audience,” Gates says.)

But Smil’s latest book, now out in paperback, is apparently more understandable and Gates recommends it for “anyone who loves learning.” Numbers Don’t Lie (Penguin, 368 pages) is billed as “71 stories to help us understand the modern world” and it’s composed of short takes on eclectic topics, such as what happens when we have fewer children, why chicken rules and how sweating improved hunting. (Don’t ask; I haven’t read it yet.)

As to whether we care what Gates reads anymore, the answer, apparently, is yes. The Kindle version of the book is No. 1 in public policy as of this writing.

Meanwhile, if you’d rather read a book about a billionaire rather than one recommended by one, check out Amazon Unbound, Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Bloomberg editor Brad Stone (Simon & Schuster, 496 pages).

Of much more interest to the average American reader, however, there’s a new book out by Stephen King. Billy Summers (Scribner, 528 pages) is about an American war veteran turned killer-for-hire, but like all good antiheroes, he only kills bad guys. It’s being called his best book in years, which could be a compliment, or not.

— Jennifer Graham


Author events

KATE SHAFFER & DEREK BISSONNETTE Authors present The Maine Farm Table Cookbook. Outside the Music Hall Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., Aug. 12, 6 p.m. Tickets cost $60 for a small table (two people), $120 for a medium table (four people), $180 for a large table (six people). Visit or call 436-2400.

MICHAEL “SY” SISEMORE Author presents In the Real World I Hike: Transformation of Purpose and Self in 5 Million Easy Steps. Sat., Aug. 14, 2 p.m. MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner. Visit

PETER FRIEDRICHS Author presents And the Stars Kept Watch. Virtual event, hosted by Toadstool Bookstores, located in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Tues., Aug. 17, 6 p.m. Visit or call 673-1734.

JEFF SHARLET Author and journalist will present his books, as part of the Tory Hill Author Series, including his newest, This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers. Sat., Aug. 21, 7 p.m., to be held virtually via Zoom. Tickets are $5. Visit

AMY MAKECHNIE Author presents her second middle-grade novel Ten Thousand Tries. Sat., Aug. 21, 2 p.m. MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner. Visit

R.W.W. GREENE Sci-fi author presents new novel Twenty-Five to Life. Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord. Thurs., Aug. 26, 6:30 p.m. Visit or call 224-0562.

MONA AWAD Author presents All’s Well. The Music Hall Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth. Thurs., Sept. 2, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $13.75. Visit or call 436-2400.

SHARON RASK HUNTINGTON Author presents Mirabelle’s Metamorphosis. Joint event with MainStreet BookEnds of Warner and the Pillsbury Free Library. Thurs., Aug. 26, 10:30 a.m. Jim Mitchell Community Park, East Main Street, Warner. Visit

L.R. BERGER New Hampshire poet to hold release party of latest book Indebted to Wind. Sat., Aug. 28, 4 p.m. MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner. Visit


POETRY IN THE MEADOW Featuring readings with poets Chad deNiord, Kylie Gellatly and Samantha DeFlitch. Sun., Aug. 22, 4:30 p.m. The Word Barn Meadow, 66 Newfields Road, Exeter. $5 suggested donation. Visit

SLAM FREE OR DIE Series of open mic nights for poets and spoken-word artists. Stark Tavern, 500 N. Commercial St., Manchester. Weekly. Thursday, doors open and sign-ups beginning at 7 p.m., open mic at 8 p.m. The series also features several poetry slams every month. Events are open to all ages. Cover charge of $3 to $5 at the door, which can be paid with cash or by Venmo. Visit, e-mail or call 858-3286.

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.

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

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

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

Featured photo: The Maidens.

Album Reviews 21/08/12

Lex Leosis, Terracotta [EP] (self-released)

This female alternative hip-hopper is a long-board enthusiast from California by way of Canada, and her passive-aggressive flows have made her a real up and comer. Two of the songs (the Billie Eilish-ish “Won’t Wait” and the flighty-bassline-powered “Wanted”) were produced by Rainer Blanchaer (Drake, The Weeknd), who became a constant in her life during lockdown. If he’s into her, that should be plenty excuse for you to give this a shot. A

Wavves, Hideaway (Fat Possum Records)

Nathan Williams runs this San Diego indie band, a trio you’ve almost assuredly heard about before. The narrative he’d like us critics to front is that although he’s still the same kid who had an ecstacy-and-Valium-fueled meltdown at a 2009 Barcelona rock festival and had a remarkable streak of hooky beach-garage noise-pop broken by a too-glossy major-label attempt, he’s now old enough to have finally figured out that, oh gosh, just like anyone else ever born, he’s his own worst enemy. Did you enjoy that little Pitchfork-ish segue? I didn’t, so let’s see if the band sounds noise-grunge awesome, like in the old days, or kind of commercial emo, like in the more recent past. Gack, what the heck is this, “Sinking Feeling” is kind of twee, isn’t it? “Thru Hell” sounds like Hives after their moms forced them to get haircuts; “Honeycomb” sounds like commercial jungle meant to entice hipsters to eat Corn Flakes. Ack, ack, all set with this. C


• Even though it is a Friday the 13th, Aug. 13 is the next general-record-release Friday. I’m totally sure that bodes well for what awaits me when I check my list of things to review, and I won’t be disappointed. In fact, it is the only Friday the 13th of 2021, so I’ll probably get a double-whammy dose of awful, but, subject change, did you know that historians and folklore often have drunken brawls over whether the superstitious fear of Friday the 13th is actually based on the date of the Last Supper or the arrest of the Knights Templar in 1307? For me, I will attribute it to the release date of the new Willie Nile album The Day The Earth Stood Still, because I have to talk about it right now and I have no idea who he is. I don’t feel too bad about it, because the 73-year-old alt-folk singer-songwriter actually is pretty obscure, as well as being a philosophy major from Buffalo, New York. Please hold while I try to find an angle on this, if there even is one. OK, Wikipedia wants to Rickroll me into looking up some band called the Worry Dolls, but I won’t, let’s just say that his obscurity and six-year hiatus after getting sued or whatever in 1981 has made him into one of those “only cool, edgy musicians know about him,” being that Loudon Wainwright III, Roger McGuinn, and members of the Hooters and the Roches have helped him make albums. Stuff like that instantly brings out my cleverly hidden inner skeptic, but let’s have a go at “Blood On Your Hands,” which is guested by Steve Earle. It’s a boring old-school blues-rocker that someone like Jimmy Barnes would have thrown in the trash, meaning this Friday the 13th is probably just getting started being a Friday the 13th for me.

• Watch me perform critic magic with the following bon mot: Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson’s new album, Refuge, should just be considered a Devendra Banhart album, because Noah Georgeson is his constant producer. Of course, being that this is an ambient album comprised of slow techno loops and no vocals, I wouldn’t want it to be considered part of my legacy either, if I were Devendra Banhart, and I would definitely blame the really stupid video (big, gross snails crawling around on old Greek statues and generally being slimy and yucky) on Noah Georgeson. Thus, folks, the power of being a famous artist: If you have an urge to make a really pointless career move, always have someone else around to hold the bag.

• After releasing nine records, somewhere along the line this year, alternative-country singer-strummer Suzie Ungerleider got tired of calling herself Oh Susanna, mostly because one of her wine-mom friends finally got around to telling her that there’s a complicated racial history behind the song “Oh! Susanna.” So now she is Suzie Ungerleider, whether or not the critics will spell it right (some of them won’t, just to be jerks). In an act of quiet desperation, her new album is titled My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider, which will probably fix everything (it won’t). She’s originally from lovely, sparkly, rustic Northampton, Mass., but is now Canadian, but I will forgive her for that and listen to her new single, “Baby Blues.” I’ll try to be nice: The tune is sleepy, boring and hookless, and her voice is a cross between Dolly Parton and Lisa Loeb.

• Last but not least is British electronic musician Jungle, whose new album, Loving In Stereo, is coming out tomorrow. Despite his name, his style is electronic neo-soul, and the single “Talk About It” is actually really cool, like a Covid-mask-muffled amalgam of ’70s stuff like Bee Gees and Cornelius Brothers. You should check it out.

Retro Playlist

Exactly 14 years ago, this space was, if I recall, something of a catch-as-catch-can fricassee of random reviews. This was way before my stream-of-half-consciousness Playlist segment came into play, and come to think of it, some of this stuff may have ended up in one of the New Times newspapers or someplace else, but either way, let’s first revisit my magma-hot take on Humanity Hour 1, an album that had just streeted from legendary German hard-rockers Scorpions “(or is it just ‘Scorpions’ with no ‘the’, the original riddle of the Sphynx).” I was a bit fascinated with the fact that the band had fallen from the heavens by then; they were managed by Lieber & Krebs, who also handled Aerosmith and most of the other arena-rawk bands of the ’70s and ’80s, but suddenly here they were, “slumming it” on Universal Records. The results? Well, I noted, they were back. But “OK, not as super-far ‘back’ as [they were situated] when Michael Schenker had to cut elementary school classes so he could go into the studio and lay down the lead guitar heroics of ‘Speedy’s Coming,’ but … no, not as ‘back’ as the Animal Magnetism album either, you remember, with ‘The Zoo’ and all.” I’ll stop: basically they were back to doing tedious “No One Like You”-ish ballads, about 12 or so years after they’d become extinct. So I gave it a C+ grade (in principle it deserved lower, really).

That week I also riffed a bit on an album I rather liked, Victorious, from the Swedish band The Perishers. I loved basically everything I was sent from Nettwerk Records, and these guys were the types to spend “countless torturous nights writing their material, resulting in the sort of regal air that most indie bands try to fake through ‘experimental’ shock and awe.” Turned out to be their last album, much the pity. Sigh.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

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