The Music Roundup 21/09/30

Local music news & events

New light: Known for playing bluegrass in Twisted Pine, Rachel Sumner is gathering new accolades as a solo artist. The singer-guitarist’s “Radium Girls (Curie Eleison)” was awarded grand prize honors in the folk category at this year’s John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Sumner performs with her wide-ranging band Traveling Light at a show presented by Symphony NH in a beloved downtown Nashua venue. Thursday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m., Riverwalk Café, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua, $20 at

Purple one: Get down and funky with LoVeSeXy, New England’s top tribute to the music of Prince. The six-piece act covers the Prince-related Morris Day & the Time and Maceo Parker while offering classics like “Little Red Corvette” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” With guitarist and backing vocalist Jodee Frawlee doubling as Sheena Easton and Sheila E, they tackle “You Got the Look” and “Love Bizarre.” Friday, Oct. 1, 9 p.m., Stumble Inn, 28 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 21+. See

Blues crew: Channeling the spirit of a ’50s Chicago juke joint on their latest album, GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It… You Might Like It, the Boston blues rockers cook up a raucous stew of throwback sound, driven by guitar slinger Matthew Stubbs and a rhythm section of bass player Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman. The three members are gear aficionados and named their band after a vintage Gibson amplifier. Friday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, JD Simo opens, $25 ($12 livestream) at

New joint: A just opened downtown Portsmouth club offers Christian McBride & Inside Straight for four shows; two early ones are sold out. The Philadelphia-born bassist has backed jazz greats from Freddie Hubbard to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea and played on pop, hip-hop and soul songs with the likes of Paul McCartney, Celine Dion and Queen Latifah. Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2, 10 p.m., Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, 135 Congress St., Portsmouth, $35 to $75 at

Old school: A mix of NYC borough attitude, leathery intellect and rumpled angst, Eddie Pepitone is a comedian beloved by his brethren. In Bitter Buddha, the 2013 documentary titled after his nickname, fellow standup Dana Gould likened him to “the guitarist that all the other guitar players go to see.” He’s now on tour with Austin comic entrepreneur JT Habersaat, who runs the Altercation Punk Comedy Festival. Wednesday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m., Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester, $20 at, 21+.

The NH Mixtape


When the annual New England Music Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, Oct. 17, New Hampshire will be well-represented, with a slate of dozens of nominees. The Hippo reached out to many of them, and 27 responded, sharing their thoughts on their nominations and what it’s like to be part of the local music scene.

New Hampshire’s Soundtrack

Michael Witthaus built a Spotify playlist highlighting the artists here. Find it by searching for him or “New England Music Awards 2021 — Representing New Hampshire” on Spotify. As Dead Harrison put it when asked about favorites among this year’s nominees: “There are so many excellent people here. Carissa Johnson, Liz Bills, Hunter, Jennifer Tefft, Major Moment, Mindset X, SixteenX20, Sepsiss, Walter Sickert … all of them are great…. Even still, there are so many nominees that I haven’t even discovered yet. You all need to go get some wholesome music into your earholes.”

Amanda McCarthy

Female Performer of the Year

On being nominated: Grateful … but also a little surprised, since I now reside primarily in Nashville. However, I do strive to remain active in New England and perform regularly when I visit home, so I was really happy to see that be recognized. The first time I was nominated, in 2019, I’d had zero expectations and I was truly shocked.

On NEMA’s importance: Awards are a funny thing in music. I don’t think they are or should be the end-all-be-all of what any musician does. That being said, it always feels good to be recognized and these nominations/wins definitely make a resume look better, which helps with bookings and getting bigger opportunities.

On her category: I haven’t really released new music since the last awards cycle, but I have continued to perform music for a living despite the Covid challenges, so I think it was actually the perfect category this time around.

On being a New England musician: It’s very easy to travel to different areas and make the rounds… There’s opportunity [to play] original music, but also work the covers scene for money. While I do feel Nashville is the place for me to be at this time as a songwriter, I fully credit New England for allowing the chances to develop my career … and I always look forward to coming back.

Upcoming shows: In New England on Saturday, Oct. 16, and Monday, Oct. 18, locations TBA

Bitter Pill

Live Act of the Year, Best in State

On being nominated: [The band, led by father-daughter duo Billy and Emily Butler, answered together via email] Billy said, H, look at that,’ sipped his coffee and pulled on a spliff, while Emily said, “Weeeeee!”

On NEMA’s importance: Awards are not important to us but we do love the community aspect of it. Celebrating original music from our region is something we feel is very important.

On their category: We were nominated for Best Live Act and Best of New Hampshire. That’s pretty cool. We love playing live and our audiences eat up our silliness, fun and love.

On being New England musicians: New England audiences love live original music. Also there is something in the air here in the North Country, especially the original music. Maybe it’s the four seasons or the deeply rooted working-class journeyman history. It’s one of the reasons we call ourselves Bitter Pill. It is hard living in the winter but when spring comes, that pill isn’t so hard to swallow.

Upcoming shows: Claremont Opera House, Saturday, Oct. 23

Charlie Chronopoulos

Album of the Year – Chesty Rollins’ Dead End

On being nominated: I’m honored. There are a lot of really awesome people making albums around here, so to be included in that conversation is a wonderful thing.

On NEMA’s importance:I’ve followed the awards over the years often voting for friends. I’ve found some really great music after looking into some of the other nominees I didn’t know. It’s a really great thing they’re doing in the community even just helping artists find one another.

On his category: Album of the year is my favorite category. It’s what I’m most interested in, so I’m glad to be there.

On being a New England musician: It has many upsides. You can afford studio space if you’re willing to look around off the beaten path. You can make friends for life in sleepy towns who don’t move away like friends in the city tend to. You can find a swimming hole on the way to a gig. Stuff like that makes it worth leaning into this community for sure.

Upcoming shows: Currier Museum of Art, Thursday, Oct. 28

“He’s the real deal. Definitely lived and done the thing and his writing really reflects that.”

Charlie Chronopoulos on Tyler Allgood

Dakota Smart

New Act of the Year and Best in State

On being nominated: When I found out, I felt humbled and in disbelief. I realize there’s a lot of talented artists in New England, and it’s an honor to be on a list with them. My first response was to thank the New England Music Awards, and to congratulate fellow musicians and producers who were also nominated. Then I encouraged my family, friends and fans to vote.

On NEMA’s importance: They are a huge deal to me. I live and breathe to write music and perform. I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 years old. My life’s passion is to produce music that has a positive impact and is enjoyed by people of all ages … to win would really help to spotlight my work, and provide an outlet for my music to be heard.

On his category: The two categories fit my level of work to date. Although I’ve been performing for years, this year I launched. My newest 12-song professional album is the best I’ve ever written, and I’m the most confident on stage I’ve ever been. … I feel this is the year that my career really has a chance to take off.

On being a New England musician: The music scene in New England is very supportive. It’s a small community that’s very inclusive of artists from various backgrounds and styles. Also, the venues are very open to live music, and that keeps us working.

“I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with him in the past. He’s extremely talented, has a unique style, and is a pleasure to work with.”

Dakota Smart on Senie Hunt

David Corson

Best in State

On being nominated: My first response was actually shock. … I was scrolling through the nominees trying to see which bands I knew personally had been nominated and randomly saw my name. I was ecstatic, because I have been working really hard at this for a long time.

On NEMA’s importance: The awards are extremely important to every musician in this area because it gives us validation that all of our grinding has amounted to something. It also helps us get more gigs, because it looks great on our resume.

On his category: I have been playing music in New Hampshire and the surrounding area since I was 18, so being nominated for best in the state feels so good; almost 10 years of work is finally paying off.

On being a New England musician: I would say the best thing about being a New England musician is the community that I’m surrounded by. The musicians and the audiences create an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation of all types of music.

Upcoming shows: Cara Irish Pub in Dover on Friday, Oct. 1; Dwyer’s Pub in Portsmouth on Wednesdays in October; Tailgate Tavern in Stratham on Friday, Oct. 8; Shane’s Backyard in Hampton on Friday, Oct. 15; Sawbelly Brewing in Exeter on Saturday, Oct. 16

Dead Harrison

Best in State

On being nominated: Our first nomination in 2019 … struck us with great hope. Even if we weren’t going to win, it gave us something to strive for. Now we’re on our third year [and] all the love and support from our community is so empowering and makes us push even harder to just do what we love to do, to make more and better music than the year before.

On NEMA’s importance: It sheds light on all those musicians around the New England area. There is so much talent that the majority of the public doesn’t see. It puts a little perspective to how hard people work [at] being a musician. It gives a musician hope. It helps us to never give up, and be better than you were at the gig before.

On their category: I don’t think we have ever felt that we were the best act in New Hampshire, but it is such a high honor to hold close to the heart. The past year and a half has been tough on us all. We all work so hard, and there are so many great bands out there keeping the fires lit. I feel it helps keep people inspired.

On being a New England musician: New England musicians have a strong work ethic and don’t give up easily. Not only that, but the community of other musicians has always been a supportive one. Always be encouraging. Always be truthful and don’t let pride be your downfall. We strive to be helpful, not hurtful. We push each other to be the best we can be, and then push a little further.

Upcoming shows: Octoberfest at Lithermans Limited, Concord, Saturday, Oct. 16, and Sinfest at Jewel, Manchester, Saturday, Nov. 13

DJ Midas

Digital Performer

On being nominated: I got a message from a friend/fan from Nashua who wrote, ‘I voted for you.’ I had no idea if it was a weird joke, a compliment or insult. I asked him what he meant and he sent me the link. I wasn’t familiar with the New England Music Awards, so I was initially skeptical as to what it was.

On NEMA’s importance: As a fairly off the beaten path type of artist, it is really heartwarming to know there are people out there that appreciate and recognize my efforts.

On his category: After spending so many years on vinyl and transitioning into the digital word only in the last decade, it feels pretty damn good.

On being a New England musician: I love [the] sparky New England attitude. I love that there is still breathing room in our area to be yourself.

Upcoming shows: Late Night Delight with Midas on 95.3 WMNH every Saturday and Sunday at midnight; Vice 80’s party at 603 Bar and Lounge in Dover on Saturday, Oct. 16

“I love Roots Of Creation; they end the rules, and sound so juicy.”

DJ Midas on Roots of Creation

Fil Pacino

Male Performer of the Year

On being nominated: Surprised. I’m not normally considered for such things and I found out from a friend a few days after nominees were announced.

On NEMA’s importance: The majority of what I do operates in the covers/GB scene. I do write, record and perform a lot of my own music, which can be found on all the streaming media and my website, but I’ve done OK with having not received any accolades in the past.

On his category: Well, I am a male and I perform pretty much every day of the year, so I think they nailed it.

On being a New England musician: There’s a lot of opportunity. I love that it’s a genre melting pot, and who doesn’t love getting to play music in all four seasons?

Upcoming shows:


Best in State

On being nominated: I’m surprised and grateful.

On NEMA’s importance: I’m always going to be doing music and giving it my all, but it’s a really cool thing to have recognition for that work and energy spent.

On their category: There are so many good bands in every category and I’m blessed to know most of them. I love being nominated for best in state because I’ve worked really hard to represent New Hampshire with the band. I hope to be in performer of the year or female performer of the year because I do primarily think of myself as a performer and entertainer more than a musician.

On being a New England musician: I love the community of it in most areas — the support shared between the musicians and bands, sharing each other’s stuff, helping each other get gigs, and how we stay in touch and play shows together.

Upcoming shows: Portsmouth Feed Co., Portsmouth, Saturday, Oct. 9

Justin Cohn

Best in State

On being nominated: I was surprised. I’ve checked the nominations the last few years the day they’ve come out … this year I didn’t, assuming I wouldn’t get a nomination. A friend reached out to me and congratulated me; that’s how I found out. It’s an honor.

On NEMA’s importance: To be included as a nominee with a bunch of incredibly talented New England musicians for whom I have so much respect is very affirming. I play a lot of cover gigs to pay the bills, and while I’m so grateful to the venues that book me, it means a lot to be recognized as a musician in this vibrant creative community.

On his category: It is a meaningful category for me. I was born and raised here, and my roots will always be here. No matter where this career takes me, it would be an honor to win that award. Just to be nominated is an honor.

On being a New England musician: We have a lot of quality, original artists up here, and I love being in that community. That’s not to say other parts of the country don’t, but in my traveling and my conversations with friends, I think we have something special up here. Maybe it’s the four distinct seasons, maybe it’s the history. Whatever it is, I enjoy being a small part of it.

Upcoming shows: Hippy Hollow House Show in Greenville on Saturday, Oct. 2; Milford Pumpkin Festival in Milford on Saturday, Oct. 9; Square Root in Boston (opening for Cat Attic) on Friday, Oct. 15

Katie Dobbins

Best in State

On being nominated: I feel especially stoked … because it has been such a crazy time for musicians; you can start to feel nervous about losing momentum. So it’s nice to see that people are still excited about what I’m doing.

On NEMA’s importance: My success depends on me; that has really helped me deal with the inevitable rejection we all face in this industry. But of course being nominated helps build my musical resume, and I think it helps people take me more seriously. It does boost my confidence as well, which helps me feel like I’m on the right track.

On her category: It feels really great because New Hampshire is where I was born and raised, where I have continued to have an ongoing presence throughout my music career … it’s validation that I’m in the right place and that people are cheering me on. It’s also interesting because there are a lot of amazing New Hampshire artists that I look up to who didn’t make the list.

On being a New England musician: I have found the music community here to be so supportive. I’ve made a lot of very close friends in the industry, and in my experience everyone really wants to help each other out. We celebrate one another’s successes, we help one another get new opportunities. I don’t know that it’s like that everywhere; I’m grateful. … Nashville definitely has a piece of my heart, but there’s nothing like coming back home to New England.

Upcoming shows: Community Fest at The Belknap Mill, Gilford, Saturday, Oct. 16

Liz Bills

Female and Digital Performer, Pop Act, Song and Video of the Year – “WiHi”

On being nominated: I was honestly shocked to be nominated for so many awards.

On NEMA’s importance: The nominations and awards look great on the resume, and it helps with networking and connections.

On her category: I’m grateful to be nominated in five categories. It means the world to me to be nominated for female performer of the year because I feel that performing is one of my strongest abilities. It’s so funny, in a good way, to be nominated for pop act of the year because I won roots act of the year and rock act of the year in the past. It just goes to show you how difficult it is to categorize my genre, and I love that.

On being a New England musician: I love how close we are to neighboring states, making tours pretty sweet and easy. I am a New England girl born and raised, so it feels good to have roots here in music.

Upcoming shows: Pasta Loft in Milford (with April Cushman), Saturday, Nov. 13

“I have so many favorites who are also dear friends of mine. Wyn Doran’s emotionally haunting vocals bring me to tears. I also really love Coral Moons as people and songwriters… Erin Harpe is a freakin’ goddess guitar wizard master, Dwight and Nicole blow my mind, Veronica Lewis is a slayer of the keys, Prateek is an awesome songwriter and storyteller, Josh Knowles stopping hearts with his entrancing violin melodies and emotional vocals.”

Liz Bills on … lots of people

Maddi Ryan

Country Act of the Year

On being nominated: I was extremely humbled by the fact that even though we had one of the toughest years yet, I was still able to make an impact enough to be nominated. Excited, I was also excited!

On NEMA’s importance: I don’t really count my successes in awards or nominations, I just do what I love, but I think the nomination is more of a reminder that I’m on the right path.

On her category: I feel grateful to have been nominated among the talented performers within the country sphere of New England.

On being a New England musician: I love the community that music has in New England; everyone is so friendly and genuine. Also, the fans are some of the best around. If you’ve ever come to a show, the energy is always unreal!

Upcoming shows: The Goat in Manchester on Friday, Oct. 8; Bonfire Country Bar in Manchester on Friday, Oct. 29

Mindset X

Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year

On being nominated: It felt good to be recognized again. Always nice that people pay attention to what Mindset X is up to and we do truly appreciate that.

On NEMA’s importance: I have never played music to win awards [but] because I have something to say and I adore the beauty that music is. That said, we’ve been doing this a long time [so] it does feel good to be recognized for creating music that reaches people. That is important to us, certainly.

On their category: I think it made perfect sense. We’re a band that likes to explore different styles so who knows? Maybe next it’ll be country. Or country prog metal. Is that a thing? If not it should be.

On being a New England musician: The best thing is probably the musical diversity. For such a relatively small area, we are gifted with so many great musicians and styles of music.

Upcoming shows: See

Prospect Hill

Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year

On being nominated: Singer Adam Fithian said, “I was actually surprised since … we hadn’t been nominated in a few years. All I could say to myself was, ‘Well that’s pretty cool.’”

On NEMA’s importance: We worked hard for years solidifying our New England scene before we started touring around the country. What that did was allow us to come home after being on tour for a two-month run and have an amazing home show. To be nominated, at least for me, is a pat on the back for a lot of effort put forward in building our brand.

On their category: To be nominated in the hard rock/metal category is fitting for our style. We are a balance of both of these genres.

On being a New England musician: There is a very special group of musicians here, different than what I have seen around the country — the bonds that we create, the unique talents that we share together. I feel like I’m one lucky SOB to be a part of such an amazing family.

Upcoming shows: Prospect Hill’s 12th annual Halloween Bash, Wally’s Pub, Hampton Beach, Friday, Oct. 29

Roots of Creation

Live, Roots and World Act

On being nominated: It came as a huge surprise and honor to be nominated alongside a lot of our friends in three categories. We pushed really hard during the pandemic to challenge ourselves with livestreams, grow our connection with our fans. I like that we turned a crap sandwich and almost bankruptcy into a positive movement full of personal and musical growth.

On NEMA’s importance:I discover new artists from the nomination process and live performances at the award show, and our fans get stoked when we are nominated for awards. Winning previous awards has opened many doors for us, on both local and national levels.

On their categories: Winning live act of the year would be most exciting and validating, as it truly is where Roots of Creation shines.

On being a New England musician: It’s a really cool tight-knit scene that transcends genre. There’s a lot of collaboration behind the scenes, on stage, in the studio and at pickup gigs… I like being a big fish in a small pond, and no matter the beauty I encounter on the road, New Hampshire always makes me feel grounded and at home.

Senie Hunt

Male Performer of the Year

On being nominated: I found out through a friend of mine who asked me if I had realized that I was on the list of nominees. I didn’t even think to look for my name as I had just moved to Nashville a few months prior. I was honored and delighted to see my name among some of the amazing musicians that had also been nominated.

On NEMA’s importance: I had been following it even before I took the leap of faith to become a full-time musician. To me it was a reminder of how much music really impacts people and how much appreciation we all have toward the performers who put their hearts and soul into the music. I’m honored to just be nominated.

On his category: I’ve never been one for categorizing, especially when it comes to music. It’s such a widely varying art form that it can be overwhelming to place yourself in any category. To be nominated, however, as male performer of the year with all the talented people on and off the list is inspiring. It’s also a reminder that putting yourself out there and sharing your vulnerability through music can be well worth it.

On being a New England musician: Even after my recent move to Nashville, I always appreciate the love, support and family that comes from being part of the New England music scene. I also can’t say enough how incredibly dedicated, talented, resilient and hardworking all the musicians and venues I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with are in New England.

Upcoming shows: New England tour in November, see

“The ones that stand out the most are Dakota Smart, who I first heard at an open mic…; Amanda McCarthy is not only an incredible songwriter and singer but also a kind and inspirational person. I like Justin Cohn [and] I was pleased to see my longtime friend and fellow musician Wesley Thurber … watching him and his music grow from when we first had classes together in college to his first single release this past year is an inspiration.”

Senie Hunt on Dakota Smart, Amanda McCarthy, Justin Cohn and Wesley Thurber


Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year

On being nominated: Singer Melissa Wolfe: After the challenges of a year quarantined with our shows, for NEMA to nominate us this year was a massive surprise. We are a community band, and our neighbors nominating us means the world to us all.

On NEMA’s importance: Wolfe: Sepsiss isn’t a weekend getaway; we don’t have side jobs or take breaks. Our project is a lifetime commitment, as leaders, creating awareness of the experience and authentic universal love for music, art and healing. It is important that New England celebrates all its talented neighbors.

On their category: Guitarist William Savant: Heavy metal is still traditionally a style where the people and players have to grow an appetite for practice, depth of intellect and discipline. It’s smart, challenging and, additionally, physical and interactive.

On being a New England musician: Savant: The seasons help remind us to grow and reflect, expanding with life and change. It reminds us of a well-balanced world where variety and colors shape our bold planet … and this is where Sepsiss creates. One foot in the unknown and the other right here at home, the birthplace of creativity.

Upcoming shows: Jewel, Manchester, Saturday, Nov. 6

“We all voted for Dead Harrison … because they understand the stamina game, the quality of building healthy relationships in the community, and are competitive while remaining generous [and] making music, in our opinion, for realistic reasons.”

Sepsiss on Dead Harrison

Slack Tide

Live Act of the Year

On being nominated: Guitarist and singer Chris Cyrus: The keyboardist Michael sent the band a group chat. It was surreal seeing us on the same list as some of our favorite bands. Needless to say, I celebrated pretty well.

On NEMA’s importance: As a musician, you really need to be your own biggest fan. Some days you aren’t going to get any support but you push on because you believe in your art. Having some formal recognition goes a long way toward maintaining that perseverance.

On their category: Jam bands don’t do studios well; even Deadheads often don’t like the Grateful Dead’s albums. It’s all about the live show for us. Being placed in best live act is hands down the most appropriate category for the type of music that we create.

On being a New England musician: Once you reach a level where only the ones who’ve worked their asses off remain, it really does become a family. The venues, bookers, bands and fans are all one big happy clump, and I never plan on leaving that funky clump.

Upcoming shows: Waterville Valley Resort in Waterville Valley on Saturday, Oct. 9; Woodstock Inn & Brewery in Woodstock on Friday, Nov. 12; Pipe Dream Brewing in Londonderry on Saturday, Nov. 20

Soggy Po’ Boys

Roots Act of the Year

On being nominated: It’s a big honor to be nominated for these awards and to broadly be seen as representatives in some way for New England roots music.

On NEMA’s importance: It is always nice to be appreciated for your craft and while we do not think of our music in terms of awards or accolades and more in terms of our message and audience engagement it still is nice to be acknowledged!

On their category: I think it was appropriate for us to have been nominated in the Roots category as that is the category most representative of our music. It is also somewhat challenging to find a genre home for us so Roots seems like a nice catch-all.

On being a New England musician: The area is brimming with talent so to be nominated here and see our peer list and to be appreciated within the community is a huge honor.

Upcoming shows:


Live Act of the Year

On being nominated: Humbled. Supernothing has been a project where we didn’t know where it was going to go. Surely not being mentioned among one of the best acts in New England. This is our second year in a row being nominated, just a different category.

On NEMA’s importance: It’s an accolade, something we can say we are proud of, but as musicians we are not in competition with anyone. It’s all about supporting each other and the NEMAs do just that, win or lose.

On their category: We love being considered among some of the best live bands that headline festivals…. Twiddle, Goose and our great buddies from Boston, The Elovaters, all slay it. We know we are good and tight live, but man, best in New England is an honor… to be noticed for the hard work we are doing live is amazing.

On being a New England musician: We have a small tight group of bands that all support each other’s craft. It’s amazing.

Upcoming shows:

“The Elovaters are amazing friends and brothers in music and are killing it in our scene.”

Supernothing on The Elovaters

Town Meeting

Americana Act and Album of the Year – Make Things Better

On being nominated: It’s always an honor to be recognized and to know your work is being appreciated somewhere. We work really hard and care deeply about our music. It feels good to know it’s not just getting lost in the ether.

On NEMA’s importance: On the one hand, I always feel uneasy about anything that turns art, which is entirely subjective, into a competition. It’s weird and on some level it’s always bothered me … on the other hand, I also see the importance of things like NEMA because they shine a light on a lot of local music that otherwise might not be seen. It’s a bittersweet thing.

On their category: It feels great to have our album recognized. We worked really hard on it. Dan Cardinal, who mixed and produced it, also deserves a ton of credit. We also love to see our name alongside everyone in the Americana category. Honestly, we’re humbled by it. There’s so much talent there and it feels weird to know a band of goofballs like us are considered peers.

On being a New England musician: New England has the best local music, the best venues, the best musicians, the best scene, the best vibe and community for live music, period. There’s not even a close second.



Best in State

On being nominated: Surprised … not sure if we have been nominated before, didn’t even know until we received a letter. Obviously, we are honored and happy to be a part of it.

On their category: Best in New Hampshire of course makes sense as that’s our home state. We play a lot in Maine and Massachusetts as well, a bit in Vermont, but not as much these days in Connecticut or Rhode Island.

On being a New England musician: It’s an honor; there are so many great talented players, it’s a very vibrant scene. We celebrated our 35th anniversary, and although we did a lot of touring the first 15 years, we always called New England home. It always felt good to tell folks where the band was from.

Upcoming shows: Shooters Beer Garden in Exeter on Friday, Oct. 1; Fury’s Publick House in Dover on Friday, Oct. 15; The Tavern in Exeter (Halloween show) on Saturday, Oct. 30

Tyler Allgood

Album of the Year – Through the Empty

On being nominated: I was confused when I first heard. I thought someone might have been pulling a joke on me. Then, I cried.

On NEMA’s importance: The awards and every local resource, promotion, fan, advertisement [area] extremely important in this work.

On his category: I was ecstatic to be nominated for album of the year. I’ve always wanted to compose albums around my writing. Never expected this, though.

On being a New England musician: It’s wholesome to be a New England musician. There’s a real community and passion around here, and so much love between working musicians.

Upcoming shows: Granite Roots Brewing in Troy on Friday, Oct. 1; Penuche’s Alehouse in Concord on Saturday, Oct. 2; The Alamo in Brookline on Thursday, Oct. 14; Hancock Depot in Hancock on Friday, Oct. 15; Molly’s Tavern in New Boston on Saturday, Oct. 23

Wesley Thurber

Best in State

On being nominated: The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I received a few text messages congratulating me … and I couldn’t help but say to myself, ‘What is happening and why am I being congratulated?’ [Then] I became humbled, honored and beyond excited.

On NEMA’s importance: Before, they weren’t even a thought in my mind, awards and such. However, after being nominated I’ll be sure to keep a closer eye on these sorts of things. Win or lose, I couldn’t care less. I’m simply happy to even be nominated.

On his category: I take pride in my work, and I’m honored it’s able to be broadcasted on another outlet, especially one like the New England Music Awards.

On being a New England musician: New England has an entire feel and vibe of its own that’s incredibly unique. To be a part of that, especially as a musician, is quite wonderful.

Will Hatch

Album of the Year – Downtown

On being nominated: We were surprised when a friend told us. … We weren’t expecting this, but were grateful to be added to the list.

On NEMA’s importance: Our goal is to have fun and to make good music. Personally, I’m driven to create for my own fulfillment, but having a little recognition always feels good.

On his category: It is a great category to be in. There’s a lot of fantastic, hardworking bands out there so I will leave it up to others to decide what categories we belong in.

On being a New England musician: Given that the scene in New Hampshire is smaller, it promotes a camaraderie amongst the local diehards. It’s nice to connect with other musicians year after year and to get the impression that they’re in it for the long haul.

Upcoming shows: Penuche’s Ale House, Concord, Friday, Oct. 30

Wyn Doran

Best in State, Digital Performer of the Year

On being nominated: Gratitude and confusion. I felt a deep shift in how I approached creativity in quarantine. I went from worrying about how I presented myself externally to focusing on projects that I always secretly wanted to do but didn’t think I could pull off. The nominations provided a mirror that I have accomplished more than I thought … and I am unbelievably grateful.

On NEMA’s importance: It’s the icing on the cake. I don’t create with NEMA in mind, but in a world where I feel the arts are overall under-appreciated, I am so excited for an event that highlights artists and the important work they do.

On her categories: I’m really excited about Digital Performer because I realized my favorite projects to date fall under that category. I always wanted to arrange my songs for a choir of voices, and with my husband, Mike, [we created] a handful of videos over quarantine. To be recognized in a category that highlights those works is extremely fulfilling and inspiring.

On being a New England musician: I grew up in Illinois, where you could drive three hours and get nowhere. Every state in New England is gorgeous. … It’s a beautiful thing to have access to perform in so many great communities across a number of states within reasonable driving distance.

Upcoming shows: Stone Church, Newmarket, Wednesday, Nov. 3

Featured photo: Liz Bills. Photo by Isa Rosa Photography.

Dear Evan Hansen (PG-13)

Dear Evan Hansen (PG-13)

An anxiety-filled teenager stumbles into a family’s tragedy in Dear Evan Hansen, a film adaptation of the Broadway musical.

Evan Hansen (Ben Platt, who originated the role in the stage musical) is starting his senior year of high school with an arm cast, prescriptions to help him manage his anxiety and depression and an assignment from his therapist to write himself a daily letter of affirmation. “Dear Evan Hansen,” he writes himself in the high school library. He can’t seem to find the life-affirming words to say to himself and instead pens a letter wondering if he matters at all, throwing in a mention of Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), a girl he’s long liked from a far. When he goes to print it out, though, her brother Connor (Colton Ryan) gets ahold of it first. Connor, an angry kid who briefly has a friendly-ish conversation with Evan before he finds the letter, storms off, thinking the letter is just meant to provoke him.

As Evan explains nervously to Jared (Nik Dodani), his one sort-of friend (we’re just family friends, Jared reminds him), he’s afraid Connor will publish his letter online. But instead, he’s called to the principal’s office, where Evan’s mom, Cynthia (Amy Adams), and stepdad, Larry (Danny Pino), ask him about what they assume is his friendship with Connor. Evan very weakly attempts to explain his whole therapist assignment situation but then Cynthia explains that the “Dear Evan Hansen” note is Connor’s last words because he has died by suicide. Evan ends up accepting a dinner invitation to Connor’s family’s house and, unable to bring himself to tell this grieving family that Connor didn’t write the letter, he makes up memories of a friendship between himself and Connor.

This friendship not only brings him into this family — a wealthy, in his mind idyllic version of a family compared to his absent dad and caring but long-hours-working mother, Heidi (Julianne Moore) — and closer to Zoe but wins him support from the kids at school, including high achiever Alana (Amandla Stenberg), who confides in Evan that she too struggles with mental health issues. As Evan is pulled more into these relationships, he finds himself able to deliver, to others at least, the hopeful message that he and, as he learns, other teens need to hear.

I know that time and Joss Whedon have made this comparison uncool, but during the first half of this movie especially I found myself thinking that the “Earshot” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had delivered the basic message of this movie so much cleaner and more succinctly. The “every single person … is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own” speech from that 1999 episode (which, if it makes it better, was written by Jane Espenson, according to Wikipedia) delivered to one high schooler by another gets to what I feel like this movie wants to convey. That, and that you, the “you” of all of teenagerdom, are not alone, which this movie conveys through at least two or three songs.

Here, these messages are delivered often by or to or around Ben Platt — and, look, it’s a musical, I can suspend disbelief regarding a lot of things, including an actor’s age (which has been a subject of internet chatter since the trailer was released). But Platt isn’t just about a decade older than the character he’s playing, he reads as considerably older, both older than his character and older than the other “kids” in the “high school.” In reality, he isn’t all that much older than most of the other main teen-playing actors, but his whole vibe creates something different in this character, something more predatory and, frankly, creepy than what seems to be intended, which, I think at least based on the songs, is more a kid who is sad and lost and so lacking in confidence that he sort of falls into something he doesn’t understand the harm of and can’t handle. I never felt entirely certain who I was supposed to root for, and if always thinking Evan Hansen was awful is what I’m supposed to feel then he makes for a very unappealing central character.

So there’s all that, creating a real “yeesh” in the middle of the movie that I could never quite get away from. But there are also some nice elements here. Moore and Adams both give real depth to their characters as moms dealing with sons they don’t know how to help. Their difficulties, their grief and frustrations are well-portrayed, even though the movie doesn’t give them a whole lot of independent character development. I also like how Dever (who has pretty much been excellent in everything I’ve seen her in) is able to give us the struggle of Zoe to reconcile the crappy parts of her relationship with her brother with her memories of them as kids.

While I don’t think I’ll be shelling out for the cast album, Dear Evan Hansen has some nice songs, that work in the moment. I didn’t love all of the choreography and camera work here, but it was interesting and it was able to break free from the “stuck on the stage”-iness that can hamper some musicals.

With its premise that I feel like it doesn’t entirely do justice to and its whole “this could easily be a horror movie” thing, Dear Evan Hansen is pretty solidly not for me. But I could see a world in which fans of the musical (of which there clearly are plenty; it was nominated for multiple Tonys, according to Wikipedia) might enjoy this adaptation. C

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving suicide (which, for real-world help: the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255), brief strong language and some suggestive references. Directed by Stephen Chbosky with a screenplay by Steven Levenson (from the stage play with music and lyrics by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek and book by Steven Levenson), Dear Evan Hansen is two hours and 17 minutes long (and oh boy is it ever) and is distributed in theaters only at the moment by Universal Studios.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PG-13)

The life of the televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker gets the biopic treatment in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a feature film that shares that title with a 2000 documentary about Bakker (who by then was Tammy Faye Messner).

I forgot, until rewatching the trailer for that doc (available for rent or purchase), how deeply weird it could be, with its puppets reading title cards and its talking head interviews with Tammy herself. Tammy Faye died in 2007 and really by that point did seem like someone whose life and on-screen personality were so much bigger and stranger than the late 1980s collapse of the TV evangelist network she fronted with her then-husband Jim Bakker.

Here we much more specifically stick to Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) from roughly the early 1960s, when she first met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) at bible college, through the end of their religious entertainment and real estate empire. After an initial glimpse at child Tammy Faye, eager to be a part of the church community where her mother, Rachel (Cherry Jones), played piano, we see maybe-20-ish Tammy become instantly attracted to Jim, whom she watches honing his tight five on the prosperity gospel in class. The teacher is not impressed by his “God wants you to be rich” shtick but it fits with Tammy’s “just spreadin’ joy” approach to religion. The two quickly get married and decide to hit the road as traveling preachers, with Tammy finding a crowd-pleasing gimmick in puppetry.

Their show, with its kid-grabbing puppets and parent-captivating humor and messages, is exactly the kind of four-quadrant entertainment that Pat Robertson (Gabriel Olds) is looking for at his Christian Broadcasting Network. The couple goes to work for him and makes a nice living — but Robertson’s living is nicer, Bakker realizes. Tammy meanwhile is not thrilled with how pregnancy and a new baby has pushed her off the air. They decided to go it on their own, starting their Praise The Lord network and earning big off the contributions of their audience.

But there is no “enough” for Jim, whom the movie shows constantly trying to expand the PTL’s reach with an amusement park and real estate. Along the way, Tammy doesn’t realize (or maybe has decided not to realize) the financial troubles the couple is getting themselves deeper and deeper into but she does realize that there are serious troubles in her marriage.

This movie seems to have one strongly held belief and that is that Jim Bakker is a real jerk. The movie paints him as manipulating and gaslighting Tammy Faye, shows him being cruel to her and shows him leeching off her talent to bolster his house-of-cards empire. Is Tammy an earnest dupe who doesn’t understand her husband’s dodgy business dealings? Is she sort of a willing dupe who doesn’t understand because she doesn’t want to understand? Is she a True Believer who is on a mission from God? Is “True Believer” another bit of stagecraft, like the sparkly clothes and the loud makeup, that she puts on because it gains her affection? I’m not really sure where the movie comes down on all of these issues or what it wants us to come away believing about her. I feel like it presents us sort of an appetizer sampler of Tammy Faye’s life and who she is and lets us pick whether we think the jalapeño poppers of “making up for childhood hurts” or the mozzarella sticks of “a natural-born performer whose skills didn’t have a lot of outlets in the deeply religious mid-century rural South” are the true centerpiece of the dish.

This movie feels like it was constructed by figuring out the makeup and costumes first, with everything else built off that. Everybody looks and sounds the part (or enough of the part) that you can believe who they are. But I didn’t get a sense that the movie went much deeper than that. The Eyes of Tammy Faye absolutely sells us on the idea that Tammy Faye is deserving of a biopic, but doesn’t offer a clear picture of who it thinks she is. B-

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and drug abuse, according to the MPA on Directed by Michael Showalter with a screenplay by Abe Slyvia, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is two hours and six minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Studios in theaters.

Copshop (R)

A police officer at a lonely Nevada police station finds herself in the middle of a shootout in Copshop, the dusty, 1970s-vibed Western you want when you want some popcorn and escapism.

Officer Val Young (Alexis Louder — ladies and gentlemen, meet action movies’ newest badass) gets punched breaking up a rowdy wedding party fight at a local casino and arrests the puncher, Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo), a man who wasn’t actually part of the wedding. And, as Young figures out pretty quickly, he wanted to get arrested. Perhaps he figured even the bored, shifty and generally annoyed officers at this small station were safer company than the likes of Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler), a man also arrested that night. Bob appears to be falling down drunk — but of course that’s just his way of getting into the same small cell block as Teddy. Though locked up, Bob proves pretty quickly that he can still get to Teddy. But they both learn that Bob wasn’t the only person hired to take Teddy out. But, whatever the workplace politics of Teddy, Bob and their criminal bosses, no-nonsense Val isn’t having any of it.

Everything in this movie feels very intentional. The movie appears to be set in roughly the now but it plays with what feels like a throwback sensibility — a little bit 1970s stylized police and Western tales, a little bit 1990s indie crime tales with a violent sense of humor. And it manages to do this — and play with some very stylized camera shots — without tipping into Quentin Tarantino territory.

This movie is also very intentionally (maybe even impeccably?) cast. Everyone brings a kind of griminess to their characters — none more so, of course, than Butler, whom I have seen deservedly praised in other reviews for his work here. His Bob Viddick is both a precise and professional assassin and kind of a sweaty, hairy mess and it all works great. And then there is Louder, who just leaps off the screen as the confident but capable enough to justify the confidence young officer. Get this woman a John Wick-style franchise!

Copshop feels like real effortless fun, like exactly the kind of movie you’re hoping for when you go to a midday matinee, as I did in the reopened and newly named Apple Cinemas in Hooksett (which is the new owner of the old Cinemagic; both the Hooksett and Merrimack locations are now back in operation). Improbable shootouts and the nuttiness of a not-the-good-guy Gerard Butler performance — now this is why you go to the movies. B

Rated R for strong/bloody violence and pervasive language, according to the MPA on Directed by Joe Carnahan with a screenplay by Kurt McLeod and Joe Carnahan, Copshop is an hour and 47 minutes long and distributed by Open Road Films. It is screening in theaters.



AMC Londonderry
16 Orchard View Dr., Londonderry

Bank of NH Stage in Concord
16 S. Main St., Concord

Cinemark Rockingham Park 12
15 Mall Road, Salem

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

O’neil Cinemas at Brickyard Square
24 Calef Hwy., Epping

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord

Regal Fox Run Stadium 15
45 Gosling Road, Newington

The Strand
20 Third St., Dover


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (PG-13, 1986) part of the Film Frenzy $5 Classics series at O’neil Cinemas in Epping with multiple daily screenings on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Composer Amy Beach, a documentary about the NH composer, screened at Bank of NH Stage in Concord on Thursday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12.

21+ Trivia Night for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. Reserve a seat with the purchase of a $5 food voucher.

The Lost Leonardo (PG-13, 2021) screening Friday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 3, at 4 & 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 2, at 5:30 & 8:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (PG-13. 2021) Friday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 3, at 12:30, 3:30 & 6:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

Blue Bayou (R, 2021) Friday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 2, at 2:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) double-featuring on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. at AMC Londonderry, Cinemark Rockingham Park 12 and Regal Fox Run Stadium 15 via Fathom Events.

National Theatre Live Follies, a broadcast of a play from London’s National Theatre, screening at the Bank of NH Stage in Concord on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 ($12 for students).

Week of Witches see films daily at The Strand in Dover Sunday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Oct. 10. One ticket to all 8 films costs $25.

Spirited Away (PG, 2001) at Cinemark Rockingham Park, AMC Methuen 20 and Lowell Cinema Showcase on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. (dubbed); Monday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. (subtitled), and Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. (dubbed) via Fathom Events.

Featured photo: Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy photo.

Harrow, by Joy Williams

Harrow, by Joy Williams (Knopf, 224 pages)

The literary genre of science fiction is so yesterday. What’s hot today is climate fiction, colloquially known as cli-fi. It’s a niche within a niche: dystopian drama specific to climate change — the villain, of course, being us.

Into this mauldin sea falls the latest novel by Joy Williams, best known for The Quick and The Dead and The Changeling. Harrow is her first book in 20 years, and it simultaneously feels as though she labored over it every hour of the past two decades, and also as if it sprang fully formed from her forehead yesterday. It’s that fresh and topical, that beautifully crafted.

It’s also, let’s be clear, a very strange story.

The narrator, Khristen, was raised by a mother with a tenuous grip on reality. The mother was convinced that Khristen had died briefly when she was a baby and was returned to life with an extraordinary purpose. This vague mission was drilled into Khristen throughout a childhood growing up in a climate-cursed world where there is an insatiable demand for houseboats with fireplaces and hot tubs, where zoos have been washed away, where ordinary things like oranges are memories, and where meteor showers contain no actual meteors, but accumulated space junk.

“Life never seemed more unreal than when I was with my mother,” Khristen muses at one point, showing that Williams intends to speak to the human condition at all times, not just in this future hellscape. And a hellscape it truly is: “The land was bright with raging fires ringed by sportsmen shooting the crazed creatures trying to escape the flames.” But at times, there are oases of normalcy: a bowling alley here, a birthday party there, although a birthday party where a child’s cake is frosted with the grotesque image of the 19th-century painting “Saturn Devouring His Son.”

After the boarding school she was attending shuts down unexpectedly, Khristen wanders through this world like a nomad, because that’s what people do when an apocalypse comes. “The people I saw didn’t seem to be traveling. They were milling, like little flies after a rain,” she observes. In this world, insects, rocks, even flowers “were aware of nothing but hope’s absence. Something definitely had gone wrong. Even the dead were dismayed.”

She briefly befriends a professor who once rescued horses used for research; the horses are long gone, perhaps everywhere. Then at his recommendation she travels to a resort where her mother might have gone for a conference, the last time she’d communicated with her. There, however, she finds a group of elderly people, all with terminal illnesses, who had not succumbed to the despair paralyzing the rest of the world but instead were energized by their final quest: to avenge nature. They are carrying out what amounts to random acts of revenge largely unnoticed because, “Certainly no one expected the old to be difficult.”

“The elderly were encouraged to depart life and they obliged with little protests and surprisingly few regrets. It had not been foreseen that some would turn on the very institutions that had made them the last beneficiaries of what was enshrined as progress.”

It’s a wickedly smart turn of events, that a handful of old people, whom the young blame for the dystopia around them, turn into eco-terrorists, given the generational warfare sparking throughout the book. (In one scene, a mother and daughter traveling by train pass the Rio Grande River, or what’s left of it, and the daughter says accusingly, “You haven’t left us anything!” to which the mother replies “I didn’t drain the Rio Grande, my dear.”)

But these terrorists, who all suffer some sort of terminal condition, are not especially effective; they mostly dream of killing herbicide representatives or taking out an expedition of trophy-hunters without actually doing it. They, like the rest, are basically milling like flies, vehicles for Williams’ perverse imagination and mind-bending turns of phrase.

Not much happens in this novel, not in the way that stuff happens, say, in an Avengers film, and it slows even further in the third section, as the characters mature. But Harrow is entertainment at its finest, while also at its worst: Should we really be entertained by climate catastrophes? Making jokes at the expense of polar bears?

“Tell me,” says the mother sparring with her daughter on the train. “When was the last time you read a good book by a polar bear?”

Therein lies the quandary at the heart of the climate debate, rarely engaged: Was it worth all of this — the rising seas, the killer storms, the 6th extinction — so human beings could ascend to their peak? And is it over, that peak, and if so, when was it? Williams has no answers to these or any of the questions that Harrow poses, but it’s a disarming piece of cli-fi, erudite and droll, and only mildly depressing. A

Book Notes

I’d never thought of CNN in terms of anything but breaking news until people started telling me about the show Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.

The series, which debuted in February, follows the actor as he eats his way through Italy, and it’s been renewed for a second season. Of course, then, there had to be a book, which comes out next week. Taste: My Life Through Food (Gallery, 304 pages) is already showing up on bestseller lists in advance of its release. It’s a memoir of Tucci’s life, though, with much reminiscing about meals. If it’s recipes you want, go 2015’s The Tucci Table (Orion, 256 pages), written with Felicity Blunt, or 2012’s The Tucci Cookbook (Gallery, 400 pages).

Also out next week, and mentioned solely for the bright light of its title, is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead, 304 pages). It’s about a writer with postpartum depression who leaves her husband and newborn and explores her psyche in the Mojave Desert. She’s written one other novel and a short-story collection but has already won a handful of literary prizes to include the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Meanwhile, readers of the sports blog Deadspin may remember a columnist by the name of Drew Magary. His storytelling skills are put to the test in The Night the Lights Went Out (Harmony, 288 pages), which is a chronicle of a traumatic brain injury he suffered when he fell and smashed his head on a cement floor. Apparently, somehow he has managed to make this both poignant and funny (the funny part only possible because he has recovered 95 percent of his brain function). If nothing else, it will remind us to watch where we’re going. It’s out Oct. 12.

And finally, New Hampshire author Howard Mansfield has a new book coming out in October. Chasing Eden, A Book of Seekers (Bauhan Publishing, 216 pages) is a season-appropriate, New England-centric reflection on Americans in pursuit of their happiness. Among them: a group of 19th-century painters looking for inspiration in the White Mountains and a quirky group known as the “Vermont pilgrims” who “never changed their clothes, bathed, or cut their hair.”

Thankfully, another group of pilgrims looms larger in the national memory, and Mansfield covers them, too. Look for Chasing Eden in paperback Oct. 12.

Book Events

Author events

ARCHER MAYOR Author presents Marked Man. Mon., Oct. 4, 6:45 p.m. Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord). Visit

JORDAN MORRIS Comedy writer and podcaster discusses his podcast, Bubble. Virtual event presented by The Bookery in Manchester via Zoom. Fri., Oct. 8, 2 p.m. Visit

MELANIE MOYER AND CHARLIE J. ESKEW Virtual author conversation presented by Toadstool Bookshops of Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Sat., Oct. 9, 11 a.m. Visit

DIANNE TOLLIVER Author presents Life Everyone Has a Story. Barnes & Noble (1741 S. Willow St., Manchester, Sat., Oct. 9, 10 a.m.

ARCHER MAYOR Author presents Marked Man. Virtual event by Toadstool Bookshops of Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. Tues., Oct. 12, 6 p.m. Visit

HOWARD MANSFIELD Author presents Chasing Eden: A Book of Seekers. Thurs., Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m. Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord). Visit

R.A. SALVATORE AND ERIKA LEWIS Authors present The Color of Dragons. Tues., Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m. Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord). Tickets cost $5. Space is limited, and registration is required. Visit


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

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

Album Reviews 21/09/30

Ian Jones, The Evergreens (Thin Silver Records)

The other week I took a trip up north, to maraud (I don’t just simply “browse”) an estate sale. Tired of all the CDs in my car, I tried to find a radio station. Something popped up, a really good rock-ish song, on a Christian rock station, WANH 88.3 FM in Meredith. I was awed by the tuneage, because none of it was bad (Brandon Lake’s “Come Out Of That Grave,” an epic mix of Kings of Leon/Killers, was really good). I say all this because mellow rock can be OK even if your taste in rock tends to be bad for you, like mine. So I submit this EP, made by a Seattle songwriter with a gift for evoking mellow-mode Eagles and things like that. It’s quite inviting, especially when Jones trots out his Conor Oberst imitation in the strummy “Liars Criminals Beggars and Thieves.” A

Aakash Mittal, Nocturne (self-released)

In India, Calcutta is now known as Kolkata. It’s not a place I’d picture as being particularly still, especially at night, and that exact vibe — or at least its musical sounds — is what saxophonist Mittal attempts to capture on this album. His accomplices in the trio are guitarist Miles Okazaki and percussionist Rajna Swaminathan, who plays the instruments that bring the greatest degree of realism, the mridangam and kanjira. The setting may be an Indian city of 4.5 million residents, but the volume raises and lowers itself to incoherent buzzings like any other hyperactive metropolis. My impression is that it’s mostly improvisational (“Nocturne III” being an obvious exception; there was definitely quite a bit of planning there), aiming for feel more than melody, but the latter can indeed be found here and there. Matter of fact, if your workday involves some subway time, you could be listening to a lot less interesting things. A


• It’s a new week of music releases, all coming out on Oct. 1, for your musical pleasure and/or disappointment! Looking at the formidable list of new albums, my attention — such as it is these days — was immediately drawn to True Love, the fourth album from Texas-based pop duo Hovvdy! I’ve never heard of these people, and in fact the only reason I even got into the weeds with them was that they use two v’s in their name, like Pitchfork-beloved rock band Wavves. No, I know Hovvdy is stylizing the two-v thing in a different way, but I like how they’re doing it more than the way Wavves does it. See how music-critiquing works, folks? Whatever, I shall endeavor to see if this is at all interesting henceforth, as the title track is available for advance order (you wish, Hovvdy) or pirate-listening right now, on my computer! Huh, this sounds like Ben Kweller except listenable, sort of an Americana vibe, Simon & Garfunkel-ish, like a non-annoying Radiohead doing a chill-down. I can deal with this more or less.

• Any band that was once drunk enough to name their band Illuminati Hotties has my unwavering support, which will totally remain unwavering until I hear some bad music from them, which I’m fully prepared for, as I have a handy barf-bag right next to my badass-looking gamer chair, right here! Wikipedia, which is always on the cutting edge of super-hip words, tells me the band is “a vehicle for the songwriting of producer, mixer, and audio engineer Sarah Tudzin.” Well, that’s certainly less obfuscatory than saying “get ready for some cool grooves from a super-weird chick,” which is what you actually get here, on the band’s new album, Let Me Do One More! There is a single, called “Mmmoooaaaaayaya,” and it starts out with a Primus riff reminiscent of the guitar theme from South Park, and in the video Sarah comes out wearing nothing but a black sports bra. It’s pretty cool, and then she starts making fun of stupid men who try to pick up girls by using stupid pickup lines or whatnot, and then it gets louder, and pea soup starts falling from somewhere up above, and soon enough Sarah’s making fun of the Democratic National Committee while getting pea soup all over her. Is it edgy? Yes, but it does not solve world peace, so in my expert opinion it is simply a rock ’n’ roll song, not the answer to mankind’s prayers.

• Hoo boy, what could possibly be next. Whoa, wait, look, it’s industrial-metal band Ministry, one of the few bands on this planet I can actually stand, and they have a new album, Moral Hygiene, coming to your music store, if those even exist anymore! Ha ha, remember when Ministry released the song “Antifa” a couple of years ago, and it made people angry? What’s that? No, not the time people got angry over all those millions of other things, this was a different thing. Let’s just drop it and go watch the video for their new song, “Good Trouble,” shall we? Ha ha, it’s so badass, look, there’s their singer, Papa Al Satan, with American flag sunglasses, and random video clips of riots and burning stuff. The tune is a mega-heavy grinding cacophony of metallic mayhem, it’s awesome, haven’t these guys broken up like five times now?

• Finally we have million-year-old prog-rock band Yes, with their newest LP, The Quest! Given that bass player and bandleader Chris Squire died a few years ago, I don’t think any band should call itself Yes, but whatever, sort-of-original guitarist Steve Howe is here, as is Geoff Downes and Alan White, but, spoiler, Jon Anderson still hates everybody and isn’t here. Starter single “The Ice Bridge” is pretty much like Rush gone New Age. Pretty silly, probably some leftover nonsense from their Close To The Edge album, but you might like it.

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).

Lady in Blue

When I was extremely young, my father was a big fan of easy listening music. His favorite song was called “I Want Some Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” I remember this song as being awful.

Yesterday I thought of it for some reason and looked it up. It turns out that Wayne Newton recorded it in 1965. As I called it up on YouTube, I knew that I would listen to it and realize that now, as I hobble into late middle age, it would actually be pretty good. I would find myself enjoying it and that a week from now it would be on the driving playlist I use to torture my teenager.

As it turns out, it’s even worse than I remembered from my childhood. The trauma from hearing this as a kid must have forced the worst of it from my memory. Even I wouldn’t inflict this on The Teen.

On the topic of questionable decisions from the 1960s, I was reading through 1969’s The Esquire Drink Book, looking for a new cocktail recipe. When it comes to Mad Men-era, charming-but-arrogant drink recipes, Esquire had a bit of a corner on the market.

The recipe that grabbed my attention had a name so of its time that even after I read through it, said, “Nah!” and flipped past it, I kept returning to it: The Bosom Caresser. I mean, if you’re looking for a Swinging Sixties, Wayne Newton on the hi-fi, “My wife doesn’t understand me” type of drink, this seemed like a no-brainer.

Long story short: I ended up making it and it was OK. It was not spectacular and I don’t think I’ll make it again. The combination of brandy, marsala wine and raw egg yolk did not fill me with enthusiasm.

(That said, I did find out the hard way that if you do make a cocktail with a raw egg yolk in it, you should dry-shake it with the alcohol first, before adding the ice. Dropping a yolk into a shaker full of ice will make some of it freeze and you will end up with really unappetizing globs of it floating around in your drink that you will need to filter out before serving. We know that now.)

So where does that leave us?

In my case, invigorated from a long hot shower, to wash the sleaze off me and the memory of Wayne Newton out of my memory. As an antidote, here is the classiest drink I know:

Lady in Blue


1½ ounces very cold gin

¼ ounce créme de violette

¾ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ ounce simple syrup

3 drops orange blossom water

A “slip” of blue curaçao

Combine all ingredients, except the blue curaçao, with ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake until frost forms on the shaker and your hands become uncomfortably cold.

Strain into a martini glass. This is one occasion where you should not frost the glass first; you will want to show this cocktail off. The frosted glass would mess with that.

Pour a small slip of blue curaçao down one side of the glass. It is denser than the rest of the drink and will pool in the bottom of the glass.

While this is a delicious cocktail — crisp, gently sweet, subtly floral and just ginny enough to grab your attention — this is probably the prettiest drink you will ever make. If you find yourself needing to impress somebody, this is the drink to make. It’s gorgeous without making it seem like you’ve tried too hard.

Featured photo: Lady in Blue. Photo by John Fladd.

Red wine from bourbon barrels

Does reusing spirit barrels add something to wines?

Natural and minimalist winemaking methods have been prominent in the news these past several years but there is another trend surfacing: bourbon (and other spirits) barrel-aged wine.

Production has boomed since its modern re-introduction in 2014 by Fetzer Vineyards, which produced a zinfandel that was aged in recycled bourbon barrels. Distillers have aged spirits in bourbon barrels, but a little-known fact is that aging wine in recycled whiskey barrels has a storied past.

The Beringer brothers arrived in Napa in 1869 to work at Charles Krug, one of the first wineries in Napa Valley. In 1876 they had their first pressing of their own grapes, and to age their wines they reused whiskey barrels. Long on ambition but short on cash, they thought it made good financial sense and they discovered it added a certain complexity to the wine. Fast forward, we have a whole generation of millennials intent on exploring and expanding the production of bourbon and other spirits, and the marketplace for mainstream and small-batch distilleries.

In addition to bourbon barrel-aged cabernet sauvignons, we have other red varietals now aged in spirit barrels, and the trend has extended to tequila barrel-aged sauvignon blancs. But how does spirit barrel aging influence the structure and taste of the wine? Does it really impact the wine? Bourbon barrels are slightly taller and skinnier than standard oak barriques, and thus increase the wine-to-wood ratio. Also, bourbon barrels are required to be made from new, heavily toasted American oak. Since they are used just once, there is an abundance of flavor left in the wood. These barrels impart the character of whatever was previously in them, so, with bourbon barrels, you should expect that smooth sweetness and vanilla and caramel essence of the bourbon in your wine.

Our first wine is the Beringer Bros. 2019 Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $17.99). The color is intensely purple-red and “thick.” To the nose are scents of ripe black cherries and chocolate. To the tongue, the black cherries remain, albeit reduced, and there are persistent tannins. I don’t know if the “flattened fruit” is the product of the grapes or the fact the wine was aged for six months in bourbon barrels. This is unquestionably a wine to be paired with grilled beef or pasta with a tomato sauce. It will balance but not overpower your entrée, with an alcoholic content of 14.5 percent.

Our second wine, a Robert Montavi 2019 Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $10.95, reduced from $15.99), is produced a bit differently. The grapes grown in Mondavi’s coastal vineyards are aged in a mix of new and used bourbon barrels. Mondavi reports the new barrels give the wine its undertone of toasted oak, while the used barrels, from a Kentucky distillery, impart vanilla and dried herbs. This blending of barrels sets this wine aside from other cabernets. The color is dark purple-red, fading to a rose-colored ring. To the nose, there are blackberries and chocolate. To the tongue, the berries are joined with vanilla, caramel and some mocha. The tannins are much softer than in the Beringer tasting. With an alcoholic content of 14.5 percent, this is a wine to be paired with grilled meats, including marinated chicken.

Our third wine, the 1924 Limited Edition Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, by Gnarly Head Wines (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $11.99, reduced from $16.99), heralds from Lodi in California’s Central Valley. With an alcoholic content of 15 percent, this is a wine that needs decanting and can be paired with game, venison or lamb. The color is dark, dark purple and the nose is of blackberries and leather. To the tongue there is an abundance of dark berry fruit, coupled with strong tannins. A dryness permeates the finish.

Tim McKirdy, staff writer at VinePair, noted in an article that one critic states that spirits-barrel aging is a “marketing gimmick” and it’s a great way to “mask the flaws of sub-standard fruit.” In McKirdy’s referencing the tweet, the critic further states, “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig!”

On the other hand, other critics allude to the “blurring” of lines; this method is attracting beer and spirits drinkers to pair their food with spirits-barrel aged wine. I say, you be the judge!

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Pumpkin pie biscotti

We are working our way through the fall flavors in this column: first a savory sweet potato baked good, then a unique apple side dish. Now, it’s time to add some pumpkin to your menu.

Rather than serving pumpkin in a pie, it’s time to try it in biscotti. Not only does this give you a new way to eat biscotti, but it also makes it an acceptable way to eat cookies for breakfast. While you wouldn’t think about offering chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, biscotti seem to hover on the line as to whether they’re a dessert or breakfast treat.

These biscotti are simple to make and store incredibly well. Although if the people in your house are anything like mine, you won’t have to worry about storing them for long.

Michele Pesula Kuegler has been thinking about food her entire life. Since 2007, the New Hampshire native has been sharing these food thoughts and recipes at her blog, Think Tasty. Visit to find more of her recipes.

Pumpkin pie biscotti
Makes 24

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla extract, beating until smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well.
Add pumpkin to mixture, stirring well to combine.
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 10″ x 3″ rectangle, using floured hands.
Set loaves 2″ apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is set.
Leaving the oven on, remove the baking tray and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.
Transfer each loaf to a cutting board, and slice the loaves into diagonal bars, 1/2″ thick.
Return biscotti slices to the cookie sheet with the cut sides down.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Flip slices to other cut side, and bake for 10 minutes more.
Remove biscotti from oven, and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Combine white chocolate and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.
Continue heating chocolate in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate glaze is smooth.
Using a spoon, spread a layer of glaze on the tops or sides of biscotti.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set glaze.

Photo: Pumpkin pie biscotti. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Mackenzie Lindquist

Mackenzie Lindquist of Goffstown is the owner of Boston Bakes (find her on Facebook @bostonbakesnh and on Instagram @boston_bakes), a homestead business offering a variety of sweets and treats made to order, from birthday or special-occasion cakes to multiple flavors of macarons, cupcakes, cookies and more. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Lindquist got her start in the industry when she moved to Boston at the age of 18, first working at Flour Bakery + Cafe before later holding an assistant pastry chef position at Mistral, a French Bistro in the city’s South End. Just prior to going full-time with Boston Bakes, she was the pastry chef of Greenleaf in Milford for about a year, creating the farm-to-table eatery’s entire dessert menu while drawing on nostalgic flavors from her childhood. Orders can be placed through her Facebook or Instagram pages, or through her email at, with pre-arranged pickups out of Lindquist’s home. Local deliveries are also available.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Definitely a rubber spatula. People have heard me say so many times that I hate to waste product, so a rubber spatula always helps ensure that I get that last bit of whatever I’m baking.

What would you have for your last meal?

It’s a tie between barbecue eel sushi and birthday cake Oreos.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

My current favorite is Taipei & Tokyo, located in Bedford. I’ve been going there with my dad ever since I was younger. They consistently have the best Japanese food, for sure.

What celebrity would you like to see trying something that you’ve baked?

[Top Chef winner] Melissa King. She’s just an icon.

What is your personal favorite dessert that you’ve ever made?

I think it might be the three macaron trees that I did for a private event at Greenleaf. It was a project that took nearly two weeks to complete and had over 300 macarons, but it was so satisfying to see them at the end.

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

I think it’s probably farm-to-table dining. I love that people, especially now after Covid, are really interested in learning about where their food comes from and what is in season in New Hampshire. As chefs, we love to be able to teach people about that kind of stuff.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

The humble chocolate chip cookie. They are just the best.

Mom’s soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
From the kitchen of Mackenzie Lindquist of Boston Bakes

1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
Cloves and/or nutmeg (optional)

Combine wet ingredients into one bowl and set aside. Combine dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips into another bowl. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Scoop batter, about two tablespoons worth per cookie, onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges appear set. Wait until cool and enjoy.

Featured photo: Mackenzie Lindquist. Courtesy photo.

Riverside brews

Exeter’s Powder Keg Beer Festival returns

When the Powder Keg Beer & Chili Festival was first held in downtown Exeter in 2012, there were only a few other events like it in New Hampshire. Nine years later it continues to be one of the largest beer festivals in New England, bringing together dozens of local and regional breweries collectively pouring more than 200 different beers, ciders and hard seltzers to try in one spot. After a one-year hiatus in 2020, Powder Keg is back — the festival will return on Saturday, Oct. 2, along Exeter’s Swasey Parkway by the Squamscott River.

Of course this year’s festival is not without its modifications, perhaps the most notable being the absence of chili makers that usually accompany the breweries. Instead there will be a few local food trucks parked throughout the day, in addition to some specialty food vendors.

“We didn’t want to approach restaurants about donating large amounts of chili and staffing a booth, because we know how hard it’s been for the industry,” said Greg Bisson, director of the Exeter Parks & Recreation Department, which organizes the festival in collaboration with the town’s Chamber of Commerce, “but that also allowed us to spread out our beer vendors more. So, where we used to have four big-top tents with all of the breweries under them, we are now spreading them out on the perimeter of the whole entire park to allow people to have their own booth … and give them a couple of feet of open air away from others.”

Another change is the implementation of two ticketed sessions. Beer lovers can choose to attend and receive unlimited beer tastings either from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or from 2 to 4 p.m.

An eclectic lineup of brews will be represented, Bisson said, from multiple styles of IPAs to sours, stouts and many seasonal releases. Festival organizers partner with the social network app Untappd to provide an online list of what you will encounter.

Beer purveyors will range from big names like Sam Adams to breweries right in Exeter or surrounding towns. In some cases they may showcase some harder-to-find offerings.

“The Exeter Brewing Co. will bring its Swasey Daze [New England IPA], which only drops in a few stores, so that’s a bit of a unique situation,” Bisson said. “We always get the variety of pumpkin beers, being in the fall … [and] we’ve been seeing a trend in hard seltzers as well.”

Truly Hard Seltzer, for instance, will be there pouring its lemon iced tea, tropical punch and strawberry lemonade. As an alternative to hard seltzer but without the carbonation, NOCA Beverages is a company founded by three University of New Hampshire graduates — they will be at the festival too, pouring multiple flavors of their spiked still water.

As it is Oktoberfest season, you can expect a fair share of Märzen-style lagers or festbiers, including those from Woodland Farms Brewery of Kittery, Maine, Long Blue Cat Brewing Co. of Londonderry, and Sawbelly Brewing Co. of Exeter, to name a few.

Cabot Creamery will be giving out cheese samples to pair with your beers, while options from the featured food trucks will include burgers from Lexie’s Burger Bus and sweets from Clyde’s Cupcakes, both of Exeter. Chubba Wubba’s Sweets & Refreshments, a Seabrook-based mobile kitchen converted from an old Manchester Transit Authority bus, will be serving ice cream and other treats, while Chubb’s Fries & Dough will provide fair food.

“I think there’s a lot to offer in Exeter … and we hope, with the short two-hour blocks, it offers people the opportunity to enjoy downtown,” Bisson said.

Powder Keg Beer Festival

When: Saturday, Oct. 2; two ticketed sessions are offered, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Swasey Parkway, Exeter
Cost: General admission tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door ($10 in advance and $15 at the door for designated drivers). Attendees can also purchase a commemorative pint glass at the festival for $10.
Event is 21+ only. No children or pets are allowed. Free parking is located around the festival’s entrance off Water Street, as well as at the Main Street School (40 Main St.) and the Lincoln Street Elementary School (25 Lincoln St.).

Featured photo: Photo by Allie Burke Photography.

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