On the road again

Willy Porter back in NH for two shows

Though he’s a native of Wisconsin, Willy Porter feels a strong connection to the Granite State.

“I think I could easily live in New Hampshire,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I just love the pace of life there.”

Porter returns frequently for shows at The Flying Goose in New London, and this year he’ll be there for two nights to start their live music season.

Porter’s career began around the time Tom Mills opened the restaurant turned brewpub in 1993; his breakthrough LP, Dog Eared Dream, arrived a year later. His ties to the area include a long collaboration with musician and artist Tom Pirozzoli. The two have written together over the years and in 2020 made an album, Reckon by the Light.

“He’s got a great eye as a poet and a painter,” Porter said of Pirozzoli. “He’s one of the guys you want around.”

Porter has made almost a dozen records over his three-decade career. His most recent, mnemonic, arrived just ahead of the pandemic, on Valentine’s Day 2020. With its release, he played a trio show in his home state, then headed to Florida to start a tour in support of the new disc.

When he got there, the world shut down.

After being stranded for a bit, Porter flew back to Wisconsin. He didn’t perform again until June of this year, other than playing for a handpicked crowd last fall to help an Omaha, Nebraska performing arts center stay open.

“It was a strange sort of mummified show … everybody fully wrapped,” he said of the event, which was livestreamed. “I did get to play this extraordinary room; it was like going from my basement to Carnegie Hall.”

Now, beginning with a festival in Oregon and continuing in New England, Porter is finally back on the road.

“I was looking at my luggage and I saw the baggage tag was from the return from Florida on March 12 of 2020,” he said, and offered a baseball metaphor for emphasis. “It’s a gift to come off the Covid bench, get back in it and see some old friends.”

Porter drew from the pandemic and America’s pastime for a single he put out in early summer. “Baseball On The Radio” recalls a trip to Sears with his dad that’s more about time away from his mom than shopping, as the two bond over their beloved Brewers and announcer Bob Uecker calls the game.

“I asked him, ‘Why are we here?’ He said, ‘Because your mother’s not,’ … I just looked at him and then he kind of just smiled, and we moved on. I think that was a time when the garage was just not far enough away,” he said. “I’m lucky that I grew up in a house where my parents always worked it out.”

The hopeful, nostalgic song was also aimed at a reeling country.

“We’re coming out of Covid, and the one thing I’ve always loved is baseball, we can all rally around it. It’s an American thing, it’s not partisan, it’s just fantastic. It’s right up the middle, it’s where we’re from. I just wanted something that was uniquely positive … plus, it’s a lot of fun to sing about the Brewers.”

The song will appear on a new album Porter is working on with Dog Eared Dream producer Mike Hoffman.

“It only took us 27 years to do the follow-up together,” he said with a laugh. The forthcoming disc draws inspiration from his experience revisiting the 1994 record on its 25th anniversary in 2019.

“It was a very hopeful time,” he said. “Going back, you can pull some of that energy out of that music again and reapply it. Not that I’m trying to replicate it, but there’s a mindset, a psychology of hope in both of those records. I’m definitely trying to tap into [that] with this new project.”

Willy Porter

When: Wednesday, Oct. 6, and Thursday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m.
Where: Flying Goose Pub, 40 Andover Road, New London
Tickets: $25 at flyinggoose.com

Featured photo: Willy Porter. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/10/07

Local music news & events

Northern soul: On his NEMA-nominated album Chesty Rollins’ Dead End, Charlie Chronopoulos observes everyday life in his home state of New Hampshire and its challenges among the marginalized — opioids, poverty and other hardships. “Glass Factory” distills the disc’s themes: “I can tell you all about the fragile things we make,” he sings. “They spend their lives about to break … should stay on the shelf.” Thursday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m., Stumble Inn Bar & Grill, 20 Rockingham Road, Londonderry. See charliechronopoulos.com.

Pop crop: On their new EP Angus Soundtrack 2, Donaher stays in a solid mid-’90s groove — the title is a nod to the 1995 teen comedy that featured Weezer, Green Day and Goo Goo Dolls. “Courtney” is a cool update of the film’s high school angst theme, with the line, “every text I get, my forehead gets a bead of sweat/wondering what comes next/an emoji you can soon forget,” clocking in at a genre-appropriate minute and 52 seconds. Friday, Oct. 8, 9 p.m., Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester. See facebook.com/donahertheband.

Duo delight: Taking electric and concert grand harp in bold new directions, the Harp Twins are identical sisters Camille and Kennerly Kitt. Their two were featured guests on last year’s PBS special Celtic Heart, while the pair’s newest release, Harp Attack 4, is billed as “velvet harp rock and metal.” They cover everyone from Kansas to Metallica, and their spirited version of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” is a gem. Saturday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m., Franklin Opera House, 316 Franklin St., Franklin, tickets $14 at franklinoperahouse.org.

Burt & Hal: Inspired by classic Hollywood, Deep Blue C Studio Orchestra is a regional ensemble bringing the music of Leonard Bernstein, Burt Bacharach & Hal David and other greats from film to stage. On Composers and Their Songs, the Doc Vose-led ensemble performs selections from soundtracks, Great American Songbook classics, and pop favorites ranging from Goffin & King to Ashford & Simpson. Sunday, Oct. 10, 4 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, tickets $20 at palacetheatre.org.

Pond crossers: Grounded in L.A. during the pandemic, English rockers The Struts went into the studio empty-handed to create and record the aptly titled Strange Days. They recruited an impressive supporting cast, including Phil Collen and Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, guitarist Tom Morello for “Wild Child” and Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes on the lead single, “Another Hit of Showmanship.” Wednesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., Casino Ballroom, 169 Ocean Blvd., Hampton Beach, tickets $26.50 at ticketmaster.com.

The Many Saints of Newark (R)

The Many Saints of Newark (R)

A young Tony Soprano is mentored by Dickie Moltisanti in “this thing of ours” in The Many Saints of Newark, a Sopranos prequel/little fan service treat.

Dickie (Alessandro Nivola) is the father of Christopher (as an adult, Michael Imperioli), who was the guy The Sopranos-era Tony Soprano took under his wing in fatherly fashion. Here, we see Christopher’s father serve that role for Tony (William Ludwig as a kid; Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, as a teen), particularly when his own father, Johnny Soprano (Jon Bernthal), is away in prison. Tony frequently has an easier time relating to Dickie than to his own mother, Livia (Vera Farmiga, going all out), who is, you’ll recall, A Lot.

By the way, that previous paragraph, with all the “this guy is that guy’s father and also related to this other guy” is how this movie feels from the very beginning. In the movie’s opening scene, which sets up the movie’s narration, there was a piece of information that caused me to press pause and then have a whole “wait, he had a kid?” discussion. The Many Saints of Newark often feels like an extended conversation about second and third cousins, where you keep forgetting who everybody is and how they’re connected.

The movie actually gets going in part with Christopher’s grandfather, Dickie’s father, Hollywood Dick (Ray Liotta) returning from Italy with an extremely young new wife, Giuseppina (Michela Di Rossi). Dickie — who appears to still live in the family home with his own wife, Joanne (Gabriella Piazza) — instantly has the hots for Giuseppina and also there’s all sorts of psychological weirdness about his father saying she’s going to have his second set of children while Dickie and Joanne struggle to conceive their own child and some residual anger from Dickie because of his father’s physical abuse (toward him as a kid, toward his mother and now toward Giuseppina). Dickie, we learn, also has a temper.

Through it all, kid Tony seems to go to great lengths to be around Dickie, whose occupation seems to involve the numbers racket and stolen goods. Tony gets in his own small-time trouble: as a kid he gets kicked out of school for setting up a little-kid numbers racket, as a teen he gets busted for buying a stolen test. But there is part of him that seems to want what somebody at some point calls a civilian life — he plays football, he dreams of college.

I’m not saying I want this but there is a version of this project that isn’t a two-hour movie but a three-season HBO show, where side plots like the ambitions of Giuseppina or everything to do with Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odum Jr.), a man whom we first meet working for Dickie but who wants to strike out on his own, get richer development. McBrayer in particular is an interesting character — initially collecting cash for Dickie but deciding to go out on his own: a numbers-running operation in the Black community controlled by him and not the Italian mob. His story intersects with the Newark riots and real-life gangster Frank Lucas. But as presented here, a lot of his story feels kind of stuffed in. “Here are some ideas” is the feel of McBrayer and Giuseppina’s arcs but then the action of the movie is really centered on Dickie. And, my attention was usually on Tony and his growing into the guy we remember from the TV show and all the familiar names associated with that. You know how the post-credits scene of a superhero movie will show a costumed character or mention a first and last name and you know that you’re supposed to know who this person is and understand their significance? That is sort of how this movie is, but for the whole movie (and I say this as someone who watched the entire run of The Sopranos). As was pointed out to me by my movie night companion, a lot of those “hey, that’s Silvio Dante” or “they just mentioned Hesh” aren’t important for the plot of this specific movie. But because this is a Sopranos property, you can’t help focusing on these elements.

All of that said, this movie was fun to watch, even if I seemed to watch it in 10-minute chunks, pausing for frequent “is that the guy who”-type conversations. There are truly horrifying moments, truly funny moments and some solid bits of acting, including from Farmiga and Gandolfini. And like a family gathering full of third cousins and unplaceable children (a nephew? By marriage? Which marriage to whom?), The Many Saints of Newark feels overstuffed and even overwhelming at times but also familiar and enjoyable to spend time with in this limited setting. The movie displays some quality construction and dialogue and reminds you just what a standout, even after the ensuing decades of peak TV, The Sopranos really was. B-

Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual content and some nudity, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Alan Taylor with a screenplay by David Chase & Lawrence Konner, The Many Saints of Newark is two hours long and is distributed in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures and is on HBO Max until Oct. 31.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (PG-13)

The alien symbiote/human goofball partnership that lives inside Eddie Brock accidentally spawns a bigger, redder creature in Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

And, as you may have already heard, there is a mid-credits scene in this movie. On balance, I’d say it’s worth waiting for because you already put on your outside clothes to come to the movie theater anyway and it is a fun little teaser for [redacted].

If you ever watched the late great one-season ABC show Stumptown, you’ll remember the somewhat ratty car that lead character Dex drove — it had a broken tape player that would on-the-nose-ily turn on and it always looked like it was one too-fast turn from coming completely apart. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) feels like the human version of this — just barely keeping himself together. And, in truth, that’s what he’s often doing: just barely keeping Venom, the evil-Spider-Man-looking alien symbiote who lives inside him, from popping out and going on some kind of destructive rampage. Eddie talks back to the pestering Venom voice (that only he can hear) who seems to spend a lot of time asking to eat either people or chocolate, or complaining about Eddie’s inability to get back together with his former fiancee Anne (Michelle Williams), who is now dating Dr. Dan (Reid Scott).

But Venom is useful too. When Eddie interviews serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), it’s Venom who notices some of the drawings on Cletus’ wall and helps Eddie figure out that one of them points to the location of Cletus’ victims’ bodies. This earns Eddie some acclaim — and Cletus’ rage, as the appearance of all the new bodies has the state of California decide to make an exception to its “no more executions” rule just for Cletus. During his final meeting with Eddie, though, Cletus provokes Venom and bites Eddie, getting just enough of that weird alien symbiote-infected blood to grow his own strange creature inside himself, which I think eventually calls itself Carnage.

Unfortunately for Eddie (and everyone else in the city), by the time Cletus/Carnage have broken out of San Quentin, Eddie and Venom have, er, broken up. Eddie doesn’t like how Venom causes thoughtless havoc in Eddie’s life and Venom isn’t cool with how Eddie keeps him from eating human brains (they had bought chickens for Venom to eat but he ended up naming them — Sonny and Cher — and is now too attached).

Cletus and Carnage and Cletus’ long-lost girlfriend Frances (Naomie Harris) — this movie’s villains — are very “meh, whatever” villains. (Ditto a character called Detective Mulligan played by Stephen Graham, who by the end of the movie is less of a character and more just comic book homework.) Is Harrelson appropriately crazy? Sure, he’s pretty good at that kind of character. But I found myself wishing we could just cool it with Cletus and his motivations and his backstory and spend more time with Tom Hardy and his Eddie/Venom duo. Hardy seems to be having a really good time with this/these character/s (Hardy even has a story-by credit). Obviously CGI plays a big part in the look of Venom but the personality seems to come from Hardy letting Eddie be more of a, well, goober and Venom more “immediate reaction of all your worst impulses.” It makes for an overall very watchable, fairly silly — if still quite violent, I was kind of surprised this movie is only a PG-13 — lead character even if everything going on around him is less than thrilling. B-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Andy Serkis (yes that Andy Serkis) with a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an hour and 37 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Columbia Pictures.

The Addams Family 2 (PG)

The altogether-ooky family hits the road in The Addams Family 2, a rather underwhelming second entry in this rather underwhelming animated adaptation of the Addams Family.

After preteen Wednesday Addams (voice of Chloë Grace Moretz) gets annoyed with her family for showing up to her science fair, dad Gomez (voice of Oscar Isaac) decides he must yank his daughter back into the fold with a family road trip. Mom Morticia (voice of Charlize Theron) and younger kid Pugsley (voice of Javan Walton) load up the family’s camper (which has kind of a steampunk hearse carriage/iron lung appearance) and set out for three weeks, along with Thing, Lurch (voice of Conrad Vernon), Uncle Fester (voice of Nick Kroll) and occasionally Cousin It (voice of Snoop Dog).

Right before the family leaves, though, a lawyer named Mr. Mustela (voice of Wallace Shawn) shows up to inform the Addamses that Wednesday might have been switched at birth and might not actually be an Addams. They laugh it off at first, thinking it’s just Wednesday trying to get out of the family trip, but Mustela follows the Addams family as they travel across the county.

Is Wednesday really not an Addams or does this lawyer and his story have something to do with Wednesday’s science experiment, which involved briefly giving Uncle Fester the intelligence of a Rubik’s Cube-solving octopus? When the science fair sponsor, Curtis Strange (voice of Bill Hader), asked Wednesday for her research, she turned him down, but he doesn’t seem like the type to accept “no.” Also, maybe Fester’s transformation wasn’t as “brief” as originally thought, since he suddenly has an irresistible urge to be near water and one of his arms is looking very cephalopod-like.

There is an off-kilter oddball energy to the 1990s live-action Addams Family movies that is missing here. These Addamses are spooky, sure, in kind of a Halloween decoration way, and Wednesday is still trying to kill her brother Pugsley in a way that felt a little too murderous to have me rushing to show this to my young elementary-aged kids. But there’s a gleeful weirdness that made those movies something I always end up stopping to watch if I flip past them. Here, the Addams-ness is rather muted beneath a very standard “family appreciating each other” tale.

Now, that same factor — fewer electrocutions and babies with knives — might make it more palatable/less nightmare-inducing for, say 8-year-olds and up (whereas I felt the first movie in this series was maybe for more like 10-year-olds and older). So the mushiness that makes it a less interesting Addams movie probably does make it a better kids’ movie — which, of course, kids in the audience is really the whole point of this movie. And the overall look of the film is fun in the way that a lot of spooky themed stuff is fun. I feel like kids who generally enjoy monsters and scary stuff (but still need their scary stuff to be not too scary) will enjoy this. C+

Rated PG for macabre and rude humor, violence and language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon with a screenplay by Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit and Ben Queen and Susanna Fogel, The Addams Family 2 is an hour and 33 minutes long and distributed by United Artists Releasing. It is in theaters and available via Video On Demand.



AMC Londonderry
16 Orchard View Dr., Londonderry

Cinemark Rockingham Park 12
15 Mall Road, Salem

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

The Music Hall
28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth
436-2400, themusichall.org

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord
224-4600, redrivertheatres.org

Regal Fox Run Stadium 15
45 Gosling Road, Newington

The Strand
20 Third St., Dover
343-1899, thestranddover.com

Wilton Town Hall Theatre
40 Main St., Wilton
wiltontownhalltheatre.com, 654-3456


The Witch (R, 2015) screening at The Strand in Dover on Wednesday, Oct .6, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $6.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) screening on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (R, 2013) screening at The Strand in Dover on Thursday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $6.

21+ Trivia Night for The Nightmare Before Christmas at Chunky’s in Manchester on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. Reserve a seat with the purchase of a $5 food voucher.

The Evil Dead (NC-17, 1981) 40th anniversary screening with intro from Bruce Campbell on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Londonderry 10, Lowell Showcase Cinemas and Regal Fox Run Stadium 1 via Fathom Events.

I’m Your Man (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord, Friday, Oct. 8, through Monday, Oct. 11, at 1, 4 & 7 p.m.

Lamb (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord, Friday, Oct. 8, through Monday, Oct. 11, at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The Conjuring (R, 2013) screening at The Strand in Dover on Friday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10.

Maleficent (PG, 2014) screening at The Strand in Dover on Saturday, Oct. 9,2 p.m. Tickets cost $6.

The Nowhere Inn (R, 2021) screening at The Music Hall in Portsmouth on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15.

Hocus Pocus (PG, 1993) screening at The Strand in Dover on Sunday, Oct.10, 2 p.m. Tickets cost $6.

The White Tiger (1923), a silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, at Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. Admission is free; $10 donation suggested.

Scream (R, 1996) on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 3 p.m. at Cinemark Rockingham Park, AMC Methuen and Regal Fox Run and at 7 p.m. at AMC Methuen and Regal Fox Run. Also screening Monday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. on Cinemark Rockingham Park, Regal Fox Run and AMC Methuen. All via Fathom Events.

Featured photo: Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy photo.

The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel, by Martin Walker

The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel, by Martin Walker (Knopf, 316 pages)

I do love cozy mysteries. I love the wit, the lack of gratuitous violence, and often the underlying area of expertise that each series includes — like mysteries centered around the experiences of a White House chef or an embroidery shop owner or someone who owns a bakery. Cozies follow a predictable pattern; the “detective” is often reluctantly drawn into a murder that they must then solve. They’re usually written with good dialogue and a protagonist who frequently questions his or her ability to succeed. Of course, all good cozies also teach you about the protagonist’s hobby or business.

Cozies are what I turn to when I need a break from reading the heavier political books that are out there. I think of them as a palate cleanser, sort of like watching an episode of Murder, She Wrote between episodes of Dateline.

I wasn’t familiar with the Bruno, Chief of Police series, written by Martin Walker, and when I picked up book No. 16 (!), The Coldest Case, without having read any of the other ones, I had some doubts. Would I be missing too much backstory with the characters?

Turns out I didn’t need to worry. The Coldest Case is a compelling murder mystery that is solved by a modern-day Renaissance man, Police Chief Bruno, who seems to know a little about a lot of things. In this story Bruno has been haunted by a 30-year-old cold case in which a body was found in the woods near St. Denis, France.

After visiting a museum exhibition, Bruno gets the idea to “recreate facial structure” over the victim’s skull in the hopes that it will lead to identification. To do this he calls in an expert who can sculpt the face. While the facial reconstruction is being done, newly obtained DNA evidence links the murder victim to a French special forces soldier who died in action.

Now the unsolved murder mystery also becomes a tangled web of family secrets. The murdered man turns out to be the dead soldier’s father. The mother is also dead and had kept her secret from both her husband and her family. It turns out solving the cold case is going to need a great deal of diplomacy.

In doing the investigation Bruno moves from the Bergerac vineyards to old Communist Party strongholds in Paris and their links to the Soviet bloc. It’s an exciting and intelligent read filled with historical facts that move at a steady pace.

There is a small weak spot in this book. Bruno’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Isabelle sets off some alarms (I couldn’t really see what he sees in her) but as this is the 16th book I’m sure there is history that I am unaware of. Their relationship wasn’t a deal-breaker for the book; it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Bruno is so accomplished and Isabelle seems so, well, childish. Still, the overall storytelling makes up for this small bumpy patch.

And as in all good cozies you learn things along the way, like about the breeding of basset hounds, the care of riding horses, gardening, and of course, this taking place in the Perigord region of southern France, the glorious food that is prepared and eaten. Not only do you get the pleasure of solving a mystery but you also get to learn about French culture and topics that you probably never knew you’d be interested in.

“‘Good for you, and your priorities are the right ones,’ the mayor said, nodding his approval and trying to put her at ease. ‘But we can’t let you come to the Perigord without enjoying the sights and the food, so you can understand why we’re all so devoted to this region.’”

That right there seems to be the additional reason for this book. The first reason is, of course, the murder mystery and the telling of a fine story, but the second and equally important reason is to share the beauty and culture of a little slice of French heaven on earth.

This is one of those books, like Under the Tuscan Sun, that will make you put the region in which it takes place on your bucket list to visit. Martin does an excellent job of describing the scenery, meals, culture, and people of Perigord. Reading this book is like taking a tiny vacation in the middle of your workweek.

Although this was my first Bruno, Chief of Police novel, it will not be my last. Enjoyable, entertaining and educational — a winning combination. A

Wendy E. N. Thomas

Book Notes

Call up Kate Bowler’s new book, No Cure For Being Human, and Amazon informs that it’s the No. 1 bestseller in the category of colorectal cancer, which seems a dubious honor that the author may not want.

Amazon categories are like that. You might think you’re writing in a genre of inspiration or faith, but the company likes that label “bestseller” and will scuttle around on the algorithm floor until it finds a category that fits.

At this stage of life, I have zero interest in colorectal cancer and hope that continues. But I have but a lot of interest in Bowler, who was a relatively obscure professor at Duke Divinity School until she got sick and started writing about it. Her illness revealed a master wordsmith, and her first book about her experience with cancer, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved(Random House, 208 pages), was warm and witty, yet a ferociously blunt take on getting a devastating diagnosis as a young mother.

No Cure for Being Human (Random House, 224 pages) continues in that vein, and its opening pages suggest that Bower’s sense of humor has gotten even sharper throughout her years of treatment.

For an entirely different kind of suffering, though still viewed with humor, check out How to Suffer Outside (Mountaineers Books, 224 pages), Diana Helmuth’s original take on the well-worn topic of hiking and backpacking. “Someday, at some point in your life (if it hasn’t happened already), you’re going to see something misshapen,” she writes, continuing, “This is the best time to put everything in a backpack and leave.” Which is pretty much what Cheryl Strayed did in Wild, but Helmuth puts a more practical take on the subject, writing more in the style of Jen Sincero’s “badass” series. If you need inspiration to join the leaf-peeping hordes, this breezy paperback might help.

Finally, every now and then you come across a book that withered on the vine but should have been a bestseller simply because of its title. To wit: Naked Came the Leaf Peeper, a 2011 novel by Brian Lee Knopp and Linda Marie Barrett (Renaissance Bookfarm, 212 pages). It’s a collaborative novel, meaning 12 different authors contributed to it. A book by committee: What could go wrong? But long past-due kudos for the title.

Jennifer Graham

Book Events

Author events

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 facebook.com/bookerymht.

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 toadbooks.com.

DIANNE TOLLIVER Author presents Life Everyone Has a Story. Barnes & Noble (1741 S. Willow St., Manchester, barnesandnoble.com). 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 toadbooks.com.

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 gibsonsbookstore.com.

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 gibsonsbookstore.com.


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

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 facebook.com/slamfreeordie, e-mail slamfreeordie@gmail.com or call 858-3286.

Book Clubs

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

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com/gibsons-book-club-2020-2021 or call 224-0562.

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

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

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email bookclub@belknapmill.org.

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

Album Reviews 21/10/07

Crisix, The Pizza EP – Full Movie (Based on a true story) (Listenable Records)

Since the 1980s-underground days, Spain has been a top source of thrash metal, even if the output isn’t as consistently funny as Brazil’s, not to mention Chile’s. But these four guys are interested less in professional decorum than in instant relatability, and they get extra points for making this EP into a movie (speaking of that, what with lockdowns and whatnot, every band should be doing exactly that, a four-song video EP, rather than spending their hard-earned money on recording an extra six to 10 songs that are mostly filler). Musically this isn’t anything more innovative than a mashup of Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan, with the singer spending most of his time practicing his above-average drunken-pirate roar. So, right, nothing all that new, but the tunes did sit well with me. The videos are pretty funny, a fantasy chronicling of the guitarist’s past life as a pizza delivery guy; at one point the guys remake the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park (“Raptors In The Kitchen”) and it’s hilarious. A

Crown Lands, White Buffalo (Spinefarm Records)

My first tweet after this thing landed in my lap still stands: Who the flark are these guys? I bit on this one for two reasons: (1) I don’t think I’ve written up a single Spinefarm Records release, despite 90 million of them being pitched to me; and (2) this band was said to be a prog band. I assumed this would be cheap and stupid, but holy crow, a lot of this stuff is a cross between late ’70s Rush and Led Zeppelin III. Yeah, the singer sounds like Geddy Lee sometimes and Robert Plant at others, but — wait for it, you’re gonna die, I swear — this is just two guys. Big sound, though, nothing like what I expected from a record label that seems to deal mainly with black-metal bands whose logos are written in impossible-to-read font. Anyway, the drummer plays tabla and bongos when they’re unplugged, which is deeply organic of course, but when the guy jumps back on the drums he pulls off a pretty decent Neil Peart. If you’re into revival-arena-rock, you simply must hear this stuff. A+


• The next general-release date for music albums and assorted rock ’n’ roll whatnots is Oct. 8, so let’s just dive into this pool of fail by starting with Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow, the new album from Matt Maltese, an English singer-songwriter whose style “blends elements from indie-pop, indie-rock and chamber-pop,” in other words: he’s still trying to figure out what he’s doing, despite the fact that he’s already put out two albums, two EPs and a bunch of singles. No, I kid Matt Maltese, it’s not like chamber-pop isn’t just another way of saying shoegaze, an essential building block of all “indie-pop and indie-rock,” and whatever, he’s kind of popular in the U.K., which means he could basically put out a recording of himself and his dog eating boxes of cereal and all that’d happen is New Music Express would call it “essential listening.” OK, I’ve procrastinated enough, it’s time for me to drag myself kicking and screaming to YouTube to listen to this human’s new single, “Shoe.” Huh, in the video he’s buried up to his neck in sand, which I can relate to, as I am always buried up to my neck in bad albums. Oh how cute, it’s kind of like Beck meets Sufjan Stevens, but with no good music. Lol, you should hear his falsetto high notes. This is terrible, please toss this in the trash and bring me something edible, waiter.

• Next we have punk-protest-folk-whatever guy Billy Bragg, with his latest, The Million Things That Never Happened. Bragg’s most notable, sort-of-recent-ish moment came in 1998, when Woody Guthrie’s daughter asked Bragg to take some of Woody’s unrecorded lyrics and make music out of them, so naturally, instead of doing it himself, he collaborated with Wilco and Natalie Merchant and turned it into a giant cluster of people who weren’t good fits for the project, which released the albums Mermaid Avenue in 1998 and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II in 2000. Am I missing anything? Wait, ha ha, one time, when Bragg was in edgy-protest-music-dude mode, he dissed famous Popeye The Sailor lookalike Phil Collins for not being an actual political activist rock star guy: “Phil Collins might write a song about the homeless, but if he doesn’t have the action to go with it, he’s just exploiting that for a subject.” In other words, Bragg discovered grifting, and that makes him important, because, as everyone knows, rock ’n’ roll celebrities would totally save the world if people would just let them, am I right? So the single, “Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained,” is jangly and kinda dumb, like unplugged Clash but with an even higher level of blockhead-Cockney accent (think Ian Drury’s “Sex And Drugs And Rock & Roll” but boring and pointless). We all set here?

• Speaking of bands that don’t exactly know what they’re doing, look folks, it’s Toronto jazz-hip-hop-techno incels BadBadNotGood, with a new album, called Talk Memory! They’ve collaborated with the likes of Mick Jenkins, Kendrick Lamar and Ghostface Killah, and have also won or been in the running for snobby awards like Liberas, Junos and Polarises, but now my interest is piqued and I’ll stop the resumé riffing and go listen to the single, “Sending Signals.” Wow, this is nerdy, some proggy riffing led by the bass player, an eloquent but unlistenable mash of notes. Have fun with this, America.

• Let’s close with All Day Gentle Hold, the new LP from upstate-ish New York-based synthpop Porches. “Lately,” the single, is kind of like if Soft Moon had a decent sound engineer, and if that totally loses you, be thankful; there’s no need to bother with this.


Ten years back we go, when the new albums included Ashes & Fire from somewhat likeable Neil Young wannabe Ryan Adams, who back then was suffering from Ménière’s Disease, an ear problem that affects hearing and balance. At that point, fans thought Adams was done; he’d quit music a couple of years previous and married Mandy Moore. “The first few songs,” I said, trying to stay awake, “are slow folk-rock and/or Dave Matthews-ish, and they are not horrible, altogether sort of like Amos Lee’s last album.”

Another thing that happened that week was a show in New Hampshire, at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth. You remember live shows, right? No? Well, you do remember ’80s fashion-techno dude Howard Jones, right? Also no? Well, he was the one coming to the Flying Monkey. “He sang a song called ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ during the Reagan era,” I reminded you, “not knowing that things were going to get a whole lot worse.” Mind you, I said that in 2010. If I had known the 2020s were going to be this bad, I would have long moved to Iceland by 2011.

Per usual, there were two focus albums to discuss. The one I was actually psyched to hear was HanDover from darkwave overlords Skinny Puppy. Turned out it was basically a solo album from singer Nivek Ogre. It was OK, I though: “It’s sick, yes, but not completely off-putting, even while ‘Icktums’ explores what VNV Nation might sound like if they used hospital machines to make their sound.”

The other spotlight LP that week was one I’ve mentioned a million times, laptop-jazz ninja Mocean Worker’s Candygram For Mowo, which adeptly combined 1930s-’40s swing with underground hip-hop. I’ll say it again, this is an incredible party record, if anyone has a party ever again.

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).

Portland beer tour

Maine and beer are a thing

Is there a better place in the world for beer than Portland, Maine?

Aside from just very high-quality, very fresh beer straight from the brewery or close to it, the proximity is off the charts. There are a few different spots where your trusty Uber driver can deposit you and you can just bounce from brewery to brewery to brewery on foot.

I’m not saying you should be having multiple beers at each brewery or even one beer at each brewery, but that’s just pretty cool. There’s something more relaxed about the brewery scene too — it’s much more laid back than walking into a bar, although Portland is pretty laid back regardless.

During a very recent visit to Belleflower Brewery in Portland, I counted approximately a dozen dogs and even more babies. Not really on the babies but you get the point: dog-friendly, family-friendly, you know, friendly.

If you like beer, regardless of style, it’s just a place you need to go at some point. Even if you’re not into hopping from brewery to brewery, there are countless tremendous bars and pubs featuring a wide array of the local brews so you can still experience the area’s top beer.

OK, this isn’t an advertorial. I just went to Portland a couple weeks ago and I’m still excited. That’s all.

Here are some highlights from my most recent Portland excursion. Is it going to be IPA-heavy? Yes it is.

Magpie Pale Ale by Belleflower Brewery

Belleflower, which was new to me, was one of the gems of the trip: great beer across the board. Loved this particular beer — super easy to drink and incredibly flavorful. This New England pale ale is very piney and boasts big grapefruit flavor. Magpie is Belleflower’s flagship brew and I suspect you’ll want to have a couple of these.

Abstract Object Milk Stout by Battery Steele Brewing

After a sea of IPAs, this was a welcome change of pace, featuring rich, dark malts and robust notes of dark chocolate and toffee. This is a decadent brew. The brewery also featured a version of this with Madagascar vanilla that I didn’t get to try.

Assume Positive Intent by Bissell Brothers Brewing

Bissell is the one brewery in Portland that makes me nervous. Not because I’m questioning the beer but because I’m terrified I’ll have to wait in line. I need not have been concerned as its tap room was, honestly, a little quiet. I liked that personally. I dubbed this the beer of the trip very early in the weekend and it may still have come out on top. This is delicious, exploding with tropical citrus flavor in a very drinkable package.

Portals Sour Ale by Definitive Brewing Co.

Another brewery that was new to me, Definitive cranks out a series of sour ales with its Portals series. This sour ale was brewed with Maine Blueberries and the blueberries are basically trying to jump out of the glass this brew is so flavorful. Not too tart, I’d definitely hand this to someone who says they don’t like sours.

Prime IPA by Goodfire Brewing Co.

This is like my dream IPA. It’s hazy, although I wouldn’t call it juicy. I might even call it dry with a fresh, fruity brightness. As the brewery says, this is an “all day kinda beer.”

What’s in my fridge

Glass DDH IPA by Northwoods Brewing Co. (Northwood)
My wife picked this up for me because the fishing-themed label has a fishing “fly” on it. She made the right call, not just because the label is beautifully done. This IPA is bursting with tropical flavor, including pineapple and melon, and finishes a little sweet (in a good way). I wasn’t familiar with this brewery but I will make sure to familiarize myself. Cheers!

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

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