Feat forever

Legendary band returns to New England

Although it took a while for Little Feat to catch on with audiences in the early ’70s, other musicians quickly got their heady gumbo of rock, soul, funk and New Orleans boogie. Its members were frequently booked for session work, none more than keyboard player Bill Payne, whose resume of studio credits runs for multiple pages.

Beginning with Toulouse Street, Payne was a de facto Doobie Brother, and in recent years a part of their touring band, including a just-completed run of shows marking their 50th anniversary. That’s ending soon, however. The band he co-founded in 1969 with Lowell George and Richie Hayward is back on the road, beginning with several dates across the Northeast, including one at Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 19.

“I’m 100 percent Little Feat from here on,” Payne said by phone from his home in Montana recently, adding, “there’s just not enough hours in the day.”

Payne explained that Feat recently signed with Vector Management, a Nashville agency that also works with Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Alison Krauss and Lyle Lovett.

“I want to give them free rein to really promote our band … having a conflict with the Doobie Brothers about when they can tour, that’s not a great way to run a railroad.”

The audience-driven By Request Tour will include new additions Tony Leone on drums and guitar player Scott Sharrard, who joined after Paul Barrere, a member since 1972, lost his battle with cancer. Leone and Sharrard’s quick fit with the band helped convince Payne and his mates Kenny Gradney, Sam Clayton and Fred Tackett that Feat should carry on.

“It’s about music, it’s about legacy, and it’s about musicianship,” Payne said. “Do we harm our legacy by continuing, or do we add to it? If we’re strictly going out and playing ‘Dixie Chicken’ or ‘Oh Atlanta’ or ‘Time Loves a Hero’ — I can do that by going out and joining a Little Feat tribute band.”

Part of moving forward includes making new music.

Released in July, “When All Boats Rise” is a gospel-infused tune that confronts the hope and despair of a fractious nation. Payne came up with the nautical-themed title and handed it to frequent collaborator Tom Garnsey, a songwriter he’s long admired.

“I’ve written songs with [Grateful Dead lyricist] Robert Hunter, for example,” he said. “His lyrics hold up with that caliber of stuff; he’s just excellent.”

The song is a clarion call for harmony in divided times; Payne knows some will greet it cynically.

“There’s a lot of people out there that will go, all boats rise, well, I don’t even have a boat,” he said. “It’s aspirational — liberty and justice for all is what we aspire to, and that’s what we aspire to with ‘All Boats Rise.’”

Fans have submitted a lot of requests for the upcoming tour.

“The Little Feat fan base is obviously a very knowledgeable group,” Payne said. “We’re just going to have to see how many of them we can learn, to be honest with you.”

Some, he added, won’t make the cut, and not for musical reasons, Payne said.

“I think given the state of affairs of the world, ‘The Fan’ is an interesting request, but it’s not exactly a song with a good view of women.” It’s true, the Feats Don’t Fail Me Now track’s misogyny is glaring in hindsight. “Look, we’re not going to sing that, OK? Let’s play some of the music … we’d be in a world of trouble if we actually got up there and sang it.”

Payne is receptive to focusing on Little Feat’s most successful album, the 1978 double live Waiting For Columbus.

“[That’s] been brought up year after year, and I’m like, I don’t know,” he said.

New management, and new blood in the band, however, encourage him.

“The weight of it is you’re going after one of the best albums we ever put out and certainly one of our most well-known. … I think it’s a perfect way to say, ‘Put it right down: the gauntlet has been thrown.’”

Little Feat By Request

When: Friday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m.
Where: Lowell Memorial Auditorium, 50 E. Merrimack St., Lowell
Tickets: $39 to $289 at event.etix.com

Featured photo: Little Feat. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 21/11/11

Local music news & events

Country comfort: A benefit for a Hooksett family struggling with medical bills stars Nicole Knox Murphy, a local singer-songwriter who wears hometown pride on her (record) sleeve. The ubiquitous performer’s “My 603” is a list of reasons she loves the Granite State, from Hampton Beach to Mount Washington Observatory. Last year she released an ode to her Vermont roots, “The 802.” Thursday, Nov. 11, 6 p.m., New England’s Tap House Grille, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, $25, see tinyurl.com/a5r3bktu.

Family business: In the late ’70s and early ’80s Rosanne Cash helped redefine a genre, and she continued to make great music for the next four decades, including 2006’s Black Cadillac, an ode to father Johnny Cash, her natural mother and stepmother June Carter Cash. Cash’s most recent LP, She Remembers Everything, is among her best, and the new song “Crawl Into the Promised Land” is a timely gem. Friday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., Lebanon Opera House, 51 W. Park St., Lebanon, $48 to $68 at lebanonoperahouse.org.

Rock weekend: The two-stage bash formerly known as HillFest is now called SinFest, named after band and co-host Infinite Sin. Headlining the event is Hail The Horns, featuring members of Soulfly, Fear Factory and Static X, along with Dead By Wednesday, Marc Rizzo, Art of Aggression, and local doom rockers Dead Harrison, who recently released the rugged rager “Nameless Dream.” Eleven more acts round out the bill. Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, $18 to $300 at eventbrite.com

Kid stuff: In recent years, bayou soul stalwart Marc Broussard has moved down a different musical path, recording a series of albums geared to younger audiences. His latest, A Lullaby Collection, includes Great American Songbook tunes, James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” and two originals. Broussard also wrote a children’s book, I Love You For You, part of the effort begun in 2007 dubbed SOS, or Save Our Soul. Sunday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $35 to $45 at tupelohall.com.

Roots chanteuse: After spending the early part of her career as Nashville royalty, Kathy Mattea left the music business, returning in the late 2000s with the critically acclaimed Coal. She was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary series and recently began hosting NPR’s Mountain Stage, taking over for founder Larry Groce. Mattea is also a visiting instructor at Berklee College of Music. Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., Jimmy’s, 135 Congress St., Portsmouth, $45 to $65 at jimmysoncongress.com.

Eternals (PG-13)

Eternals (PG-13)

A new group of superheroes assemble in Eternals, a movie introducing a whole new part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And, woo-boy, does this whole new MCU ride come with a lot of backstory and explanation.

The Eternals are super-beings sent to Earth: Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Gilgamesh (Don Lee). They are led by Ajak (Salma Hayak) and they’ve been sent on their Earthly mission by Arishem (voiced by David Kaye), who is the leader of the Celestials. What is a Celestial, you ask, or, heck, what exactly is an Eternal? These characters seem like a work-around for saying “God” and “angels” but, roughly, Celestials are large god-like creatures and Eternals are the angel-ish beings that serve them.

The Eternals arrive on Earth some 5,000 years ago to hunt the Deviants, which look sort of like giant dog-reptile hybrids, if those creatures were made of Play-Doh and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Deviants somehow travel throughout the U of the MCU and seem primarily motivated by the desire to eat humans (or, I guess, whatever is the dominant being on a planet). Arishem has sent his Eternals team to Earth to kill the Deviants and it takes these supernatural, all-powerful beings from the dawn of human history until 1521 to get them all. And then, having fulfilled their task, they just sorta wait around on Earth to be reassigned, living through the back half of the last millennium, not getting involved in humanity’s bad decisions and also not stepping in during the various Avenger-repelled threats to the planet. While their names and some of their stories are woven into human mythology, they’ve never introduced themselves to any other Marvel characters, except maybe Odin and a very young Thor.

In the present day, these Eternals live in various locations across Earth, not communicating much with each other, and experiencing different levels of interaction with humanity. When we catch up with Sersi, she’s a teacher living in London and dating fellow academic Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington), who openly wonders if she’s a wizard, like Dr. Strange. (In this post-Blip world, it seems the Eternals could probably be somewhat more open with their whole situation.)

Her “just an ordinary hot-lady science teacher” cover is blown when a Deviant, the first she’s seen in hundreds of years, shows up and she and Sprite fight it off, with an assist from Ikaris (Sersi’s ex) who shows up all laser eyes and power-of-flight.

The appearance of a Deviant after all these years — and one who seems particularly strong — plus a recent worldwide earthquake lead Sersi, Ikaris and Sprite to search for the other Eternals and try to convince them to saddle up to save humanity.

Ever cleaned up your house right before company gets there? This isn’t a “put things away neatly” clean up, this is a “throw everything into a laundry basket and jam it in a closet” clean up. Then, later, when you pull out the laundry basket you find just a mountain of Stuff: unmatched socks, markers, random Legos, a box of Cheez-Its, a magazine from four months ago, one shoe, at least three important pieces of mail, that thing you were looking for Monday. On the bright side: You find the hoodie you were wearing two weeks ago and it has an unexpected $20 bill in the pocket. Less good: You find your electric bill and it was due yesterday. That is the experience of watching Eternals: two hours and 37 minutes crammed with a lotta Stuff — some of it good, some of it annoying, some of it just random.

In the “unexpected $20” category? There are visual elements — scenes, some of the CGI, some of the costumes and the way Eternals-related visuals are blended into real-world mythology — that are very pretty and grand in that “I am watching a Marvel movie on the big screen” kind of way.

The gang of Eternals includes some very fun characters, specifically Kingo, who has spent the 20th and 21st centuries claiming to be successive generations of a famous Bollywood acting family. He has a sidekick, Karun (Harish Patel), who knows Kingo’s real identity and is helping him shoot a documentary about the Eternals. Kingo is the character who feels most like the heir to the swagger of “I am Iron Man”-era Tony Stark.

Druig’s superpower includes mind control and he’s essentially made himself into a cult leader — seemingly, a benevolent one. It’s an interesting way to examine the “why don’t the Eternals actively help humanity” question but the movie doesn’t spend a lot of time with him.

Two other solid characters we don’t get enough of: Phastos, who has most embraced having a human life and has the movie’s most genuine-seeming romance; and Makkari, who communicates via sign language, which the movie integrates into the story seamlessly, and maybe has a potential romance of her own.

The annoying? As mentioned, this movie is two hours and 37 minutes long and ultimately it doesn’t even give us a complete story. (There are “stay tuned until next time”-y credits scenes, two of them, and they’re worth sticking around for.)

Also as mentioned, there are So Many characters here. It’s one thing to have everybody who’s ever appeared in a Marvel movie show up in the big finale of End Game. Here, we have 10 potential lead or near-lead characters that we’re meeting for the first time. That’s a lot of people to learn their personalities and abilities and relationships enough that their scenes and fights (and possibility of deaths) have some resonance. Often we’re focused on Sersi, Ikarus and Sprite — who are fine but aren’t the most compelling characters of the group. And even though they are arguably the leads, we can’t really get to know them because there is just so much story to get through, so many people to include in each scene.

This movie also jams in a lot more romances than you normally get in a Marvel movie. There are at least two love triangles, three active couples and a few more people who seem to be crushing on each other. Yet most of these romances are slight and bloodless, even by Marvel standards.

As for the random: Arishem and the other Celestials look like giant knock-off Transformers. It heightens the unacknowledged goofiness of some of the Celestials-stuff in this movie.

Eternals is the first Marvel entry in a while that feels more like a scene setting for a more interesting movie than it does a fun time in its own right. I liked some of these characters and want to get to know them more — I just wish I could have done it in this movie. C+

Rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Chloé Zhao with a screenplay by Chloé Zhao & Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo, Eternals is two hours and 37 minutes long and distributed, only in theaters at the moment, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The French Dispatch (R)

Flip through the very Wes Anderson pages of a magazine produced by American expats living in Ennui, France, in The French Dispatch, a very pretty, mostly tasty pastry of a movie.

Or, if A+ lovely, B- yummy petit fours isn’t your thing, think of The French Dispatch as a wind-up music box with multiple compartments and intricate figurines and a slightly tinny song. In both cases, the imperfection is almost part of the charm, like the worn corners of a used coffee table book or a vintage jacket with an artful fading.

The French Dispatch, we’re told in matter-of-fact narration that’s as Wes Anderson as the symmetrical staging and the rhythm of the dialogue, is a weekly magazine that grew out of a Kansas newspaper’s Sunday supplement and that paper’s owner’s son’s desire not to return to Kansas. That man, Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), is indulgent toward his writers, prickly with everyone else, and lives by two pieces of advice: “no crying” and “just try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.”

The movie, which brings to life an issue of the magazine in some fantastical 1960s France where Ennui is an almost Paris-like city, with strikes and student-built barricades and a river named Blasé, features an enormous cast telling four main stories that are presented as articles in the magazine. Making an appearance, with amounts of screentime varying from minutes to enough to probably justify a supporting actor campaign, are: Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Adrian Brody, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Mathieu Amalric and Liev Schreiber. What you might call bit parts are filled in by Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Christoph Waltz, Ed Norton, Willem Dafoe and Saoirse Ronan. My pick for standout actor here would be Jeffrey Wright, playing Roebuck Wright, the magazine’s food writer, who tells the story of his piece while on a very late 1960s talk show.

Melancholy short stories told joyfully and stylishly is how I would describe this odd creation. I don’t know if it’s “good” per se, but it’s definitely enjoyable. I laughed often and felt great affection for the “Mad Men-era reproduction cigarette case holding thick matte business cards” quality of the whole thing. Here’s how you know if this movie is for you: If I said the words “typewriter for sale” and your first thought is “how much?” or “does it come with typewriter ribbon?” or “sold!” this movie is probably for you. It loves typewriters and paper tacked to things and books as a visual element and phones with rotary dials. If when I said “typewriter for sale” you thought “why?” or even “a what?” and if the words “loving mid-century affectation” hold absolutely no charm for you, then — skip. B

Rated R for graphic nudity, some sexual references and language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Wes Anderson, who also wrote the screenplay (with “story by” credits for Anderson & Roman Coppola & Hugo Guinness & Jason Schwartzmann), The French Dispatch is an hour and 48 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The Harder They Fall (R)

Two gangs of outlaws face off over money and old grudges in The Harder They Fall, a smart, funny, electric Western buzzing with strong performances and lyrical writing.

The movie starts with two title cards: “While the events of this movie are fictional…” and “These. People. Existed.” — an explanation that is true in the literal sense (the characters are based on real historical people, according to Wikipedia) and serves as what seems like a statement purpose for the movie: to show Black people as part of the history of the West, despite their absence from classic movie Westerns.

After an Inglourious Basterds-type intro set more than a decade before the principal action and then a scene featuring the first of the movie’s many one-on-one quick-draw gunfights, we get a top-notch credit sequence that introduces the main characters and the movie’s rival gangs. Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), a man who saw his family murdered as a child, leads a gang that robs bank robbers. He is also on a mission to hunt down the men responsible for his parents’ slayings. Nat’s team includes Jim Beckworth (RJ Cyler), a gunslinger very protective of his reputation for being the fastest draw, and Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) as well as, eventually, Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), Nat’s saloon-owning ex, and her gunslinger Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler). Beckworth and Pickett learn they’ve inadvertently stolen money meant for Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), leader of his own gang of thieves and gunslingers including Trudy Smith (the always wonderful Regina King) and reputed fastest-gun Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield). Rufus Buck has been in prison but is, er, let’s just say, out now. He heads to Redwood City, a town whose future is in question due to the double-dealing of Escoe (Deon Cole), a former associate of Rufus’. Rufus needed the stolen money to shore up his hold on Redwood.

Rufus wants the money Nat stole, Nat wants Rufus — the last living man involved in his parents’ deaths. And then there’s Marshal Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), a U.S. Marshal who doesn’t appreciate the terms of the end of Buck’s prison sentence. He is looking to take down Rufus.

The aesthetics of this movie are note-perfect. The look of this movie is crisp — not cartoony, not quite real, but just spot on at all times with a laugh-out-loud bit of set design brilliance in the middle of the movie. The score and soundtrack are equally sharp, with a style that blends hip-hop, reggae, classic Western riffs, gospel and, I don’t know, awesomeness. This movie knows what it wants to be and all the elements of it serve the story and the tone with impressive exactness.

Likewise, The Harder They Fall features spot-on performances. Everybody seems to understand what they’re doing, what the movie needs them to do and how to walk the line between the high theatrics of the action and the dialogue (which has a really lovely quality that balances what you might think of as “Western” with an almost song-lyric-poetic element — all stylized in just the right way) and creating characters with layers and emotional lives. Of course King and Elba are great and fun and great fun but so are Beetz, Majors, Lindo and Stanfield. Everybody makes the most of what the movie gives them.

As we get into the thick of Big Movie Season, The Harder They Fall feels like the kind of movie that could get lost in theatrical releases. But this smart, highly entertaining Western is worth seeking out. A

Rated R for strong violence and language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Jeymes Samuel with a screenplay by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yankin, The Harder They Fall is two hours and 10 minutes long and distributed by Netflix, where it is streaming.

FILM

Venues

The Flying Monkey
39 Main St., Plymouth
536-2551, flyingmonkeynh.com

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

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

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

Shows

The Big Parade (1925), a silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey. Tickets start at $10.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), a silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre in Keene (thecolonial.org). Tickets $15 (free for veterans).

Spencer (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord Friday, Nov. 12, through Sunday, Nov. 14, at 1, 4 & 7 p.m.

The French Dispatch (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres Friday, Nov. 12, through Sunday, Nov. 14, at 1:30, 4:30 & 7:30 p.m.

Gojira (1954) the Japanese-language kaiju film introducing Godzilla, will screen with subtitles at Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Friday, Nov. 12, and Saturday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) will screen at Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Friday, Nov. 12, and Saturday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

The Littlest Rebel (1935) starring Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, will screen at Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m.

Hot Water (1924) starring Harold Lloyd, a silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Admission free; $10 donation suggested.

Sunflowers (2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m.

Warren Miller’s Winter Starts Now at The Music Hall, Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 and 9 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 20, at 4 & 7 p.m. Tickets start at $28.

Featured photo: Eternals. Courtesy photo.

Truffle Hound, by Rowan Jacobsen

Truffle Hound, by Rowan Jacobsen (Bloomsbury, 283 pages)

You may think, because you’ve never eaten a truffle nor been interested in doing so, that you would have no interest in reading about this delicacy of the 1 percent, who pay upwards of $200 an ounce for bulbous underground fungi.

But you would be wrong.

In the hands of celebrated food writer Rowan Jacobsen, Truffle Hound is a joyful romp through a very strange world, no less interesting for those who care nothing about truffles, or who only care about the chocolate kind. In fact, the book may be even more fascinating to readers who come to it with only a vague knowledge of truffles and why people love them so much.

Jacobsen, who lives in Vermont, was once that person, despite being part of an enviable club: writers who write primarily about food. (His previous books have included deep dives into oysters and apples.) He had consumed truffle fries, truffle salt and other truffle dishes with no particular interest, but one day, at a meeting in Italy, he encountered a small fat truffle, a “bulbous pearl” under glass, that made his world explode.

“I have smelled lots of yumminess before, but this was different,” he writes. “… It was hardly a food scent at all. It was more like catching a glimpse of a satyr prancing across the dining room floor while playing its flute and flashing its hindquarters at you. You think, What the hell was that?”

Jacobsen returned to his table but couldn’t stop thinking about what he had just experienced. “I kept asking my dining companions if they wanted to go smell the truffle,” he writes. Mind you, this reaction arose from the most humble of organisms: a fungus with very little taste and a lumpy shape that is considered delicious by wild pigs. And yet it has inspired kings, philosophers and even Oprah Winfrey, who reportedly carries her own stash of white truffles with her when she travels.

Like William Butler Yeats, who wrote that “Love has pitched his mansion in the place of excrement,” Jacobsen considers the idea that truffle mania is Mother Nature’s joke: “I began to wonder if [truffles] were more like little Trojan horses, wheeled into the finest dining rooms in the world, only to discharge a scent that mocked civilization and its trappings.”

But he quickly throws that thought aside to travel the world in search of the finest truffles and the people and dogs who find them. His quest takes him to forests in Italy, and to an oddly productive truffle farm in North Carolina. Along the way he encounters a fascinating trove of characters, such as the “hotshot in food media circles” (whom, annoyingly, he grants anonymity) who once worked as a truffle dealer in New York City. She’d go to the airport to pick up a box of about 30 pounds of truffles that had been shipped overnight from Europe (the intoxicating scent fades rapidly) and then try to sell them to the city’s most famous chefs. One day, between calls, she bought a warm bagel and took a few truffle shards out of her cooler and grated them on it. “That may have been the best thing I ever ate,” she told Jacobsen.

In anecdotes like this we learn the important stuff about truffles (they require their own specialty utensil, the truffle shaver) and that the truffle oil you see in grocery stores and restaurants most likely contains no actual truffles but is olive oil infused with a truffle-like scent. Also, be careful if you are vacationing in Italy and are offered the opportunity to go on a truffle hunt: Chances are the experience is about as authentic as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disney. Cheap truffles are often planted so that customers can get the thrill of seeing a truffle dog “find” one of these homely edible jewels.

About the only question that Jacobsen doesn’t answer about truffles is whether you can legally bring them into the U.S. He confesses that, having spent upwards of 300 euros for three small white truffles (a transaction conducted surreptitiously in a hotel lobby, like a drug deal), he dared not declare them to the customs agent. “Raw fruit, vegetables, and meat are definitely banned, as is soil, but fungi are theoretically fine,” but still, he stuffed his truffle in a sock stuffed in a boot, which seems the sort of thing that can get you detained.

Like the author and naturalist Diane Ackerman, Jacobsen brings the eye of a scientist and the voice of a poet to his work, which is the main reason that this book is so engrossing. Could it have been 50 pages shorter and still as interesting? Absolutely, and it doesn’t leave the reader wanting more; there is really only so much truffle information that the mind can hold.

But for the truly insatiable, there’s an index of resources (websites where you can buy truffles, find authentic truffle hunts and international truffle fairs, and even where you can buy your very own trained truffle dog). There are also a few truffle recipes and a really nice collection of color photographs so you can see what Jacobsen is writing about.

The only thing that’s missing is a scratch-and-sniff page, and a warning that you, too, might become a truffle hound after accompanying the author on this pleasurable hunt. A


Book Notes

New Hampshire runner Ben True has been in the news a lot lately because of his debut in the New York City Marathon Nov. 7. So why mention this in a book column?

It’s because True and his wife, Sarah, a professional triathlete, named their first child after a character in a novel.

As Runner’s World magazine reported, the Hanover couple named their son, born in July, Haakon (pronounced HAWK-en). The name is a derivative of Hakan, the name of the protagonist in a novel by Hernan Diaz, In the Distance (Coffee House Press, 240 pages).

Independent of its plot, the book has a fascinating origin story. It was the author’s first book, and he broke all the rules by submitting it to a small publishing house without first obtaining an agent. But the novel got a glowing review from The New York Times and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

With that sort of reception, it’s no surprise that Diaz has already sold a second novel, Trust, which won’t be released until May but is already available for pre-order on Amazon. This time he snared a big publisher: Riverhead. If the Trues have another child and follow their Diaz-naming tradition, it looks like their next choices will be more common: the main characters are Benjamin and Helen.

Meanwhile there’s a new book out that examines a sport of special interest in New Hampshire: skiing. Powder Days by Heather Hansman (Hanover Square Press, 272 pages) examines “ski bums, ski towns and the future of chasing snow.” A review in Publishers Weekly calls it “as exhilarating as the act of skiing itself.”

Book Events

Author events

KEN FOLLETT Author presents Never. Virtual event with author discussion and audience Q&A, hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Sun., Nov. 14, 1 p.m. Tickets cost $36 and include a book for in-person pickup at The Music Hall. Visit themusichall.org or call 436-2400.

HILARY CROWLEY Author presents The Power of Energy Medicine. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Thurs., Nov. 18, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

WENDY GORTON Author presents 50 Hikes with Kids: New England. Virtual event hosted by Toadstool Bookshops of Peterborough, Nashua and Keene. Sun., Nov. 21, 4 p.m. Via Zoom. Visit toadbooks.com.

TANJA HESTER Author presents Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Mon., Nov. 22, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

BRENE BROWN Author presents Atlas of the Heart. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Thurs., Dec. 2, 8 p.m. Via Zoom. Tickets cost $30. Ticket sales end Dec. 2, at noon. Visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.

JACK DALTON Kid conservationist presents his book, Kawan the Orangutan: Lost in the Rainforest. Toadstool Bookshop, 375 Amherst St., Nashua. Sat., Dec. 4, noon. Visit toadbooks.com.

DAMIEN KANE RIDGEN Author presents Bell’s Codex and My Magnum Opus. Toadstool Bookshop, 375 Amherst St., Nashua. Sun., Dec. 5, noon. Visit toadbooks.com.

KATHRYN HULICKAuthor presents Welcome to the Future. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Toadstool Bookshop, 12 Depot Square, Peterborough. Visit toadbooks.com.

Poetry

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

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit bookerymht.com/online-book-club 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.

Language

FRENCH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE CLASSES Offered remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week session with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $225. Visit facnh.com/education or call 623-1093.

Album Reviews 21/11/11

Delv!s, Walk Alone Tracks (Because Music)

Three-song EP from Belgian singer-songwriter Niels Delvaux, meant as a teaser for a full-length LP that’s due out in early 2022. All the promotional materials I received on this release were in broken English; I’m sure the PR guy — a top-level pro with whom I’ve dealt for like a million years now — had some nasty back-and-forth with the artiste and came away swearing a lot, but my concern here is, of course, to find something innovative somewhere in this neo-soul record. First, I had to get past the fact that the title track opener is so dangerously close to Albert Hammond’s 1973 radio hit “It Never Rains In Southern California” that if you hummed it into Siri, even she would suggest suing Delvaux for copyright infringement, and second, there’s nothing “neo” about this soul. Oh whatever, it gets kind of rub-a-dubby, which worked; it should have been a reggae song in the first place. Same for “Rebelman,” which is basically “Stir It Up” in a fake moustache. It’s lo-fi and pleasant enough; let’s just leave it at that. B-

East Forest, A Soundtrack For The Psychedelic Practitioner, VOL. I (Aquilo Records)

Odd coincidence, if you look at today’s Playlist section, I mentioned Jon Hopkins, a soundcaper who collaborated with guru and American spiritual teacher Ram Dass. This guy, East Forest, whose real name is Trevor Oswalt, released a similar album in 2019, appropriately titled Ram Dass, which featured Dass’s last teachings. Prior to that, Forest’s (also 2019-released) Music For Mushrooms: A Soundtrack For The Psychedelic Practitioner, made headlines by hitting No. 1 on the iTunes New Age chart and being included as a go-to listen in the “psychedelic-assisted therapy and research movement.” You know me by now, so you know that all this business is flooding my head with wiseass comments about people dressed for Himalayan expeditions riding on the backs of yaks, but it is what it is, and besides, there’s a movement these days pushing psychedelics as a way to relieve people’s psychic ills through chemistry, so I say whatever floats your boat, being that pretty much everyone is dealing with massive amounts of existential angst these days. Anyway, this is a collection of floaty/glittery background pieces for TED Talks (“Cloud Gaze”), and sometimes they get weird (“Slip Slope (Octopus Spaghetti Pants)”). Think freakiest-possible Tangerine Dream and you’re there; it’s listenable enough. B

PLAYLIST

• No turning back now, gang, we’re looking at the slate of new albums coming out Nov. 12, there’s no escape, winter is here. It’s the favorite time of the year for people who enjoy scraping frost off car windshields when they’re already late for work or whatever, so congratulations if speed-scraping is your jam. But whatever, look, it’s British dude Jon Hopkins with his new album, Music For Psychedelic Therapy, a record that will be in stores on the 12th. Hopkins used to play keyboards for technopop lady Imogen Heap, which of course you already know if you’re one of the five people who actually ever read the insert of an Imogen Heap CD. But that’s neither here nor there, and besides, Hopkins has been making his own records for 19 years now and deserves your respect, so let the strains of lead single “Sit Around The Fire” play. It is a sleepy ambient song for yoga classes, but there’s a lot of talking over it, by — I assume — Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, who was more commonly known as Baba Ram Dass! While all the cloudy happy music is going on, you’ll hear messages of love and contentment and awakening and other impossible nonsense from this fellow Ram Dass! OK!

• San Francisco indie-rock duo The Dodos, comprising Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, will release its 8th album, Grizzly Peak, this week! One of the guys is “a student of West African Ewe drumming and intricate blues fingerpicking guitar,’ while the other “hails from a background in heavy metal bands.” I’ve heard of these guys before and may have even talked about them in the past, but I don’t remember, so I’ll pretend that I’ve never heard their music before instead of going with my first guess, that I’ve heard them before and they bored me into a semiconscious state from which I may have never recovered. OK, OK, just forget it, I’m so toxic right now, let’s just get this over with and find out what these guys are even doing, to cement their rock ’n’ roll legacy. I’m now listening to the band’s new single, “The Surface,” and my stars, listen to how quirky it is! Acoustic guitar strumming, a singer with bad adenoids, then they sort of rock out a little on acoustic guitar. Think Simon and Garfunkel except redundant and unnecessary; that is to say, Vampire Weekend meets the Everly Brothers or some such. I predict that this album will not conquer the world, but I was wrong about something a few years ago, so who knows.

• Oh great, it’s Damon Albarn, the frontman of oi-pop band Blur, with a solo album, called The Nearer The Fountain More Pure The Stream Flows, and it’s on its way right now! Wow, what a ripoff, it’s not bouncy or punky or crazy like Blur’s “Song 2,” it’s like really mellow Coldplay. Who knew that the guy who sang “Song 2” could sound like Chris Martin, you know? This is like lullaby music for Zoomers, but since no Zoomers know who this guy is, they’ll never have the pleasure. I don’t even know why he did this, good lord, let’s just do one more here and call it a column.

• Finally, we have Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo with his 14th album, In Virus Times. There’s just an excerpt available now, a video where he’s drawing weird pictures while a pretty decent acoustic guitar arpeggio does stuff. And then he’s whistling, because there hasn’t been a good whistle song since the theme to The Andy Griffith Show. Oh, I get it, he’s selling prints of his weird drawings; they look like they were done using a Spirograph. So arty!

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).

Classic meal, new wines

What to drink with your turkey and pie

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! It seems like yesterday we were looking for cool white wines and enjoying spritzers in the back yard. The days may be getting cooler and shorter but that shouldn’t dampen our spirits. The holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, a time to get together with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for our health and bounty. In addition to high school football games, the day is focused on “the big meal,” which may last several hours. The food is hearty and certainly diverse, starting with appetizers, moving on to the main meal of roast turkey with multiple side dishes, ending in what may seem like a dozen different pies.

The Thanksgiving menu can be challenging when it comes to pairing the right wine to go with each course. A familiar response to this question is, “a white wine, of course.” That response covers a lot of territory! Many will pick a white sparkling wine, while others may opt for a light dry rosé. A chardonnay is often suggested, as the slight creaminess pairs well with roast turkey. Another option is a pinot noir. This red may have bright berry notes to it. It will not overpower the turkey while complementing the wide range of side dishes.

For this Thanksgiving I have selected a California chardonnay and two French wines, one from the Loire River valley, the other from the northern reaches of Beaujolais.

Our first wine, the 2016 Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (originally priced at $29.99, and reduced to $12.49 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets), is a perfect chardonnay to pair with the main course. Coming from the southwestern corner of the Alexander Valley, the vineyard of Roger and Carmen Stuhlmuller was planted in the 1970s with top-quality vines. The slight rise above the banks of the Russian River of gravel, clay and volcanic soils, along with cool nighttime temperatures, produces fruit that is rich with complex flavors and good acidity. With a color of golden straw and a nose of fresh pear and apple, it develops on the palate with notes of spicy pear and nectarine, along with some minerality from the soils and a touch of the oak from barrel aging. The finish is long and complex with a slight touch of acidity, perfect for pairing to the main course.

Our second wine, the 2017 Château de Fesles Chenin Sec (originally priced at $59.99, and reduced to $21.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets), comes from the Anjou region of the Loire River Valley of France. This wine is a slight departure from the usual recommendations for the Thanksgiving feast. The color is straw that somehow has a sparkle even though it is a still wine. It has a floral nose of citric blossoms that transform to the palate with dried fruit, honey and toasted bread. This is a wine that can pair with appetizers of cheese or smoked salmon or the creaminess of a New England Clam Chowder. While it’s hardly mainstream, if enough of us try it and ask for it, the State may stock more of this Anjou varietal.

Our third wine, the 2018 Domaine Laurent Gauthier Chiroubles Chatenay Vieilles Vignes (originally priced at $41.99, and reduced to $16.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets), comes from the northern edge of the Beaujolais region of France. This wine is produced from gamay noir grapes just as Beaujolais is, but coming from the northern edge of the region the wine benefits from the similar terroir, its soils and climate, as the rich red burgundies we all love. The color is a rich garnet, with purple tints. The nose is floral, with notes of dark cherry, along with some minerality generated by the soils of the region. The palate is light, but satisfying with plenty of fruit, with a long finish. This is a welcome alternative to a familiar pinot noir!

For this Thanksgiving, offer your family and friends some alternative wines, something new to explore. These wines are but a sampling of the many options to expand our experiences with wine and food.

Featured photo: Courtesy Photo.

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