Music this week – 21/12/16

Thursday, Dec. 16


Auburn Pitts: open mic jam, 6:30 p.m.


Copper Door: Jodee Frawlee, 7 p.m.


Alamo: Jordan Quinn, 4:30 p.m.

Hermanos: Ken Clark, 6:30 p.m.


Fody’s: DJ Rich Karaoke Party, 9:30 p.m.


Telly’s: Chris Fraga, 7 p.m.


Sawbelly: Taylor Duo, 5 p.m.


Village Trestle: Jonny Friday, 6 p.m.


CR’s: Just the Two of Us, 6 p.m.

Whym: music bingo, 6 p.m.


Lynn’s 102: karaoke w/ George Bisson, 8 p.m.


Saddle Up Saloon: karaoke with DJ Jason, 7 p.m.


603 Brewery: 5th Annual Ugly Sweater Party, 5 p.m.

Stumble Inn: D-Comp, 7 p.m.


Angel City: open mic w/ Jonny Friday, 8 p.m.

Currier: Charlie Chronopoulos, 5 p.m.

Fratello’s: Dave Zangri, 5:30 p.m.

KC’s: Joe McDonald, 6 p.m.

Strange Brew: Peter Higgins, 8 p.m.


Giuseppe’s: Joel Cage, 6 p.m.


Homestead: Malcolm Salls, 5:30 p.m.


Stonecutters: Blues Therapy, 8 p.m.


Fody’s: DJ Rich Karaoke, 9:30 p.m.

Fratello’s: Justin Jordan, 5:30 p.m.

Stone Social: Throwback live music, 4 p.m.


Boonedoxz: music bingo, 6:30 p.m.


The Goat: Isaiah Bennett, 9 p.m.


Copper Door: Jon-Paul Royer, 7 p.m.


Red’s: Beau Dalleo, 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 17


Auburn Pitts: Two for the Road, 7 p.m.


Alamo: Ramez Gurung, 4:30 p.m.


Area 23: Blue Light Rain, 8 p.m.


Lazy Lion: live music, 7 p.m.


Telly’s: Chris Perkins, 8 p.m.


Sawbelly: Tim Parent, 5 p.m.


Village Trestle: Yamica and Nate, 6 p.m.


CR’s: Dogfathers, 6 p.m.

The Goat: Alex Anthony, 8 p.m.

North Beach Bar: Radio Active, 8 p.m.

Wally’s: Pop Disaster, 9 p.m.


Lynn’s 102: karaoke w/ George Bisson, 8 p.m.


Coach Stop: Justin Jordan, 6 p.m.

Stumble Inn: Almost Famous, 8 p.m.


Angel City: Rock Junkies, 9 p.m.

Backyard Brewery: Brien Sweet, 6 p.m.

Bonfire: Martin and Kelly, 7 p.m.

Derryfield: Eric Grant, 8 p.m.

The Foundry: Andrew Geano, 6 p.m.

Fratello’s: Rick Watson, 6 p.m.

Murphy’s: Chris Taylor & Mark Fitzpatrick, 9:30 p.m.

Shorty’s: Kevin Laurecelle, 5:30 p.m.

Strange Brew: Lisa Marie, 8 p.m.


Giuseppe’s: Michael Bourgeois, 5:45 p.m.

Twin Barns: Amanda Adams, 5 p.m.


Homestead: Chris Gardner, 6 p.m.


Pasta Loft: Not Fade Away, 9 p.m.


Fratello’s: Josh Foster, 6 p.m.

Peddler’s Daughter: Stone Road Band, 9:30 p.m.

Shorty’s: Lou Antonucci, 5:30 p.m.

New Boston

Molly’s: Peter Pappas, 7 p.m.


Stone Church: Naya Rockers, 8 p.m.


Boonedoxz Pub: karaoke night, 7 p.m.


Gas Light: Ralph Allen, 9:30 p.m.

The Goat: Chris Toler, 9 p.m.

Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues: Brubeck Brothers Quartet, 7:30 p.m.

Thirsty Moose: Cover Story, 9 p.m.


Red’s: Walk the Walk, 7 p.m.


Tailgate Tavern: Douglas James, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 18

Alton Bay

Dockside: Tim T, 8 p.m.


Auburn Pitts: NKM, 7 p.m.


Chen Yang Li: Josh Foster, 7 p.m.


Alamo: Chris Perkins, 4:30 p.m.


Area 23: Bluegrass with Ross Arnold, 2 p.m.; R&B Dignity, 8 p.m.

Concord Craft Brewing: Kimayo, 3 p.m.

Hermanos: Matt Poirier, 7 p.m.

Penuche’s: The ODB Project, 7 p.m.


Contoocook Cider Co.: Josh Foster, 1 p.m.


Lazy Lion: live music, 5 p.m.


Telly’s: Jonny Friday, 8 p.m.


Fody’s: Doug Flood, 8 p.m.


Sawbelly: Chad Verbeck, 1 p.m.


Village Trestle: Gardner Berry, 6 p.m.


The Goat: Brooks Hubbard, 9 p.m.

North Beach Bar: Groove Cats, 7 p.m.

Wally’s: Woodland Protocol, 9 p.m.

Whym: Rebecca Turmel, 6:30 p.m.


Colby Hill Inn: Justin Cohn, 3:30 p.m.


Lynn’s 102: Off the Record, 8 p.m.


Saddle Up Saloon: Down Cellar, 8 p.m.


Tower Hill Tavern: karaoke w/ DJ Tim, 8 p.m.


Coach Stop: Dave Zangri, 6 p.m.

Stumble Inn: Kevin Laurencelle, 3 p.m.


Backyard Brewery: Amanda Adams, 6 p.m.

Derryfield: D-Comp, 8 p.m.

The Foundry: Ryan Williamson, 6 p.m.

Fratello’s: Joanie Cicatelli,6 p.m.

Great North Aleworks: Paul Driscoll, 4 p.m.

Strange Brew: Mica’s Groove Train, 9 p.m.


Giuseppe’s: Andre’ Balazs, 5:45 p.m.


Homestead: Justin Jordan, 6 p.m.


Fody’s: Jessica Olson Duo, 9:30 p.m.

Fratello’s: Johnny Angel, 6 p.m.

Liquid Therapy: Dylan Doyle, 6 p.m.

Millyard Brewery: live music, 5 p.m.

The Peddler’s Daughter: Best Not Broken, 9:30 p.m.; Mockingbirds, 9:30 p.m.

New Boston

Molly’s Tavern: Little King, 7 p.m.


Stone Church: Way Up South Band, 8 p.m.


Boonedoxz: live music, 7 p.m.


Gas Light: Jordan Quinn, 9:30 p.m.

Goat: Mike Forgette, 9 p.m.

Thirsty Moose: Holly Heist, 9 p.m.; LU, 9 p.m.


Mitchell Hill: Max Sullivan, 6 p.m.


Red’s: Francoix Simard, 8 p.m.


Speakeasy: karaoke, 7 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 19

Alton Bay

Dockside: Mike Laughlin, 4 p.m.


Copper Door: Phil Jakes, 11 a.m.


Alamo: Justin Jordan, 4:30 p.m.


Flannel Tavern: Tequila Jim, 4 p.m.


Cider Co.: Karen Grenier, 1 p.m.


Sunrise: Chris O’Neill, 11 a.m.


Village Trestle: Amberly and Dave Guilmette, 3:30 p.m.


CR’s: John Irish, 4 p.m.

Whym: Max Sullivan, noon


Saddle Up: video music bingo, 5 p.m.


The Goat: Mike Forgette, 10 a.m.

Strange Brew: jam, 7 p.m.


Millyard: live music, 5 p.m.

Peddler’s Daughter: Best Not Broken, 9 p.m.

Stella Blu: The Incidentals, 4 p.m.


Boonedoxz Pub: open mic, 4 p.m.


The Goat: Rob Pagnano, 9 p.m.


Copper Door: Jimmy Zaroulis, 11 a.m.


Red’s: Pete Peterson, 8 p.m.


Reed’s North: Clint Trudeau, 4 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 20


The Bar: karaoke with Phil


Patrick’s: open mic, 6 p.m.


Stumble Inn: Lisa Guyer, 7 p.m.


Fratello’s: Phil Jakes, 5:30 p.m.

The Goat: live band karaoke, 8 p.m.


Homestead: Doug Thompson, 5:30 p.m.


Fody’s: karaoke night, 9:30 p.m.

Fratello’s: Chris Cavanaugh, 5:30 p.m.


The Goat: Musical Bingo Nation, 7 p.m.; Alex Anthony, 9 p.m.

Press Room: open mic, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec 21


Hermanos: Kid Pinky, 6:30 p.m.

Tandy’s: open mic night, 8 p.m.


Shane’s: music bingo, 7 p.m.

Wally’s: Musical Bingo Nation, 7 p.m.


Saddle Up Saloon: line dancing, 7 p.m.


Fratello’s: Clint Lapointe, 5:30 p.m.

The Goat: Rob Pagnano, 9 p.m.

KC’s Rib Shack: Paul & Nate open mic, 7 p.m.

Strange Brew: David Rousseau, 7 p.m.


Homestead: Austin McCarthy, 5:30 p.m.


Fratello’s: Phil Jakes, 5:30 p.m.


The Goat: Isaiah Bennett, 9 p.m.


Tailgate Tavern: Musical Bingo Nation, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 22


Alamo: Ralph Allen, 4:30 p.m.


Area 23: open mic night, 7 p.m.

Hermanos: Kid Pinky, 6:30 p.m.

Tandy’s: karaoke, 8 p.m.


Bogie’s: open mic, 7 p.m.

Wally’s: Chris Toler, 7 p.m.


Lynn’s 102: Second Take, 7 p.m.


Saddle Up Saloon: Musical Bingo Nation, 7 p.m.


Fratello’s: Jodee Frawlee, 5:30 p.m.

The Goat: country line dancing, 7 p.m.

Stark Brewing: Cox Karaoke, 8 p.m.

Strange Brew: Howard & Mike’s Acoustic Jam, 8 p.m.


Homestead: Sean Coleman, 5:30 p.m.


Stonecutters Pub: open mic, 8 p.m.


Fratello’s: Dave Zangri, 5:30 p.m.


Stone Church: The Double Crossers, 7 p.m.


The Goat: Alex Anthony, 9 p.m.


Porter’s: karaoke night, 6:30 p.m.


Red’s: Chris Lester, 7 p.m.


Speakeasy: open mic night, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 23


Copper Door: Lou Antonucci, 7 p.m.


Alamo: Jordan Quinn, 4:30 p.m.


Area 23: Karaoke with DJ Dicey, 8 p.m.

Hermanos: Paul Hubert, 6:30 p.m.


Fody’s: music bingo, 8 p.m.


Telly’s: Alex Roy, 7 p.m.


Village Trestle: Brian James, 6 p.m.


CR’s: Barry Brearly, 6 p.m.

Whym: music bingo, 6 p.m.


Lynn’s 102: karaoke w/ George Bisson, 8 p.m.


Saddle Up Saloon: karaoke with DJ Jason, 7 p.m.


Stumble Inn: Mugsy Duo, 7 p.m.


Currier: Alli Beaudry, 5 p.m.

Fratello’s: Paul Lussier, 5:30 p.m.

KC’s: Pete Peterson, 6 p.m.

Strange Brew: Peter Higgins, 8 p.m.


Homestead: Justin Cohn, 5:30 p.m.


Stonecutters Pub: Blues Therapy, 8 p.m.


Fody’s: DJ Rich Karaoke, 9:30 p.m.

Fratello’s: Clint Lapointe, 5:30 p.m.


Boonedoxz Pub: music bingo, 6:30 p.m.


Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues: live music, 7:30 p.m.


Copper Door: Chad LaMarsh, 7 p.m.


Red’s: Francoix Simard, 7 p.m.

Rock the halls

Gift ideas for music fans

Books, box sets, baubles, even bespoke action figures are all good ways to make the music fan in your life feel special — and if those don’t do it, there’s always concert tickets. Here are some gifts that are sure to provoke a positive response.

Keep the holiday spirit alive all year with singer, songwriter and artist Dan Blakeslee & the Calabash Club’s joyful album, Christmasland Jubilee, available in a deluxe green and gold accented splattered vinyl edition that includes a silkscreened jacket, lyric book and original sketches from the New England treasure, who frequently performs in the Granite State.

Liz Bills poster

Celebrate multiple New England Music Award nominee Liz Bills by purchasing her latest CD, Liz Bills & The Change, or grabbing a ’60s themed poster marking the same release.

Sepsiss took home their second NEMA in October, for Hard Rock/Metal Act of the Year. The New Hampshire rockers are ace branders as well, with a merch store offering puzzles, dog tags, red starred socks, stickers and even a signed Polaroid, along with T-shirts and caps. One of the best items is a fleece blanket with the image of lead singer Melissa Wolfe.

Not content with doing standup comedy and performing power pop with his band Donaher, Nick Lavallee began crafting made-to-order action figures of cultural icons a while back, including a dual set with Chance the Rapper and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Tom Hanks in his Castaway role, Tenacious D and the priceless Mahket Basket clerk (actually $65). See pics on Instagram @wickedjoyful or purchase at

Made-to-order action figure

Peter Jackson’s mammoth documentary Get Back had Beatles fans atwitter over Thanksgiving; some loved it, others were put off by its eight-hour length. For fans, there’s a deluxe vinyl box set of the Let It Be album that includes all the superior Glyn Johns mixes, or a Get Back coffee table book. For brevity lovers, it’s perhaps a better idea to grab a pair of tickets to watch Ringo Starr & His All-Starr band open Bank of NH Pavilion’s 2022 concert season on June 4.

For the concert fan who can’t decide, there’s always the gift card option. Many area venues offer them, including Tupelo Music Hall. The Derry venue has upcoming shows from Marc Cohn, The Alarm, Rick Springfield, Tower of Power and ex-Eagle Don Felder, along with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, so it will surely get spent.

Rock Concert

Supply chain problems preclude anyone from having the 30th-anniversary box set of Nirvana’s earth-shattering Nevermind on vinyl until next May, so if preordering won’t work, there’s a five-CD version with the remastered album and complete recordings of four concerts, as well as a Blu-ray disc of the HD Live in Amsterdam video, and a 40-page hardcover book.

Speaking of books, several fine reads for the rock fan were published this year, including Rock Concert by Marc Myers, an oral history with memories from artists, fans and industry figures. It’s packed with fun facts, such as that the first stadium concert was promoted by Kay Wheeler, the teenage president of Elvis Presley’s fan club. Her letter writing campaign in 1956 managed to fill the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

For the classic rock fan, Hollywood Eden by Joel Selvin traces the roots of the 1960s California Sound to University High School in Los Angeles, where teens like Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean spent their days in classes and their nights making hit records. It includes the bizarre story of a plot to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr. to revive a flagging career.

At the intersection of rock and fantasy, Z2 Comics offers graphic novels based on music from artists from All Time Low to Yungblud. Among the best are one that combines the I Love Rock and Roll and Bad Reputation albums by Joan Jett into one book, and another based on Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance. The latter comes in a $500 deluxe version.

Featured photo: Dan Blakeslee vinyl. Courtesy image.

The Music Roundup 21/12/16

Local music news & events

Holiday cheer: Hosting its annual benefit show, the Uncle Steve Band is a friendly combo whose audience was once described as consisting of “old hippies, college kids, families with young children, and everyone else.” Featuring fiddle and harmonica, they lead with a country rock vibe, though a recent original, “To Be In Love Alone,” has a soulful groove. Proceeds from the event go to Bristol Community Services. Thursday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m., Kathleen’s Irish Pub, 90 Lake St., Bristol. Admission $10 at the door.

Winter party: A mini-festival starring Grammy-nominated mandolin player Matt Flinner and roots band Low Lily marks the solstice — what optimists term the turn towards spring. Possessing a wide-ranging style that’s found him working with Leftover Salmon, Steve Martin, Modern Mandolin Quartet and others, Flinner was called “the most exciting and creative mandolin player on the scene today” by Jazz Times. Friday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, $23 at

Guitar heroes: Three veteran guitarists team up for Masters of the Telecaster, a trio devoted to the Fender-forward music of Roy Buchanan, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and others. The show stars G.E. Smith, known for his time in the SNL Band and stints with Hall & Oates and Roger Waters; Jim Weider, who stepped in for Robbie Robertson in The Band; and Jon Herington, who currently tours with Steely Dan. Saturday, Dec. 18, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $35 and $40 at

Groovy time: Six-piece funk fusion powerhouse Mica’s Groove Train returns to a music-friendly downtown tap room and restaurant. Led by Yamica Peterson, a soulful singer and keyboard player with a voice that can lift a crowd from its chairs and onto the dance floor, the band made a splash in the early 2010s before taking a multi-year hiatus. Back and busy, the band leads with a solid catalog of original songs. Saturday, Dec. 18, 8 p.m., Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., Manchester. See

Sunday fun: Enjoy afternoon tapas and music from The Incidentals, a quartet whose repertoire ranges from Sinatra to the Ramones. It’s not clear if that includes a punk rock version of “My Way,” though perhaps — Sid Vicious covered that song once upon a time. The restaurant is renowned for its inventive sharable small plates and a cocktail bar that extends the Grateful Dead theme with a grapefruit-flavored Sugar Magnolia martini. Sunday, Dec. 19, 4 p.m., Stella Blu, 70 East Pearl St., Nashua,

On Animals, by Susan Orlean

On Animals, by Susan Orlean (Avid Reader Press, 237 pages)

Susan Orlean had me at “Shiftless Little Loafers,” her 1996 essay in The New Yorker in which she bemoaned how little babies do to earn their keep.

But then she lost me. I’ve not kept up with Orlean’s work, even as she grew in fame and output. I didn’t read The Orchid Thief in 1998or The Library Book in 2018, and didn’t even know about Red Sox and Bluefish, a 1987 paperback collection of Boston Globe columns on “Things that Make New England New England.”)

My bad.

After reading On Animals, I’ve repented of Orlean negligence and vowed to catch up, even though her new book is the type that generally irritates me: one composed almost entirely of previously published works. These essays were originally published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Smithsonian magazine, and they’re introduced under the unifying umbrella of a 2011 Amazon Kindle Original.

Normally there’s one suitable response to pre-published essays released in book form just before the holiday season: pffft. As in, you want us to pay money for essays we’ve already read for free? However, this is the rare collection that’s worth overlooking the bald money grab, at least for anyone who is, like Orlean describes herself, “animalish.”

Orleans begins by describing an ordinary childhood of animal longing, in which she and her siblings had to overcome their mother’s resistance in order to obtain a dog and a butterscotch-colored mouse. Early on, Orlean displayed a quirky sense of comedy that underlies her work. She writes of the mouse, “I named her Sparky and pretended that she was some sort of championship show mouse, and I made a bunch of fake ribbons and trophies for her and I told people she had won them at mouse shows.”

In college she splurged on an Irish setter puppy, causing her mother to sigh, “Well, for heaven’s sake, Susie. You and your animals.” She married a man who once promised her a donkey for her birthday and who, for Valentine’s Day one year, arranged to have an African lion — “tawney and panting, with soft, round ears and paws as big as baseball mitts” — visit her Manhattan apartment on a leash. (The lion was accompanied by his owner and three off-duty police officers.)

Orlean quotes John Berger, who said that people get attached to animals because they remind us of the agrarian lives that most of us no longer lead, but she says it’s more than that, that animals give a “warm, wonderful, unpredictable texture” to life. As such, she’s spent much of her career writing about animals and spent much of personal life caring for them. (It helps that she lives on 50 acres in California, enabling her to keep creatures such as ducks and donkeys.)

In “The It Bird” Orlean writes of her interests in chickens and tells the fascinating story of how Martha Stewart helped to launch a nationwide chicken craze by publishing glamour shots of chickens in her magazine. “Show Dog” is a brief meditation on the lives of championship dogs, focusing on a boxer from Massachusetts named Biff. (“He has a dark mask, spongy lips, a wishbone-shaped white blaze, and the earnest and slightly careworn expression of a small-town mayor.)

“The Lady and the Tigers” explores the strange life of the New Jersey woman who owned 24 or so tigers, more than Six Flags Wild Safari. “You know how it is — you start with one tiger, then you get another and another, then a few are born and a few die, and you start to lose track of details like exactly how many tigers you have.”

In “Riding High,” Orlean examines the history of the mule, the cross of a male donkey and a female horse that is always sterile because of its uneven number of chromosomes, and in “Where Donkeys Deliver,” she writes of falling in love with “the plain tenderness of their faces and their attitude of patient resignation and even their impenetrable, obdurate temperaments.”

This essay is as much a reflection on the mind-boggling differences in cultures as it is on donkeys alone. Orlean notes that donkeys in America are mostly kept as pets, whereas in other countries, such as Morocco, they remain beasts of burden. She writes of seeing a small, harnessed donkey walking gingerly alone down a steep road in Fez, with no one showing any interest. When she asked someone about this, she was told the donkey “was probably just finished with work and on his way home.”

Other animals that merit their own chapter in this book include rabbits, lions, pandas, oxen, pigeons and whales, with side trips into the business of taxidermy and animal actors in Hollywood.

In her chapter on chickens, Orlean acknowledges a largely ignored problem: Animals live short and brutish lives and then die, giving animalish people self-inflicted pain. She writes of sitting in a vet’s office sobbing after having to have a sick chicken euthanized. (“I eat chicken all the time, so I have no right to morally oppose the killing of a chicken, but I couldn’t kill my own pet.”) And she owns turkeys, “an impulse buy,” but they are pets that will not be eaten. “I am having turkey for Thanksgiving, but not my turkeys,” she writes. (Her husband calls them “landscape animals.”)

Eventually Orlean concludes that animals are “an ideal foil for examining the human condition.” Agreed, but animals are more a romp in the park than a philosophy class. That’s true of On Animals, as well. A

Book Notes

The end of the year is time for celebrating with family and friends, making resolutions for the new year, and hearing wealthy CEOs tell us what books we should have read but probably didn’t.

Bill Gates, for example, had a difficult year PR-wise but still found time to share his five favorite books of the year in a video in which he strolls through a holiday tableau, under what’s probably fake snow, wearing a buffalo-checked lumberjack shirt as if he were a simple man of the people. (You can find this on YouTube.)

Gates, who famously reads 50 books a year, says he looks forward to reading for three hours a day when he’s on vacation. His five recommended books for 2021:

Project Hail Mary (Ballantine, 496 pages) by Andy Weir, a novel by the author of The Martian, about a high-school teacher who is startled to wake up in a different star system. (Gates read the book over a weekend, he said.)

Hamnet (Knopf, 320 pages) by Maggie O’Farrell, speculative fiction about William Shakespeare’s life; Hamnet was the name of his son, who died at age 11.

A Thousand Brains, a New Theory of Intelligence (Basic, 288 pages) by Jeff Hawkins, who is best known as the co-inventor of the PalmPilot, one of the first handheld computers. In this book he delves into artificial intelligence and where it’s headed.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race (Simon & Schuster, 560 pages), by Walter Isaacson, probes the development and ethical quandaries presented by CRISPR gene editing technology.

Klara and the Sun (Knopf, 320 pages) by Kazuo Ishiguro is a thought-provoking novel about a specific form of artificial intelligence, the personal robot engineered to be a companion to humans.

For what it’s worth, we, too, loved Klara and The Sun, and gave it an A back in the spring. So we’re more interested in what Ishiguro believes to be the best books of the year than Gates. There’s no heartwarming video involved, but here they are, courtesy of the UK newspaper The Guardian, which did a roundup of several authors’ favorites.

The Premonition, A Pandemic Story (W.W. Norton, 320 pages) by Michael Lewis; Failures of State (Mudlark, 432 pages) by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott; The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories (Hogarth, 208 pages) by Mariana Enriquez; and Spike, The Virus vs. the People by Jeremy Farrar and Anjana Ahuja (Profile Books, 253 pages).

Book Events

Author events

MIDDLE GRADE AUTHOR PANELFeaturing middle grade authors Padma Venkatraman, Barbara Dee, Leah Henderson, Aida Salazar and Lindsey Stoddard. Virtual event hosted by Toadstool Bookshops in Peterborough, Nashua and Keene. Sat., Dec. 18, 4 p.m. Via Zoom. Visit

JOHN NICHOLS Author presents Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiters. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Tues., Feb. 1, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit or call 224-0562.

GARY SAMPSON AND INEZ MCDERMOTT Photographer Sampson and art historian McDermott discuss New Hampshire Now: A Photographic Diary of Life in the Granite State. Sat., Feb. 19, 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. Peterborough Town Library, 2 Concord St., Peterborough. Visit

TIMOTHY BOUDREAU Author presents on the craft of writing short stories. Sat., Jan. 15, 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. Peterborough Town Library, 2 Concord St., Peterborough. Visit


CAROL WESTBURG AND SUE BURTON Virtual poetry reading hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Thurs., Jan. 20, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit or call 224-0562.

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

Book Clubs

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

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

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

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

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

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



Offered remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week session with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $225. Visit or call 623-1093.

At the Sofaplex 21/12/16

The Power of the Dog (R)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst.

Jane Campion writes and directs this movie based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage.

Brothers from a prosperous ranching family, Phil (Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons) run their ranch together, with Phil in particular getting into the dusty, gritty work of tending to the cattle. During one of their cattle drives, George starts a relationship with Rose (Dunst), the widowed owner of the inn where they stop to eat and sleep. Their relationship starts in part because George finds her crying over what a homophobic jerk Phil was to her college-age son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who had served as waiter to the ranching party.

George and Rose get married, enraging Phil, who relates to his new relatives only via psychological torture — first of Rose, already shaky about marrying in to the wealthy family, and later of Phil.

The Power of the Dog is a beautifully shot, (largely) understatedly performed, expertly scored movie that quietly ratchets up the tension as it shows the wildfire-like destruction of performative toxic masculinity, which Phil not only embodies but encourages in the ranch hands around him. These aspects, ruminating on them, are what stand out to me as I think back on the movie.


As I watched the movie, what I often felt more was how hard this movie was Oscar-ing, just straining and stretching with every fiber to “for your consideration” with all its elegantly matte Important Movie might. I mean it is beautiful and Cumberbatch does create a fascinating character to watch and I definitely had that “just before an explosion” feeling the whole time I watched it. This movie is good, maybe even great, but it also felt like it needed something to pull it out of the space where you can see the words on the page of the book it’s from and into a more organic living, breathing world. Nevertheless, A-. Available on Netflix.

Tick, Tick … Boom! (PG-13)

Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp.

Before he wrote the hugely popular musical Rent, before he wrote the show that would become Tick, Tick … Boom!, the late Jonathan Larson (played here by Garfield) struggled to get attention for Superbia, a futuristic musical that Wikipedia says was meant to be a rock opera retelling of 1984. This movie, based on the one-man (plus band) show that would eventually become Tick, Tick … Boom!, tells the story of his work to put on a presentation of Superbia while dealing with changing relationships with friends and his girlfriend Susan (Shipp) and with his looming 30th birthday, which he has set as a sort of life-accomplishment deadline. (Stephen Sondheim already had a Broadway hit by 30, Larson keeps saying.)

My feelings about this musical changed in the days after I saw it. When I saw it, it felt like an affable if rough, not-quite-for-me tale with a somewhat unlikable performance at its center. But, after the Nov. 26 death of Sondheim, it started to feel more like a heartfelt tribute to Sondheim and the community of New York City theater itself. The song “Sunday,” which has more Broadway cameos than a Law & Order marathon, is a direct homage to Sondheim and he has a strong presence throughout the movie (he is played onscreen by Bradley Whitford, except during a final scene when it is Sondheim’s actual voice that we’re hearing). I felt like I was watching director Lin-Manuel Miranda express his gratitude and fondness for the lyricist/composer as much as I was watching Sondheim’s influence on Larson’s work.

I liked the nitty-gritty details of putting on the presentation of Superbia that is supposed to help it reach the Broadway stage (Jonathan takes part in a focus group to earn $75 to pay for an extra musician at his presentation) to the overall artistic struggle (at one point, his agent, played by Judith Light, explains that writing is just throwing one thing after another against the wall and hoping something sticks). But I never quite warmed to Garfield’s performance; he brings a kind of careless self-absorbed smugness to the character that just made it hard to sympathize with. And while I think some of this is part of the character — learning to see beyond himself is part of the Larson character’s journey — I don’t feel like he was meant to be as off-putting as he frequently seems.

In the moments where Garfield brings the volume down, I could see more of a real person and putting that guy in the fantastical world of song, dance and 1990s Broadway feels more winning than what we get from him through much of the film. B Available on Netflix.

Single All the Way (TV-PG)

Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers.

Also, Barry Bostwick, Jennifer Coolidge and Kathy Najimy.

This perfectly delightful Christmas cookie of a rom-com features some classic ingredients — going home for the holidays (to New Hampshire!), a pretend boyfriend, a quirky family, a blind date, the realization that your soulmate was Right There All Along. L.A.-based Peter (Urie) breaks up with his most recent boyfriend just before Christmas and asks best friend Nick (Chambers) to come home with him and pretend to Peter’s matchmaking family that he and Peter finally got together. What is extra wonderful about this movie is that Nick (who has quietly felt more for Peter than he thinks Peter feels for him) doesn’t engage in this rom-com wackiness, and throughout this sweet confection people just basically behave like normal humans (at least, by movie standards). They talk about what they’re thinking and explain their feelings and generally act out of love and respect. Crazy, I know! I know you have a lot of options out there when you need holiday silliness and joy to accompany gift wrapping or avoiding gift wrapping but Single All the Way is so enjoyable that it can be your post-chores relaxing-with-a-warm-boozy-drink treat. B+ Available on Netflix.

Ciao, Alberto (G)

Jack Dylan Grazer, Marco Barricelli.

This eight-minute short, featuring the characters from Luca, follows Alberto (voice of Grazer) as he adjusts to life with Massimo (voice of Barricelli), the fisherman, now that Julia and Luca are away at school. My kids enjoyed this short, sweet (and, like Luca, absolutely beautiful) film of Alberto earnestly trying to impress Massimo with his hard work but messing up, often with chaos-creating results. But I almost feel like this is even more a film for the parents; it offers a reminder that behind every kitchen covered in tomato sauce or flaming rowboat is a kid whose intentions (oftentimes, good intentions) outstripped their abilities. The climax is a scene that ends with one almost shockingly perfect line of dialogue. A Available on Disney+.

Olaf Presents (TV-PG)

Josh Gad.

Gad voices Olaf, the snowman of Frozen movies fame, in this series of shorts, which can be viewed individually as four-minute movies (really just two minutes, with another two minutes of credits) or as one 12-minute short. Riffing on the scene from Frozen 2 when Olaf gives a short dramatic reenactment of the plot of the first movie, these shorts feature Olaf, with occasional assists from Sven the reindeer and from the snow monster (who the internet tells me is named Marshmallow), recapping The Little Mermaid, Moana, The Lion King, Aladdin and Tangled. Each one is a goofy delight, as much for the meta commentary of the movies themselves as for snowman silliness. A Available on Disney+.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (PG)

Voices of Brady Noon, Ethan William Childress.

The first of the popular Jeff Kinney books gets a new, animated adaptation that runs a kid-friendly 58 minutes long.

Greg (voice of Noon) and his longtime friend Rowley (voice of Childress) are terrified by the start of middle school — there are the kids who are shaving, the popularity that runs on different rules than elementary school, the politics of the lunch room and the terror of the “cheese touch” (a kind of cooties caused by a moldy piece of cheese that has sat on the basketball courts since Greg’s high school brother was at middle school). Along the way, Greg starts to fear that Rowley’s “elementary-school-ish” interests will hurt their coolness cred.

The animation is bright and round and has a nice comic-y appearance. The movie does a good job of addressing the drama of the changing friendships between elementary school and middle school and the sudden self-consciousness that sets in. While there are some cartoony hijinks, the movie is much more about these issues than just pure silliness — putting the optimum viewing audience at more the late-elementary school and up level. B Available on Disney+.

Trolls Holiday in Harmony (TV-PG)

Voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake.

The new trolls of Trolls World Tour show up in this 30-minute holiday special whose main storylines include Branch (Timberlake) and Poppy (Kendrick) getting each other Secret Santa gifts and Tiny Diamond (voice of Keenan Thompson) trying to regain his flow after he finds himself at a loss for rhymes. Probably that this short exists and offers a half hour of kid entertainment is the most notable thing about it. It gives you songs, some troll visual fun and a few moments of quirkiness. B- Available on Hulu.

A Castle for Christmas (TV-G)

Brooke Shields, Cary Elwes.

Romance author Sophie Brown (Shields) travels to her late father’s hometown in Scotland to escape the fan fury over her recent novel, which kills off the romantic hero of her long-running series. His death is perhaps a reflection of the end of Sophie’s real-life marriage and her general sense of unmoored-ness. When she arrives in Scotland and sees Dun Dunbar Castle, the large manor house her father’s family were caretakers of, she decides she’s home. And, lucky for her, the current duke, the grumpy also divorced Myles (Elwes), is in financial trouble and reluctantly looking to sell. Or perhaps he can have his castle and his debts cleared too if he can convince Sophie to agree to some only-in-a-rom-com terms: she lives at the castle with him for a few months to learn how to take care of it, but if she leaves before this training period is over she forfeits her down payment.

Are these two people who are initially antagonistic going to warm to each other? The total lack of mystery about this question doesn’t dampen the mild enjoyment of watching exactly everything you think will happen happen exactly as you think it will. B- Available on Netflix.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas (TV-14)

Jane Levy, Skylar Astin.

The TV show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which had two seasons on NBC, now has this holiday movie on, of all things, the Roku Channel. I didn’t watch the show but the beginning of this movie sums things up: Zoey (Levy) can hear people’s “heart songs” — their hopes and fears and other emotional struggles expressed via song. Recently, her boyfriend Max (Astin) also gained the ability to hear heart songs and, like Zoey, tries to use this knowledge to improve things for people like Zoey’s mom, Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), still dealing with the death of Zoey’s dad Mitch (Peter Gallagher). Zoey is also still dealing with his death: this is the first Christmas that the family will be without him and she is intensely determined that everything they do be exactly the way he would have done it.

I don’t know that this movie put Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on the top of my must-watch list (both seasons are available on Peacock) but the movie is affable, sweet, lightly funny and, if you like a good dance number, enough of a good time. I like so many of the actors here — Levy, Astin, Steenburgen and also Alex Newell (who plays Zoey’s friend) and Andrew Leeds and Alice Lee, who play her brother and his wife — that I was willing to stick it out through some of the too-sugary elements or moments when it felt like the words “The Message of This Story” were flashing on screen. B- Available on the Roku Channel.

West Side Story (PG-13)

West Side Story (PG-13)

Get Maria and Tony, the Sharks and the Jets, the dance-fights and the love songs plus Rita Moreno in West Side Story, the Steven Spielberg-directed film adaption of the 1957 stage musical.

If you are totally new to West Side Story in any form, it is basically Romeo & Juliet with New York City-born Tony (Ansel Elgort) and recent arrival from Puerto Rico Maria (Rachel Zegler) as the star-crossed lovers and the gang of angry nativist boys calling themselves the Jets and the Puerto Rican gang called the Sharks standing in for the Montague and Capulet families. Here, racial animosity, economic fears and encroaching gentrification in the Upper West Side of mid-century New York City form the basis of the resentments between the opposing camps, instead of whatever the beef was back in fair Verona.

In Maria’s corner: her older brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), the leader of the Sharks; Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita (Ariana DeBose), and Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), a nice boy with a good future in accounting whom Bernardo is shoving at Maria.

In Tony’s corner: Riff (Mike Faist), head of the Jets, and Valentina (Rita Moreno), widowed owner of corner store Doc’s, who is letting Tony work and live at the shop. Valentina, who has sort of adopted Tony, is also Puerto Rican, which is perhaps why Tony seems less focused on the turf struggles than Riff. Well, that and the fact that he’s had a good long while to think about the nature of violence while serving time for his part in a previous brawl.

I’m not at all objective about this movie or this musical; it is one of my longtime favorites. So even when the movie felt a little flat in the opening few scenes, I was always having a good time. But, happily, it grew on me. The more we got of Anita, Bernardo, Valentina and even Riff, the more interesting I found this movie’s take on the material and the more I generally liked the movie. The movie sort of rides the line between seeming like it’s in a real place and feeling like a stage set. Scenes in the Puerto Rican neighborhood approached a kind of reality (or, at least, golden age Hollywood musical reality) but other scenes, particularly some of the scenes set amid the construction rubble of half-demolished slums, felt more like an excellent tech crew was working with a very large budget.

The least interesting thing about the film is probably the Tony-Maria love story. Elgort is mostly fine, Zegler is quite good, bringing more depth to the occasionally drippy-seeming character of Maria. Their relationship had more oomph than I remember from the 1961 movie — more actually than most Romeo & Juliet stories I’ve seen. But all the stuff going on around them and all the supporting characters — to include smaller roles like Anybodys (Iris Menas) or Valentina or Chino or the storyline about the urban renewal projects displacing many neighborhoods — are more interesting than the two people who “love at first sight” during a dance battle. (A well-staged dance battle. All of the choreography here is electric and has that “big Hollywood musical dance number” showmanship, all bright colors and screen-filling extras.)

As with the 1961 movie adaptation of West Side Story, Anita is the movie’s standout character, followed here by Valentina (which feels fitting, since Moreno won an Oscar for playing Anita in the 1961 movie). Anita is awesome, her showcase song “America” is the banger it always is, her wardrobe is a costume-y delight and she gets the movie’s most complex (if super downbeat) arc. DeBose brings all the energy and stage presence the role calls for and absolutely shines throughout. I also appreciated the movie’s take on Anita’s personal goals and the relationship between Bernardo and her, and their different experiences with trying to make it in New York. This movie doesn’t modernize the play’s politics, necessarily, but it does bring some 2021 awareness to the racial and economic issues in the story.

This adaptation of West Side Story doesn’t explode its box or do something entirely new, but it adds enough little details or tweaked elements that it does feel like its own thing while still presenting you with the songs and characters you know and love. A-

Rated PG-13 for some strong violence, strong language, thematic content, suggestive material and brief smoking, according to the MPA on Directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, West Side Story is two hours and 36 minutes long and distributed by Twentieth Century Studios in theaters.

Being the Ricardos (R)

A series of potential calamities hits the I Love Lucy show during one week in the early 1950s in Being the Ricardos, an Aaron Sorkin-written and -directed movie that is in theaters now and slated to stream on Amazon Prime on Dec. 21.

On Sunday, Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) gets an early peek at a tabloid story alleging that her husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), is a serial cheater — worse, she’s getting the story after he’s been gone for a couple of days. After he comes back, claiming he spent the time playing cards on his boat and swearing that he’s been a faithful husband, the two start to make up — only to have their making out interrupted by Walter Winchell’s radio report of a blind item about the most popular woman in television being a secret communist. Maybe he means Imogene Coca, Desi tries to calm her by saying, but Lucy knows he’s talking about her.

On Monday, Lucy and Desi meet with officials from CBS and Philip Morris (the show’s largest advertiser) to explain the situation — or rather, to sort of explain the situation. Desi tells them she checked the wrong box when registering to vote decades ago, though privately Lucy says her one-time communist party affiliation was a tribute to the grandfather who raised her. The story hasn’t hit the papers yet, but Lucy and Desi work to reassure their show’s staff, the network and Philip Morris that Lucy’s no communist and that this hit show, now in its second season, will go on.

Monday’s craziness pushes their intended big news of the week back a day: Lucy is pregnant and, rather than hide that fact on TV with laundry and giant chairs, Desi wants Lucy Ricardo, her onscreen persona, to be pregnant on air as well. Of course, pregnant women are indecent (somehow) and shake the very foundations of society (or something) and aren’t to be shown on television, is the network’s position, which the couple will have to work to change.

Will the show last long enough for Desi to get his boundary-breaking pregnancy storyline or will news of Lucy’s recent appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee sink the show before Friday’s tape time? This is the most urgent part of the story, but Lucy’s fears about Desi’s infidelities and the possible breakup of their marriage also bubble steadily in the background. Then there’s the ongoing, very active dislike between costars William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda), who is bristling at her character’s dowdiness being a running gag (and a likely bit of typecasting from which she won’t escape). We also watch writers Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and Bob Carroll (Jake Lacy) jostling for position with executive producer Jesse Oppenheimer (Tony Hale).

The movie is framed with an older trio of actors playing those last three characters as they look back on that week, a conceit that allows for a lot of exposition delivery. It’s not the smoothest bit of scene-setting and character-building ever put on screen, but it gets the job done — which is maybe how I’d describe the movie overall. Nobody blows you away but nobody stinks up the joint, performance-wise. This is neither the most nor the least Sorkiny Sorkin screenplay; I think in the main his writer tendencies work with the material and the story as he’s chosen to tell it.

In addition to directly being told about the volatility of Lucy and Desi’s relationship, we get flashbacks that sort of deepen the exploration of the characters and their motivations. You know, sort of. This movie reminds me a bit of last year’s Mank for how it gives you a picture of an earlier era of showbiz, showing you both the golden public image and the grimier behind-the-scenes happenings. But while that movie was Doing A Thing (giving you the behind-the-scenes of Citizen Kane in the style of Citizen Kane), Being the Ricardos is a more straightforward take that blends network politics, national politics and marriage politics with bits of several people’s biographies. This movie is solid, enjoyable if you are at all interested in TV or Hollywood or any of the big names involved — and the fact that it will soon be available for viewing in your home is all the better. B

Rated R for language, according to the MPA on Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, Being the Ricardos is two hours and 5 minutes long and is distributed by Amazon Studios in theaters and will stream on Amazon Prime starting Dec. 21.



AMC Londonderry
16 Orchard View Dr., Londonderry

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

Capitol Center for the Arts
44 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,

Dana Center
Saint Anselm College
100 Saint Anselm Dr., Manchester,

Fathom Events

The Flying Monkey
39 Main St., Plymouth

LaBelle Winery
345 Route 101, Amherst

The Music Hall
28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth

O’neil Cinemas
24 Calef Hwy., Epping

Red River Theatres
11 S. Main St., Concord

Regal Fox Run Stadium 15
45 Gosling Road, Newington

Rex Theatre
23 Amherst St., Manchester

The Strand
20 Third St., Dover

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


The Polar Express (G, 2004) will screen multiple times at all three Chunky’s locations through Thursday, Dec. 16. Tickets cost $5.99.

The Danish Collector: Delacroix to Gauguin (2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m.

House of Gucci (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 3:30 & 7 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m. (vaccinated guests); Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 19, at noon, 3:30 & 7 p.m.

Die Hard (R, 1988) screening at Red River Theatres in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m.

Nightmare Alley (R, 2021) screening at Red River Theatres on Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec 19, at 12:30, 4 & 7:30 p.m. and (for vaccinated guests) on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

Elf screening at Christmas Break on a Budget on Saturday, Dec. 18, at noon at The Strand in Dover. The afternoon will include storytime, family activities and the movie. The cost is $20 for a family of four or $8 each.

National Lampoon’sChristmas Vacation (PG-13, 1989) will screen at Regal Fox Run on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 1 p.m. Tickets $5.

The Polar Express (G, 2004) will screen at the Park Theatre (19 Main St. in Jaffrey; on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 1 p.m. Admission is free but go online to get tickets. Have a photo taken with Santa and Elves in the lobby.

The Bolshoi Ballet — The Nutcracker A broadcast presentation captured live, Sunday, Dec. 19, at 12:55 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage in Concord. Tickets cost $15.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) will screen at all three Chunky’s locations on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5.99.

The Music Hall will show a series of holiday movies during Christmas week at its Historic Theater (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth), including White Christmas (1954) on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 3 p.m.; Love Actually (R, 2003) on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m.; It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) on Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 3 and 7 p.m.; The Grinch (2018, PG) on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 3 p.m.; and Last Christmas (2019, PG-13) on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for seniors age 60 and up, students, military and first responders. Visit or call 436-2400.

The Strong Man (1926) starring Harry Langdon and directed by Frank Capra, a silent film with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, on Sunday, Dec. 26, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre. Admission is free; $10 donation suggested.

• The Senior Movie Mornings Series at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St., Manchester) presents White Christmas(1954) on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $10. Call 668-5588 or visit

Featured photo: West Side Story. Courtesy photo.

Album Reviews 21/12/16

Tulip Tiger x Garrett Noel, Synth Xmas II (Give/Take Records)

Funny, right after I wrapped up this week’s Playlist thingie, in which I bemoaned the fact that no public relations goblins had sent me any holiday albums to review this year, this one just came in, from a bicoastal lo-fi hip-hop collaborative duo. Just to put things in context, big-beat aficionado Tulip (Augustus Watkins) is based in Los Angeles and Prague, modern psychedelia guy Noel’s from Baltimore, and this is their take on a set of eight old Christmas classics, “reimagined in tranquil, instrumental, electronic arrangements.” Very true, that; the guys have selected from the chillest of vintage chestnuts: “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” to name two, rendering them in tasteful 1980s-synthpop cheese and adding things like glitchy noises, bell samples, etc. The overall effect is cloudy, woozy and, well, edgy, evoking high-end backgrounding for fashion outlet malls; in other words, it’s very unobtrusive but redolent of seasonal spirit. Very nice. A


• The new albums set to be released on Dec. 17 are in our scope today, folks! I haven’t even looked at the list yet, because that has as much appeal to me as watching my dentist prepare his syringe of Novacaine. Like, I know it’s coming, and there will be “bootleg” albums for collectors and massively expensive box sets for people who’d rather have albums than a car, but what’s odd to me is that I haven’t been made aware of any new holiday albums as of yet. OK, lemme go look at the list of — holy crow, there are almost no new albums coming out on the 17th, let alone holiday albums! What the heck am I supposed to do here? You know, that always happens during these last weeks of the year, and the only bands putting out albums are metal bands, because there’s a new metal album born every minute. With the big holidays coming so soon, the editors should just let me fill up this column with jokes, nursery rhymes and bedtime stories, so at least there’d be — wait, wait, I found one, Califas Worldwide, from California quartet Hed PE, a the band that’s known for “its eclectic genre-crossing style, predominantly in the fusion of gangsta rap and punk rock it has termed ‘G-punk,’ but also for its reggae-fused music.” Great, whatever, I’m just glad I have something music-related to talk about in this music column (I’ll bet next week is going to be even worse). So there’s a single, called “Not Now,” which features the mad metal-rappin’ skillz of some collective (or just one dude, it’s impossible to tell from their Facebook, which, trust me, annoys me a million times more than it does you) called The Final Clause of Tacitus. So the overall effect of the song is Rage Against The Machine with no budget; it’s not bad I suppose, but I’d have to say — oh, you don’t care about this either, it’s not Tom Morello or anything, just some guys who sound like they won a football pool and decided to spend it doofing around in a recording studio while the engineer ate Funyuns and took naps. Let’s forget this and try to find something normal, not that I think there’s a snowball’s chance of that happening.

• Praise be, gang, there’s another one, titled Food For Thought, from some rapper lady named Che Noir! Unless the Brooklyn Vegan blog-site has no idea what it’s talking about (which is always a possibility), she is from Buffalo, New York, a place that Trip Advisor says is mostly inhabited by clinically depressed football fans and Loch Ness Monsters. OK, let me get down with this awesome tune. Hmm, that’s original, she starts out her rap by saying “Yeah,” you know, in this really rappy tone, and then she’s spittin’ mad words and swears. She’s pretty edgy I suppose, but her voice is gentle-ish, like if Dionne Warwick were a rapper. The beat is this dumb 1980s synth-cheese thing. I don’t hate it, mostly because I just feel sorry for it. Aaaand we’re movin’, folks, let’s keep trying to find something normal.

• OK, I give up, there’s not even a heavy metal Christmas album, just no albums at all. Looks like I’ll just do a bedtime story and then tuck you in. OK, so this little bear got lost in the woods looking for special mushrooms, see, and — wait! Wait! Look! Looky yonder! You’ll never believe it, a new album from 1950s rock ’n’ roll icon Chuck Berry, Live From Blueberry Hill! Why am I being given this gift of column-filling news? Well, it’s because the 17th would have been Chuck’s 95th birthday! It’s dumb but I’ll take it, this wonderful collection of live versions of “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode,” I will take it, as a Christmas miracle! God bless us, guys, every one!


I’ve obviously slacked this year as far as throwing you nice people a few recommendations for holiday music buying. I almost forgot again this week, which would definitely been bad, but by chance I happened upon a column I’d written this very week in 2009, and it started out with a suggestion for, of all things, a country music compilation, to wit: “Howzabout this for a compilation: Dim Lights, Thick Smoke & Hillbilly Music: Country Hit Parade 1951. Comes out on Tuesday [11 years ago, mind you], which gives you no time to find it, but you should try, so that you can hear awesome old garbage like “Shot Gun Boogie” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. We’ve all gone old-school anyway, so why not just reboot the whole thing and start off with bands that had to sing into toasters while sticking their fingers into light sockets so the tape-gizmo thing would record it, because they did not have our awesome technology, which has turned us all into people nobody can trust.”

Boy, could someone tell me when I’m acting cynical, would you folks, I can’t stop myself. But then again, I have every excuse in the book, because 99 times out of a hundred, holiday albums are usually just comprised of old bands doing versions of old carols you’re already sick of hearing. See, what I listen to myself this time of year is music that’s either Christmas-y sounding or actually peripheral to my chosen pagan frostbite-holiday. For the former, you can’t beat Enya’s Paint The Sky With Stars, a compilation of her more popular “hits.” As you may or may not know, she multi-tracks her voice hundreds of times in the studio, which means we’ll never see her play live, because you’d need 100 singing Enyas to accomplish it. But the music itself is reflective, pretty and spiritual. My holiday-sounding faves are “Anywhere Is” and “Storms in Africa,” but almost all are very nice.

As for the latter, the Boston Ballet Orchestra’s version of The Nutcracker is a CD I keep in the car every year, from Thanksgiving to Dec. 26. The CD is missing a few things, like the teddy bear’s dance, but other than that it’s such a peach, especially if you’ve ever seen it live. It seems to be out of stock at, but it’s worth hunting down.

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).

Sugar and spice

’Tis the season for holiday beers

I used to be obsessed with holiday brews. As in, there wasn’t enough holiday beer in the world to satisfy me.

There was just something about the slightly sweet, slightly spicy style that drew me in and helped me to appreciate the holiday season. Let’s be honest, we’d all like to be in a good mood for the holidays and the right beer can help. Why not have a beer that tastes like Christmas in a glass?

I’m calling it a style but I’m not sure you’ll find “holiday brew” listed in the dictionary of beer styles. To me, these are beers that can run across styles and to categorize them would be to ask yourself, “does this beer put me in the holiday spirit?” If you answer yes to a particular brew, then, bingo.

These are beers that tend to feature a hearty malt character amplified with cinnamon, brown sugar, peppermint, vanilla and nutmeg — and, I don’t know, maybe chocolate. You’ll find holiday beers that are wheat beers, amber lagers, stouts, porters, sours, brown ales, bocks and dunkels, and there is probably some brewer right now trying to offer patrons a holiday IPA.

I wasn’t alone in my obsession. To this day, one of my college buddies receives an annual shipment of Harpoon Winter Warmer from his mother on his doorstep in California.

Then again, holiday beers aren’t for everyone. I can never forget the look of utter disgust — classic bitter beer face — on an acquaintance’s face as he tried to get through a sip of some holiday beer, wondering aloud, “What is that?” (The “that” in holiday beers is always nutmeg.)

I’m not as obsessed with holiday beers as I used to be, probably in part because there’s just so much incredible craft beer available that it’s hard to be too focused on one style, regardless of the season. Plus, more and more craft brewers are cranking out delicious, decadent stouts boasting huge flavors of chocolate, coffee and vanilla that aren’t necessarily holiday brews but are awfully hard to ignore at this time of year.

For a while it at least seemed like craft brewers weren’t really exploring holiday beers in earnest. That might not be reality, but it seems to me the style has received much more attention from brewers in recent years. That’s good news.

Here are four New Hampshire-brewed holiday beers to enjoy right now.

Footy Pajamas Belgian Style Holiday Ale by Henniker Brewing Co. (Henniker)

Dark fruit, spices and brown sugar: you can sip this 8.7 percent ABV brew slowly by the fire and let the beer and the flames warm you right up.

Monks Vice Belgian Quad by Loaded Question Brewing Co. (Portsmouth)

This isn’t brewed specifically for the holidays as far as I know, but with big flavors of complex caramel up front, it seems perfectly suited to this time of year. The brewery says the finish is “reminiscent of crème brulée from black strap molasses.” This is another slow sipper you can savor with friends and family.

Smuttlabs Peppermint Porter by Smuttynose Brewing Co. (Hampton)

This is basically a glass full of peppermint patties.

The Great AK; Dunkles Bock with Gingerbread by Northwoods Brewing Co. (Northwood)

I haven’t tried this one but it is now on my list for the holidays. Tabbed as the brewery’s “ode to the Master Woodsman of the World,” the beer is brewed with gingerbread and actual gingerbread men, resulting in “aromas of dates, plums, toffee and cinnamon.” Frankly, it sounds delicious.

What’s in My Fridge
Samuel Adams Holiday White Ale by Boston Beer Co. (Boston) Probably 15 to 20 years ago, if a beer was described as “citrusy and hazy,” this is what you’d expect. Nowadays, someone says citrusy and hazy, and approximately 1,000 percent of the time that person is talking about an IPA. This is a delightful brew; flavored with holiday spices and orange peel, it has a smooth, festive flavor with borderline nonexistent bitterness you can enjoy all winter long. Cheers.

Featured photo: Footy Pajamas by Henniker Brewing Company. Courtesy photo.

Baked falafel burgers

Falafel is one of those dishes that seems like it’s healthy, but that isn’t always the case. Although falafel is mainly composed of garbanzo beans, quite often they are deep fried and topped with heavy sauces. Now, there is nothing wrong with a little decadence, but at this time of year there is so much indulgent eating, a healthier alternative is greatly appreciated.

Thus, today I have a recipe for baked falafel burgers. This simple-to-make dish is about as healthy as can be. There is no oil added to the burger, and they are baked instead of fried. However, all of this healthiness does not equal a boring dish. These burgers are bursting with flavor from the addition of two different fresh herbs as well as a dried spice.

Serve these “burgers” in a piece of pita bread and add lots of veggies, and you have an incredibly healthy meal. To keep it even healthier, skip mayonnaise and opt for something lighter, such as Buffalo sauce. You can even make your own two-ingredient condiment: 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt mixed with hot sauce (you choose the amount). This recipe should be enough to top all four falafel burgers.

Serve these falafel burgers with some baked green bean fries or a fruit salad, and you have a delicious, health-conscious meal for four!

Baked falafel burgers
Serves 4

15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
½ cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ cup walnuts
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Hamburger buns or pita bread
Lettuce, tomato and condiments

Combine garbanzo beans, parsley, cilantro, minced garlic, cumin and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor.
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and pulse.
Add remaining lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, blending until smooth.
Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, and form into patties.
Place on a small greased baking sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove falafel burgers from the refrigerator, and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve in a pita or on a bun with desired toppings and condiments.

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.

Photo: Baked falafel burger. Courtesy photo.

In the kitchen with Martin Kelly Jr.

Chef Martin Kelly Jr. oversees kitchen operations at Stones Social (449 Amherst St., Nashua, 943-7445,, an eatery known for its creative comfort foods served in a casual, quick-service setting. Stones Social is the latest project of Stones Hospitality Group, which also owns two sister restaurants in Massachusetts — Cobblestones of Lowell, which has been serving elevated tavern fare since 1994, and Moonstones, a restaurant featuring globally inspired small plates that opened in Chelmsford in 2008. Originally from Tyngsborough, Mass., Kelly had been working at Moonstones for about two and a half years just prior to the pandemic when he was brought up to help open Stones Social in late June 2020. The menu includes everything from lighter bar snacks, soups and salads to burgers, wood-fired skillets and a wide array of house cocktails, plus “Throwback Thursday” wood-fired pizza specials and “Social Sunday” specials with smoked meats.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A pair of tongs, and at least one dry towel. … I’m a little obsessed with dry towels. You can ask anybody that works with me.

What would you have for your last meal?

I’ll keep it simple and just say a whole steamed lobster and a whole lot more butter.

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Stones Social?

I’d say it’s a four-way tie. … I’m going to have to go with our Buffalo tenders, our Stones No. 1 Burger, the faux French dip sandwich, and either our half or full bucket of fried chicken.

What celebrity would you like to see eating at Stones Social?

This is an easy one. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

The Nashua Garden on Main Street. I love that place. Their sandwiches are so abnormally large but they are always delicious.

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

Fast, quality comfort food, and that’s the atmosphere we’re trying to cultivate here. … We want food to be getting to the table fast, and for people to not even realize that it’s only been maybe four minutes since they were up at the counter to order it.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

A real simple dish that my mom made for me all the time, which is cajun shrimp, sausage and spinach sauteed over white rice. I could eat plates and plates of it.

Miso Sriracha sauce
From the kitchen of Martin Kelly Jr. of Stones Social in Nashua (great for dipping or as an add-on to burgers)

2 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons miso paste
¼ cup Sriracha

Mix ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until thoroughly combined.

Featured photo: Martin Kelly Jr. Courtesy photo.

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