Barroom reunion

Green Martini memories coming to Bank of NH Stage

It’s Best of Hippo time again, and don’t be surprised if there’s a vote or two for the Green Martini as top bar in Concord — even though a kitchen fire closed the downtown hub 10 years ago. Its denizens were a family of misfit toys bound by smoke-hazed windows, funky furniture and a no-nonsense vibe. To them, the place forever remains much more than a tavern.

Musicians held it in special esteem, and several of them will gather at Bank of NH Stage on March 3 to celebrate the Green Martini and its role in fostering the city’s music community. Steve Naylor, who hosted the open mic sessions there from the mid-2000s through its demise in February 2012, will reprise the format for an evening full of memories.

A handful of former regulars, including Hank Osborne and Rachel Burlock (whose last name was Vogelzang back then), approached fellow musician Lucas Gallo with an idea. “They wanted to pay homage (honor it 10 years later) to the Green Martini,” he wrote in a text message.

Gallo and Burlock put together a list including Gary Banker, Scott Fitzpatrick, Mary Fagan, Alan “Doc” Rogers, Addison Chase, Blake Patria, Dusty Gray, Noah Brochu and Shelby White, Andy Laliotis and Rob Farquar. When contacted about the show, former bar owners Paul and Paula Lord were immediately on board.

Mary Fagan. Courtesy photo.

“They just won’t let it go,” Paula Lord said recently with a laugh. “Literally for the past 10 years, it’s like a nonstop thing. When Lucas messaged me and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this,’ I was like, ‘Oh, that would be so cool.’”

Along with a fond recollection of the music, Paula remembered the community fostered by her husband’s and her oasis. Patrons lining up outside every day prior to opening, Sunday Fun Day board game events and Halloween parties.

“We always had the best, with smoke machines and all kinds of crazy stuff,” she said.

Every night began with a family meal, and they regularly held holiday feasts for friends with nowhere else to go.

One customer, antique collector John Cook, wrote a book about the bar. Singer-guitarist Kenny Weiland immortalized it in a jazzy song containing the line, “cut loose and shake your monkey,” a nod to the large stuffed collection of creatures that hung from the ceiling pipes. Still a mystery is a series of abductions, each followed with a photo of a duct-taped monkey mouth accompanied by a demand of free PBR as ransom.

Furnishings — or lack of them — were one reason the place was special, Steve Naylor said in a recent phone interview.

Dusty Gray. Courtesy photo.

“The Martini did not have a television or pool table, or any other distraction. … Everyone was pretty much focused on the music,” he said, adding that such undivided attention was unique and welcome. “I’ve done many open mics in just about all the bars in and outside of town. People are very sensitive to what’s going on around them when they’re trying to play their song, and I don’t think they need to hear a hockey game while they’re trying to play.”

Midweek open mic nights were acoustic affairs, though Friday and Saturday often got pretty raucous.

“It was like sort of an ‘around the campfire’ feeling,” Naylor said of the sessions he hosted. “That atmosphere had something to do with giving people an impression of how nice it was to be able to just be around.”

The Lords, along with former bartender Christopher Prescott, will have honorary seats for the show, where they’ll likely field requests to bring back their beloved funky watering hole.

“There are so many people that still say, ‘Would you guys open again?’” said Paula. “The neon sign is still sitting in my shed, but I’m not sure if the mice have gotten to the wires.”

Remembering the Green Martini – A Musical Celebration

When: Thursday, March 3, 7 p.m.
Where: Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets:$15 at
Proceeds from the show will benefit the Concord Community Music School.

Featured photo: Rachel Bulock. Courtesy photo

The Music Roundup 22/02/24

Local music news & events

Laugh night: With the news that its namesake venue got an eviction stay, Comedy Out of the ‘Box happens with sets from headliner Jay Chanoine, with feature acts Robbie Partridge and Ro Gavin; the show is hosted by Chad Blodgett. After interior tenants of Steeplegate Mall were given notice, the innovative storefront performance space got word that it can live another day, but the future remains uncertain. Thursday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., Hatbox Theatre, 270 Loudon Road, Concord, $16 to $22 at

Summer vibe: With cabin fever past the pain point, the Halfway to Bernie’s Party held a stone’s throw from the busy beach bar should be a treat. The funky Over the Bridge headlines; with a new album, the event doubles as a release show. Also on hand are Vermont rapper Jarv and rock steady favorites The Feel Goods, with Green Lion Crew spinning tracks and hosting. Friday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m., Wally’s Pub, 144 Ashworth Ave., Hampton Beach,

Helping hands: An afternoon jam session hosted by Hank Osborne is a fundraiser for fellow performer and current Nashville cat Senie Hunt. Detecting a burning smell in his car recently, the percussive singer-guitarist stopped and got out as it went up in flames. The car and thousands of dollars’ worth of gear were a total loss. The venue promises to chip in $100 for anyone who writes and performs an original song about a flaming car. Saturday, Feb. 26, 1 p.m., Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord,

Local power: In a homecoming show originally set for last November, metal powerhouse Sepsiss performs. It’s a step up for the Manchester band, who were slated to open for OTEP at the postponed event. Now, the reigning NEMA winners are headlining, with support from Inverter, Sixteen X Twenty, Able Blood and Badtude. Saturday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, $10 to $75 at

Dog (PG-13)

Dog (PG-13)

A former Army Ranger and a former Army Ranger dog, both dealing with trauma from their time in battle, road trip in Dog, a movie that answers the question “how charming is Channing Tatum?”

The answer: charming and charismatic enough that this relatively thin-soup dramady is an OK watch.

This movie, co-directed by Tatum, shouldn’t be as watchable as it is. It should be more of a downbeat slog. But he makes his character, Jackson Briggs, the right amount of affable and vulnerable, self-aware and in denial and generally good playing opposite a dog to carry this whole movie. I left the theater thinking “huh, not bad” even if I doubt I will ever think of this movie much again.

When we meet Briggs he is grinning and bearing it as he works a job making sandwiches for jerks while waiting to see if he’s cleared to work for a private military contractor. He has left the Army due to an injury that we later learn has left him with anxiety, headaches, occasionally blurred vision, a sometimes ringing in his ear and seizures that could potentially kill him. But he has managed to get a clean bill of health from someone and now needs only his former commander to sign off to get him back in some form of battle.

His former captain is reluctant to do so — Briggs has serious, well-documented injuries — but he makes a deal with Briggs. A fellow former ranger, one Briggs served with, has died and his family wants his service dog Lulu at the funeral. As it turns out, Lulu was also injured in battle and is also suffering from trauma, exhibited largely by trying to attack everybody she comes in contact with. Nevertheless, the captain tells Briggs that if he can drive Lulu (she refuses to fly) from Washington state to the funeral in Arizona (and then to the base where this hard to handle dog will likely be put down), the captain will give Briggs the clearance he needs to get the contractor job he’s so desperate to have.

Who is going to save whom, you might think if you’ve never seen any movie with a dog before. This plays out exactly the way you think it will, with the human-canine duo having a series of adventures along the way that range from lighthearted (a psychic played by Jane Adams telling Briggs that the dog wants a comfy mattress and Indian food) to more serious than the movie has the ability to really examine (the manner of Riley’s death, Briggs’ non-existent relationship with his young daughter, really everything to do with war-related trauma). But the magic of Tatum is that the movie still works well enough to hold your interest and attention. C+

Rated PG-13 for language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material, according to the MPA on Directed by Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum with a screenplay by Reid Carolin, Dog is an hour and 41 minutes long and is distributed in theaters by MGM Pictures.

Uncharted (PG-13)

Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg play Indiana Jones in Uncharted, a movie based on a video game but molded in the tradition of every broad action adventure that ever National Treasured its way to low-effort wide-appeal viewing.

Or maybe it’s not so much “wide appeal” as “widely not unappealing.” I mean, Tom Holland, who can be mad at that little face, even if it is often accompanied by the too smirky face of Wahlberg?

Nathan “Nate” Drake (Holland) is a bartender and pickpocket who is recruited by Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg) to take part in a search for the lost treasure of Magellan. The mystery is a favorite of Nate’s because it was one his older brother Sam talked about when they were kids. Nate hasn’t seen Sam in years; Sully tells Nate that Sam disappeared during the search for the treasure so finding the treasure — boats filled with gold — might lead to Nate’s finding Sam as well.

Thus begins some globe-crossing to follow this golden cross to that clue to this map to find that clue — like the Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean movies this movie references but also like the Robert Langdon movies based on Dan Brown’s books with a dash of Goonies and an older-swashbuckler/younger-trainee relationship that has notes of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

At least, I think that’s what we’re supposed to see when we watch these two banter and adventure. But Wahlberg does not have that Harrison Ford sparkle, that ability to convey both cynic and good guy at heart. He comes off not as charming but as smirky and flat. Holland, so winning all these years as eager good-doobie Peter Parker, isn’t required to do anything radically different here as Nate but he is nevertheless a charismatic and amiable screen presence. He’s had good screen partners in similar roles (Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Benedict Cumberbatch) but Wahlberg is not playing at his level here.

Similarly, the supporting cast feels uneven. Sophia Ali as an occasional third member of the expedition isn’t given enough to do to feel like a strong team player. Antonio Banderas provides some of the villainy as a member of a Spanish family that has long had claims on Magellan’s gold but he doesn’t get to be as extravagantly mustache-twisting as he would need to to make this movie be the kind of buoyant good time it clearly wants to be.

Uncharted has a lot of good popcorn movie ideas — big action set pieces, sunny locales, quips. But the execution is uneven enough that sitting through this movie in a theater feels like more of a chore than a snack-food treat. I mention this because I think when you watch this movie next holiday season at home on some streaming service for zero extra dollars it will feel just fine for the broad audience of kids old enough to view PG-13-style gun-related violence through great-grandparents we still get embarrassed to watch sexy business around. As something you purposefully plan to consume to the exclusion of all other stimuli, Uncharted just doesn’t offer enough — sometimes even the efforts of Tom Holland can’t save the day. C+

Rated PG-13 for violence/action and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Ruben Fleischer with a screenplay by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Uncharted is an hour and 56 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Columbia Pictures.

Blacklight (PG-13)

Liam Neeson is yet another aging shadowy dude with a particular set of skills in Blacklight, a movie that looks like it’s going to be every Liam Neeson movie since Taken 2 but is actually less than that.

Travis Block’s (Neeson) skill set involves helping FBI agents who have physically or mentally gotten trapped in deep cover assignments or super secret work. He helps them find their way out — literally, like the agent whose cover is blown in a white nationalist compound and who has to be extracted, or, figuratively, like Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith), an agent who is having a breakdown after a recent assignment. What we know that Travis doesn’t is that that assignment involved the death of charismatic politician Sofia Flores (Mel Jarnson), a woman who is the voice of her generation and who wants to make real change, which several characters in the movie say several times. Despite Travis’ efforts to “bring Dusty in,” whatever that actually means, at the behest of FBI director (and Travis’ longtime friend) Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn), Dusty keeps trying to contact Mira (Emmy Raver-Lampman), a journalist working in some news organization with way too nice an office (floor-to-ceiling windows!).

As Travis starts to ask questions about why, exactly, Dusty has gone off the rails, he finds himself at odds with Robinson, for whom he has always worked off the books and whom he thus has no real ability to challenge. And he is also dealing with drama in his home life: We’re told Travis was a bit of an absent dad to now-grown daughter Amanda (Claire van der Bloom) but he wants to make up for that by being “there” for her young daughter Natalie (Gabriella Sengos). Amanda isn’t so sure that she wants Travis and his whole shady deal to be all that “there” for the daughter who is starting to pick up some of his paranoid habits.

In a lot of ways, this is exactly the movie you sign up for when you go see a winter-release Liam Neeson action movie: There’s his secret past in a tough-guy job, there’s a cute little kid, there’s a disappointed family to make amends to, there is some past emotional turmoil, there is a one-man-against-the-world-like quest. But this movie also feels at points like almost a parody of the Liam Neeson movie you expect, particularly in a scene where he delivers a monologue about his dark backstory that is so bleak it calls to mind that sketch of Liam Neeson doing improv comedy with Ricky Gervais. And while nit-picking the plot points of this kind of movie seems silly, this movie has a real “box of broken and off-brand Legos” feel with nothing really fitting together and huge chunks of the story just not holding up at all. Sure, there are plenty of car chases/crashes and hand-to-hand combat scenes, but there are also lots of laugh-out-loud moments that I’m pretty sure were not intended to be comedy.

I like the simplicity of early late-career Neeson’s “guy finds daughter” or “guy fights wolves” movies or even of recent films like Ice Road where the gist is literally that Neeson drives a truck on an ice road. Blacklight piles a few too many half-formed story bits on its rickety setup. C-

Rated PG-13 for strong violence, action and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Mark Williams with a screenplay by Nick May, Blacklight is an hour and 44 minutes long and distributed by Briarcliff Entertainment.

Featured photo: Dog.

The Horsewoman, by James Patterson and Mike Lupica

The Horsewoman, by James Patterson and Mike Lupica (Little, Brown & Co., 433 pages)

I probably shouldn’t confess this in public, but until this week, I was a James Patterson virgin.

Called by his publisher “the best-selling author in the world,” a claim questioned by Google, Patterson certainly is among the richest and most prolific. How many books has he written or co-written? There’s a printable checklist on his website that goes on for longer than I cared to count; in 2017, the Wall Street Journal put the number at 150. And lately, of course, Patterson has taken to collaborating with celebrities — for example, The President is Missing, written with former President Bill Clinton, and the upcoming Run, Rose, Run with Dolly Parton.

With a catalog like that, Patterson seems to offer something for everyone, and I thought he’d finally delivered for me with The Horsewoman; its jacket blurb promises “breakneck speed and hair-raising thrills and spills.” That should have been a warning, as should have been the partnership with sportswriter Mike Lupica, who comes by his knowledge of the horse world as the father of a competitive rider. In other words, Patterson knows the formula, and Lupica filled in the details.

The result: a formulaic yawner that’s twice as long as it needed to be, and it’s debatable whether it needed to be at all. (Does Patterson really need more money or adulation at this point?) But because Patterson is a pro at turning out bestselling novels, The Horsewoman has a serviceable elevator pitch:

A mother, Maggie Atwood, was on track to make the U.S. equestrian team in the Olympics but months before the qualifying trials, she was injured in a fall from her horse, putting not only her dreams at risk but also the solvency of the family farm. Her daughter, Becky, a hithertofore lackluster rider, reluctantly steps up to take her mother’s place. Then, because, as Becky repeatedly says, “[excrement] happens,” it turns out that the mother recovers and is able to compete after all and wants her horse back, setting up the pair to have many first-world resentments and to compete against each other in the Paris Olympics.

There’s more to the story, of course. There is a villain in the form of an investor in Maggie’s horse, who wants to take full control of the horse, instead of the 60 percent share he owns. Steve Gorton is a caricature of a villain, complete with the hedge fund and the Ferrari and the Harvard Business School ballcap.

Then there’s Daniel, the trainer from Mexico who is a love interest for Becky and also justifies some political theater involving the treatment of “Dreamers” — undocumented workers whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children. There’s also the reliable tension of assorted family drama — the cold and critical matriarch who snaps at her granddaughter a lot, and the absent father who only shows up halfway through the book.

It keeps you turning the pages because formulas work even when they are obvious: The short chapters, some only a couple of pages in length, that always end with some small cliffhanger, even it’s resolved on the very next page; the occasional good line thrown in to make you think “this isn’t so bad” even though it kind of is, at least compared to, say, Dickens.

Although the focus changes throughout the book — from Becky to Daniel to Maggie — it never deviates from the intellectual level of the 21-year-old Becky (who says things like “This guy doesn’t know a bridle from a bridesmaid”), even when it’s expounding on the minutiae of equine infections.

The Horsewoman kept reminding me of another, more interesting story about a horse family struggling against the odds, the story told in the 2010 Disney film Secretariat. Though the film was embellished, it was a largely true story about a woman fighting to save her family farm with a risky but promising horse. Secretariat had the same problem that Patterson and Lupica faced: how to make sympathetic characters out of poor little rich girls whose chief worries in life are losing multimillion-dollar farms and horses. But Disney gave its cinematic story a heart; Patterson and Lupica never do.

While they talk about the Atwood family’s struggles to keep their farm and to hold onto a horse worth more than a million dollars, Becky casually mentions her CWD saddle (the brand starts at around $5,000), and of course there’s the travel to all the horse shows, and the veterinary bills, and all the other things that make competitive riding a rich person’s sport. As such, this is a novel that will also have appeal on a certain socioeconomic level. It also helps if you’re a horse-obsessed 15-year-old girl.

The most offensive thing this novel does, however, is not the dumbing down of an intriguing premise, but that it, like a grasping New York socialite, drops names.

During a competition, the names of two real equestrians show up — Jennifer Gates, the daughter of Bill Gates, and Georgina Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg’s daughter. I’m sure they’re lovely people and have every right to appear in a novel with hair-raising thrills and spills, but their inclusion among otherwise fictional characters seemed a shameless bid for attention from people who can afford to buy lots of books.

If this is what it takes to be the best-selling author in the world, count me out as a fan. C-

Book Notes

Ten years ago, Amy Diaz offered me the opportunity to review books for the Hippo. This was a leap of faith on her part.

Even though I had been a journalist longer than most of you have been alive, at the time, I had exactly one book review to my credit: a blistering takedown of Caitlin Flanagan’s first book, To Hell With All That, that hasn’t aged well. Flanagan has since become one of The Atlantic’s best known and most beloved writers. I stand by the review, nonetheless.

Here, we give books a letter grade, but there’s another grading system that has evolved at my house: Terrible or mediocre books are given away, good books are “lent” to friends (never to be seen again), and the very best books never leave the house. This system is a pure and cold calculus of a book’s worth, given that I have limited space and seem to downsize every few years. So, on the occasion of my decade with the Hippo, here, in no particular order, are some of the books I once reviewed and now refuse to part with:

The Dog Stars (Knopf, 336 pages) — 2012 novel by Peter Heller about a man and his dog in a post-apocalyptic world.

The End of Night (Little, Brown & Co., 336 pages) — 2013 nonfiction by Paul Bogard about what artificial light is doing to the planet and our brains.

The Regrets (Little, Brown & Co., 304 pages) — 2020 novel by Amy Bonnaffons about a man caught between Earth and the afterlife.

Dwelling in Possibility (Bauhan Publishing, 240 pages) — 2013 nonfiction by New Hampshire author Howard Mansfield, who muses on “searching for the soul of shelter.”

The Mindful Carnivore (Pegasus, 304 pages) — 2013 nonfiction by conflicted carnivore Tovar Cerulli, who went from vegan to hunter.

This is How (St. Martin’s, 240 pages) — thought-provoking essays by Augusten Burroughs, the Running With Scissors guy, on how to overcome a lifetime of problems and catastrophes.

Florida Man (Random House, 416 pages) — 2020 novel by Tom Cooper, wickedly funny and fresh.

Bowlaway (Deckle Edge, 384 pages) — 2019 novel by Elizabeth McCracken that had me at the first sentence: “They found a body in Salford Cemetery, but above ground and alive.”

How to Have a Good Day (Currency, 368 pages) — 2016 nonfiction by Caroline Webb that is a well-written encyclopedia of social-science research on improving pretty much everything in your life.

A Particular Kind of Black Man (Simon & Schuster, 272 pages) — fiction by Nigerian-American writer Tope Folarin, whose real-life experiences inform this account of an outsider trying to find his path in America.

There are more, but the others might yet be given away. All of the above are keepers.

Book Events

Author events

MARGARET ATWOOD Author presents Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 to 2021, in conversation with Judy Blume. Ticketed virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Tues., March 1, 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30. Via Zoom. Visit or call 224-0562.

HOWARD MANSFIELD Author presents Chasing Eden. Sat., March 19, 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. Peterborough Town Library, 2 Concord St., Peterborough. Visit

BECKY SAKELLERIOU AND HENRY WALTERS Becky Sakelleriou presents The Possibility of Red. Henry Walters presents Field Guide A Tempo. Sat., April 16, 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. Peterborough Town Library, 2 Concord St., Peterborough. Visit


REBECCA KAISER Poet presents Girl as Birch. Virtual event hosted by Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. Mon., April 11, 7 p.m. Via Zoom. Registration required. Visit or call 224-0562.

Book Clubs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Reviews 22/02/24

Mark Stewart VS, Challenge Institutionalized Power (eMERGENCY hearts Records)

Whoa, now we’re getting somewhere. Stewart has been a fixture in the noise-punk scene since he visited New York City in 1980 and got vacuumed into the no-wave vortex, and here he “faces off against” some of his favorite like-minded music-cultural transgressors, but now for some normie-speak. This is literally the most badass thing I’ve heard in months, evoking images of my walking into basically any half-edgy record store and feeling like I’d landed on a hostile planet that was yet somehow home, with the terrifying, epic sounds of Jim Thirlwell or Big Black blasting over the speakers as if the whole place just wanted everyone to leave. Who’s here? Well, Front 242 for one, leading off with a techno assault that’s trying to chase Stewart’s wobbly David Byrne-ish tenor out of town. There’s a face-off with electronic post-punk pioneer Eric Random (“Ghost Of Love”) that’s got dubstep in its DNA and pure anarchy in its heart. If you’ve ever liked any sort of aggressive music, especially one that’s got a lot of techno to it, you have to get this, you simply must. A+

Sataray, Blood Trine Moon (Scry Recordings)

This one-woman dark-ambient project (based in Olympia, Washington) has released a four-song EP here that’s aimed at the goth-est of the goth, meaning people who really think they’re witches or whatnot. It’s something you’d definitely want to have on hand at Halloween to scare the kids away: no cute howling dogs or whimsical mad scientist laughter; this lady wants to instill really ghoulish visions in the listener (think Lovecraft, M.R. James, etc.), and she’s started to make inroads into the convention world, bringing her super-creepy Japanese butoh dance moves to such nerd-fests as the Esoteric Book Conference, Passiontide and ShadowDance. Trippiness abounds here, folks, trust me, with slow, relentless, samples of (probably) gongs, singing bowls and Addams Family organ samples building in intensity until she starts going deep with some Linnea Quigley-circa-Night Of The Demons-worthy half-whispered chants and invocations. Don’t get me wrong, though, this isn’t cheesy in any way; this lady really wants to scare the pants off you, and for what it is, it’s totally rad, sure. A


• Next stop Feb. 25, get on board y’all, choo choo, isn’t it great! Yep, that’s when the new albums will come out, for your listening pleasure, and boy, is it great that February’s almost gone or what, am I right? We’ve got a full deck this week, so let’s start with ancient witch lady Judy Collins, whose latest album, Spellbound, is on the trucks, ready for delivery to anyone who can still buy an album and afford $190 for a gallon of milk, or however much it is these days, with all the cows being on strike or whatever the problem is! Collins rose to fame in the 1960s (she’s 82 now) with the song “Both Sides Now,” which her arch-enemy Joni Mitchell wrote while on a plane, reading some boring book about a guy who was in a plane flying over Africa and he saw some clouds. That’s all it was, but whatever, maybe Joni and Judy and their co-arch enemy Carole King will star in a reboot of The Golden Girls where they make hemp necklaces and maybe they’ll have Dolly Parton show up to play the Betty White lady, wouldn’t that be hilarious? Whatever, I think it would, but to the business at hand, Judy — she was the cute one out of the whole bunch, by the way — has a new single that will be on this album, namely “When I Was A Girl In Colorado,” a pretty little country-folkie tune that finds her singing as well as Amy Grant if you ask me, so take that, young people, these super old pop stars are going to be topping the Billboard charts until they’re 150 years old, so don’t bother learning instruments is my advice. And guess what, even though Judy’s super old, she will be on tour in 2022! The closest she’ll get to New Hampshire is Bar Harbor, Maine, on April 23, at the 1932 Criterion Theater! It’s true!

• Ha, if you’re kind of old, you may remember when, in the 1980s, British pop nincompoops Tears For Fears were going around saying they were going to be bigger than The Beatles. I remember it vividly, and I was probably the only one who didn’t think that was stupid, in fact I thought it was kind of awesome. Like, what else would you want to hear from some band that you kind of liked on MTV, “We anticipate having a fairly successful career?” No, if you have to deal with some idiot from MTV, of course you’re going to say something crazy, and for that I thank them. Anyway, their upcoming new album The Tipping Point is their first in 18 years and second in 27 years, meaning half the people reading this are like “Tears for who?,” to which I say they were a decent enough band that had a fairly successful career. The album’s seen a few singles already, but I’ll just check out the tune “No Small Thing.” Hm, it’s kind of like a cowboy-spaghetti song, a little Ennio Morricone and a little Conor Oberst, in other words it doesn’t have any relation to the yuppie-pandering synthpop nonsense they used to do. The hook is weak and depressing and old-sounding, let’s bag this and move on.

• Speaking of 1980s shlock, look guys, it’s bloopy synthpop retirees Soft Cell, with their newest, Happiness Not Included! These guys were one band I always kind of hated, which means that after 35 years they’ve probably written a good song, right? Well, the single “Heart Like Chernobyl” is bloopy and dumb, even worse and more meatless than “Tainted Love.” Repeat: It’s. Even. Worse. Than. “Tainted Love.”

• Time to bounce, fam, but first let’s have a listen to “Love It When You Hate Me” from Avril Lavigne’s new album Love Sux! Holy crow, is it still 2003? This is the exact same song she’s always written, the exact same hook, everything. Hard pass on this.

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).

Beer, slopeside

Beer and skiing: Yeah, they go together

I’ve snowboarded, or well, known how to snowboard for, I don’t know, 15 years, even if there’s about a 10- to 12-year gap in that window where I didn’t even look at my snowboard.

I’m not good at it and I still get stressed out about getting off the chairlift — and even if I manage to stay upright, I’ll probably knock over whoever is next to me. A three-seater? Forget it.

I met some friends at Pats Peak last year for an evening on the slopes. It reminded me of why it’s such a literal high to experience the rush of the mountainside.

The thing is, hitting the slopes is tiring, and if you’re on the mountain for an extended period of time, a beer or two to break up the day is just a winning move.

You do have to be careful. After you’ve taken a few runs, whatever beer you choose is going to taste very, very good. You’re going to want another. But don’t do it.

Let’s develop a game plan together so you can experience the mountain and have your beer.

Start your morning — without any beer. Let’s be real. Have a cup of coffee, have breakfast and get out there. The morning is going to be your longest stretch skiing or snowboarding. Give yourself a solid two to three hours to embrace the cold.

At lunchtime, grab something light and refreshing, such as the Czech Pilsner by Moat Mountain Brewing Co., which is crisp, light, bright and yet still flavorful, or Tuckerman Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale, which gives you a little fix of hops, a little bitterness and a nice, smooth finish. A tart Berliner weisse, such as Pulp Up the Jam Vol. 11 by Kettlehead Brewing Co., would be another nice choice.

At this stage, anything heavier like an IPA or a stout is just going to bog you down, and you have more skiing to do.

Now, you’ve had lunch and a beer, and you’re staying hydrated because you’re responsible. You felt the rush in the morning, explored some trails, and maybe challenged yourself a little bit. The afternoon can be a little less aggressive. Don’t worry about pushing your limits. Take in the scenery. Cruise some easy trails. Offer some pointers to beginners as you glide by because they always love that.

After a couple more hours of relaxing skiing or snowboarding, it’s time to take a break with something that packs a little more of a punch and a little more hop character, like the Mountain Haze New England IPA by Woodstock Inn Brewery, a beer that is still pretty easy to drink but with a little more in-your-face flavor. Another nice option would be a Stoneface Brewing Co. IPA — you just can’t go wrong with that. The Combover IPA by Schilling Beer Co. would be another game winner.

At this stage you may be feeling a bit tired. Get over it. You need to get back out there one more time, just for a couple more runs. This is your last chance to take it all in. Maybe you can time it right to catch the sun setting.

Take those last couple of runs, embrace the moment, and then close out the day with something rich, dark and decadent, like a Meltaway Milk Stout by Breakaway Beerworks, which is a just a creamy bomb of roasted malt and smooth chocolate-coffee sweetness. Another tremendous option would be to grab a Gunner’s Daughter milk stout by Mast Landing Brewing Co., which rewards you for going back out a third time with a luscious brew bringing together big flavors of chocolate, coffee and peanut butter.

You did good today.

What’s in My Fridge
Shipping Out of Boston Amber Lager by Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham, Mass.) This easy-drinking amber lager is the perfect change-of-pace beer, particularly when you’ve had enough of IPAs, and when you aren’t in the mood for something super heavy or something super light. With a welcoming malty character, it’s incredibly drinkable, flavorful and just simply enjoyable. Cheers!

Featured photo: Gunner’s Daughter by Mast Landing Brewing Company. Courtesy photo.

Maple walnut biscotti

It is almost maple syrup season. Why not celebrate that with a batch of biscotti infused and coated in maple syrup?

This recipe is about as straightforward as can be for a baked good. There are no hard-to-find ingredients or caveats for the directions. Simply gather all the needed items and let the baking begin.

From the time you start mixing until the glaze sets is about an hour and a half. Plan accordingly when making these treats. Keep in mind the bulk of that time is spent waiting for baking to finish or biscotti to cool. At the end you will have a batch of treats that can be eaten right away or can be stored for weeks.

Maple walnut biscotti
Makes 28

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1½ cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1½ Tablespoons skim milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for 2 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
Add maple extract and 1/3 cup maple syrup, beating until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and blend.
Stir walnuts into dough.
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 10″ x 3″ rectangle, using floured hands.
Set loaves 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 28 minutes or until the dough is set.
Leaving the oven on, remove the biscotti loaves and cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet.
Using a butcher knife, cut the loaves into diagonal slices, 1/2 inch thick.
Place slices on cookie sheet with the cut sides down. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes.
Turn over slices, and bake for 8 to 9 minutes more.
Remove the biscotti from the oven, and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. (Save parchment-lined baking sheet.)
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and milk; stir well to combine.
Using a spoon, coat one side of each biscotti with the glaze. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining biscotti.
To quicken the setting of the glaze, place the tray of glazed biscotti in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Featured Photo: Maple walnut biscotti. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Matt McCormack

Matt McCormack is the new executive chef of the Granite Restaurant & Bar (The Centennial Hotel, 96 Pleasant St., Concord, 227-9005,, which reopened in late October after an 18-month hiatus. Born and raised in Nashua, McCormack got his start in the industry early as a teenager — he worked his way up the ladder across several local eateries, like MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar in Nashua and the Mile Away Restaurant in Milford. When the Granite Restaurant reopened, McCormack was part of a team that worked under then executive chef Charlie Lavery, serving all new globally inspired and locally sourced dinner, dessert and brunch menus. He took over as executive chef shortly after Lavery’s recent departure and has now introduced his own menu — highlights include lamb Bolognese with handmade pappardelle and house lemon ricotta; red wine-braised short ribs and spaetzle with a black garlic sour cream; and mandilli di seta (“silk handkerchief” pasta) with Genovese pesto sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

My go-to item, and my favorite thing to have in the kitchen, is definitely the KitchenAid. … It has a very high capability to do a lot of different things.

What would you have for your last meal?

My last meal would be a raw beef salad. They do a raw beef salad at Central Provisions up in Maine, and I’ve gone there and ordered two for myself. It’s to die for.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Surf in Nashua. Their sushi program over there is fantastic. It’s the best in the city for sure, and it would compete with a lot of others in New Hampshire.

What celebrity would you like to see eating in your restaurant?

Growing up, I always watched Giada De Laurentiis, and I may have a crush on her. … She is amazing, so if I could have anybody come in to eat at my restaurant, it would be her.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

I would say my favorite item … is the red wine-braised short ribs. It’s a dish that I’ve really kind of homed in on as a chef in the last few years, and it’s one that I know people are going to respond well to.

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

I would say farm-to-table and the locality and seasonality. … Using local farms is so cool because I think it’s a great engaging point for the servers to talk with the customer … so they get to know where their food is coming from, but they also feel like they are putting value into the economy in their area.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

Making a cheesecake at home is the best. … My mom’s recipe is an Italian cheesecake that has ricotta and sour cream.

Halibut with saffron Israeli couscous
From the kitchen of executive chef Matt McCormack of the Granite Restaurant & Bar in Concord

For the halibut:
Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh squeezed lemon to finish

Sear halibut filets. Heat a large skillet on high for two minutes, then add extra virgin olive oil. Introduce the fish (in a single layer; do not overlap) and sear for three to four minutes. Gently flip over filets using a spatula and continue to sear for another two to four minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Finish with fresh lemon.

For the couscous:
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup minced shallot
⅓ red bell pepper, diced in small pieces
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
⅛ teaspoon saffron
1½ cup Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable broth (more if needed)
1 Tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Introduce shallot, red pepper, garlic and saffron. Cook while stirring gently for two to three minutes, until the onions and garlic are translucent (not brown). Stir in couscous and stir for one minute longer, until evenly coated with oil. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes, until tender.

Combine zest, lemon juice, basil and extra virgin olive oil with the couscous, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for two minutes while stirring — couscous should be tender and fluffy, not brothy and wet. If it is too dry, add two tablespoons of butter or broth.

Featured photo: Matt McCormack. Courtesy photo.

Tasty tapas

Luna Bistro coming to Salem

Luna Bistro will be Salem’s first tapas and wine bar, according to owner Kori Doherty, whose goal is to create a space with a relaxing vibe featuring good drinks, locally sourced shareable plates, live music, comedy shows and more.

“It’s going to be more of a night-out type of experience as opposed to just somewhere you would go to eat and then leave,” Doherty said. “The menu itself is all shareable plates, so there will be no entrees … and we’re probably going to have four to five different cocktails that will rotate. … I really want it to be a place where you can have a good glass of wine or a beer and a bunch of really good appetizers, maybe watch a show or listen to a band, and just not feel rushed.”

Short rib flatbread (left), created in Luna Bistro’s test kitchen. Courtesy photos.

Doherty has teamed up with executive chef Mark Filteau, a local industry veteran, to help design and finalize Luna Bistro’s menu. Filteau, of Hudson, previously served as the executive chef of NoLo Bistro & Bar inside the former Stonehenge Inn & Spa in Tyngsboro, Mass. He has also worked culinary stints at the Atlantic Grill in Rye and the Wentworth by the Sea in Portsmouth.

“We connected. He really liked my idea and he’s had tapas experience,” she said. “He’ll also be working on taking care of the specials and handling the kitchen and the staff in there.”

The food menu, Doherty said, is broken up into multiple categories from meat and seafood options to dips, spreads and flatbreads, all designed to be shared among guests.

“Everything is going to be made here, nothing frozen,” she said. “Everything is also going to be locally sourced as much as possible. … We’ve got some duck and goose on there, some arancini, mushroom tarts, roasted chickpeas, [and] short ribs, which are one of my personal favorites.”

Craft beers will also be local, mostly sourced within New England. Doherty said she hopes to offer a mix of popular options and lesser-known brews that people are willing to try.

“We’re going to do beer flights and wine flights,” she said, “and wine and beer nights as well, so we’ll bring in vendors from different breweries and wineries, they can come in and talk about them and then they’ll be paired with some of the tapas that we have for that night.”

At just over 5,000 square feet, Luna Bistro has a capacity of 136 seats dispersed across all kinds of arrangements, from a traditional dining area with booths and tables to a lounge area near the performance stage with couches and a fireplace. More seating areas will be available at the bar next to a wall of televisions, as well as on a large newly built outdoor patio.

“The stage is where we’ll have acoustics, and we’re going to do pianos on Sundays, so it’s more of a low-key, classy vibe,” Doherty said. “Outside is where we’ll do the bands.”

Luna Bistro
An opening date is coming soon. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Where: 254 N. Broadway, No. 101, Salem
Anticipated Hours: Monday and Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 3 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for private events and functions (hours may be subject to change).
More info: Find them on Facebook and Instagram @lunabistro.tapasbar

Featured photo: Pomegranate pistachio crostini, created in Luna Bistro’s test kitchen. Courtesy photos.

Flavors of Jalisco

Los Reyes Street Tacos & More to open in Derry

Jose Reyes of Manchester comes from multiple generations of street food vending in Mexico — his father, grandfather and brother all continue to serve birria, or slow-stewed meat, on the streets of Reyes’s home state of Jalisco. With more than a decade of combined kitchen experience across multiple local Mexican eateries, from La Carreta to Puerto Vallarta, Jose Reyes and his wife Isabel are now honoring his family’s tradition with their first restaurant as owners.

Los Reyes Street Tacos & More, on track to open soon at the Hillside Plaza in Derry, will offer simple flavors of authentic Mexican street food, Isabel Reyes said.

“We didn’t want to just be ‘Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant.’ We really want to be known for our street tacos,” she said. “We’re going to have a menu section of different salsas and … they’re all going to have a little description and their own amount of kick to them.”

Co-owner Jose Reyes’s brother, father and grandfather are street vendors in Degollado, Jalisco, Mexico. Courtesy photo.

The eatery will operate in a mostly fast casual type of environment, with an open kitchen near the front and an advanced online ordering system expected to be implemented. Street tacos, quesadillas, burritos and bowls will all come with a variety of filling options, like carnitas, grilled chicken, chorizo, barbacoa beef, haddock, shrimp or sauteed veggies.

Other menu options the couple has in store include a Southwest chicken salad; Mexican street corn, either roasted or unroasted with lime, cotija cheese and a special cream sauce; and sopes, which Isabel Reyes described as being topped similar to tostadas, featuring refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream and the desired filling, but with a fried masa, or corn, base.

Co-owner Jose Reyes’s brother, father and grandfather are street vendors in Degollado, Jalisco, Mexico. Courtesy photo.

Birria, Isabel Reyes said, is most commonly served on a plate in the form of goat meat. You won’t find goat on their menu, but you will be able to try quesabirras, inspired by the traditional stew and featuring beef, onion, cilantro and a side of consommé, or the stewed broth.

“It’s slow-stewed, so basically it’s cooked for six to eight hours until it’s very tender, and then it’s mixed in with different spices,” she said. “The consommé is basically the same stew that helped cook the meat, so we give you that to dip it in and it gives it that extra flavor.”

For dessert, Los Reyes will be offering items like churros and xangos, or cheesecake chimichangas. They’re also partnering with Dulces Bakery of Manchester to source their tres leches, or cakes soaked in three different types of milk that are then topped with homemade whipped cream and served in refrigerated single-portion cups. They come in a variety of flavors.

Drinks will feature selections of both domestic and Mexican imported beers, along with some local craft brew options, and flavors of agua fresca, a light fruit drink popular in Mexico.

Isabel Reyes said food specials will likely be added to the menu on a rotating basis.

“We may add new plates or new desserts maybe every three months or so, just to throw something out there and change it up,” she said. “We have a lot of ideas, and [Jose] loves to try to learn new and different things.”

Los Reyes Street Tacos & More
An opening date is expected to be announced soon. Visit their website or follow them on social media for updates.

Where: 127 Rockingham Road, Unit 15, Derry
Anticipated hours: Monday through Saturday; hours TBA but will be open for both lunch and dinner service (closed on Sundays)
More info: Visit, or find them on Facebook @losreyestacosnh or on Instagram @losreyestacos_nh

Featured photo: Isabel and Jose Reyes, owners of Los Reyes Street Tacos & More. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

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