Career in review

Marshall Crenshaw rocks The Rex

By Michael Witthaus

Calling his latest tour “40 Years In Showbiz,” Marshall Crenshaw is celebrating the anniversary of his 1982 debut album. However, he started in the business a few years before that, performing on Broadway and releasing his first single on the venerable Shake Records label.

In fact, the song that arguably launched his eponymous first platter, “Someday, Someway,” was born while Crenshaw was playing John Lennon in Beatlemania, during its run in Boston.

When the show hit the city in early 1980, Crenshaw had given notice he was leaving. The cast stayed at the Copley Plaza Hotel, and he’d walk there from the Shubert Theatre every night. “Along the way I would get ideas and energy,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It was my first time in Boston, and I loved it… it was winter, but I loved that too. I just had this great sense of possibility about my future.”

Crenshaw’s affinity didn’t end then. “I kept going back to that hotel every couple of years,” he said. “I wrote part of the songs on Field Day [his second record] there. Because it’s a lucky hotel.”

Among the many projects Crenshaw is currently working on is the reissue of those first two albums, with outtakes, bonus tracks and other rarities. The first will drop in November, on Black Friday, with Field Day due in early 2023. They will be released independently; surprisingly, it cost him nothing to secure the rights from his old label, Warner Brothers.

“God bless America,” he said. “The copyright laws allow the author of a work to reclaim that work after 35 years, if you do it in a timely manner, which I did. I claimed the U.S. rights to the sound recordings and the publishing also. That was a pretty heady day.”

So fans will hear the original versions of “Someday, Someway,” “(You’re My) Favorite Waste of Time,” “Cynical Girl” and other songs for the first time on streaming platforms. “They’re going to be amazing — not to be hyping my own stuff,” Crenshaw said, adding a plug for the physical product. “We worked really hard on going into depth with the packaging, to let your mind step inside the world of those records.”

The sophomore effort remains his favorite. “That one really is golden for me … a really vivid moment in my life, “ he said. “There was bad and good stuff going on. It was the culmination of everything, including my failed relationship with Warner Brothers.”

Late last year he released The Wild Exciting Sounds of Marshall Crenshaw: Live In The 20th and 21st Century. Gathered from 1980s radio broadcasts like King Biscuit Flower Hour and more recent shows, the two-disc set gives fans a good idea of what to expect when Crenshaw plays The Rex Theatre in Manchester on Sept. 22. For the show, he’ll be joined by Fernando Perdomo on guitar, bass player Derrick Anderson and Mark Ortmann on drums.

“We do a cross-section of stuff from over the 40 years, and some old rock ’n’ roll songs just for kicks,” said Crenshaw, who played Buddy Holly in the 1987 biopic La Bamba. “It’s just a good evening. Fernando is a great guitar player, the two of us play together really well. If you like my stuff, or if you’re interested or curious about it, I’m pretty sure you’ll come away satisfied.”

On the non-music front, Crenshaw is close to finishing a documentary film on the life of Tom Wilson. A Black producer, Wilson helmed Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” session and was crucial to the careers of Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Zappa and Velvet Underground, accomplishments that came after he’d run the influential Transition jazz label.

“It was a shock for me when I suddenly realized I was going to do it,” Crenshaw said of the project. “It just hit me like a bolt of inspiration…. I looked at the bullet points of his artistic legacy, and I saw a commonality between Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, free jazz, avant-garde and then with electric Dylan and Sounds of Silence. To me those things all fit together; what made them fit together was this one person’s vision.”

That a Black producer was so vital to white performers was secondary to Wilson’s art, he continued. “At that time, the recording session world was integrated, at least in New York,” Crenshaw said. “People are mystified by it now, but that just says more about people now than it says about people then.”

Marshall Crenshaw
When: Thursday, Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester
Tickets: $39 to$49 at

Featured photo: Marshall Crenshaw. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 22/09/15

Local music news & events

Laugh night: Enjoy Third Thursday comedy with Matt Barry, joined by James Hamilton, Gilman Seymour and Jonah Simmons. Barry is now in his second decade of doing standup after trying it out at the Shaskeen in 2011. He mixes jokes about underemployment, living in his parents’ house and smoking weed — the latter less prominent since cannabis is legal more places. Thursday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m., SoHo Asian Restaurant & Bar, 49 Lowell Road, Hudson, $18 in advance, $20 at the door; email

Rock out: Performing their only New Hampshire show, Winger rolls out their hits, including “Seventeen,” Can’t Get Enough,” “Headed For A Heartbreak” and “Miles Away.” Formed in NYC during the halcyon days of hair bands, their glam and prog metal mix was all over MTV for a while before they split in the mid-’90s. They re-formed in 2001 and have made a few albums since. Leaving Eden opens the show. Friday, Sept. 16, 6 p.m., Granite State Music Hall, 546 Main St., Laconia, $29.99 and up at, 21+.

Helping out: A benefit for Ukrainian Refugee Relief features Foreigners Journey, a tribute act that covers two classic rock groups, co-headlining with Seacoast Idol favorite Jordan Quinn. The double doppelgänger band is led by singer Keith Carmichael, who pulls off the feat of switching between Lou Gramm doing “Urgent” and “Hot Blooded” and Steve Perry singing “Lights” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” Saturday, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., Stockbridge Theatre, 44 N. Main St., Derry, $41 at

Female energy: Enjoy an afternoon set from Caylin Costello, a singer and guitarist who recently opened both days of the RoC The Range Festival. She learned her first song, “House of the Rising Sun,” at age 12, and started hitting a local open mic a few years later, doing her first paying gig at 17. She’s built a solid calendar playing covers and originals, despite the challenges of being a woman in an often male-dominated scene. Sunday, Sept. 18, 4 p.m., Stonecutters Pub, 63 Union St., Milford. See

Read & play: A night of poetry and music is helmed by Myles Burr, author of Therapy Is Expensive So I Wrote This Book Instead, and editor of a few anthologies. Featured poets include Claire Conroy, Mikayla Cyr, Allison J. Hall, Mike Nelson, Lillian Zagorites and Dana Brooks. The evening’s musical element includes hip-hop from Sig Shalome, a West Coast transplant who recently released an eponymous EP. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., The Press Room, 77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, $10 at, 21+.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PG)

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PG)

Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp bring the shoe-wearing shell of their early 2010s short films to a feature-length story with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Seashells Marcel (voice of Slate) and Nana Connie (voice of Isabella Rossellini) live in a house that is now an AirBnB but was once the home of a couple. When the couple separated, the man quickly packed, dumping the contents of his sock drawer into his suitcase — the sock drawer unfortunately having been the safe room for Marcel’s family of shells and other small googly-eyed items. Marcel shows off the innovations he and Connie have made now that they live in the house by themselves to Dean, a documentary maker who has moved in after his own breakup. The videos they shoot of the sweet Marcel and his kind grandmother earn Marcel internet fame, for better (Connie’s hero Lesley Stahl wants to interview them) and worse (people showing up at the house to take selfies). It also introduces the idea that this fame may help Marcel track down his lost community.

Relationships, grief, change, family — yes, Marcel is a soft-voiced lo-fi craft project, but this movie goes to some deep places and has him (in a way that is both simple but very well-developed) deal with some big issues. And it’s fun, full of charming visuals of shell-sized Marcel traveling via tennis ball and Connie sleeping, grand dame style, in a makeup compact inside a jewelry box. Short and sweet (without end credits, the movie clocks in at less than 90 minutes) Marcel is a thorough delight. A

Rated PG for some suggestive material and thematic elements, according to the MPA on Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp with a screenplay by Dean Fleischer-Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Nick Paley and Jenny Slate, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is an hour and 30 minutes long and is distributed by A24 in theaters and for purchase via VOD.

Prey (R)

The Predator franchise gets a fun new entry with Prey, which takes us to a Predator’s hunting trip to Earth in 1719 in the northern Great Plains.

When Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche woman who is a good tracker and has solid healing skills but really wants to be a hunter, first sees what we know is a Predator spaceship, she takes it as a sign that she’s ready to prove herself on a hunt. In this particular case, she and the young men from her tribe, including her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), are hunting a mountain lion. But Naru quickly becomes convinced that something else is out there in the forests and grasslands, something bigger than a bear and with the ability to skin a snake. Naru has to convince the dismissive boys that she is worthy of being with them and that she knows what she’s talking about when she measures footprints and estimates the size of the being that must have made them.

Midthunder is often carrying scenes on her own, making squinting into the woods or tensing at a light rustle suspenseful enough to keep your attention glued to the screen. She does an excellent job of making Naru a believable person — both capable and scared, eager to prove herself and occasionally uncertain. We can believe that Naru, who might not have the alien’s strength and size but does have knowledge of the field of play, can put up a real fight against the Predator. I found myself thinking that this movie, with its mountain lion hunt and its introduction of the boorish (but well-armed) French traders who have started to invade the land, could have been a cracking thriller even without the Predator aspect, but the folding of Predator lore into a more Earth-bound story works. It has vibes of the highly enjoyable 2004 Alien Vs Predator, with a game-sees-game aspect to the human-Predator faceoff. A

Rated R for strong bloody violence, according to the MPA on Directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, Prey is an hour and 39 minutes long and is distributed by 20th Century Studios via Hulu.

Featured photo: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom, 480 pages)

When I first opened Gideon the Ninth, the first of Tamsyn Muir’s “Locked Tomb” series, all I knew was that the book was queer and in a science-fiction fantasy universe, and that was all I needed to soothe my lonely gay heart. And it had cool cover art. So I gave the book a shot.

And I was turned feral. I devoured Gideon the Ninth, then immediately stormed my local bookstore for the sequel, Harrow the Ninth. And after Harrow, I reread Gideon immediately. Then Harrow, again. Reader, you may not know me, but I assure you: This is unusual.

I delight in the writing; Muir selects delicious adjectives that had me re-reading sentences just to taste them again. The protagonists are lovable, equal parts endearing and heartbreaking, and the villains are conniving and charming. The unique genre is refreshing, a mix of dystopia, science fiction, fantasy and squicky horror. I am obsessed with the plot: characters navigating intense relationships within an epic adventure, reminiscent of the multimedia webcomic Homestuck (indeed, fans can find nods to it). The characters’ central struggles are captivating, including acceptance of duty, acceptance of grief, and acceptance that God is actually some guy named John who’s a bit of a jerk. And this is all in a universe that’s unapologetically gay. I think I’ve been transformed.

Now we’re at the third in the series, Nona the Ninth (and last will come Alecto the Ninth, planned for release in 2023). I paced myself through the nearly 500-page novel to try to savor it; I know there will be another long wait before Alecto comes around.

The central question here is: Who the heck is Nona? She’s a brand-new character. We know she’s a soul who has been hitching a ride in another person’s borrowed body for the past six months. She’s guileless, devastatingly cute, hilariously entitled, desperate for attention, and has an intractable case of pica. And she has no idea who she is. I was sucked into every thing Nona did, or said, or thought, trying to suss out who she might be. She is immediately endearing. She is brave and sweet and incredibly concerned for her friends. It was a joy to read about her. The tagline on the cover is true: “You will love Nona, and Nova loves you.”

At the same time that I was getting to know Nona, I was desperate to find out where my favorite protagonists’ souls (or bodies, or both) had ended up. In a similar structure to the last two books, revelations on their whereabouts and other mysteries are tantalizingly interspersed throughout the whole novel, providing rich reward for each chapter. Peppered in are moments of action, which are vibrant in their immediacy and urgency. The novel culminates in an explosive, breathtaking finale that will have you scrambling for the next installment, or to re-read the previous novel with fresh context.

I celebrated some of the reveals in Nona, while others were awful. I asked myself, “Is it possible to wail in delight and horror at the same time? This is probably not what they mean by ‘laughing until you cry.’” But Muir is aware of this emotional weight, and skillfully alternates between sweet tenderness, chilling doom, and irreverent humor.

There are intractable mysteries remaining, though: What do the pictographs at the start of each chapter represent? What clues can be found in the various bible passages that are quoted? Which memes went completely over my head? You can enjoy these novels with a surficial read, but even more can be extracted between the lines. It’s the perfect kind of book to discuss with your friends, whether by sharing your favorite lines or brainstorming the latest fan theories.

Readers used to heavy worldbuilding in science-fiction fantasy a la Brandon Sanderson may be thrown off by the sparsely described setting of this installment, the city (or planet?), which we eventually learn is New Rho. Only what we need to know is supplied. But this brevity does not bring down the story. The true focus in The Locked Tomb are the characters and their relationships. And indeed, Muir plies her trade to good effect. Nona the Ninth made me laugh out loud, cry, seethe with both cheer and horror, and put my heart through a meat grinder. To this I ask: more, please.

For much of Nona, I felt bittersweet pangs for my favorite characters. I wonder: What kind of ending will befall them in Alecto? Will they ever be at peace? At this point, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I have trust that Muir will take them, and us, home. As many have already said: I’ve never read anything like Nona the Ninth. And I fear that when The Locked Tomb series is over, I’ll never read anything like it again. A+

— Alaina Tocci

Book Events

Author events

YANA TALLON-HICK, therapist, writer and educator, will be at Bookery Manchester (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, to discuss her book Hot and Unbotheredon Friday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.

SUSIE SPIKOL, a naturalist at the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, will discuss her book The Animal Adventurer’s Guide: How to Prowl for an Owl, Make Snail Slime, and Catch a Frog Bare-Handed, on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m. at Toadstool Bookshop (12 Depot Square in Peterborough;, 924-3543).

JOSEPH D. STEINFIELD presents Time for Everything: My Curious Life at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m.

BOB BUDERI author of Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Hub will beat the Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600) on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m. for a discussion with special guests C.A. Webb and Liz Hitchcock. Free admission; register at

NINA TOTENBERG The Historic Music Hall Theater (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, will host NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. to present her newly released memoir Dinners With Ruth, which chronicles her lifelong friendship and conversations with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Tickets are $43 and include a book voucher.

SUSIE SPIKOL, a naturalist at the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, will come to Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St. in Concord;, 224-0562) to “teach your kiddos how to find critters in their neighborhood” on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m. with her book The Animal Adventurer’s Guide: How to Prowl for an Owl, Make Snail Slime, and Catch a Frog Bare-Handed, according to a press release. The book, which is slated for release Sept. 13, features “50 hands-on activities and adventures that bring you closer to wild animals than you’ve ever been,” the release said. Spikol will also bring supplies to do one of the crafts from the book.

HUMA ABEDIN The Historic Music Hall Theater (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, will host Huma Abedin, longtime political advisor and aide for Hillary Clinton, to discuss her bookBoth/Andat the Music Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.Tickets are $15 and include a book voucher.

DONALD YACOVONE will discuss his new book Teaching White Supremacy: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of Our National Identity on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562,

STEPHEN PULEO visits the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St., 589-4600, on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 2 p.m. to discuss his book Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Registration is required.

Album Reviews 22/09/15

Joseph Shipp, Free For A While (self-released)

This 40-year-old Tennessee-born singer-songwriter tried San Francisco life for a while, landed himself a wife, then came back to his home state, specifically to Nashville, where he put out a coffee-table book (A Community in Black & White) of old photographs in collaboration with The Bitter Southerner. His background is in fact rooted in photography; his family owned a photography business, so what prompted him to put out this debut album (shipping on Oct. 28) is lost on me but probably speaks to an adjunct product to the book. Unlike so many of these jack-of-all-trades projects, the music fits in quite well with his rootsy art; in fact, if I had to pick a RIYL comparison for kickoff song “Rest Assured,” it’d be a cross between Hank Williams Sr. and Woody Guthrie, a comparison that’s deserved. Lot of more modern Americana here, though, like the strummy, near-Guster-like “Where You Are,” and there are curveballs of course, like the Mazzy Star-like “Only The Moon.” Shipp’s voice is unusually high, which does add some quaint eeriness to these proceedings. A

The Callous Daoboys, Celebrity Therapist (Modern Static Records)

It’s been quite a while since I investigated a band that specializes in mathcore, a genre that, last I knew, was lorded over by Dillinger Escape Plan and all that stuff, armor-plated with old-school emo ’tude and a lot of riffs with bizarre time signatures. That’s descriptive of the genre’s high end, of course; there’s no hard and fast rule to mathcore other than being loud and somewhat unfollowable relative to song structure (and yes, that’s my guideline; I stopped trusting Wikipedia’s genre definitions years ago, not that that’s the smartest thing to do in every case). So these four guys are from Atlanta, and what a terribly clever name they’ve given themselves, I’ll readily admit. That’s in line with their musical approach too: extended bursts of Dillinger Escape Plan-ish syncopated cacophony, but plenty of skit moments as well, probably recorded during dinnertimes and whatnot; it all feels very punky and personal. Well done, for what it is. A


• Friday, Sept. 16, will see, like every Friday, a bunch of new music CD releases, and I’ll tell you right now, gang, things are already starting to heat up for the holiday buying season! I didn’t get a lot of Christmas releases last year, so hopefully that situation won’t repeat itself as we start running out of months in the calendar of 2022, widely regarded as the worst year in history only because nothing’s been fixed, things just get worse and worse, don’t they? But I know that you know the only cure for all that existential dread, that’s right, it’s new rock ’n’ roll albums, and guess who’s leading us off? That’s right, famous Manhattan-based band Gogol Bordello, with their Eastern European tuneage and fiddles and accordions; it’s great music to run around to while guzzling cheap whiskey and randomly punching people in the face, you should try it sometime if you haven’t! Wait, don’t go to Amy’s movie reviews yet, there’s a point to all this, specifically that this bizarre accordion-filled Romani-punk band does have an album coming out on Friday, titled Solidaritine! As always, the band is fronted by Eugene Hütz, who was born in Ukraine, so I’m assuming there won’t be a lot of protest songs about the recent Russian invasion or he’d end up peeling potatoes in a factory, but you never know, so howzabout we get to the gettin’-on and give a listen to the new single, “Take Only What You Can Carry,” which is wait a minute, like Steve Harvey says when he’s emceeing a beauty pageant, it is about the Russian invasion! It says here that the song “encapsulates [the] emotional message of uprooted people whose lives were destroyed by this f–d up war in Ukraine.” Love this video, look at Eugene and his peeps walking around and overacting, occasionally stopping to say hello to some of the refugees. The tune has sort of a Meatloaf-ish, off-Broadway feel to it; it’s fun and crazed, of course. Did I mention there’s fiddles and accordions?

• Oh come on, just when I thought it was going to be a fun column, here we go, look who it is, folks, it’s unlistenable twee-rockers Death Cab for Cutie, with Asphalt Meadows, their latest batch of Gilmore Girls-begging nonsense-pop! Death Cab were the poster children for the “do all indie-rock bands have to be white” backlash of a few years ago (you remember, right? No?), which I largely avoided owing to the fact that I’ve never considered these guys to be “rock” in the first place, more like a sleepy, boring, dishwasher-safe garage band that’d be right at home opening for a balloon-animal-making clown at kids’ birthday parties. Man, do I hate them, but here we go, let me finish this bottle of Jagermeister and see if I can handle their new song, “Here To Forever.” Wow, it’s kind of listenable after all, but in a stupid way. It’s a cross between New Order and Christopher Cross’s yacht-rock song “Sailing.” Why would anyone do this sort of music? Don’t ask me, I really have no idea.

• Well, bless their hearts, look folks, it’s 30-year-old British art-rock band Suede, with their first album since 2018, Autofiction. The single, “She Still Leads Me,” is a feisty little Blur-like number that totally rips off Flock Of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song.” Other than that it’s astonishingly original.

• OK, and finally, it’s neo-neo-metal whatevers The Mars Volta, with a self-titled album. The album opens with “Blacklight Shine,” which features some very authentic-sounding African tribal music. Still not going to keep most critics from making fun of the band, though, just saying.

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).

Felt hat? Yes, it was very soft

I called an Über a couple of months ago. My driver got right back to me and said she would pick me up in just a few minutes.

I was enjoying watching the little cartoon of her car drive along the little map to where I was, when my new friend Shanikqua texted me:

“I’m pretty much there. What do you look like?”

I thought about how I should explain what I look like — my choice of jaunty tropical shirt, my gray beard, the twinkle in my eye — then decided to give her a more concise description:

“Hipster Santa Claus”

“Yup, OK. I see you….”

I’d like to say that I’ve struggled with style for my entire life, but honestly, I haven’t put up much of a fight. My fashion icon has always been Billy Joel in the 1970s, with a loosened tie and rolled up sleeves. I spent the ’80s and early ’90s dressed almost exclusively in Hawaiian shirts and painter’s pants. A new century, marriage and fatherhood have not brought any form of sartorial enlightenment.

Two things have changed that: late middle age, and the internet.

I’m not sure when it happened, but a year or two ago the internet algorithms learned my taste in clothes. I would be up late at night, arguing with the L.A. Times crossword puzzle, trying to explain that not every puzzle needs to have “Oreos” as an answer, when a pop-up ad would, er, pop up, and show me a really cool bowling shirt covered with skulls and roses.

“How about this, Boss? Wouldn’t you like to own this? It’s on sale….”

selfie taken from above of man with mustache and chin beard wearing bowler hat, wall of hats on display behind him
John Fladd.

And the next thing you know, I’d be the owner of a Dia de Los Muertos bowling shirt, which of course only encouraged the internet to show me the clothing that a more interesting version of myself would wear.

And since I’ve started looking more grandfatherly, I haven’t had to worry about anyone taking me seriously anyway, so here I am, at a point in life where I should probably be looking at cardigans, actually developing a personal sense of style.

Which is how I ended up in a hat shop in Wichita.

I was drawn in by a spirit of morbid curiosity.

“I’ll just look around for a minute or so,” I told myself. “This is Wichita; you know that it’s going to be all cowboy hats and stuff I couldn’t wear if I wanted to.”

Half an hour later I had tried on a dozen different hats and been fitted for a for-real, no-kidding-around bowler.

So now, apparently, I’m that guy.

All of which is beside the point, except to remind you that Thursday, Sept. 15, is National Felt Hat Day. But of course you knew that already.

The felt hat


  • ½ ounce or so of absinthe, for rinsing a glass
  • 1 ounce rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce crème de violette, a violet-colored and flavored liqueur
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Rinse the inside of a chilled cocktail glass with the absinthe. Roll the absinthe around in the glass, until it has left a layer on the entire inner surface.

Add the other ingredients and ice to a mixing glass, then stir until thoroughly chilled.

Strain into the cocktail glass. Drink while wearing a felt hat.

This is a riff on a drink called the trilby, which is traditionally made with Scotch and pastis. It is whiskey-forward but sweet enough to make you take a sip, tilt your head slightly and raise your eyebrows. The vermouth and crème de violette do a lot of the heavy lifting, and would probably make this a little too sweet, if not for the bitters. The absinthe hovers in the background, advising you not to let your guard down too much.

How good is it?

You’ll be filled to the brim with satisfaction.

Featured photo. The Felt Hat. Photo by John Fladd.

Bourbon & brown sugar mixed nuts

When you’re setting out snacks for an afternoon of football-watching or an evening of movies, you want a nice mix of options. I really like having a dish of something that people can consume by the handful. No need for a plate or fork; just grab a couple or a lot, and continue snacking.

These bourbon and brown sugar mixed nuts are a terrific eat-by-the-handful snack. Unlike many flavored nuts, these have a decent amount of coating! In fact, they probably are the most indulgent, but also most delicious, mixed nuts I make.

Let’s talk about ingredients. I like using salted butter for flavor. If you use unsalted, add a sprinkle of salt — you really need it to balance the sweetness. As for the nuts, I like a mixture of half and half for the pecans and walnuts. However, if you prefer almonds or another nut, go ahead and substitute. For the bourbon, use one that you like to drink on the rocks or neat. If it’s a bourbon that tastes better with a mixer, don’t use it here.

I have one final recommendation. If you are sharing these with a larger group, I would highly recommend making a double (or triple) batch. Any time that I have made this recipe, they disappear faster than any other dish on the table.

Bourbon & brown sugar mixed nuts
Serves 8

¼ cup salted butter
2 cups whole pecans and walnuts
¾ cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons bourbon

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add nuts, stirring well to coat.
Add brown sugar, mixing until all nuts are coated.
Add bourbon. (Mixture will bubble.)
Stir frequently for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce changes from liquid to grainy.
Pour the nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
Using a spatula, spread the nuts into a thin layer.
After 2 minutes, separate the clusters using your hands. (Mixture should be cooler)
If nuts still are sticky, they can be baked for 5 to 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Featured Photo: Bourbon & brown sugar mixed nuts. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Greg Sturgis

Greg Sturgis of Concord launched The Pizza Project (, and on Facebook and Instagram @thepizzaprojectnh), a series of pizza pop-ups at several breweries and other area businesses, earlier this year. Through the Air Force, Sturgis traveled overseas to Naples, Italy, where he fell in love with Neapolitan-style pizza. He’s been perfecting his own pies ever since, acquiring an interest in different pizza styles along the way. Sturgis’s goal is to ultimately open a brick-and-mortar location, where he plans to focus on Roman-style pizzas, as well as other revolving styles. For now you can find him slinging pizzas at Lithermans Limited Brewery (126B Hall St., Concord) on Friday, Sept. 16, at 4 p.m., and at Henniker Brewing Co. (129 Centervale Road) on Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. During a special fundraising event for Slice Out Hunger at Lithermans on Saturday, Oct. 8, Sturgis will donate all proceeds to The Friendly Kitchen in Concord.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Outside of the oven, it’s either a pizza peel or pan grabbers, depending on the style of pizza.

What would you have for your last meal?

For a last meal, I tend to think of comfort food, but I would also have to have it be a meal that I had not had before. So I guess I would try to combine those two, with maybe something that Jeffrey Paige of Cotton could surprise me with.

What is your favorite local eatery?

It’s got to be The Crust & Crumb [Baking Co. in Concord]. … I either get one of their bars, their lemon cookies or their Key lime bars.

What celebrity would you like to see trying one of your pizzas?

Baseball was always a connection I had with my dad, and now I’m lucky enough to have that same connection with my daughter. So, I would say pretty much any player or manager from the Boston Red Sox. Except for Bobby Valentine.

What is your favorite pizza that you’ve ever offered?

My favorite topping combination that I do is spinach, feta and mozzarella on top of a white sauce.

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

I think that over the pandemic, going back to your favorite restaurants, you see that the menus have pared down quite a bit. … I think that these places are really scaling down and doing the things that they sell well, and I think that really raises the bar for specialization and creativity.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

For non-pizza, I like to make baklava at home. My mother worked at a Greek restaurant in New Hampshire when she was young, so I kind of grew up making it … and so now it’s something where I really enjoy the process and also the product.

Homemade white pizza sauce
Courtesy of Greg Sturgis of The Pizza Project (makes enough for about two regular-sized pizzas)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small diced onion (yellow or white)
1 clove minced garlic
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme

In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute longer. Add the cream and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer until the cream thickens and reduces slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the thyme. After it cools completely, spread on your pizza dough as you would your red sauce.

Featured photo: Greg Sturgis of Concord, owner of The Pizza Project. Courtesy photo.

Flavors of Egypt

Egyptian food festival returns to Nashua

By Matt Ingersoll

Following its cancellation in 2020 and a successful comeback year in 2021, this year’s Egyptian food festival will be bigger than ever. The event returns for a fifth year to St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Nashua — formerly known as St. Francis Xavier Church — over three days, from Friday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 18. A full menu of authentic Egyptian entrees, sides and desserts will be available for sale on the church grounds.

“We are excited to hold it again,” Father Kyrillos Gobran of the church said. “[We have] bigger tents to accommodate more people, as the number has been increasing year over year. … I was surprised at the number of people that came down last year, but it actually went very well.”

The menu, Gobran said, is largely the same as in previous festival years with the addition of a few items. A variety of main course options will be available to choose from, including beef or chicken shish kebab platters that feature one skewer of meat per order with onions and green peppers. You can also get platters of kofta (skewered and grilled ground beef with chopped onions and parsley) and kebba (ground beef deep-fried in vegetable oil, with onions, bulgur, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper). All platters come with rice pilaf and your choice of a garden salad, tabbouleh or hummus, or you can order the skewers individually.

A few sandwiches are on the menu as well, including beef or chicken shawarma with Mediterranean spices, onions, tomatoes and tahini; kibda, or beef liver strips seasoned with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper; Egyptian beef sausage; and vegetarian falafel, featuring fried patties made of ground chickpeas with cilantro, parsley, dill, onion and garlic. Another available vegetarian option will be koshary, widely considered to be the national dish of Egypt. It features rice mixed with brown lentils, pasta, chickpeas, cumin-flavored tomato sauce and crispy onions.

On the dessert side, attendees will have the opportunity to try all kinds of specialty sweets and pastries, including baklava, zalabya (fried dough), rice pudding, and katayef, or a pancake-like batter filled with almonds, coconut flakes and raisins and covered in a light syrup. Other options will include items called konafa and feteer meshaltet, both available in two serving sizes.

“Konafa is a shredded phyllo dough type of dessert,” Gobran said. “Feteer meshaltet is a dough that’s pressed really thin and made into layers … and it goes into the oven [with] lots of butter in between. It’s very fluffy and it has a great taste to it. … That’s an authentic Egyptian dish.”

New to this year’s festival is a coffee and espresso station, while Gobran said a gift bazaar with various pharaonic souvenirs and other items is also planned. A children’s corner will offer activities like face painting and balloon art, as well as kid-friendly foods like ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy, he added. Themed gift baskets will be raffled off, and there will also be opportunities to tour the historic church during each of the festival’s three days.

5th annual Egyptian Food Festival
When: Friday, Sept. 16, 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 18, noon to 6 p.m.
Where: St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church, 39 Chandler St., Nashua
Cost: Free admission; food and drinks are priced per item
Event is rain or shine. Parking is available nearby at BAE Systems (95 Canal St.)

Featured photo: Courtesy photos.

Weekend of lamb and spanakopita

Glendi offers three days of Greek eats

By Jack Walsh

Glendi, the three-day food festival celebrating Greek culture with all kinds of authentic homemade items, is scheduled to return from Friday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 18, at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester. The festival has been running since 1980 and — aside from 2020 — has occurred in its traditional format every year since.

“We can call this our 43rd annual Glendi, because even during Covid we found a way to pivot and have what we called ‘A Taste of Glendi’ drive-thru,” said George Skaperdas, president of St. George Church’s board of directors and Glendi co-chairman.

Over the course of each of the three days, Skaperdas expects the church to serve roughly 10,000 meals, including 2,300 pounds of lamb shanks, 1,500 pounds of barbecued lamb and 3,000 meatballs.

“The numbers are astonishing,” he said.

Skaperdas gives gratitude to members of the church’s Ladies Society, as well as parishioners and close friends, all of whom have been cooking items for the event since way back in June.

“The planning for each festival begins at the end of February and the beginning of March,” Skaperdas said. “The cooking starts at the beginning of June for a lot of the baked goods and desserts.”

Translated into English, “Glendi” means “celebration,” or “good times.” Prior to 1980 the festival was originally known as the Harvest Bazaar, a small three-day fundraising event for the church and community center. Soon renamed Glendi, the celebration has gained a lot of traction and continues to help spread Greek culture throughout the southern New Hampshire community.

“It’s a chance for us to share our culture and our heritage with people who may not be familiar with our Greek traditions and ways of life,” Skaperdas said. “We’re excited to share our food, and our joy for life. We plan to make sure that everybody feels welcomed.”

The kitchen begins preparation at 5:30 a.m. on each of the three days, ready and in position for the hundreds of people who often show up right as the event begins. There will be up to 150 or so volunteers per day, Skaperdas said.

In addition to the many Greek items such as spanakopita, a famous spinach pie pastry; and pastichio, a baked pasta dish consisting of ground meat and layers of macaroni in a creamy cheese sauce, there will also be different meats. Dinners include barbecue lamb, baked lamb shanks, marinated and baked chicken, Greek meatballs and stuffed peppers — all of the meals come with rice pilaf, a salad and a roll, or you can order each meat separately a la carte. A variety of Greek pastries and cookies will also be available, as well as booths full of imported Greek jewelry, Greek coffee, beer, wine, and even Greek dancing.

Skaperdas and the church understands that there is still some hesitation among potential attendees regarding Covid.

“We have hand-washing stations and plenty of sanitizer around for everybody, and we’re just making sure to try to do the right thing,” he said.

As with last year’s comeback event, Skaperdas said he has hopes for the church to deliver on bringing back the community atmosphere so many returning attendees over the years have come to expect.

“This isn’t just a Manchester thing. This becomes a huge win for southern New Hampshire,” he said. “There was pent up demand last year, and I can only hope that there’s going to be more pent up demand for this year.”

When: Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with food services ending at 9 p.m.), and Sunday Sept. 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 650 Hanover St., Manchester
Cost: Free admission: foods are priced per item
Visit:, or find them on Facebook @glendinh
Free parking is available at Derryfield Park (Bridge Street) and at the McDonough Elementary School (550 Lowell St.), with shuttle services to the church that will be available throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.

Featured photo: Glendi. Courtesy photos.

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