2023 beckons

Music and comedy New Year’s Eve bashes

Looking to send 2022 off in style? Here are some places with plans for Saturday, Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve.

3S Artspace (319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth, 766-3330) Dress loud and have fun at Harsh Promadillo, a prom-themed 21+ dance party with music from Harsh Armadillo, with The Q-Tip Bandits. A prom king and queen will be crowned. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $21 and up.

603 Bar & Lounge (368 Central Ave., Dover, 742-9283) DJ Tuggboat back to back with DJ Donald Bump, starting at 9 p.m. and ending with a New Year’s Champagne toast.

815 Cocktails & Provisions (815 Elm St., Manchester, 815nh.com) This ’80s Prom Party promises to be gnarly to the max, totally, for sure. Open bar, featured menu, dancing, photo booth, Champagne toast at midnight. Starts at 9 p.m., tickets $120.

Alan’s (133 N. Main St., Boscawen, 753-6631) New Year’s Eve with Stray Dog playing covers, $15 per person, starts at 8 p.m.

American Legion Post 21 (7 Perley St., Concord, 225-0498) Technical Difficulties — the band, not the excuse — performs at 8 p.m.

American Legion Post 22 (189 Mechanic St., Lebanon, 448-3429) Dance with Cruisin’ after a 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour and 6:30 p.m. dinner that offers the choice of steak or chicken as a main course. $20.

American Legion Post 47 (551 Foundry St., Rollinsford, 742-5833) Acoustic Radio is back for the sixth time in a row; the annual bash includes opener Middleman. $15 with prime rib dinner available; event starts at 7:30 p.m.

American Legion Post 6 (96 Islington St., Portsmouth, 436-7575) Echo Brook performs rock covers at 8 p.m.

Area 23 (254 N State St., Unit H, Concord, 881-9060) Smokestack Blues with Gardner Berry opening, 7 p.m.

Ashworth by the Sea (295 Ocean Blvd., Hampton, 926-6762) Party with Midtown Horns, cash bar, hotel restaurant, midnight Champagne toast, and fireworks on the beach. $20. Starts at 8 p.m.

Auburn Pitts (167 Rockingham Road, Auburn, 622-6564) Stoned Wasp plays “hippie style jam music” with raffles, drink specials and more, starting at 7 p.m.

Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St., Concord, ccanh.com) A tribute to America’s most extravagant nightclubs, inspired by the bold speakeasies of the Roaring Twenties and the iconic New York nightclubs of the 1970s, starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $45 to $90 plus fees.

The Big House (322 Lakeside Ave., Laconia, 767-2226) NYE bash featuring Eric Grant Band, Dylan Cooper and the Beer Belly Boys starts at 8 p.m. $20.

Bonfire Restaurant & Country Bar (950 Elm St., Manchester, 217-5600) Martin & Kelly perform country rock at 9 p.m.

Breezeway Pub (14 Pearl St., Manchester, 621-9111) Drag Roulette NYE hosted by Portia Chanel and Sasha Stone at 8 p.m.; DJ Topher B spins with showtime at 10 p.m. $10.

Bridgewater Inn (367 Mayhew Turnpike, Bridgewater, 744-3518) Catfish Howl plays blues downstairs, with a DJ upstairs all night long. $50 includes buffet (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.); $20 for party only, starting at 8 p.m. Hats, tiaras, noisemakers, beads and midnight toast.

Brook Casino (319 New Zealand Road, Seabrook, 474-3065) Aerosmith tribute band Draw The Line performs at 7:30 p.m. $35.

Buckey’s (240 Governor Wentworth Hwy., Moultonborough, 476-5485) Red Hat Band is back, an annual tradition, at 9 p.m.

Castleton Banquet & Conference Center (58 Enterprise Drive, Windham, eventbrite.com) Ring in the new year with East Coast Entertainment, featuring DJ music, dancing, a three-course meal and an open bar, all starting at 7 p.m. $125.

Cercle National Club (550 Rockland Ave., Manchester, 623-8243) Potluck dinner and appetizers with Off Duty Angels playing rock covers at this members club; the fun starts at 7:30 p.m. and there’ll be Champagne at midnight.

Chen Yang Li (520 South St., Bow, 228-8508) 1950s style dance party hosted by DJ Kenny P at 8 p.m.

Chop Shop (920 Lafayette Road, Seabrook, 760-7706) AD/HD – The AC/DC Experience, a tribute act from Boston, at 6:30 p.m.

Chunky’s Cinema Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester, 232-4794) $30 for early comedy show starring Robbie Printz, Mark Scalia and Alex Giampana (7 p.m.), followed by Dueling Pianos show (separate $40 ticket) with Champagne at midnight.

Chunky’s Cinema Pub (151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, 880-8055) Comedy show starring Robbie Printz, Matt Barry and Dan Crohn at 7:30 p.m. $30.

Chunky’s Cinema Pub (150 Bridge St., Pelham, 635-7499) Comedy show starring Dan Crohn, Tim McKeever and Mark Scalia at 7:30 p.m. $30.

Coach Stop (176 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 437-2022) Rebecca Turmel plays an early set at 7 p.m.

Common Man (88 Range Road, Windham 898-0088) Singer-songwriter Karen Grenier performs an early set at 6 p.m.

Concord Holiday Inn (172 Main St., Concord, 224-9534) New Year’s Eve cocktail party at 8 p.m. to benefit Project S.T.O.R.Y. and a book launch.

Copper Door (15 Leavy Dr., Bedford, 488-2677) A local musician plays from 6 to 9 p.m., with a special NYE prix fixe menu.

Copper Door (42 S. Broadway, Salem, 458-2033) A local musician plays from 6 to 9 p.m., with a special NYE prix fixe menu.

Covered Bridge Farm Table (57 Blair Road, Campton Lower Village, farmtablenh@gmail.com) $10 Black & White Ball with Pete Downing and Mira George starting at 6 p.m., followed by Sly Richard at 9 p.m. $100 for a table for eight or $50 for four includes a complimentary bottle of Champagne and nibble board to snack on.

CR’s (287 Exeter Road, Hampton, 929-7972) Live music from 5 to 10 p.m.

Davignon Snowshoe Club (218 Wilson St., Manchester 623-8239) Brideau, Nichols, Westover play a no-cover show at 8 p.m.

Derryfield (625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880) Chad LaMarsh rocks the house. $25 a ticket includes admission to see the music, Champagne toast at midnight and party favors. Starts at 9 p.m.

DoubleTree Hotel (700 Elm St., Manchester, headlinersnh.com) Transform into a Venetian dream at the Masquerade Ball, 6 p.m. cocktail hour with cash bar, 7 p.m. dinner, 8:30 p.m. comedy show starring Joe Yannetty, Jody Sloane, Rob Steen and Eric Hurst. Also separate Dueling Pianos show. Dinner and hotel packages available. $60 and up.

Dover Town Hall (288 Central Ave., Dover, 516-6000) Black tie optional with dancing to Black Agnes Band, fireworks at 9 p.m., Champagne toast at midnight, hors d’oeuvres by Mezzanine Catering. Event starts at 6:30 p.m. $75.

East Side Club (786 Massabesic St., Manchester, 669-1802) Cry Uncle (or maybe Synergy) plays rock covers at 9 p.m. with a potluck at 6 p.m. for members and non-members of this private club.

Elks Lodge No. 146 (290 Granite St., Manchester, 623-9126) A Roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve Party starts at 9 p.m. and includes finger foods, the Jennifer Mitchell Band and a Champagne toast at midnight. $20.

Flannel Tavern (345 Suncook Road, Chichester, 406-1196) Get an early start with Country Don from noon to 2:30 p.m., Joe Pero from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and Dave Graham from 6 p.m. until close. Drink specials, food and surprises all day.

Fleming Center (formerly New London Barn Playhouse) (84 Main St., New London, 562-6710) Curated dinner menu, Champagne and an assortment of drinks. Entertainment includes Bethany Gwen Perkins, known for her role at the Barn Playhouse as Patsy Cline in Always…Patsy Cline, and Janoah Bailin, a circus and juggler entertainer. Table seating. $150. Starts at 7 p.m.

Flying Monkey Movie House (39 Main St., Plymouth, 536-2551) Comedian Bob Marley is back, performing at 2, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets start at $46.50.

Fody’s (9 Clinton St., Nashua, 577-9015) ’90s alt rock stalwarts Smashing Cranberries perform at 9 p.m.

Fody’s Derry (187 1/2 Rockingham Road, Derry, 404-6946) Pop Roks keeps it modern at this party starting at 9 p.m.

Fratello’s (155 Dow St., Manchester, 624-2022) Clint LaPointe plays at 8 p.m.

Giuseppe’s (312 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-3313) Bob Kroepel plays requests at the piano starting at 9 p.m.

The Goat (50 Old Granite St., Manchester, 603-4628) NYE party with Seven Day Weekend starts at 8 p.m. at the newest member of this club franchise.

The Goat (142 Congress St., Portsmouth, 658-4628) Mike Forgette plays at 9 p.m.

Governors Inn Hotel & Restaurant (76 Wakefield Road, Rochester, 332-0107) $80 admission includes dinner with appetizers and dessert, along with dancing to classic rock and pop cover band Bad Penny. Starts at 7:30 p.m.

Granite State Music Hall (546 Main St., Laconia, granitestatemusichall.com) Hollow Virtue with special guests Wired for Sound, along with supporting local acts, at 6 p.m. $15.

Haluwa (44 Gusabel Road, Nashua, 864-8348) Red Line helms a two-day celebration at this beloved Chinese restaurant. Starts at 8 p.m.

Headliners Comedy Club is hosting a New Year’s Eve gala at the Hilton DoubleTree in Manchester (700 Elm St.) on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. Ticket prices must be purchased by noon on Dec. 31 and prices start at $35 per person. Visit headlinersnh.com.

Hen House (85 S. Main St., Newton, 382-1705) New Year’s Eve Bash with Stumpy Joe Band again hosting the party, at 9 p.m.

Hermanos (11 Hills Ave., Concord, 224-5669) Singer and guitarist Mark Bartram plays covers and originals, 6:30 p.m.

High Octane Saloon (1072 Watson Road, Laconia, 527-8116) Hell On Heels plays rock covers at this Lakes Region club celebrating a second anniversary, 8 p.m.

Hillsboro Moose Lodge (15 School St., Hillsboro, 464-6024) Local Sound Development Band featuring WhoLeo and Jimmy playing classic rock, $10, event is open to the public. 8 p.m.

Homestead (641 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-2022) Lou Antonucci performs at 6:30 p.m.

Inn on Newfound Lake (1030 Mayhew Turnpike, Bridgewater, 744-9111) Annual gala starts at 6 p.m. and includes cocktail hour with appetizers, five-course dinner, Champagne toast, fireworks at midnight, live music and dancing, Champagne, cash bar. $125.

Jade Dragon (515 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-2280) DJ Mike Kelly entertains; tickets include dinner, dancing, party favors and a midnight toast. $20. Starts at 8 p.m.

Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club (135 Congress St., Portsmouth, jimmysoncongress.com) Gatsby-esque New Year’s party with Scott Sharrard leading an all-star orchestra through the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith and more to create an original evening of swing/jump blues music inspired by the Roaring Twenties, with buffet, passed hors d’oeuvres and midnight Champagne toast. Doors open at 7 p.m. There’s a 5 p.m. VIP reception in MONA. Tickets $375 to $425.

L Street Tavern (17 L St., Hampton, 967-4777) Live band on the second floor with DJ Dubz playing dance and DJ Jeff doing karaoke, free appetizer buffet, no cover. 9 p.m.

LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst, 672-9898) New Year’s Eve dinner starting at 9 p.m. with Freese Brothers Big Band followed by a stroll through the LaBelle Lights, $121.50.

Luna Bistro (254 North Broadway, Salem, luna-bistro.com) Black Tie Cocktail Party starts at 6 p.m. and features The Hep Cats doing Sinatra and Rat Pack tunes. White glove passed hors d’oeuvres, dessert buffet, Champagne toast at midnight. Proper attire and advance ticket purchase required; cash bar available. $100.

Martingale Wharf (99 Bow St., Suite W, Portsmouth, 431-0901) First Night – Fire & Ice has DJ music, eros photo booth and ice sculpture among other attractions. NYE menu with token payment system. Starts at 6 p.m.

Masonic Temple (1505 Elm St., Manchester, 543-5072) MB Enterprises has an international cuisines cocktail party with DJ, Bollywood dancing, belly dancer show, passed appetizers, bourbon tasting from 7 to 9 p.m., and Champagne at midnight. $100. Starts at 7 p.m.

Muddy Road Brewery (213 Middleton Road, New Durham, 767-5997) Singer-guitarist Chris Gowland entertains at 8 p.m.

Murphy’s Carriage House (393 Route 101, Bedford, 488-5875) Comedy show with Jim Colliton, Mike McDonald and host Chris Cameron at 8 p.m. $30 or $65 (includes dinner).

Murphy’s Taproom (494 Elm St., Manchester, scampscomedy.com) Comedy show with Jason Merrill, Dan Donahue, Francis Birch and Juan Cespedes at 8 p.m. $25 ($30 at the door).

Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, themusichall.org) Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra evokes the Roaring Twenties. John Page leads the orchestra, along with old-fashioned bubble machines and a real Champagne bar. 8 p.m. $30.

Music Hall Loft (131 Congress St., Portsmouth, 433-3100) Following outdoor First Night festivities, high-energy string band Rockspring performs at 10 p.m., with a midnight Champagne toast. $35.

Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588) Recycled Percussion is again home for the holidays. Two shows: 4 and 7 p.m.

Party at the Peddler’s Daughter (48 Main St., Nashua) with the last ever performance of Take 4 for a New Year’s Eve Bash on Saturday, Dec. 31 starting at 4 p.m. There will be a set menu and a Champagne toast at midnight. Visit thepeddlersdaughter.com.

Pasta Loft (241 Union Sq., Milford, 672-2270) Beloved cover band The Slakas returns; $10 admission includes Champagne toast at midnight. Event starts at 7 p.m.

Pats Peak Ski Area (686 Flanders Road, Henniker, 728-7732) There’s dancing to The McMurphys in the Sled Pub starting at 6 p.m. and New Year’s fireworks (slopes close at 10 p.m.).

Players’ Ring Theatre (105 Marcy St., Portsmouth, 436-8123) Take in a performance of First Night, a romantic comedy by the author of Moonglow, Jack Neary, at 10 p.m. Tickets $27.

Polish American Club (15 School St., Nashua, 889-9819) DJ music, food, cheer and a midnight Champagne toast. Starts at 8 p.m.

Portsmouth Book & Bar (40 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, 427-9197) Taylor Swift-inspired NYE celebration with themed karaoke, cocktails, snacks and dance party, starting at 7 p.m. $5 in advance, $8 at the door.

Portsmouth Gas Light (64 Market St., Portsmouth, 430-9122) Boston Circus Guild’s Welcome to The Show, a Cirque du Soleil-inspired evening with live entertainment and DJ music, starting at 8 p.m. VIP packages available.

Press Room (77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-5186) Ski Party with DJ Chad Banks and Adrienne Mack Davis starts at 9 p.m. $40.

Re/Mix Social Club (1 Pleasant St., Claremont, 504-4231) Alcohol-free party at a nonprofit downtown Claremont alternative to the typical club/bar atmosphere. Enjoy warm beverages from the coffee bar along with catered hors d’oeuvres as people share their experiences with overcoming addiction. (7 p.m.)

Red’s Kitchen & Tavern (530 Lafayette Road, Seabrook, 760-0030) Jordan Quinn plays at a NYE Pajama Party; wear your favorite bedtime get-up for a night of live music, drinks, dancing, food, prizes, giveaways and more starting at 8 p.m.

Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St., Manchester, 668-5588) Juston McKinney’s Year In Review comes to Manchester, show at 8 p.m., tickets $35 (also on Friday, Dec. 30).

Riley’s Place (22 Mt. Vernon St., Milford, 325-2177) Old friends Aces & Eights ring in the new year. Starts at 9 p.m. $25 advance, limited number of seats for $10 at door.

Rio Tequila Cantina (37 Bow St., Portsmouth, 433-8655) Music with Adam Forbes, performing acoustically at the newest addition to Portsmouth’s dining scene, at 6:30 p.m.

Rockingham Ballroom (22 Ash Swamp Road, Newmarket, 448-8000) Dancing all night on the area’s largest dance floor starting at 8 p.m. with DJ host Johnny B Groovy. $30 and $40.

Saddle Up Saloon (92 Route 125, Kingston, 369-6962) Casual Gravity plays fifth annual bash, $60 tickets include buffet from 7 to 9 p.m. and a late-night pizza buffet, Champagne toast and party favors.

Salt hill Pub Lebanon (2 W. Park St., Lebanon, 448-4532) Adam McMahon Trio performs with complimentary Champagne toast at midnight. Starts at 9 p.m. $10.

Salt hill Pub Newport (58 Main St., Newport, 863-7774) Tirade, featuring Toby Moore, plays the 14th annual bash at 9 p.m. $5.

Sea Dog Brewing (9 Water St., Exeter, 793-5116) DJ Doug York plays from 9 p.m. to midnight; free appetizers at 11:30 p.m. with creative dinner selections from Chef Calvin.

Shaskeen (909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246) Lock The Doors Bash is reprised with limited $60 tickets covering a food buffet, midnight Champagne toast, giveaways, Chris Bennett a.k.a. DJ Myth spinning, and open bar. The club will be closed to anyone without tickets. Event is 21+ only. 8 p.m.

Side Bar (845 Lafayette Road, Hampton, eventbrite.com) Music from DJ CHN, a free pizza and app buffet, a free Champagne toast, drink specials all night long, starting at 9 p.m. $25.

Sky Meadow Country Club (6 Mountain Laurels Dr., Nashua, headlinersnh.com) Comedy with Kevin Lee and Tim McKeever, along with DJ dancing, starting at 6:30 p.m. $75.

Soho Bistro (20 Old Granite St., Manchester, 222-1677) Party Science with DJ Lefte at 9 p.m.

Sol Southern Kitchen (111 State St., Portsmouth, 319-8175) Tim Parent & The Grim Bros Duo (with Tim and Ben Butterworth) NYE musical celebration starts at 9 p.m.

Stone Church (5 Granite St., Newmarket, 659-7700) Idlewild: A Celebration Of The Allman Brothers Band and Not Fade Away Band join forces for Peach Lightning, an evening of Allmans and Dead tunes, at 6 p.m. $20.

Strand Ballroom (20 Third St., Dover, 343-1899) Comedy with Mike Donovan and Amy Tee, followed by musical guests The Broken Heels. Starts at 7 p.m. Tickets $50 and up.

Stumble Inn (20 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 432-3210) New Year’s Eve bash featuring Last Kid Picked starts at 8 p.m.

Sweeney Post No. 2 (251 Maple St., Manchester, 623-9145) Stuck In Time Band, with a potluck dinner; bring an app, favorite dish, or dessert to share. 8 p.m.

Thirsty Moose (21 Congress St., Portsmouth, 427-8645) Eric Marcs & Solid Group rock the basement music space, while great beer flows on both floors. 9 p.m.

Tokoss (1293 Elm St., Manchester, 486-1538) Food, drinks and music starting at 8 p.m. with DJ Kamix spinning. The first 50 people will receive a New Year’s celebration package. $20 and up. VIP table reservations are available.

Tower Hill Tavern (264 Lakeside Ave., Laconia, 366-9100) DJ Tim hosts Karaoke NYE party starting at 8 p.m.

Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St., Derry, 437-5100) Adam Ezra Group and opening band Billy Keane & the Waking Dream play at 7 p.m., with a four-course dinner at 5:30 p.m. for $95; 8:30 p.m. show only is $45, and all tickets include a Champagne toast.

Tuscan Market & Village (9 Via Toscana, Salem, 912-5467) Silver Springs Fleetwood Mac tribute with Leaving Eden at 8 p.m.

Veterans Club (118 John Stark Hwy., Newport, 863-3945) $10 for Talkin’ Smack, a popular cover band playing hits at 7 p.m.

Village Trestle (25 Main St., Goffstown, 497-8230) The Full Bob Pratte Band performs at 5 p.m.

Wally’s Pub (144 Ashworth Ave., Hampton, 926-6954) Popular cover band Pop Disaster performs at this party starting at 9 p.m.

WSCA Radio (909 Islington St., Suite 1, Portsmouth, 430-9722) Exotic Family Records showcase, 21+ BYOB, starts at 7:30 p.m.

Featured photo: Karen Grenier is due to play at the Common Man in Windham.

2022 in the groove

A look back and glimpse forward

After a year spent mostly indoors, followed by another truncated by omicron, 2022 sailed along quite smoothly. From big to small, venues packed calendars and celebrated with their fingers crossed; only the odd cancellation interrupted their joy. For example, Bank of New Hampshire Stage stayed dark on New Year’s Eve due to a Covid mini-wave, and Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook had to postpone his Tupelo Music Hall show in September at the last minute.

Otherwise, what happened was inspirational. National acts were longing to be back in front of audiences and joyously delivered the goods. Performing at Laconia’s Colonial Theatre over the summer, John Hiatt reminded fans why he’s a treasure, well-deserving of inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Earlier, in February, Martin Barre returned to Derry’s Tupelo for the first time in three years to play Jethro Tull’s Aqualung and other hits by his former band.

Local acts got a lot of love, too, as many of the region’s opera house-type venues have added more intimate satellite rooms — The Rex Theatre in Manchester, Concord’s Bank of NH Stage, the recently renovated Music Hall Lounge in Portsmouth, and the latest addition in Keene, The Showroom. Artists like April Cushman, Darlingside, Brooks Young Band and Cold Engines enjoyed listening-room experiences.

They had a lot to showcase. Some of the better efforts included Faith Ann Band’s In Bloom, which was played ferociously at Concord’s Market Days, and Donaher’s sophomore effort Gravity and the Stars Above. The latter received its debut at a rousing Shaskeen release show. Dakota Smart’s insightful Leap of Faith was another standout, made at Rocking Horse in Pittsfield, where producer Brian Coombes also helmed the epic rock opera Circus of Wire Dolls.

Memorable performances, there were a few. Friends of the Green Martini, a downtown Concord club that burned in 2012, reunited for a show at the Bank of NH Stage. Though sparsely attended, Wyn Doran opened for Billy Wylder at the same venue, with a stellar, haunting set. Cape Cod rockers Crooked Coast kicked it hard at the Shaskeen, and the disciplined Denver jam band Evanoff shook Jewel’s rafters.

Comedy had a great year, capped by hometown hero Adam Sandler’s sold-out stop at SNHU Arena. The downtown dome also hosted Sebastian Maniscalco, who just a few years ago sold out Concord’s Capitol Center. Homegrown efforts carried on; in Manchester, Shaskeen’s Ruby Room had national alt comics every Wednesday, with Strange Brew Tavern’s Laugh Attic on Thursday nights celebrating its fifth anniversary in October.

The coming year promises more of the same. Born as a series of pandemic drive-in shows, the annual Northlands Festival will be back in June, and the LiveNation shed in Gilford has a few dates already booked — Bank of NH Pavilion kicks off its season with Louis Tomlinson on June 27.

In the near term, the Bank of NH Stage’s Nashville Newcomers series continues with Tim Dugger and Lauren Davison on Jan. 5. In the bigger room down the street, Rob Schneider tells jokes on Feb. 4, and country group Lonestar plays Feb. 10. Later in the spring, Samantha Bee, whose show Full Frontal lasted six seasons, appears at the downtown Concord venue.

At the SNHU, ventriloquist comic Jeff Dunham appears Feb. 10 and rapper Yung Gravy performs on March 4. The Palace has brilliant Beatles doppelgängers 1964 on Jan. 15, while its sister room the Rex has the aforementioned April Cushman on Feb. 11; she’s also appearing at Laconia’s The CAKE on Jan. 28.

Mark-the-calendar shows at Tupelo Music Hall include hometown heroes Fortune on Jan. 28, Masters of the Telecaster on Feb. 3, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters Feb. 10. The Winery Dogs, led by former Poison guitarist Ritchie Kotzen, is there on Feb. 26; that’s one that typically sells out fast.

Finally, the always meticulous prog rockers Mindset X promised that Humans, their follow-up to 2015’s Oceans, would drop in 2022. In early summer, a video for the single “For Love of War” was released to tease the album. Perhaps it will finally appear in 2023 — the band is part of a showcase with Dead Harrison and Dust Prophet booked for Dover’s Strand Theatre on May 26.

Featured photo: Faith Ann Band. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 22/12/29

Local music news & events

Solo joker: The early show is sold out, but good seats remain for a late-night set from Joe Gatto. The Impractical Jokers star left the hit show for personal reasons in late 2021 and is now doing standup instead of inducing laughter from the pain of public dares and punishment. He’s also doing a parenting tips podcast called Two Cool Moms, and relishing the chance to show a different side of himself to crowds. Thursday, Dec. 29, at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, tickets $39.75 and up at ccanh.com.

Sublimation: Prior to its January tour kicking off in Florida, Badfish – A Tribute to Sublime has a brief Northeast run stopping at a favorite beach haunt. Their show will include local friends Joe Samba and Roots of Creation’s Brett Wilson. Formed by a group of URI friends in the ’90s, the band was at first a short-term effort that grew, and they’ve done the rock reggae tribute act for well over two decades now. Thursday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., Wally’s Pub, 144 Ashworth Ave., Hampton, 21+, $30 at ticketmaster.com.

Local light: Playing for early evening diners, Red Daisy Revival is a duo led by the songs of Morgan Clark, a Granite State native who went to Nashville a while back, making the frothy pop-country single “Unshakeable” — it’s a real treat. Clark met Daniel Kassel while in Music City; they’re now a duo and couple, and when they’re not singing together, the two work for Hobo Railroad. He’s a conductor, she does marketing. Friday, Dec. 30, 6 p.m., Covered Bridge Farm Table, 57 Blair Road, Campton. See iammorganclark.com.

Opening round: Get a head start on the big night at Widowmaker’s New Year’s Pre-Game, with music from the host band, along with Unspun, Mr. Bobbish, Francesco, Sokomodo, Midori playing a downtempo set and special guest Bill Rich. Apparently, things might get loud; a press release for the show promises free ear plugs at the door. There are also vendors, flow arts, live painting, body art and party games. Friday, Dec. 30, 8 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, $15 advance at theticketing.co; 18+.

Holding forth: Enjoy modern country with Rob Pagnano, who continues his residency at a downtown restaurant-bar with a rustic vibe. With a band, the Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter can produce a big sound, as evidenced on “Sugarcane,” a single with a serious Luke Bryan vibe, but he’s solo for this set. Pagnano took up guitar while recovering from a broken back in his mid-20s; he’s done thousands of gigs since. Tuesday, Jan. 3, 8 p.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester. See robpagnanomusic.com.

Great movies for everyone

2022 offered sweet stories, beautiful animation and some excellent stupidity

Whether you define a great movie as an artistic achievement or as a movie so gleefully goofy that you cry from laughter, there were great movies in 2022.

Saying this almost feels counter-intuitive with all the stories about movies — especially non-franchise, non-sequel, non-existing IP movies — that didn’t do as well as hoped at the box office. On Dec. 21, Box Office Mojo showed a year-to-date top 10 consisting of two cartoons for kids, four Marvel movies, two movies based on DC Comics IP, the latest (last?) Jurassic movie and Top Gun: Maverick. (Avatar: The Way of Water had not yet clawed its way into the top 10 but I suspect by close of business on Dec. 31 it will.)

But other movies came out on screens big and small — often on the big screen followed quickly by the small screen, which probably isn’t great long-term for theatrical distribution but was helpful to the movie-lover who couldn’t make it to the theater in time. I still haven’t caught Aftersun, Spoiler Alert, Triangle of Sadness, Bones and All, The Fabelmans or Decision to Leave but these acclaimed films are currently available via VOD. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is on Netflix, along with Bardo. Other 2022 (or, you know, nominally 2022 movies) I haven’t seen yet include Women Talking, The Whale, White Noise and Babylon — so this isn’t quite a definitive list. But, of what I have seen, here’s where to find some of the great movies — whatever that means to you — of 2022.

• “2021” movies I saw in 2022: I always start the year watching all the movies that sort of touched base in a few theaters in the previous year but didn’t get a major release until later. Of that bunch, I enjoyed dramedy Licorice Pizza in spite of its problematic teen boy-older teen or twentysomething girl chaste-but-dodgy relationship and because of the solid performance by Alana Haim and the 1970s southern California of it all (find it on Amazon Prime, Paramount+ and for rent or purchase). Joel Coen’s black and white take on The Tragedy of MacBeth (Apple TV+) featured great performances by Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. C’mon C’mon (Paramount+, possibly as part of some Showtime situation, who even knows anymore; maybe also Showtime and purchase) is a sweet movie with a likable performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

About that top 10: Look, you wanna watch Top Gun: Maverick (2022’s No. 1 at the box office, as of last week)? That’s fine, we can still be friends; I also think planes are cool (movie is available for rent and purchase). But for me, the best movies of the moneymakers are The Batman (HBO Max or rent or purchase), mostly because I liked the municipal corruption aspect; Thor: Love & Thunder (Disney+ or rent or purchase), which is no Ragnarok but has some great moments (many featuring solid use of Guns N’ Roses); Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (still in theaters), which deals with personal emotions and global philosophical issues and has beautiful, thoughtful costumes, and Minions: The Rise of Gru (Peacock, rent or purchase), which had a fun Looney Tunes vibe that my kids really enjoyed.

Animation for the kids: For the last few years, Netflix has turned out some solid animation with a mix of styles. Two this year: Wendell & Wild with kind of a marionette stop-motion look to its characters and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, which has a whole different, very del-Toro-ish approach to stop-motion. I’d peg both of these movies at late tweens and up, both for themes and for unnerving visuals. My favorite animated film of the year is Disney’s Turning Red (Disney+ and for purchase), an absolute charmer that is sweet, hilarious and very pretty. It too is a tween-and-up film, in which an Asian-Canadian girl in the early aughts finds that emotional turmoil (over boys, her relationship with her mother, all the changes of being 13) turns her into a giant red panda.

Animation for the PG-13 crowd: Joke density and surprise earnestness were my favorite things about The Bob’s Burgers Movie (HBO MAX, for rent or purchase). Even if you’ve fallen away from the series, it’s still an enjoyable watch.

Animation with live action: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (rent or purchase) has fun with the shell-ness and acorn size of its lead character but also deals with big issues (grief, loneliness) with incredible sweetness.

Another one for the kids: I have no nostalgic memories of the first Hocus Pocus so I found Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+) rather delightful, with its silly-fun musical number and its hokey jokiness.

Leftover Christmas cookies: We are living in a golden age of weird Christmas content, with every streaming service seeming to want to participate. I don’t understand it but each year I find a few movies that make me enjoy it. This year, I liked Disney+’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which really went for the goofy holiday special of old and made great use of a very game Kevin Bacon, and Apple TV+’s Spirited, a good-natured A Christmas Carol riff. The very gory, kinda sweet Violent Night (like, believe them; violent, not for kids) is still in theaters but you can also rent or purchase the movie.

So dumb it’s genius: I might have had more fun watching Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku Channel) than any other movie this year. It is an absolute achievement of stupidity and an excellent approach to rock music biopic. I can’t recommend it highly enough; go watch it now.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (STARZ, rent or purchase) also featured performances of people willing to go to silly extremes, namely Nicolas Cage as an actor named Nicolas Cage.

Girls through the ages: In medieval England, a girl tries to resist her father’s push to get married (in part to settle family finances) in Catherine Called Birdy (Amazon Prime). In fair Verona, a girl resists her father’s push to get married and gets dumped by secret boyfriend Romeo in Rosaline (Hulu). In Victorian London, a girl attempts to establish herself as an investigator rivaling her famous brother in Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix). Sure, these stories feature varying amounts of anachronism, but all three are charming and make some honest observations about the lives of young women.

True love: Fire Island (Hulu) offers a delightful riff on Pride & Prejudice and features great performances from Bowan Yang, Joel Kim Booster and Conrad Ricomora, who joins the pantheon of great Mr. Darcys. Bros (Peacock) also offers solid performances from Guy Branum and Bowen Yang, a stand-out cameo by Debra Messing and truly sweet chemistry between romantic leads Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane.

Dumb love: Am I here to argue that Marry Me (Prime Video, rent or purchase), a movie where Jennifer Lopez plays a pop star who marries a stranger on a whim after romantic embarrassment, is an Oscar-worthy achievement? Well, maybe yes if we’re talking about the Best Original Song Oscar. Otherwise, it’s more of a “great artistic achievement in cotton candy goofiness.” Ditto The Lost City (Paramount+, rent or purchase), which doesn’t go as goofy as I would have wanted with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum but does have enough fun to relax you after a long day.

Heartfelt: People are going through it in the sweet but sincere and deeply felt Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple TV+), a sort of quarterlife-crisis dramady; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Hulu), a series of conversations between Emma Thompson’s character and the man she hires to help broaden her sexual experience, and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Peacock, rent or purchase), Lesley Manville’s character’s breaking out of her shell to buy a Dior dress in the 1950s.

What’s up, docs: This is also a golden age of doc accessibility — sure, many of them are true crime, but the various streamers do make documentaries on all subjects available. Three I liked from this year: The Automat (HBO Max), which I first saw as a part of the New Hampshire Jewish Film Fest and is a loving tribute (filled with excellent interviews, including from Mel Brooks) to the automat dining experience; Sr. (Netflix), a look at the life of filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. and his relationship with his son, and Descendant (Netflix), a look at the Black community in Alabama that can trace its ancestors to the ship Clotilda that illegally smuggled Africans into the pre-Civil War South.

As advertised: In Beast (Peacock, rent or purchase), Idris Elba fights a lion — like, that’s it, that’s the movie. The Princess (Hulu) requires a warrior-trained princess to escape down a tower and then kick some more butt until she rescues her family. Sure, these movies have action and violence but their “what you ordered and nothing more” quality is kind of relaxing.

Action and thrills with a kick: Of course, some action movies go above and beyond. Prey (Hulu), the latest entry in the Predator series, is a solid bit of suspense-action entertainment, with a young Comanche woman in the early 1700s facing off against a Predator. In Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi (HBO Max, rent or purchase) the spare but engaging thriller has Zoë Kravitz believing she hears a crime via the Alexa-like personal assistant she works on troubleshooting. The Northman (Amazon Prime, rent or purchase) is a wonderfully bonkers, super grisly Viking Hamlet. Is Nope (Peacock, rent or purchase) a Western, a sci-fi movie, a thriller or something else? I’m not sure I’ve decided but it is a great suspense movie from Jordan Peele with standout performances by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer.

The Woman King

Bring the performances: Of performances that stood out this year, let’s start with Manchester’s own Adam Sandler in Hustle (Netflix) where he plays a scout for a basketball team and gives his character depth. In The Wonder (Netflix), Florence Pugh brings a whole well-rounded person to the role of 19th-century nurse who is sent to examine a girl in Ireland who isn’t eating but somehow isn’t starving. Causeway (Apple TV+) gives both Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry a chance to shine as two people who find comfort in a friendship. Tár (available for purchase) features a standout Cate Blanchett performance as a conductor whose ego has eclipsed ethical behavior and even rationality. In Till (purchase) Danielle Deadwyler does not let you look away from the grieving Mamie Till-Mobley, whose young son is murdered horribly in segregated Mississippi. Viola Davis gives just one of the great performances in The Woman King (rent or purchase), which tells the story of the female warriors of the African kingdom Dahomey.

2022’s best: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, multiverses, compassion, a rock with googly eyes, a raccoon chef, mothers and daughters — Everything Everywhere All At Once (Paramount +) actually has everything, taking place everywhere throughout different realities, all at once so Yeoh can hopefully save all of existence. It is smart, it is hilarious, it is empathetic. It’s, well, great.

2023 in movies

Here are some of the movies I’m looking forward to watching in the first half(-ish) of 2023. Dates are according to IMDb and who even knows anymore how solid any movie’s release date is until it actually hits screens.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (Feb. 10) Steven Soderbergh returns to direct this third movie in the Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) series.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Feb. 17) The next Marvel entry seems medium promising — the trailers promise, if nothing else, a relentlessly likable Paul Rudd.

Creed III (March 3) Michael B. Jordan directs and stars in this third outing of the Rocky spinoff series.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March 17) DC’s whole movie situation seems like a hot mess but this follow up to the very likable 2019 film feels like a bright spot.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 24) I love this Keanu Reeves franchise beyond all reason. The trailer for this new entry features more “High Table” nonsense, more Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne and more John Wick casually wasting fools.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (April 28) The iconic Judy Blume novel gets a big-screen adaptation.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5) Marvel’s traditional summer kickoff.

Fast X (May 19) On the one hand, Charlize Theron’s exhausting villain Cypher returns to the Fast & Furiousverse in this the 10th outing, but on the other hand, IMDb lists Rita Moreno in the cast. If she has just half as much fun as Helen Mirren (also listed in this movie’s cast) has been allowed to have in this franchise, this should be good.

The Little Mermaid (May 26) These live action Disney remakes have always been interesting. Plus you have Halle Bailey as Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part One

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part One (June 2) This would be the animated Spider-Man universe, featuring Miles Morales. The 2018 first entry was, rightfully, that season’s Oscar winner for animated feature.

Barbie (July 21) I am Team Greta Gerwig, who directs this movie and co-wrote the screenplay with Noah Baumbach. That and the super-winky (literally and figuratively) teaser trailer give me lots of hope for this movie.

The Marvels (July 28) This movie, which features Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers as well as Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan (and, according to IMDb, Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau), is probably the 2023 Marvel outing I’m most looking forward to. In the meantime, watch Disney+’s Ms. Marvel, which is a fun time.

Featured photo: Everything Everywhere All AT Once

Two Old Broads, by M.E. Hecht and Whoopi Goldberg

Two Old Broads, by M.E. Hecht and Whoopi Goldberg (Harper Horizon, 222 pages)

There is no topic so grim that it can’t be lightened by humor. And with America seeming to be graying at light speed, a wickedly funny book on the subject of aging by comedian Whoopi Goldberg (co-written with a physician friend) seemed just the prescription, promising to reveal “stuff you need to know that you didn’t know you needed to know.”

Unfortunately, Two Old Broads does not deliver on its promise and more realistically could have been titled “Two Old Broads Stating the Obvious in a Vanity Book.” It’s that bad.

It’s hard to see how this collection of platitudes and painfully useless advice made it through an agent, let alone a major publishing house. It’s the sort of book that is usually self-published and foisted onto friends, who have to invent creative ways to praise the book without selling their soul. Worse, this yawner comes from accomplished women who should have more interesting things to say.

Mary Ellen Hecht was an orthopedic surgeon with degrees from Columbia and Yale, who died at age 93 just before the book’s publication. She had been friends with Whoopi Goldberg since they met at a fashion show in 2010. Goldberg, of course, is a talented comedian and actress who has won a Grammy, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Golden Globe award.

With Goldberg at the shallow end of the aging pool at age 64, and Hecht at the deep end, the friends decided to share their collective advice on various aspects of aging, from skin care to exercise, from medication to wills, from sex over 60 to being “crochety with charm.” All of this is done under the “old broad” rubric, (e.g., “dress like a broad’) which gets tired after the second page.

Here is a sampling of some of their advice:

“Arthritis is a killer when it comes to style, but lift up your head, look the world in the eye, and say internally, Ready or not, here I come — someone to notice and admire!

“Believe it or not, sweaty feet are an invitation to medical problems including fungal infections.”

“Under normal circumstances, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.”

“Try not to go through your day with anything that causes discomfort, like a dress or slacks being too tight or shoes that cause pinching.”

Lines like this are not only boring, but they are actually insulting to readers, as if Hecht and Goldberg are speaking to geriatric kindergarteners unable to comprehend basic aspects of life. Is there an 80-year-old alive today that doesn’t know they should get second opinions on serious medical matters? Is there a 70-year-old alive who doesn’t know that if pants or shoes hurt, they should take them off?

The book disappoints, not only because it’s not remotely funny or wise, but also because it skips lightly over things that aging people care a lot about — skin care, for example. For that matter, it’s hard to find a person over 40 who isn’t concerned about how their face will look as they age (hence the trend of people in their 20s getting Botox). Yet on the subject of “senior skin care,” Hecht and Goldberg offer a total of three pages. Three pages in which readers are told they should drink water, apply face cream and wax facial hair — and are given a mind-numbingly juvenile pep talk: “ … Remember you’re the CEO of your own body! So behave like one!’

To be fair, it is possible, not being in my 80s or 90s, that I’m bringing the jaundiced eye of (relative) youth to the book. Maybe our elderly relatives and friends who have been living in caves for the past 40 years will benefit from the simplistic style. And yes, there are a few takeaways that might be helpful for people struggling with the indignities of old age, such as the authors’ “three-look method” of avoiding falls and accidents (look low, look level, look up) and there’s surely a benefit (though this could be intuited) to their advice to thoroughly stretch before getting out bed at any age.

Moreover, Hecht, who wrote most of the book, with Goldberg chiming in, throws out the occasional charming tidbit in musings on her life. I will not soon forget her Aunt Grace, a gourmet cook who, late in life, always ate dessert before the main course. (“For her, all food led to dessert,” Hecht writes.) As a fellow dessert fiend, I grudgingly enjoyed that story.

But the rare paragraphs that weren’t insulting (“I’m sure you are familiar with a well-known saying: ‘You are what you eat.’”), aren’t good enough to justify this use of your time.

There are genuinely funny books about aging (Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck comes to mind) and inspirational books about old women (Two Old Women by Velma Wallace). Two Old Broads offers little to recommend it other than the fame of one of the authors. Don’t gift it to anyone that you like. D

Album Reviews 22/12/29

Justin Courtney Pierre, Permanent Midnight (Epitaph Records)

If you’re going to sound like a male version of Mazzy Star — I mean the full Monty of that vibe, the aural equivalent of sipping a vodka drink while floating around in a luxury pool and feeling the tremors as the earth collapses — your lyrics might as well be so maudlin and psychologically adrift that people would worry about you a bit if they cared enough to try to grok your intentions (not that I detect any in the tune we’re discussing right now, “Used To Be Old School,” other than reflections on trite, Freudian little boyhood/adulthood reminiscences, but whom did that ever stop?). On and on Pierre warbles in his helium falsetto throughout the opening track of this listenable-enough five-songer, after which he tables a bunch of mid-Aughts noise-ish rock recalling Dandy Warhols and all that, exploring aging, fatherhood, family, longing and whatnot. Nothing wrong here, but by the same token there’s nothing that hasn’t been attempted by literally thousands of bands. A

Various Artists, This Ain’t Your Mama and Papa’s Holiday Music: A Compilation of Holiday Favorites for the Weirdo in Your Life (Island House Recordings)

You have about 20 seconds left to get this downloaded and prettily packaged so you’ll have a nice, edgy, indie collection of holiday tunes for your edgy indie holiday feast, which, if you’re like most people trying to get by during this corporate-greed jubilee that’s being blamed on “inflation,” will consist of buns, with actual hot dogs if you’re lucky. I got dragged into this set of 17 songs when someone clued me in to an upcoming EP from the New York City-based Royal Arctic Institute, a five-piece all-instrumental band that contributes to this compilation a sloshy, dreamy version of “Christmastime Is Here,” you know, the maudlin melody from the old Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon. It’s fine for what it is, but there are plenty of edgy indie things from which to choose here: a giggling, sample-soaked “Deck The Halls” from Synthetic Villains that didn’t upset my stomach, and so on. I’m already out of room for this shtick, but do keep in mind that all the proceeds from this one go to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, so you should buy it just to be nice. A


• Icky and gross, it’s the least wonderful time of the year, because as far as I can tell, there are almost no new albums due out tomorrow, Dec. 30, a Friday, which is of course the traditional day of the week on which to release new albums. Let’s face it, the holidays are over, no more plastic Halloween skulls everywhere, the Thanksgiving-flavored turkeys are all eaten up, Christmas and all its good will toward people and whatever is but a memory, and all that’s left is New Year’s Eve, the night we married couples stay up late to watch a bunch of people who’re immune to frostbite make out in Times Square after an electronic ball drops, and then, if we have any brain function remaining, we stay up another 15 minutes to catch up with all the latest new corporate rock acts (“Wow, honey, I didn’t know Florida Georgia Line actually had a catchy song!”). Then, of course, we ceremoniously clink our Coke glasses together and try to herd the cats up to bed. See, that’s what happens when you grow up enough to realize that New Year’s Eve is a plot to sell you cheap liquor, and that nothing really magical ever happens on that holiday, that is unless you get engaged to someone you can actually deal with as the clock strikes Bedtime. Have you ever gotten engaged on New Year’s Eve and broken up with that person two months later? I have. Have you ever gone bar-hopping and been stuck driving in a car when the clock struck midnight? I’ve done that one too. They should make a movie about New Year’s Eve that exposes the potential horror of it, like someone being stuck in an Uber at the stroke of midnight and they get sent back in time to the day before Thanksgiving, and they have to relive the whole holiday season, and if they don’t get it right and have an incredible moment of New Year’s Eve wonderfulness in which they smooch with their Twitter crush or whatever, they have to go back and do it all again. No? What about if there are velociraptors to deal with too?

• OK, I have no bloody idea what I’m going to do to fill the remainder of this space. Want to hear about the worst-ever meal I cooked on New Year’s Eve, of course you do, one time I was dating a vegetarian and I spent the entire day of New Year’s Eve making this disgusting tempeh-meatball dish with sauerkraut. The recipe required all sorts of stupid ingredients, like ginger root and sesame oil, all sorts of things that would have been great by themselves but which together made for a dining experience so unpleasant that I should make a short horror story out of it, to horrify people. But oh look, I’m saved, because some U.S. band called Bandit is releasing an album of “grindcore” (actually overly polished emo) tuneage, titled Siege of Self, on — oops, it was Dec. 29, but close enough. It’s stupid, and everyone’s calling it a worthless pile of Pig Destroyer worship. In other words, the only people who might like it are grindcore dudes who’ve never heard Pig Destroyer before. (No, don’t bother.)

• On New Year’s Eve day, some American metal band called Bayonette will release a new single called “Grógaldr.” No one knows anything about it, not even the Album Of The Year site, which means either that it doesn’t exist or that the band doesn’t understand that record releases need to be announced so that people know they exist. I don’t care what the case is, let’d just wrap up this dumb year with one more thingie.

• Finally we have DaniFighter, apparently a Turkish artist who, like Bayonette, has absolutely no idea how to announce an album. This dude has been known to put out Gorillaz-influenced noise-hip-hop that really sucks, and his new album/EP, Lecsavarlak, will be out this Friday, Dec. 30. Have a great New Year, folks!

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).

Cheesy pull-apart bread

This bread is a deliciously indulgent way to end 2022. It’s a fairly simple recipe but does require a little bit of attention to detail.

The most important ingredient in this recipe is the bread. Although it’s going to be coated in butter and stuffed with cheese, the bread is the base for all that goodness. I highly recommend using sourdough for its denser dough and nice flavor. However, if you can’t find sourdough, a plain, crusty boule will work. Also, salted butter is preferred to give a little extra seasoning to the filling. The remaining ingredients are self-explanatory.

When assembling, it is important to be patient as you make this. You need to make slices into the boule, but you do not want to go through the bottom. The intact base will hold all of the buttery, cheesy goodness in place. When it’s time to pour the butter and add the cheese, go slowly. The more you can get inside the crevices you have created, the more buttery gooeyness you’ll have when it’s eating time. Once it’s done, I have one more piece of advice. Eat it as soon as possible!

Cheesy pull-apart bread
Serves 4-8

1 boule, preferably sourdough
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, diced
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make cuts in the loaf of bread in ½-inch-wide rows and columns, stopping ¼ inch above bottom of the loaf. (You should have a cross-hatch pattern when done.)
Place butter in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 15 seconds.
Add garlic and scallions to butter. Stir well.
Place two long pieces of aluminum foil on top of each other, laying them perpendicular to each other, so that an X is created. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the bread in the center of the X.
Pour butter mixture over bread, attempting to get it into all of the cut areas.
Wrap foil around bread, covering it completely, and place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
Remove bread from the oven and add the cheeses, pushing it down into all of the slices. (Be patient. It takes time to get all of that cheese into place!)
Rewrap foil around the sides, leaving top open.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Unwrap and enjoy!

Featured Photo: Cheesy pull-apart bread. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

Holiday hot wine punch

With dry red wines from Austria

Winter started at 4:48 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 21. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year but also ushers in (at least) two months of cold days, only to be outdone by colder nights! With its roots in paganism, the solstice aligns with the modern holiday season of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. These holidays are celebrated in Northern Europe for weeks with fairs and markets in almost every town and city. Hot wine punches are served at these fairs and markets, ideal for warding off the winter chill.

German glühwein is traditionally served at stalls at Christmas markets across Germany and Austria to keep people warm as they shop and socialize. “Glühwein” literally translates to glow-wine, describing how you feel after you’ve been drinking tiny mugs of it outside over the holidays. The recipe is simple, and the most important rule to follow is “Do not let the wine boil, or you will boil off the alcohol.” Added to the dry red wine are an orange, granulated sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise.

Weihnachtspunsch is a traditional German Christmas punch of tea, red wine, rum, fresh lemon and orange juice and spices. While the name translates as “Christmas punch,” this punch is ideal for any cold winter night.

Feuerzangenbowle is a festive German Fire Punch. This is an interesting punch in that in addition to the heated red wine, joined by slices of lemon and orange, along with the traditional spices of cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries and ginger, the ingredients include a lit sugar cone, soaked with rum that is poured over it, as the cone is perched on tongs, balanced on the ridge of the hot pot. That is impressive! Note that this concoction involves the handling of alcohol and an open flame! Extreme care should be exercised in the creation of this libation.

Now, about the wine! Recipes for these punches call for a dry red wine. Therefore, a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, Chianti, zinfandel or merlot will do, but I believe that if we are about to make a German hot punch, a German dry red wine should be used. However, I encountered a small “speed bump.” My quest (albeit perhaps not exhaustive) for a German dry red wine met with some disappointment in the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets. So I purchased two Austrian dry red wines.

Our first wine is a 2015 Höpler Pannonica Blaufränkisch Zweigelt Pinot Noir, priced at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $12.99. What an incredible bargain! The color is a dark ruby hue. To the nose there are dark blackberry notes, along with a little plum. The nose carries through to the tongue with flavors of blackberries, along with some gentle spices and very soft tannins. This is an Austrian blend of 40 percent blaufränkisch, 35 percent Zweigelt and 25 percent pinot noir. The Zweigelt variety was created in the 1920’s by Professor Fritz Zweigelt, by crossing varieties of blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and pinot noir. Zweigelt is the most widespread red wine variety in Austria.

Our second wine is a 2017 Anton Bauer Zweigelt Feuersbrunn, priced at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $17.99. Another great silent bargain! This 100 percent Zweigelt has a color that is a bit more purple than the first wine, along with the nose and tongue also ever so slightly more intense than the first bottle. This wine hails from the Wagram viticultural region of Austria, on the banks of the Danube. Known to produce excellent Grüner Veltliner, the region is ideal for the production of this superb red varietal.

So gather round a fire pit and enjoy the crisp winter cold with a cup of any of these hot wine punches, and if you lack the ambition to flame a rum-soaked sugar cone, you can curl up in front of the fireplace with a glass of either of these fine, light, dry red wines! You will delight in these new experiences.

In the kitchen with Pete Parenti

Pete Parenti of Milford is the owner and founder of Troubadour Spice Blends ( troubadourspiceblends.co, and on Instagram @troubadour.spice.blends), offering a lineup of two dozen handcrafted spice blends, from beef, chicken and rib rubs to an espresso steak blend, a Jamaican jerk blend, a hickory maple blend and several others. An Air Force veteran and musician, Parenti initially got into crafting his own spice blends as a side hustle, passing them out mostly to friends, family members and co-workers. When the pandemic hit, he decided to jump into it full-time, choosing the name “Troubadour” in reference to the song by country music legend George Strait. Each one of Parenti’s spice blends is inspired by his travels around the world, both personally and while in the military — in addition to ordering them online, you can find many of his selected flavors at Grasshoppers Garden Center (728 River Road, New Boston), Artisans Boutique by Recycled Creations (25 Main St., Wilton) and Sweet Beet Market (11 W. Main St., Bradford). Sweet Beet Market’s in-house cafe also offers the Troubadour Tempeh on its breakfast menu, seasoned with Parenti’s Jamaican jerk blend.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

It would be my stainless steel mixing bowl … because without that, I’m back to making one jar at a time. That big mixing bowl gives me the ability to make large batches.

What would you have for your last meal?

A bacon double cheeseburger, seasoned fries and an ice cold beer, preferably an IPA from maybe Smuttynose or Great North Aleworks. It’s got to be a New Hampshire IPA.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Taco Time in Milford. … Great atmosphere over there, and great food.

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

The Zac Brown Band. … I remember seeing that they do this thing called an Eat and Greet with their fans before a concert, and supposedly the food is fantastic.

What is your favorite spice blend that you offer? What is your favorite thing to use it in?

I like them all … but I think the one I find myself grabbing the most is my Lone Star chili and fajitas blend. It basically just reminds me of all the time I spent in Texas while I was in the Air Force and eating the food down there. … My favorite thing to put it in is something I call my Mexican casserole, and it’s kind of like a lasagna. I’ll layer flour tortillas, beef, refried beans, taco sauce, cilantro and then plenty of that seasoning.

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

This might have been going on for a long time, but I just kind of became aware of it. … It seems to me that in New Hampshire, people are really on the lookout for high-quality all-natural ingredients. Either they’re cooking with them or they’re going to find them at a restaurant. … That kind of relates to what I’m doing too, because I definitely look for that when I make my spice blends. There’s no fillers, no MSGs [and] no anti-caking agents like silicon dioxide.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Definitely pasta. It’s simple, easy, it makes a lot of servings and it’s delicious.

Homemade pasta carbonara
From the kitchen of Pete Parenti of Troubadour Spice Blends

1 pounds angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
2 sticks butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 shaker Parmesan cheese
8 eggs
1 to 2 packages bacon, cooked and chopped
Parsley, chopped
Troubadour Spice Blends Pig Dust seasoning
Black pepper

Boil the pasta until it is cooked al dente, then drain and place the pasta back into the pot (save a ladleful of pasta water for later). While the pasta is cooking, cook and chop the bacon, then set aside. Chop the parsley and set aside. In a large bowl, place the eggs, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and the saved ladleful of pasta water. Whisk together and set aside. Finish the pasta by first adding in the sticks of butter. Slowly pour in the egg-cream-Parmesan mixture and stir everything together until the pasta absorbs all of the liquids. Add lots of Pig Dust seasoning, chopped bacon and parsley and a bit more Parmesan cheese. If desired, sprinkle on some cracked black pepper. Serve and enjoy.

Queen City roasts

Eighty-Eight Coffee Co. opens in Manchester

Over its nearly eight-year run, The Local Moose Cafe in Manchester gained a following for its soups, sandwiches and scratch-baked goods, including a rotating lineup of craft doughnuts. Now, the cafe’s owners are switching gears in favor of offering single-origin coffees roasted in small batches, in addition to teas, a daily selection of toasts and some grab-and-go pastries.

Eighty-Eight Coffee Co., as the Queen City Ave. shop is now known, arrived the week of Thanksgiving following a roughly four-month-long hiatus. Owners and brothers Bo Tong and Marc Lee — along with Tong’s wife, Natalia Umpierrez-Tong — temporarily took a break, closing the shop in early July with the goal to return later in the year.

“With The Local Moose, our intention when we opened seven years ago was to be a cafe, and from that, our menu grew and then it felt more like we were running a restaurant that served coffee,” said Umpierrez-Tong, who added that they began roasting their own coffees in house in 2020. “Whereas now, we’re a coffee roaster with some food items as well. … I think, for me, that’s one of the biggest differences is [that] now the focus is on roasting coffee, getting the profiles that we want and pulling out different flavors.”

The trio agreed that a name change was the best way to help introduce that concept. Their new name, Umpierrez-Tong said, is rooted in Chinese culture — both Tong and Lee are lifelong Manchester residents of Chinese descent.

“In China, the number 8 is considered very lucky, and two 8s are twice as lucky,” she said. “So we thought it would be fun to just bring some of our family’s culture to the community.”

From a Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk and espresso to house specials like a maple latte prepared with local maple syrup and a chili mocha with cinnamon, cayenne and chocolate sauce, there’s a lot of variety here for coffee lovers to enjoy. In addition to drip and pour-over coffees, there are cold brew and nitro brew options, with beans that are sourced from several regions in Central and South America, like Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua.

“With the pour-over, we’re manually grinding and brewing the coffee for customers instead of, say, getting it out of an airpot,” Tong said. “It takes a little bit of time, but it’s fresher and it’s cleaner. The recipes we use for the pour-overs are precise for that bean.”

The shop also carries an assortment of loose-leaf teas and, for food, offers a small toast menu utilizing its own house-made white breads — there’s an avocado toast with local honey and Maldon salt, a peanut butter and banana toast with chia seeds and the option to add granola, and a cucumber and hummus toast with sesame seeds and pea shoots, among others. A pastry case at the shop’s front counter also regularly carries a selection of items like doughnuts, scones, muffins, cookies and pastries they call crunch rolls.

“It’s a Japanese milk bread with almost like a crunchy cookie topping,” Tong said of the crunch rolls. “That’s something that I actually tried to remake from a pastry house in Chinatown. … I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent exactly like the ones in Chinatown, so that’s why I renamed it the crunch roll. So that’s something that’s different that I guarantee you won’t find in the city.”

Bagged coffees are available for sale inside the shop, and Tong said the trio also has plans to eventually obtain some local wholesale accounts.

Despite their name change, Umpierrez-Tong said they’ve already seen many of the same faces come through the doors in the days since their return.

“We are so humbled by the amount of customers that we retained,” she said. “Even after our longer than expected break, they came back and they were so psyched to see us.”

Eighty-Eight Coffee Co.
Where: 124 Queen City Ave., Manchester
Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More info: Visit eightyeightcoffee.com, or find them on Facebook and Instagram

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of Eighty-Eight Coffee Co. in Manchester.

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