Teddy Thompson plays solo in Manchester

At the end of a benefit show in New Jersey last month, Richard Thompson invited his son Teddy onstage to perform with him. The elder Thompson is folk music royalty, while Teddy Thompson is a singer-songwriter who over two decades has dipped his toes in many musical ponds including country, pop and, on his 2020 LP Heartbreaker Please, Muscle Shoals soul.

The song they led off with that night, however, wasn’t one of those genres. Instead, they covered Eddie Cochran’s “Cut Across Shorty,” a rousing rave-up from rock ’n’ roll’s early days.

This suited Teddy Thompson perfectly. When he was twelve and his friends were hooked on MTV fare like Madonna, he was time traveling. “1955 to 1959 … that’s all I listened to,” he said by phone recently. “I thought, this is my first taste of what music is, and if it’s this good, I can’t wait to hear more. It turns out actually that’s as good as it got … everything I’ve heard since then has been a sort of slight letdown.”

He eventually learned to embrace artists of his own era like Culture Club and Crowded House. This was a reflection of what his mother, Linda Thompson, termed a “catholic” music taste that ran in his family. “It doesn’t matter where it comes from,” he said. “If you like it, you like it.”

For his own material, which he’ll perform solo at an upcoming show in Manchester, Thompson remains committed to just one thing, which in his telling is, well, everything.

“When it comes down to it, I’m really mostly enamored and focused on the song itself, hopefully something that is a strong suit,” he said. “I write the songs with just me and the guitar and then, depending on the album, sometimes it leans one way or the other.”

On Thompson’s latest project he collaborated with Jenni Muldaur, another child of a famous musician, to cover classic country duet partners. Three songs each from Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, they recorded it mostly to pass time during the pandemic, then put it out online. “We sort of half-ass released it,” he said.

“Our mutual friend David Mansfield, who is a real autodidactic and renaissance man, really put the whole thing together,” Thomson continued. “By the time we finished it, we sort of realized, ‘Oh, this should be a record.’ So we’re in the process now of getting a deal together to put it out … hopefully next year.”

Thompson’s worked with a lot of musicians over the years, both as musician and producer. His production began with his mother’s 2002 return Fashionably Late. Since then he’s helmed Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer’s haunting Not Dark Yet, three LPs from Dori Freeman, and Roseanne Reid’s 2019 Trails.

When asked what draws him behind the console, Thompson is a bit self-deprecating.

“I think it’s a little bit to do with not being very disciplined in my own writing and direction,” he said. “I’m not somebody who’s terribly focused and ambitious and has a real long-term view of what my career should be, when my next album should come out, all that stuff. So I think I’ve turned to collaborations in between things. When I don’t feel like I’m ready to make another record of my own, it’s a musical project to do in the meantime.”

This logic didn’t apply on 2014’s Family, a record Thompson conceived, produced and played on. He was joined by his mother and father, a once-acclaimed musical duo who divorced when he was young, his sister Kami, nephew Zak Hobbs, half-brother Jack Thompson, and a few other relations. The New York Times wrote brilliantly about the often fraught effort.

“Even if you’re not a musician, you can just imagine trying to do any kind of project with your entire family; there’s gonna be difficult moments,” he said. “There were a lot of emotions involved, mostly just for me. Because it was my idea, I was in charge, it was all on my head … it was pathetic in a way, as it really was enjoyable once it all came together.”

Heartbreaker Please was a breakup album, and Thompson thinks the best songs come from pain in relationships.

“That’s just what we feel the most and it’s the subject that everybody’s drawn to,” he said. “I guess some people are writing songs about other things but it’s tough for me to do anything really heartfelt when it’s not about the heart, if you see what I mean. I tend to write more songs about me and my woes, but it never seems boring or old to me … it’s endlessly interesting and fascinating and moving.”

Teddy Thompson
When: Saturday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester
Tickets: $29 at palacetheatre.org

Featured photo: Teddy Thompson. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/02/23

Local music news & events

Poetry slam: The weekly poetry open mic night hosted is headlined by Ryk McIntyre, a veteran poet who’s appeared everywhere from Lollapalooza to the first Legends of the Slam showcase in 2006. McIntyre’s work has appeared in the Worcester Review and the fusion anthology Short Fuse, and he’s published two collections; his latest is 2018’s The Man at the Door. Thursday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m., Stark Brewing Co, 500 N. Commercial St., Manchester, $3 to $5 cover (cash or Venmo), facebook.com/slamfreeordie.

Mosh men: A four-band punk show is topped by Already Dead, a no-nonsense Boston trio who recently released the single “My Collar is Blue,” a Dropkick Murphys-adjacent reflection of their lead singer’s day job as a pipe fitter. Formed during a fit of creative restlessness during the pandemic, their name comes from one of their songs, “Stability.” Rounding out the bill are Graniteers, TFR and Neglected Witches. Friday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m., Nashua Garden, 121 Main St., Nashua, $10 at the door; alreadydeadmusic.com.

Grooviversary: Celebrating 25 years together, Club d’Elf is a musical collective with an ever-changing lineup drawn from the jazz, world music, rock and DJ scenes of Boston, New York City and beyond. Performing on this special tour are Randy Roos on guitar, keyboard player Paul Schultheis, turntablist Mister Rourke, drummer Dean Johnston and Mike Rivard on bass and sintir (a three-stringed Moroccan lute). Saturday, Feb. 25, 9 p.m., The Press Room, 77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, $20 to $25 at eventbrite.com.

Laugh night: The upcoming Scamps Comedy Productions show is led by Steve Donovan, a Rhode Island standup who had a long run as morning drive host in Providence. Along with radio, Donovan earned an Emmy nomination for hosting NESN’s The Batter’s Box, appeared in several commercials and acted in a stage production of Shear Madness. Also on the bill are L.A. transplant Adam Groppman, Jennifer Howell and Ajay Thakker. Saturday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m., Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St., Manchester, $20 at eventbrite.com.

Power trio: Psychedelic country rockers The Cadillac Three wrap up the East Coast swing of their Bandana Tour with a show in downtown Manchester. Along with Grammy, ACM and CMA nods, the genre-floating band’s front man Jaren Johnston has contributed songs to Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban, along with producing Steven Tyler’s and the Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett’s attempts at being Nashville cats. Sunday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester, $27 at ticketmaster.com (21+).

At the Sofaplex 23/02/23

Aftersun (R)

Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio.

Dad Calum (Mescal, nominated for actor in a leading role) and tween-ish daughter Sophie (Corio) vacation while, a few decades in the future, adult Sophie (Celia Rowlson-Hall), now married with a child, remembers the visit in this bittersweet drama. Primarily, Aftersun just gives us father and daughter hanging out in a sunny, slightly shabby resort. He appears to not be her primary parent, so there is some catching up and attempting to reconnect. Sophie seems to be finding her way into this world where she enjoys being goofy with her dad and playing video games with a kid her own age but also seems nervously entranced by the older kids she plays pool with. Corio excellently captures kid confidence with teen uncertainty at the fringes and makes Sophie into a recognizable 11-year-old. We see the vacation mostly from her perspective. It’s only gradually that we see that Calum is having some kind of slow-motion breakdown while trying to keep up the facade of a happy visit. Aftersun, directed and written by Charlotte Wells, has great performances all around and is an enjoyable movie even if its sweetness is delivered with a degree of sadness. A Available for rent or purchase.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (PG-13)

Eternally youthful Paul Rudd returns for an adventure in the tinyverse in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Rudd) has a pretty good post-Thanos life. He’s written a book, he’s publicly beloved and his girlfriend Hope Van Dyne/the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) is using science to make the world a better place. But then he gets a call from the police department where his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) is being held after getting arrested at a protest where she may have shrunk a police car (Hope slipped her an Ant-Man-like suit). When Scott brings her home to the Pym/Van Dyne house, he learns Cassie has been working with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope on tech to map the quantum realm. Everyone’s proud of young Cassie’s invention but Hank’s wife/Hope’s mom Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets panicked when she realizes the device sends a signal into the quantum realm. She tries to shut it off but the device malfunctions and sucks them all in — or down, I guess, as the quantum realm is the submicroscopic world below or inside or whatever our world.

Janet, you’ll remember, was once stuck in the quantum realm for decades and when the gang — separated into two groups: the Pym/Van Dyne family and Scott and Cassie — arrives they realize she knows more than she’s ever explained about this world. For one, it’s populated by an assortment of beings, some more humanoid than others. And one of those beings is apparently the big noise of the quantum realm with some kind of old score to settle with Janet.

Eventually we meet this guy and he is Kang (Jonathan Majors), a name to remember for Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you watched Loki and didn’t give up after one episode like I did, apparently he is familiar (and also there’s some Loki content in the post-credits, according to the internet; I only stayed for one mid-credits scene, which was wearying). He is the villain — I guess? Mostly, he just feels like the start to a Whole Thing.

This movie is primarily made of goofiness, some of which I enjoyed (a cute if not well-used cameo, some business with Hank Pym’s ants) and some of which I just found to be tiresome. Everything to do with the fraying of the multiverse or whatever, the half-baked “secrets Janet never divulged” stuff, and Kang’s whole deal all just feel like a drag on whatever fun the movie could have had.

This movie feels so invested in being the first chapter of a new thing that it seems like it forgot to put together a compelling stand-alone story. And while I have affection for both Paul Rudd and Scott Lang, that affection isn’t enough for the movie to skate by with so few redeeming elements of its own. C

Rated PG-13 because that is the most profitable rating — I mean, for violence/action and language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Peyton Reed with a screenplay by Jeff Loveness, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is two hours and five minutes long and distributed in theaters by Walt Disney Studios.

Featured photo: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

The Moon Over the Mountain, by Atsushi Nakajima

The Moon Over the Mountain, by Atsushi Nakajima, illustrated by Nekosuke (Vertical, 56 pages)

The Moon Over the Mountain is the second entry in publisher Kodansha’s “Maiden’s Bookshelf” collection, which presents acclaimed short stories from Japanese literature in illustrated collectible volumes.

First published in 1942, “The Moon Over the Mountain” is the most well-known work by writer Atsushi Nakajima. The story is set in 8th-century China where a ferocious man-eating tiger stalks the roads at night. When a government official decides to take a perilous nighttime journey, he discovers there is more to this mad beast than meets the eye. The story is more introspective than action-packed, delving into emotions and ambitions people would rather keep buried.

The physical book is small, but the cover will draw a potential reader in. There is thoughtful design with some beautiful typography and a good preview of illustrator Nekosuke’s art style. The illustrations have a distinct mood to them with deep reds and blacks, reminiscent of journeys along unlighted roads in the dead of night. When there is contrast, it is in the vibrant hues of nighttime feline eyes. The stark contrast of red and white is a subtle representation of the story’s themes with red as the character’s animal nature versus white as human reason and morality. The human character designs themselves are androgynously delicate with large doll eyes and long flowing hair, and many of the pieces explore the melding of man and beast. They circle around each other like an ouroboros, never fully accepting or rejecting their opposing nature.

Some readers may find themselves confused when reading, thinking the art is an exact representation of the story, trying to match the words and the images together, but it becomes the artist’s interpretation of the themes of the story which may not mesh with what the reader has in mind. In that light, while the tiger is the heart of The Moon Over the Mountain, illustrator Nekosuke seems to have a penchant for cats as many illustrations feature all varieties of domestic cats. As the narrative progresses, it becomes important how the man-eating tiger came to be. The meaning would be different if it were only a common house cat yowling into the night, so having them featured almost feels like a distraction. Also hindering the presentation of the story is the porcelain beauty of the artwork, so detailed and unblemished it almost feels sterile. As the story progresses and the reader learns more about why the tiger prowls the roads at night, the perfection is unable to carry the weight of the character’s anguish.

There is also a layout aspect of the book that divides the writing from the illustrations. Some page spreads are completely devoid of art, and for a book of little more than 50 pages this is noticeable. The pages are not left plain white but are instead in bold colors of black and gold fitting with the tiger theme. This design choice keeps the text impactful, but it still feels like something is missing. The detailed illustrations using different patterns thematically repeat throughout the story, so it would not seem too far off to have some of those patterns run across the empty spreads, tying the text and art together.

Issues aside, what pushes the book into the worth-reading category is the story itself. The closest piece of writing to compare it to would be Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” The Moon Over the Mountain does not have the grotesque imagery of “The Metamorphosis,” but the human condition presented is equal in ugliness. Both have the existential theme of what it means to fall short of society’s and one’s own expectations of living a meaningful good life. A man-eating tiger is no hero, but in The Moon Over the Mountain he is no villain either.

Scanning through different book marketplaces there does not seem to be a lot of Atsushi Nakajima’s writings circulated in the United States, and rarely does such an out-of-the-way story get such a thoughtful presentation, making this version of The Moon Over the Mountain unique and worth delving into. B

— Bethany Fuss

Album Reviews 23/02/23

Nite Skye, Vanishing (Sonic Ritual Records)

I’m like 100 percent positive I’ve talked about this father-son duo before, unless it was someone else. This is their debut album, which doesn’t jibe with my (probably faux) memory, but anyway, here they are, ex-Film School vocalist-guitarist Nyles Lannon and his 12-year-old boy Skye on the drum kit, stomping out the shoegaze/dream-pop vibes. You may have heard of Film School but I haven’t; they were a shoegaze act back in the day, so Nyles is a good dad for Skye to have picked, no question. Some very listenable stuff, particularly if your outdated tastes run to Tangerine Dream sans any krautrock elements, which is what album opener “Dream State” is about. “Guided By A Hand” is even more ’80s-ish, like Raveonettes without all the annoying performative noise. “Doing Time” finally brings us to the shoegaze subject that the record was supposed to be about in the first place; it’s not a wildly original tune but like everything else here it’s got plenty going for it. A

Charming Disaster, Super Natural History (Sonic Ritual Records)

This year’s full-length entry from the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based goth-folk duo, with Ellia Bisker on ukulele and Jeff Morris on guitar. I liked their 2022 record, Our Lady of Radium, a concept album focused on Marie Curie’s ghost, and that’s how they remain here, inspired by the gothic humor of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, the noir storytelling of Raymond Chandler, traditional murder ballads and old-time cabaret. I like that these two really take their trip seriously; they’re releasing an “oracle deck” of cards similar to a tarot deck, which is brilliant strategy when you’re singing about monsters and ghosts like they do here again, although they have more musicians helping this time around, which makes for a more Built To Spill- or Lou Reed-style vibe, all told, more of a lo-fi post-punk thing. It’s goth-con stuff of course; they’ve opened for such good fits as Dresden Dolls and Rasputina. Nothing wrong here. A


• Our next general CD-release date is this Friday, Feb. 24, as the awful winter starts running out of gas forever. LOL, remember when we thought January was just going to be an early spring and some of you were walking around in cargo shorts, remember that? And then it was a frozen ice storm the week of the 24th, and each shovelful of slush weighed 80 pounds? I can’t wait for that to be over, but in the meantime, there are albums we need to discuss, and we’ll start with the one that needs the least introductory verbiage, Adam Lambert’s new album High Drama, heading our way this very minute! Lambert is of course the Star Search version of Freddie Mercury in the current lineup of the classic rock band Queen, sort of; he has to share the singing duties with Paul Rodgers, who sang for Bad Company before they started putting out decent tunes like “No Smoke Without A Fire,” the only “Bad Co” song I like. Where were we, right, so Lambert is considered by many non-singing producers and non-singing musicians to be one of the best singers in the world, and I refuse to get trolled into an argument about that, so let’s have a listen to what’s on the new album, his first since 2020’s Velvet, which gave us “Feel Something,” a crooner ballad that’s so antiseptic that it sounded as if it had to get approval from some random Today show audience before it was released to the five people who actually bought the album. I’m hoping to hear a little originality in his new single, which is — wait, it’s a cover song, “Holding Out for a Hero,” that old Bonnie Tyler tune. He sings good, of course, and he dressed his band in Daft Punk helmets for some reason, maybe just so he’d have a reason to use a Daft Punk-y beat on a song from Footloose that should have been forgotten in 1985. But do have at it, whoever buys this dude’s albums.

• Radiohead drummer Philip Selway releases a new album on Friday, titled Strange Dance. That’s the only neutral thing I have to say on the matter, given that I can’t stand Radiohead, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and do the dance anyway with this thing, because I am a professional at this. The single, “Check For Signs Of Life,” starts off with a slow, rainy, melancholy acoustic piano line — good lord this guy has an awful voice — and leads me to think that he had Zero 7 or maybe Portishead in mind when he wrote this song, and then it slowly becomes a ripoff of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” but more upbeat (what isn’t?). Anyway, no idea why anyone would want to make an album with this song on it, but voila.

• English singer and bass player Gina Birch founded post-punk rock band The Raincoats in 1977, right after she saw a Slits concert (today I learned that The Slits have been around since forever, how about that). Her new solo album, I Play My Bass Loud, is on the way this Friday. The title track is interesting and survivable enough, fitted with a subterranean, urban groove, some agreeable ’80s-ish art rock, and a weird, mocking vocal line from Birch that’s all doused in patch effects and that kind of thing. It’s not hard stuff like The Slits, if you’re wondering, but it’s still no-wave in my book, and besides, I doubt she’s shooting for actual punk these days anyway.

• And finally we have Gorillaz, a cartoon band whose appeal never struck me, not that I feel guilty about it. Cracker Island is the band’s new album, and the title track has a pretty neat electro beat, kind of goth-krautrock-buzzy, to be more specific. I’ve heard worse.

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).

Chicken Parm meatballs

Sometimes you want chicken Parmesan — a hearty, filling meal that makes you think a nap is a good idea. Other times you want all the flavors of that meal but want to feel a little less weighted. This recipe is here to do just that.

These chicken parm meatballs deliver all of the cheesy, herby flavors of their namesake but are baked, not fried. Even better, as they are meatballs, they could be served on their own as an appetizer, or they could be made into an entrée, either atop a bowl of pasta or nestled in a sub roll.

This recipe is pretty straightforward in its ingredients and directions. For the ground chicken I used a blend of dark and white meat. If you want to make it even healthier, ground chicken breast would work well. For the bread crumbs, panko is essential. It provides more texture than a typical bread crumb would. For the mixing, I highly recommend using your hands. That will allow better distribution of herbs and cheese throughout the mix. Using a spoon most likely won’t provide the same effect.

Say goodbye (or see you later, anyway) to fried chicken parm, and hello to chicken parm meatballs.

Chicken Parm meatballs
Makes 20

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 cups marinara
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or a thin layer of olive oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, panko, Parmesan, egg, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, and black pepper.
Mix well. (I prefer to use my hands to make sure it is thoroughly combined.)
Form mixture into balls the size of walnuts.
Place on the prepared baking sheet, an inch or two apart.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish with marinara.
Add meatballs and top with additional marinara.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Bake for 15 additional minutes or until the mozzarella is fully melted.

Featured Photo: Chicken Parm meatballs. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Sue Poulin

Sue Poulin is the co-owner of Bouillon Bistro (123 Union Square, Milford, 718-3305, bouillonbistro.com), known for its rotating menu of scratch-made artisan soups, chowders and stews. Poulin left her corporate career to purchase Wicked Pissah Chowdah, at the time located on South Street just off the Milford Oval, from founder Ellen Muckstadt in June 2020. She and business partner Lisa Gamache have also since opened a second location in Townsend, Mass. Last October, Bouillon Bistro of Milford reopened in its current spot on the opposite end of the Oval — the restaurant is unique for featuring a different lineup of six home-cooked options every single day.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

One thing that I never thought I would ever have … is this big paddle. It’s probably eight inches wide and 24 inches long, and it’s great because it scrapes the bottom of the pot as you’re making your mirepoix in the beginning and all the butter and the vegetables. It grabs all of that before any burning happens. … This paddle has really become the be-all, end-all tool in the kitchen. A spoon never really does the job.

What would you have for your last meal?

Prime rib, medium rare, with au jus, a baked potato with all the fixings, and a side of any kind of vegetable.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I think that Buckley’s does such a phenomenal job. … I like to use their Hollis bakery, and I’m really impressed by what they do there.

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

I do love myself a good John Mayer song. … So I think if he came in, had some soup and played some acoustic music for us, then that would be a great day.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

For soup, the beef barley is my ultimate favorite. There’s just so much flavor in that one, and it’s so hearty. … Then for non-soup, it’s the braised beef Ragu, which is chuck roast meat in a tomato sauce, and it’s processed over a long period of time and all that juice is then poured into the pot. It’s so good.

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

We get so many requests daily [to] offer more gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. … Whereas those options were things that only a handful of people used to request in the past, now the tides have turned where that’s the majority.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I find that because I blend so many things together in the pots at work, that when I cook at home I like to keep it very simple. So I’ll typically do something like a chicken, rice and vegetable dinner, or a filet mignon with a potato side or a vegetable side.

Lemon chicken orzo (broth finish)
From the kitchen of Sue Poulin of Bouillon Bistro in Milford

½ stick butter
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped carrots
10 cups chicken stock
Dry chicken bouillon to taste
3 cups cooked cubed chicken
3 cups baby spinach
Zest of 1 whole lemon
Juice of 1 lemon

In a pot, combine the butter, black pepper, bay leaves, onions, celery and carrots and saute until softened. Add the chicken, chicken stock, chicken bouillon, spinach, lemon zest and lemon juice. Simmer on low until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with orzo noodles.

Featured photo: Sue Poulin of Bouillon Bistro in Milford. Courtesy photo.

Burgers, bacon and beyond

The Hidden Pig opens in downtown Nashua

New life has been breathed into a Nashua restaurant building that has sat dormant for more than three years. The Hidden Pig opened Feb. 9 in the former Riverside Barbeque Co. storefront on Main Street, bringing with it a thoughtfully crafted menu of gourmet burgers, sandwiches, rice bowls, doughnuts and even bacon boards — yes, boards filled with juicy slabs of candied bacon.

The eatery may be new to the Granite State, but it’s actually the second Hidden Pig location for owner Phil Bentham II, a native of Methuen, Mass., who opened the first one in downtown Haverhill in 2018. Bentham, who’s been working in the industry practically his entire life, got his start at Salvatore’s Italian Restaurant in Lawrence, which was also where he would meet future Hidden Pig head chef Brandon Allardice.

Unexpected and consistent success in Haverhill would soon open the doors for Bentham — along with his wife, Ashley, who mostly handles operations and marketing — to look into the possibility of a second spot. Through a Realtor friend, he learned of an available restaurant space overlooking the Nashua River. It had last been occupied by the Riverside Barbeque Co., which closed in December 2019 after a nearly decade-long run.

wooden restaurant platter displaying assortment of doughnuts
Doughnut board. Courtesy photo.

At nearly 4,000 square feet, The Hidden Pig’s Nashua restaurant more than doubles the size of its Massachusetts counterpart, with completely renovated interior dining and bar areas.

“The ‘hidden’ part of the name is a play coming from the idea of being a hidden gem north of Boston,” Bentham said, “and then we started incorporating little bits of bacon in all of our food, kind of like they are ‘hidden,’ almost.”

While some barbecue-inspired items like burnt ends and pulled pork are offered, Bentham said The Hidden Pig is not a barbecue restaurant; rather, he categorized the concept as more of a gastropub with particular focuses on burgers and local craft beer — and, of course, bacon. Lots of bacon. Look no further for it than the bacon board, which comes with a homemade bacon shallot jam and baguette crostinis; or any one of the burgers, most of which are topped with bacon or pork belly, or have a bacon-infused aioli or jam.

“We try to be a bacon- and a gourmet burger-focused restaurant, for sure,” Bentham said. “We try not to get too weird with the burgers, but we do do some funky stuff. … Our most popular burger … is called the Big Bad Wolf. It’s got a blueberry jam spread on there, mixed with a maple bacon aioli, and then it’s got a piece of pork belly and cheddar cheese.”

The Hidden Pig is also known for its Sunday brunches — those menu items are available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with highlights including Fruity Pebbles chicken and waffles, and Reese’s “overload” buttermilk pancakes. Doughnuts are a huge deal too, from maple bacon glazed to Oreo and Reese’s flavors, and even a “Dunkaroonut” with animal crackers and sprinkles.

“We do a doughnut board with a big handle … and we decorate it with four, five, six doughnuts on there,” Bentham said. “We put it right in the center and people just go to town on it.”

The craft beer side is where Bentham said The Hidden Pig’s Nashua restaurant will mostly differ from Haverhill, and that’s because he is looking to incorporate more New Hampshire brews on tap. For the past few years, he has worked with Ali and Rob Leleszi of Rockingham Brewing Co. in Derry to brew a house New England-style double IPA that also comes canned.

The restaurant is open six nights a week, with the bar usually staying open an hour later than the kitchen, depending on the night.

“If there’s a good crowd, we’ll continue to stay open,” Bentham said. “There’s not really much up here, I feel, as far as on a Sunday evening, so hopefully we can change that.”

The Hidden Pig
Where: 53 Main St., Nashua
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (brunch only) and 3 to 9 p.m. (dinner only)
More info: Visit thehiddenpig.com, find them on Facebook and Instagram or call 402-9640

Featured photo: Bacon board. Courtesy photo.

On The Job – Jen O’Brien

Medical aesthetics provider

Jen O’Brien is an advanced practice nurse who provides aesthetic injections and skin treatments from her medspa Relevé Medical Aesthetics (Salzburg Square, 292 Route 101, Amherst, 460-5706, relevemedicalaesthetics.com).

Explain your job and what it entails.

People enter my office seeking subtle, natural aesthetic treatments to help reclaim their confidence and feel great. I perform minimally invasive aesthetic treatments like Botox, filler, chemical peels, and platelet-rich plasma procedures. Our consultation process is relaxed and thorough, and most procedures have minimal pain or downtime.

How long have you had this job?

I opened my practice in the fall of 2021. I’ve been a nurse for 17 years and a certified registered nurse anesthetist for 11 years. Before Relevé, I provided anesthesia services at Catholic Medical Center.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

As many women and men have experienced, I lost my sense of self when my kids were little. Learning to love and honor myself has been a challenging yet incredibly rewarding journey. How we feel about what we see in the mirror is only a piece of the puzzle, but I have found great purpose in helping women and men feel confident about their appearance so they can go out and live their most full life.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I received a bachelor of science in nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master of science in nursing degree from Boston College. I then sought training in aesthetics at Beautiphi Academy in Michigan and have since continued my education in advanced aesthetics and facial anatomy. Last year I traveled to Switzerland to learn from world-class clinicians in the field.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Sometimes I wear scrubs, but usually black pants and a fun T-shirt. I love wearing graphic T-shirts that show my personality.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

Helping my clients develop reasonable expectations for their results can be really delicate. The treatments I offer are generally the least expensive, least downtime and lowest risk, but they will also give the most subtle results at first.

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

At first I worried that performing aesthetic procedures would be at odds with my personal values of building others up and loving our imperfect selves, but what I have found is that when we feel good about what we see in the mirror, we bring our best selves to the world around us. I’m a better mom for Botox, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

Just because some people [receive treatments that are] overdone doesn’t mean all treatments will give you bad results. Many, many people receive treatments with Botox and fillers and have beautiful, subtle results.

What was the first job you ever had?

I was a veterinary technician when I was 14. This mostly involved cleaning areas of the office that had never been cleaned before and caring for the daily needs of the pets.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.” Be your most authentic self, and the right clients will find you… What you see on my Facebook and Instagram accounts is the real me, so if you’re curious about treatments, check them out to see if I’m a good fit.

Five favorites

Favorite book:
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Favorite movie: Love Actually
Favorite music: I’m eclectic — pop, rock, indie.
Favorite food: Oreo ice cream
Favorite thing about NH: The outdoors — mountains, lakes, beaches.

Featured photo: Jen O’Brien. Courtesy photo.

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