Sister power

All-woman showcase at Shaskeen

An upcoming Saturday afternoon of music will be an eclectic gathering of four women, each with a unique voice. Rachel Berlin echoes Ladies of the Canyon-era Joni Mitchell, Bri Bell writes and records lush folk pop as a solo artist and plays in a hardcore metal band on the side, Savoir Faire offers noir jazz with a sharp lyrical edge, and Fatma Salem’s songs are raw, spare and full of life experience.

The four will meet for the first time when each does a half-hour set at Shaskeen Pub on March 25. The common thread bringing them together is the WMNH-FM local music program Granite State of Mind. Each has appeared there recently.

“I went in search of more female performers … as a winter task for myself and the show,” host Rob Azevedo said recently.

As to why he chose these four performers, he said, “I found Savoir Faire to be symphonic almost. Fatma was refreshing, endearing, quietly captivating. Bri sounds like street love to me and her delivery is striking. Rachel was instantly next-level in her command and presence, and her voice melts into each song.”

Salem works as a mental health counselor in the same building as WMNH. Azevedo first met her in the hall there, then learned she was a musician. Her music often reflects her work.

“To have the background of life experiences adds another layer,” Salem said on her GSOM appearance. “You can track my journey through my songs.”

Berlin only recently made her first song public, but it is full of promise, and she has many more in waiting. “Wandering One Ways” has a verse/refrain structure and alternate tuning resembles Mitchell’s “Cactus Tree,” which is no accident. “I really wanted to write a song that is inspired by her,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Her ability to stay on one emotion and just really dig into it, lay it out there … I really wanted to be able to do that.”

Though both her parents are music teachers, Berlin’s journey to the stage wasn’t a given. “I’m definitely not a natural-born performer,” the 20-year old said. She’s battled stage fright since her childhood piano recital days. But after polishing up her guitar skills during the pandemic, she decided it was mind over matter and started hitting open mics.

When Lamont Smooth, a band from her hometown of Concord, invited her to sing with them at their Bank of NH Stage show last year, Berlin nervously agreed. “I couldn’t eat before I went on,” she said, “but … I turned off my feelings and just got into the music.”

Her songwriting heroes inspired Berlin to become a lyricist. “Anytime I thought I had a good line, I would write it down, and then I would try to mold all those lines into something,” she said. “Now, because I started doing it, it’s just an impulse; I can’t not do it. It feels wrong to hold it all in.”

Conversely, Bri Bell is a veteran of the Manchester scene. She started playing in 2013 at the Central Ale House open jam, an experience she remembers warmly. “

If you put yourself in a circle of other people who are creative and have similar goals, you almost feed off each other,” Bell said by phone recently. “It became like a family. We taught each other things, played together and just grew up as musicians.”

That led to playing out in local bars, but that didn’t last long for Bell. “I definitely did the grind, which a lot of my fellow musicians, peers in this area do,” she said. “Playing any show you can get … playing covers. Unfortunately, it’s something that I personally don’t like.”

These days, she plays fewer but more satisfying gigs. “I like to be in an environment where I can be heard … appreciated, if that makes sense.”

Bell released the all-acoustic Depressive Times in 2022, later fleshing out those songs and a few others into two EPs, Fall and Winter. Both were made in her home studio and came out in the past few months. She cites Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Power and Massive Attack as influences. Her friend Monica Grasso, who plays bass in the Graniteers, had an interesting response to the records.

“She told me, ‘I could never play the kind of music that you do, but I need to hear it’ — I appreciate that compliment,” Bell recalled. “It is very depressing music, but that’s my process. It’s very vulnerable. My music will make you sad, but the goal is to relate in those emotions that we’re not alone.”

Rising Star Series: Savoir Faire, Fatma Salem, Bri Bell & Rachel Berlin
When: Saturday, March 25, 4 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester

Featured photo: top left: Savoir Faire, top right: Fatma Salem, bottom left: Bri Bell and bottom right: Rachel Berlin. Courtesy photos.

The Music Roundup 23/03/23

Local music news & events

Laugh buffet: When he’s looking to feel humbled, comedian Francis Birch watches the decade-old YouTube clip that someone recorded of his open mic debut, an effort prompted by his office mates’ encouragement that he was funny enough to try standup. Fortunately, he’s much better now, and topping the bill with Dave Twohig, Jim Laprel and Alana Foden. The latter is a longtime promoter of shows in the area. Thursday, March 23, 7:30 p.m., Soho Asian Restaurant, 49 Lowell Road, Hudson, $18 at

Rock revival: From its beginnings as a duo of guitarists Liv Lorusso and Jordan Brilliant, Feverslip has fleshed out into a powerhouse blues rock quintet fronted by ex-Red Sky Mary vocalist Sam Vlasich, with a steady rhythm section of Brad Hartwick and Harrison Forti, both formerly in Victim of Circumstance. Their rollicking song “Tombstone” is reminiscent of Aerosmith in their prime and other classic rockers. Enjoy them playing an early acoustic set. Friday, March 24, 6 p.m., Village Trestle, 25 Main St., Goffstown,

Standard bearing: A fixture at Whippersnappers in Londonderry before it closed, Souled Out Show Band is a tonic for fans of brass rockers like Chicago. They’re performing on the big stage in Concord, doing a decades-spanning set list with everything from “Knock on Wood” to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA,” along with dance-inspiring deep cuts like “One Fine Morning” from Lighthouse and Billy & the Beaters’ “At This Moment.” Saturday, March 25, 8 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, $24 at

Heavy handed: Touring in support of a new album due end of March, Kingsmen is a high-velocity metalcore band from Rhode Island that broke through with its 2020 release Revenge. Forgiveness. Recovery. The lead single from the upcoming disc is “Bitter Half,” a furious, percussive screamer about casting out life’s dark forces. Joining them for their downtown show is modern rock group Rise Among Rivals. Sunday, March 26, 7 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester, $12 at

Guitar prowess: Melding elements of jazz, rock and flamenco, Kaki King is a musician’s musician. Dave Grohl once brought her onstage, saying, “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really f-ing good, and then there’s Kaki King.” Modern Yesterdays, her collaboration with D.J. Sparr, recently premiered at the American Composers Orchestra in New York City. Monday, March 27, 8 p.m., Music Hall Lounge, 131 Congress St., Portsmouth, $33 and $43 at

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (PG-13)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (PG-13)

Billy Batson is trying to keep the Shazam team together even though his family of superhero kids is growing up in Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

Actually, I lie, the movie isn’t about that at all. It states that a few times as Billy’s (Asher Angel as the teen, Zachary Levi as the Shazam superhero he can turn himself in to) current concern, with him insisting that all his siblings and fellow superheroes attend all rescues and family meetings together. But the movie doesn’t really seem to know how to make his desire to hold his new family together part of the story, either plot-wise or emotionally, in any kind of an organic way. Mary (Grace Caroline Currey, in both her incarnations) has in fact aged out of the foster care system but continues to live with parents Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews) and works between super-suiting up to contribute money to the household. Billy is himself only a few months away from turning 18, as is his bestie Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), who occasionally superheroes alone and is trying to impress new girl Ann (Rachel Zegler) at school. Younger kids/Shazam team members Pedro (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona), Eugene (Ian Chen/Ross Butler) and Darla (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good) are, uhm, also there. I feel like there was a plan for them to have story lines but it doesn’t really pan out.

Meanwhile, Greek goddesses, the Daughters of Atlas (who sound like a pretty good all-lady metal cover band) — Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) — retrieve the staff that the movie thankfully reminds us that Shazam broke in the first movie. As it turns out, breaking the staff actually broke the barrier between the worlds of the gods and humans. (Wizard Djimon Hounsou had domed the gods off in a floating bubble or something — look, all the lore stuff in this movie presented dumbly and I’m not going to worry about it too much). So these ladies, dressed in full Greek warrior garb, go retrieve the staff and force the Wizard to put it back together and then head to the human realm to find and take their power back from Shazam(s).

Eventually, there’s a dragon, a giant tree that creates serious root-based damage to the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, and winged lions and cyclops causing havoc in the streets of Philadelphia. And, hoo-boy, is it all boring. Let me say that again: Helen Mirren is a god (typecasting) and Lucy Liu rides a dragon to fight Shazam — and this movie could not figure out how to make any of that interesting, even in a campy way.

Every dumb bit of DC Extended Universe business was a drag on the movie (there are apparently two credits scenes, I stayed for one and I don’t regret leaving before the other). There is an absolutely baffling cameo at the end of the movie that is so ham-fisted it made me mad about a character I have previously liked. The movie cares way too much about the minutiae of the backstory of Daughters of Atlas without ever bothering to make the characters of Hespera, Kalypso and mystery sister No. 3 (not really a mystery) interesting. There are a lot of things that are started, little story elements that seem like they’re going to add emotional heft to the movie, that are just dropped like they were forgotten about. The movie feels senselessly loud — not just in volume but in how everything feels three times too much as if to distract us from how nothing it is. It is brightly colored scarves thrown all over the living room in hopes you won’t notice there’s no furniture or carpet or TV.

The only time this movie shows any bit of charm is when the family — specifically, with the kids in their child versions, sometimes with the parents — is together. (In general, this movie does not have a good balance of the kids and their adult superhero avatars.) I think the heart of this superhero character and his story comes back to his family, specifically his family of people who have ultimately chosen to be each other’s family. Their kindness and empathy and decision to trust and love each other after whatever traumas and losses they previously faced are the superpowers of this group, and the first Shazam! did a good job of making that an organic element of the story. This movie seems to forget that completely, which is perhaps why most of it feels so hollow despite being so packed with superhero-movie bloat.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods feels like an inferior product whose only selling point is familiar packaging rather than a story with characters we know and care about. C-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and language, according to the MPA on Directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is two hours and 10 minutes long and is distributed in theaters by New Line Cinema.

Featured photo: Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai

I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai (Viking, 435 pages)

When the protagonist of Rebecca Makkai’s gripping new novel is a teen, she arrives at a boarding school in New Hampshire knowing little about the school or the region.

“I remembered wondering if New Hampshire kids had accents, not understanding how few of my classmates would be from New Hampshire,” she says. Bodie Kane was not headed to Phillips Exeter, but to the fictional Granby School, somewhere deep in the woods in the general vicinity of Manchester, Concord and Peterborough.

It’s now two decades later and Kane, a successful podcaster in Los Angeles, is headed back to her alma mater to teach a two-week “mini-mester” on podcasting and film. The trip is stirring up troubling memories about the death of her beautiful Granby roommate named Thalia Keith, whose body had been found in the school pool.

A Black athletic trainer had been arrested, tried and found guilty of the murder, but enough questions remained that the case had attracted national attention, even being featured on “Dateline.” And with the rising interest in true crime and an attendant rise in internet sleuthing, people were still talking about the case online and pointing out problems with the state’s case against the trainer, even picking through a grainy video of the musical that Thalia had performed in shortly before her death.

Despite their being roommates, Bodie had not been especially close to Thalia, who was one of the “in” crowd. Thalia had the sort of effortless beauty that attracted everyone to her: “She played tennis, and suddenly tennis practice had spectators.” And Thalia had arrived at Granby with an exquisite wardrobe that contained 30 sweaters, while Bodie, whose tuition was paid by kindly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wasn’t remotely prepared for cold weather.

But Bodie, whose “Starlet Fever” podcast probed into little-known stories of often troubled Hollywood stars, has a knack for investigation. And so when one of the students in her podcasting mini-course proposes doing her initial podcast on Thalia’s murder — with the premise that Omar Evans had falsely confessed and was innocent — Bodie agrees.

Meanwhile, she seems to have trouble brewing back at home, where the father of her children (to whom she is legally married, but only on paper) is asking nervously if she has read the news and is asking her to stay off Twitter.

It would be reductive to call I Have Some Questions For You a thriller or a whodunit, although it has many components of both. Bodie, the narrator, has her own dark past; both her father and her brother are dead (the father having died because of something her brother did). When her mother fell apart, she was taken in by the Latter-day Saint family who paid for her to escape Indiana by going to Granby. And she brings parts of her own troubled history to her obsession with cases of abused and murdered women across geography and time, even while acknowledging the moral questions about probing into their cases in true-crime shows and podcasts.

“I have opinions about their deaths, ones I’m not entitled to,” Bodie says. “I’m queasy, at the same time, about the way they’ve become public property, subject to the collective imagination. I’m queasy about the fact that the women whose deaths I dwell on are mostly beautiful and well-off. That most were young, as we prefer our sacrificial lambs. That I’m not alone in my fixations.”

Thalia Keith’s murder is, in a sense, a fictional scaffolding on which Makkai builds a serious discussion about abused and murdered women, and how we exploit and fail them. While it’s a page-turner in a practical sense — the reader is carried in the current of wanting to know what really happened to Thalia, and what the role was of the teacher that Bodie keeps addressing in the narrative -— there are frequent mentions of real women who had violent, premature deaths, and the men responsible.

If this sounds like a lot to put on the reader, well, it is; the novel feels mildly oppressive at times, with all it is trying to take on. Plus, we know there is not going to be a happy ending: Thalia is dead when the novel opens; she will be dead when it ends. Meanwhile, we are going to hear about a lot of other dead women, abused women and sexually harassed women. Amazingly, in all of this, New Hampshire comes off just fine except for the repeated insinuations that its winters are cold. Makkai is careful not to suggest that any real-life police departments would force a false confession or that any real-life attorney would have so horribly failed the wrongly convicted man.

“New Hampshire’s public defenders are apparently excellent, and know everyone in the legal system of what is, after all, a very small state. They know the culture, and they don’t overdress for court,” she writes in what seems a bit of overkill. (In her acknowledgements, Makkai also credits Portsmouth public defender Stephanie Hausman, “who course-corrected and fine-tuned the legal parts of the book.”)

As such, while it’s not a novel that New Hampshire’s chambers of commerce will want to use for marketing, it’s not a bad one for the Granite State. And every good book is made better when it’s set in familiar environs. Look for this one when the lists of the best books of 2023 emerge later this year. A

Album Reviews 23/03/23

Personal Blend, Inhale and Release (self-released)

Rochester, N.Y.-based seven-piece reggae-rock band for parties, bar mitzvahs and rock clubs, if those things even still exist. Surf, reggae, rock, dub and Rasta are the game that’s afoot here; I’d agree with the press blurb that pronounces these songs “complex arrangements” featuring digital drum rhythms, punchy horn lines and ambient vocal melodies, but really, how complex would you want your drinking music to be? OK, maybe something along the lines of Disco Biscuits, Minus The Bear or geez, I dunno, there are times when these guys go off on a prog tangent (“Skin Deep” is quite priceless). It’s pretty tight for sure, probably owing to the machine-made drums. Overall there’s a psychedelic vibe to this stuff, I suppose, but this band is dedicated to standard-issue riddims even when they throw in arena-rock curveballs like spaghetti Western guitars for mariachi-esque effect (“Watch Your Step”). Nothing wrong here. A

Walking Bombs, Spiritual Dreams Above Empty Promises (self-released)

I’m told that DIY punk dude Morgan Y. Evans — not to be confused with country music’s Morgan Evans, who recently went through a painful divorce — will be releasing several albums this year, including this one, a set of lo-fi creepy tunes “about trying not to lose hope and to remain centered despite the world’s sorrows and perils.” Written just after the death of Evans’ mother, it deals with topics like mortality, spirituality, individuality, gun violence, love and being startled awake by technology. It definitely has an early Nick Cave-in-gloom-mode feel as it labels out sentiments intended to fix someone (probably the artist himself, it would seem), for instance how we need to remember that cynicism is not as powerful as our deeper hopes, dreams and empathy. If you have any love for the Throbbing Lobster era, there’s a lot here to like; I’d offer Swans as a comparison but it’s a little too speedy (as in midtempo) for that. Same ballpark, though. A


• New albums will magically appear this Friday, March 31, so that you can buy them, like a good doobie, for your music collection! Let’s see here, we’ve got Packs, an Ottawa, Canada-based indie quartet that’s fronted by some art school slacker named Madeline Link, who decided that her chosen career of making papier mache animals or whatever she makes out of papier mache wasn’t as spiritually fulfilling (i.e. profitable) as making awful music to go with it. Anyway, Packs’ new album, Crispy Crunchy Nothing, is just about here, and man, the new single is so awful I can’t even comprehend it, like, if they’d at least add a weird Clinic-style organ player it’d be less bad than Broadcast, but no, they’re truly out to annoy me as much as they can. It’s like Pavement, but even more Pavement-y than the average human constitution is built to withstand. My, what wonderfully off-key guitars you have, Packs! Did they hold open auditions for the very worst musicians in Canada, or — you know, I mean, how could a band even be this bad? This junk is out of style anyway, if you ask me, like I really doubt Generation Z wants nothing more out of the party lives than listening to junk that sounds like it was rejected from the Juno soundtrack, you know? I was watching some “Why New Music Sucks” influencer video where some millennial girl was trying to explain that “sorry, older people, tastes change” (Really?! Someone call the New York Times!), and that now, in her wizened wisdom, she’s figured out that Zoomers want a mixture of styles, can you imagine such a thing? This means that when Zeppelin mixed early 1900s-era American folk with heavy metal, that didn’t count as a “mixture of styles,” nor did it count when her own generation (when it wasn’t listening to truly horrible bands like Slint and Franz Ferdinand) was guzzling purple drank and watching YouTubes of Megadeth vs. Pointer Sisters mashups. I mean, I’m confused, guys. I’m confused about a lot of things, actually, but I’m not confused about how awful Pavement was, nor am I convinced that garbagey trash like this Packs album has any redeeming musical qualities at all. But really, bon appetit if listenability doesn’t matter when you’re compiling your daily Soundcloud. (Note to self: How did this ever happen?)

• Great, time once again to try to remember the difference between Deerhoof, Deer Tick and Deerhunter, oh that’s right, I don’t care. No, I’m kidding, Deerhoof is the indie band who did — let’s see, blah blah blah — never mind, no one reading this has ever heard any of their songs, unless they were at a frat party in 2005 maybe? So anyway, their fast-approaching new disk, titled Miracle-Level, features the single “Sit Down, Let Me Tell You a Story,” and boy is it awful. Absolutely terrible.

• Right, right, so James Holden is a British weird-beard electro DJ, and his new LP, This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities, has a new single making the rounds, called “Common Land,” which is pretty cool, some bizarre but accessible noise loops and a neat breakbeat. I have heard much worse songs before in my life.

• Lastly, let’s get the new Hold Steady album, The Price of Progress, out of the way so I don’t have to think about oi-rock again this week. Hm, wait, this new single, “Sideways Skull” is OK if you like noise-rock. It’s like Frank Black playing for early Big Black, a comparison you’d appreciate if you had any shred of hope that rock ’n’ roll might rise again (it won’t, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying once in a while).

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).

The berry best cookies

Winter should be winding down at this point, but fresh local produce is still months away in New Hampshire. However, with a little creativity, you can enjoy treats that are full of summer flavors.

These cookies are reminiscent of summer, thanks to the addition of freeze-dried strawberries. This ingredient is the most important to consider when shopping for this recipe. You cannot use fresh or dried strawberries. Fresh strawberries have too much moisture, and dried strawberries would be chewy. However, freeze-dried strawberries are perfect, as the flavor is intense, and their crispness allows them to be diced easily.

The other ingredient of note is the white chocolate chips. They add a nice contrast of sweetness to the strawberries. Together they mimic a strawberry shortcake topped with whipped cream.

The cookies puff up when baking but flatten out while cooling. Don’t be alarmed when you return to check on them. They still are perfect. The cookies should have a moist and tender interior with a slightly crispy edge.

Now you can enjoy the flavors of summer even on a chilly day!

The berry best cookies
Makes 20

½ cup unsalted butter softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries diced
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and both sugars on speed 2 for 4 minutes.
Add egg, beating to incorporate.
Add vanilla, and mix.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and mix until incorporated.
Add diced, freeze-dried strawberries and white chocolate chips, stirring until combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place heaping teaspoonfuls of batter on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are golden.
Transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Featured photo: The berry best cookies. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Mike McDade

Mike McDade of Hollis is the owner and founder of Saucehound (, and on Facebook and Instagram), offering two craft barbecue sauces and spice rubs each. A native of Billerica, Mass., and an award-winning competitive barbecuer, McDade got his start in the world of barbecue sauces and rubs originally as a side business before deciding to jump in full-time after the start of the pandemic. The company’s name and logo, he said, are inspired by his pet bulldog, Chunk. “He was the face of the barbecue team,” McDade said. “He would just sit there next to me for hours on end, while I cooked barbecue, and stare at the smoker.” Saucehound’s products — which include the Original Recipe competition barbecue sauce and rub, and the “Naughty Dog” sauce and rub, featuring habanero and jalapeno peppers — are available in several locations across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. See for a full list of stores.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

I would say my cast iron pan. … Whatever you’re cooking, it’s just such a great tool to have.

What would you have for your last meal?

Really good pizza, and a side of burnt ends.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Hollis Country Kitchen. They have a corned beef hash eggs Benedict, and it is unbelievable.

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

It’s got to be Guy Fieri — he’s the mayor of Flavortown! A lot of people pay attention to him and I would just love to see him taste my sauce and then see that spiky blonde hair get blown back. … I actually met him once. He’s a super nice guy. He was at the 2011 Jack Daniel’s world barbecue championship.

What is your favorite product that you offer?

I love my sauces, but in my own cooking in my house the rubs are what I use the most. … My favorite, because I like a little bit of heat, is the Naughty Dog rub. What I like it on the most is a BLT. … I’ll usually just fry bacon in a pan the way you normally would, and then as soon as I take it out of the grease, I’ll sprinkle the rub on there and then let it sit and kind of melt in for a minute or so. The extra flavor on the bacon with a good classic BLT is awesome.

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

I do think the explosion of mobile options is interesting. I’m sure Covid had something to do with that, but there was a big trend in food trucks and stuff like that even before Covid hit.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Pizza. I make my own sauce, and I usually make my own dough but in a pinch I’ll go pick up a dough from the supermarket. … I love pizza in general, but my kids absolutely love mine, and both of them like to help out with me in the kitchen.

Saucehound BLT
Courtesy of Mike McDade of Saucehound

2 slices of bread of choice
Romaine or iceberg lettuce
Tomato slices
Saucehound BBQ rub (“Naughty Dog” rub recommended for an extra zip)

For the bacon: Fry bacon in a pan as normal. As soon as it comes out of the pan, while still hot, sprinkle both sides with the Saucehound barbecue rub and cover with tin foil to let the spices soak in. Alternatively, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, season both sides of the bacon with the rub and bake at 425 degrees or until the desired crispiness is reached.

Very lightly toast the bread so that it’s warm but still soft. Apply a generous amount of mayonnaise to both bread slices. Put down a layer of lettuce on one slice, then cut enough slices of tomato to form your second layer. Place the bacon on top of the tomato slices. Top with your second slice of bread and cut diagonally.

Featured photo: Mike McDade, owner and founder of Saucehound. Courtesy photo.

Wake up with bacon

Shaker Road Provisions’ new breakfast menu

When George “Rocky” Burpee of Loudon decided he was in the mood for some homemade bacon one day in February 2021, he couldn’t have imagined the kind of career trajectory it would set off for him in just a few short years. By the end of that summer, he quit his day job to sell his own small-batch bacon at several local farmers markets. A butcher shop-like retail space featuring an expanded line of his scratch-made bacon-themed foods then arrived in the former Smokeshow Barbeque storefront in Concord the following spring.

Now, Burpee has expanded even further, this time in the form of a full-service breakfast menu. Shaker Road Provisions, named after his home street where the bacon venture all started, now offers a variety of scratch-cooked breakfast items five days a week. Plans are in the works to acquire a liquor license for serving brunch cocktails, mostly on Saturdays.

“My wife, Laura [Munyon], and I had always wanted to have a restaurant,” Burpee said. “When the farmers markets ended back in October, we thought, well, why don’t we look into doing a little breakfast place to sort of supplement the income until the markets start up again. … Ever since we opened here, people have come in looking for food, and we had always been kind of on the edge of like, ‘Hey, this is something we can do.’”

You’ll still be able to get bacon slices and bacon bits at the shop, as well as the bacon burgers, bacon macaroni and cheese, chicken salad and other bacon-infused items Burpee has sold out of his deli case since opening the shop last April. But now the space’s interior has been rearranged to accommodate four small tables for dining, and there are plans to incorporate a few more.

“You won’t find English muffins or bagels or breakfast sandwiches like that. Our main focus is on our waffles,” Burpee said of the new breakfast menu. “We make an amazing waffle here in house, Eggo-sized for reference, and we do breakfast sandwiches with those.”

Each menu item, he added, is named after the place where it originated from. The Concord, for example, is their signature sandwich, featuring a sausage patty, a fried egg and Vermont cheddar cheese served between two house-made apple cider waffles. Then there’s the Costa Rican, a breakfast burrito that’s stuffed with authentic Latin American rice, scrambled egg, Cotija cheese, avocado, grilled onions and peppers and Burpee’s own bacon. That one, Burpee said, is served with a side of fresh pineapple salsa that he makes himself.

“I wanted to recreate our favorite burrito that we had when we were down in Costa Rica, and so I worked hard to make it … as close as I could to the way they made it down there,” he said.

Specials are switched up every Friday. Those options have included everything from a breakfast quesadilla with egg, cheese, bacon, sausage, peppers, onions and a side of house pineapple habanero hot sauce to a corned beef hash wrap, featuring chopped and grilled homemade brisket with diced potatoes, roasted garlic, sauteed onions, eggs and cheese in a flour tortilla. Burpee has even done his own Sloppy Joe eggs, complete with scratch-made hollandaise sauce and cheesy garlic and onion hash browns on the side, and bacon “steak” and eggs, using half-inch-thick pieces of bacon that are slow-cooked.

“Our hope is that as this gets bigger, if we can get breakfast to where it’s a little bit busier … we want to transition into doing lunch as well,” Burpee said. “That’s our goal right now, is to do breakfast and lunch, and then especially for the weekend, to get a liquor license so we can bring in bloody marys and mimosas and stuff like that.”

Shaker Road Provisions’ presence at farmers markets will continue this year — the company participates in the Concord and Salem outdoor markets during the summer, and may be picking up one or two more depending on how the application process goes.

“We’ve got a girl that works for me … who is basically going to take over the bacon business, so she’ll be doing the marinating, smoking, slicing and packaging, and then she’ll be going to the farmers markets for us,” Burpee said. “That way, my wife and I are basically running the breakfast thing. So both things will still exist, but as we get into the market season they’ll kind of separate into their own entities.”

Shaker Road Provisions
Where: 89 Fort Eddy Road, Suite 2, Concord
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. — breakfast is served from 6 to 11 a.m. during the week and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays
More info: Visit, find them on Facebook and Instagram @shakerroadprovisions or call 856-7400

Featured photo: Breakfast quesadilla. Photo courtesy of Shaker Road Provisions.

Fine dining by the Lakes

Milford husband-and-wife chef team takes over Pavilion in Wolfeboro

In just a few short years Chris Viaud has established himself as a leading New Hampshire chef, beginning in the spring of 2019 with Greenleaf, the seasonally inspired, locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant off the Milford Oval. Last fall, following more than a year of hosting successful monthly pop-up dinners, Viaud and his family opened Ansanm just one street over, offering authentic Haitian cuisine on a regular basis for the first time along with some new items.

Along the way, Viaud has picked up a James Beard Award nomination, and he even traveled to Portland, Oregon, to compete on Season 18 of Bravo’s Top Chef, which aired in 2021.

Now, Viaud is building on his success even further, this time up in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. He’s the new owner and executive chef of Pavilion Food & Spirits in Wolfeboro, and his wife, Emilee, will serve as the eatery’s executive pastry chef. Pavilion is scheduled to reopen with the Viauds at the helm on Thursday, March 23, and will start with dinner service from Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are preferred, with walk-ins possible depending on availability. Starting around mid-May, days of operation will likely expand from Wednesday through Sunday.

smiling black man, arms crossed, leaning against column in front of multi-story building, hanging sign with word Pavilion
Chris Viaud. Courtesy photo.

The new acquisition is something of a full-circle moment for Viaud, who originally toured the space that is now Pavilion some five years back, prior to opening Greenleaf. Pavilion opened in December 2020 and is directly adjacent to Wolfeboro’s Pickering House Inn, its name in honor of the town’s Pavilion Hotel, which was built in the mid-1800s by Daniel Pickering.

“It was probably back in about August or September when the owners of Pavilion had presented the opportunity of doing a collaboration between their project and ours,” Viaud said. “They saw the incredible growth that we’ve been having, and we’ve been communicating back and forth not about the possibility of doing a partnership, but more of a transfer of ownership. … It’s definitely a wonderful addition to everything that we’ve been building over the past few years.”

At Pavilion, Viaud plans to unveil a menu that, like Greenleaf’s, will reflect ingredients from local farmers and vendors that change across New England’s seasons. Among the available items out of the gate are beef tartare, roasted pork loin, smoked clam and coconut curry chowder, scallop crudo, confit delicata squash and crispy skin duck breast.

“Greenleaf, I would say, is more of an upscale casual comfort fine dining [experience], whereas Pavilion offers a higher-end type of dining,” Viaud said. “I will transfer that same kind of relationship that I’ve built with all the farmers … and [we’ll be] expanding from southern New Hampshire all the way to northern New Hampshire, and in Maine, as we’re heading closer to the border. … So we’re definitely going to focus on … just doing the best that we can to incorporate all of those ingredients into the dishes that are presented in an extremely beautiful fashion.”

Emilee Viaud, meanwhile, will oversee Pavilion’s pastry program. She plans to keep her own business, Sweet Treats by Emilee, on the side for now, until the return of hot cocoa bomb season.

Despite Pavilion’s being more than 70 miles north of his two Milford restaurants, Viaud said it will remain business as usual at both Greenleaf and Ansanm — earlier this year he named Justin O’Malley the new chef de cuisine of Greenleaf, while at Ansanm his parents, Myrlene and Yves, primarily run the back of the house. His sister, Kassie, serves as the director of operations across all of the brands under the Northern Comfort Hospitality Group umbrella.

“Chef Justin … has built an incredible support staff behind him who is continuing to elevate and execute his vision in terms of that kind of upscale comfort dining that he has going,” Viaud said. “Emilee and I have this crazy schedule of running back and forth between northern New Hampshire and southern New Hampshire, just making sure that everything is continuing to run smoothly across all companies. It’s a lot to kind of take on, but we’re excited for the opportunities and just tackling each journey as it comes.”

Part of the acquisition of Pavilion, he added, allows them to work exclusively with the owners of the Pickering House Inn on some of their dining projects. Overall, Viaud said it represents not only a unique opportunity for the continued growth of his company, but an opportunity to continue to keep the Granite State on the map as a respected culinary destination.

“Having the ability to expand from southern New Hampshire to northern New Hampshire just really enforces what we’ve been trying to build,” he said, “just trying to kind of elevate the cuisine and push the envelope, to which people have a more inviting and enticing dining experience.”

Northern Comfort Hospitality Group
Here’s a look at each of the restaurant brands under the Northern Comfort Hospitality Group umbrella, owned and operated by Chef Chris Viaud.

20 South St., Milford, 554-1248,
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Ansanm, which gets its name from the word meaning “together” in Haitian Creole, opened in October 2022 in the former Wicked Pissah Chowdah storefront on South Street. The eatery continues the success of the Viaud family’s restaurant concept following nearly a year and a half of hosting monthly pop-up dinners, featuring staples like griot (marinated pork) and poule nan sós (braised chicken in Creole sauce) in addition to some new spins on classic flavors.

54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447,
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m.
Greenleaf is a seasonally inspired farm-to-table restaurant that opened in the former space of an old 19th-century bank in May 2019. The menu changes all the time, and that’s because it’s based on what the chefs can get for product from the farms they partner with. But you’ll almost always find some type of beef, pork, chicken, duck or vegetarian dish. In January of this year, Lowell, Mass., native and Culinary Institute of America graduate Justin O’Malley was named Greenleaf’s new chef de cuisine.

Pavilion Food & Spirits
126 S. Main St., Wolfeboro, 393-0851, (reopening March 23)
Anticipated hours: Thursday through Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m.; expanded hours likely coming soon
Directly adjacent to Wolfeboro’s Pickering House Inn, Pavilion Food & Spirits opened in December 2020. The restaurant gets its name in honor of the town’s Pavilion Hotel, which was built in the mid-1800s by Daniel Pickering. Earlier this month, Chris Viaud of Northern Comfort Hospitality Group announced the company’s acquisition of Pavilion — he’ll serve as the eatery’s owner and executive chef, while his wife, Emilee, will run its pastry program.

Featured photo: Pavilion Food & Spirits in Wolfeboro. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 23/03/23

News from the local food scene

A wine wonderland: Join the Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester) in welcoming LaBelle Winery owner and winemaker Amy LaBelle on Sunday, March 26, from 4 to 6 p.m — she’ll be there to present her recently released debut book, Wine Weddings: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Wine-Themed Wedding of Your Dreams. At a total of 10 chapters, the book offers advice on planning and hosting weddings of every size and type, covering everything from choosing invitation designs and wedding favors to creating your own menu of signature drinks and wine choices. It’s also filled with photographs taken at weddings hosted at both of the winery’s locations, in Amherst and Derry, and LaBelle even shares the details that went into planning her own wedding. Admission is free and the event will include a free wine tasting at the conclusion of LaBelle’s presentation. Visit

Spring into flavor: Enjoy the flavors of a new season at a special Welcoming Spring grand tasting on Saturday, March 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Beer & Wine Nation (360 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack). More than 50 varieties of beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails will be available to sample from around 10 different vendors. Admission is free and open to all attendees over the age of 21. Beer & Wine Nation, which opened June 2021 inside Merrimack’s 360 Shopping Plaza, features one of the largest selections of beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails under one roof in the area, with more than 2,000 craft and domestic beers and more than 1,300 from around the world. Visit or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @bwnmerrimack to keep up with the newest product arrivals.

Pizza at Presto: Manchester’s Presto Craft Kitchen (168 Amory St.) is introducing a pop-up craft pizza menu, which will be available on Thursday, March 23, from 11 a.m. to 7:45 p.m., while supplies last, in addition to its regular menu. Specialty options will include, among others, the three-cheese House Pie with aged balsamic and basil; the Hungry Hornet, featuring locally sourced honey, pepperoni and a secret “stinger” seasoning; and the Dracula, which has garlic cream, provolone, fresh mozzarella, confit garlic and aged balsamic. According to a recent Facebook post announcing the pop-up menu, the goal is to begin offering it on a monthly basis. Visit or find them on Facebook @prestocraftkitchennh to view the menu.

Seventeen years in the making: Save the date for a special apple brandy release party at Flag Hill Distillery & Winery (297 N. River Road, Lee) on Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m. The event celebrates the release of Flag Hill’s apple brandy, which has been slowly aging for 17 years — in addition to a cocktail hour with upscale hors d’oeuvres and sample sips of the brandy, there will be live music and a three-course meal, featuring your choice of peppercorn-crusted filet or chickpea and kale portabella as an entree. Tickets are $80 per person and the dress code is cocktail attire. Visit to reserve your spot.

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