New England rockers

Rising band Feverslip plays Manchester

If having headliner acts checking out their sets is a harbinger of greater things, Feverslip is a band on the rise. At last year’s Great American Ribfest, Great White’s then-lead singer Andrew Freeman not only watched them perform; he also hopped on stage and helped them finish a song.

A few months later, ex-Saving Abel front man Scotty Austin was so impressed seeing them open for him at Wally’s Pub in Hampton Beach that he connected them with his producer, Malcolm Springer. Soon after that night, Feverslip was in Nashville, working with Springer.

The first fruits of the project arrived in April, when they released the rollicking single “Aces.” Another track from the album in progress will drop in early July. The new song is representative of the band’s no-nonsense rock ’n’ roll, which evokes Aerosmith, AC/DC and classic acts like the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones.

It’s music that’s punchy, powerful, and especially good when played live.

They went to Music City looking to translate that energy to the studio. “Where we’re most at home is just playing on stage, and that’s something that was cool about the recording process,” lead singer Sam Vlasich said in a recent phone interview. “I really hope that people can take away that vibe from the new material.”

Feverslip is a regional supergroup that includes Maine guitarists Liv Lorusso and Jordon Brilliant, who met at a Portland open mic and have performed for several years as a duo, Liv ‘n Brilliant. The two found Vlasich after his band Red Sky Mary split. Vlasich knew drummer Harrison Foti and bass player Brad Hartwick from sharing the bill with their previous band Victim of Circumstance.

The quintet began the new project with heavy preparation, a novel move for them.

“We did three weeks or so of the pre-recording process,” Vlasich said. “It was cool because I’ve never really had an experience where we got to just focus on writing songs and getting them tight, so when we go into the studio we can make them sound good with some live takes.”

Working with Springer was “just amazing,” Vlasich continued. “He totally got what the band was about, and what we want to do. He allowed us to dig our feet in and say, ‘OK, we’re just going to do it; we wanna be a badass rock band.’”

Songwriting is a collaborative process involving all band members.

“We’ll try everything, no matter where it takes us,” Vlasich said. “The best songs always seem to come about when somebody has some sort of riff, whether it’s Jordan or Liv or Brad, some sort of lick idea. Then we just kind of go, ‘OK, that sounds good.’ … Once we have a verse and chorus down, then I’m kind of able to scream on top of it until I find a melody that suits it.”

As a vocalist, Vlasich is inspired by Bon Scott, Brian Johnson and Robert Plant. “That’s just the stuff I was raised on,” he said. “As a kid singing in my hairbrush, peeking out the window making sure nobody rolled up to catch me making noise upstairs in my room alone, that’s kind of the stuff I was singing.”

The rest of the group has similar roots, he said.

“Liv loves Aerosmith and Jordan is Guns N’ Roses, and Brad loves The Who and Iron Maiden. Who I also love — the older ’80s metal stuff is great. We share similar influences but in different regards; they mesh well together.”

A June 30 appearance at Shaskeen Pub will be Feverslip’s third at the Manchester venue, though Vlasich noted that he did a lot of shows with his former band there. They have several bookings in the area over the summer months, including a return to Ribfest on July 23, and Manchester’s Strange Brew Tavern on July 28. They’ll play Portsmouth’s Press Room in early August.

Vlasich has his sights on wider horizons.

“I would love to get on the road [and] hit a lot more places than Red Sky Mary, playing these songs. Because I think they’re just good rock songs, and they need an audience to sing along to the choruses. And if AC/DC or Aerosmith needs an opening band, that would also make my life…. Getting to watch your favorite band play every night after opening up for them, that’s the dream right there.”

When: Friday, June 30, 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester

Featured photo: Feverslip. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/06/29

Local music news & events

True calling: Though an Oscar-nominated actor is its front man, Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters isn’t a side project. Thornton played in bands as a kid, and even was a roadie for a bit with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among others. “I’m not that big on movies,” Thornton told a writer a few years back. “I always thought I’d play music or play baseball, but I made money at acting, so I thought, ‘I guess I better do that.’” Thursday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester, $39 and up at

Mardi gras: After a blues band included an accordion on an album, it became Catfish Howl Zydeco Band, adding crawfish boils and New Orleans parties to its calendar, with a washboard player for fuller effect. The raucous six-piece plays a bucolic evening set on a waterfront stage. Fans can bring lawn chairs and refreshments for the show. Friday, June 30, 6 p.m., The Belknap Mill, 25 Beacon St. East, Laconia,

Southern rock: A downtown restaurant and bar hosts Black Stone Cherry, a band that woodshedded its first album in the Kentucky Headhunters’ practice house; their drummer is the son of Headhunters guitarist Richard Young. The group just released a video for “Nervous,” the second single from Screamin’ at the Sky. The new album, due in September, is their first with new bass player Steve Jewell. Saturday, July 1, 9 p.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester, $29.50 at, 21+.

Reel time: A series of concerts on the green kicks off with the Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio playing traditional Irish music and Celtic-themed compositions. The summer-long series starts a day early due to the holiday, then happens every Tuesday through mid-September. The Wholly Rollers, Liz & Dan Faiella, Hot Skillet Club and Peabody’s Coal Train are among the acts due to perform in the coming weeks. Monday, July 3, 4 p.m., Shaker Village Garden Barn Green, 288 Shaker Road, Canterbury, call 783-9511 for more.

Bandstand roots: With what’s billed as “fun and funky arrangements of familiar music,” North River Music is an Americana band performing in a variety of configurations. The full five-piece will appear at a free show for listeners on lawn blankets and beach chairs, who hopefully will only require umbrellas to shield the twilight sun — yes, it’s been an unruly summer thus far. Wednesday, July 5, 6 p.m., Bedford Village Common, 15 Bell Hill Road, Bedford. More at

Asteroid City (PG-13)

Wes Anderson puts a diorama in a music box, festoons it with vintage curios and surrounds it with a model train set in Asteroid City, maybe the most “Wes Anderson movie about Wes Anderson vibes” ever? But I feel like I think that at every Wes Anderson movie lately so who knows.

A 1950s black and white television narrator (Bryan Cranston) introduces us to the stage play and its playwright (Edward Norton) that are the origins of the teleplay that becomes the full Santa Fe sunset color palette of a live-action, er, situation we’re watching in this movie, which is written and directed by Anderson (who has a screenplay credit and shares the “story by” credit with Roman Coppola). Sometimes we’re watching the playwright, sometimes we’re with the actors performing the play but mostly we’re in Asteroid City, the name of the play and the name of its setting. Asteroid City is a small clump of buildings in the southwestern desert. A diner, a bus stop, a gas station and motor inn make up the bulk of the town — as well as a complex astronomical government facility built near the site of an ancient crater caused by an asteroid (which is also still there and available for close-up viewing during the posted hours).

In the 1950s, Auggie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzmann), his teenage son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) and his three young daughters — Andromeda (Ella Faris), Pandora (Gracie Faris) and Cassiopeia (Willan Faris) — have come to Asteroid City for Woodrow to accept an award for his science project. But their car has a rather spectacular breakdown causing the family to be stuck there, which leads Auggie to call his father-in-law, Stanley (Tom Hanks), to come and get the girls. Stanley agrees to do so if Auggie will finally, three weeks after the fact, explain to the children that their mother, Stanley’s daughter, has died.

Also arriving for the young scientist event are movie star Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) and her teen daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards) as well as other teen inventors, a bus full of school children and their teacher and a group of singing cowboys who miss their connecting bus. Wes Anderson regulars Tilda Swinton as a scientist and Jeffery Wright as a military general are also in Asteroid City as well as the likes of Hope Davis, Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke, Steve Park, Matt Dillion, Steve Carell and Seu Jorge. Most of the assembled show up for the science awards ceremony as well as the nighttime viewing of an astronomical event but then find themselves quarantined by the government when an alien shows up to borrow the city’s asteroid. (The alien is, uhm, quite the thing — from the actor, who I won’t spoil, who plays the alien to its odd The Fantastic Mr. Fox appearance. I’m not sure how I feel about it or a very puppety roadrunner who occasionally wanders through Asteroid City but these are capital C Choices and, I guess, if you’re already doing all of this odd business, might as well really go for it with the alien.)

But maybe more than any of this, the movie is about the vibe — the particular rosey gold of the desert sun, the arts-and-craft-y quality of the distant mushroom cloud from regularly detonated atom bomb tests, the bright pastels of the landscape, the sign on the diner advertising 50-cent ham plates. The dollhouse-like motor inn cabins, the symmetrical quality to even asymmetrically arranged shots, the scenes of Scarlett Johansson as a 1950s actress that almost look like movie stills. There’s grief and optimism and sadness and shy bits of romance packed around the rotary phones and film cameras and Pontiacs. It’s all just sort of lovely to be in even if I also felt like I wasn’t watching a story so much as being told about a story. Like a particularly lovely macaron, it’s surprising at times that all this prettiness is a very fragile confection made of quite a bit of air. B

Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief graphic nudity, smoking and some suggestive material, according to the MPA on Directed by Wes Anderson with a screenplay by Wes Anderson, Asteroid City is an hour and 45 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Focus Features.

No Hard Feelings (R)

You ask “what would it look like if a 1980s sex comedy was also really bleak” and I answer No Hard Feelings, an alleged comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Maddie Barker (Lawrence) is just barely getting by in Montauk, one of those fancy Long Island places where the real estate market is set by the millionaires and billionaires who summer there while the principal employment for the actual locals is tourism-based. Maddie is behind in paying the taxes on the house her mother left her and doesn’t know how she’ll catch up once her car — which she uses for her second job as an Uber driver — is repo-ed. Tips from her bartending job aren’t enough to pay all the bills, so Maddie desperately scans the used car listings for anything that will keep her earning. What she finds is an odd listing for a Buick. The “price” of the car is to date Percy Becker (Andrew Barth Feldman), a Princeton-bound 19-year-old. Percy’s extremely wealthy parents, Allison (Laura Benanti) and Laird (Matthew Broderick), are worried that their sheltered, quiet, loner son will sink in school if he doesn’t arrive with some life experience. They tell Maddie they will give her the Buick if she befriends and “dates” (in all aspects of the word) Percy to help get him out of his shell.

Maddie dives into the assignment, showing up at Percy’s volunteer job at the local animal shelter to try to sexy-talk him into going back to her house. He mistakes it for a stranger-danger kidnapping and maces her. She manages to get him to ask her on a date where he, unlike her usual hookups, is more interested in getting to know her than rushing into bed. Despite their age difference — Maddie is 32 to Percy’s 19 — Percy warms to the idea of a real relationship with Maddie. And though she hates the rich Montauk crowd and finds Percy’s helplessness aggravating, Maddie starts to feel some kind of genuine friendship for him as well.

No Hard Feelings feels like it could have been a spiritual descendant to your Can’t Buy Me Love-type 1980s capitalism-based rom-com. And for a while I thought maybe I could just go with it sort of like I would with an Overboard, where an on-the-page icky premise can lean into zaniness or a fairy tale-like quality. But this movie is oddly jarring, frequently juxtaposing the “wacky antics” of this kind of comedy with the actual grim reality of a kid whose parents feel they need to/have the right to buy him a girlfriend or of a woman who feels she has to hang on to the family house at all costs. Jennifer Lawrence doing some fairly solid physical comedy melts into a scene where an emotionally traumatized Percy (his high school years were rough, we’re told) seems clinically depressed. “Ha ha yikes” is the frequent mood of this movie.

The movie also gives us quite a bit of the real hopelessness of Montauk economics, not just Maddie’s struggles to stay solvent in a town being taken over by the ultra-rich but her pregnant friend Sara (Natalie Morales) and Sara’s husband Jim (Scott MacArthur) trying to figure out how to get by once their baby comes. She’s a teacher who waitresses in the summer, he owns a business involving some kind of boating-related tourism, and yet they can’t afford to move out of his parents’ house. Their scenes with Maddie provide lightness — and often then go grim.

If this movie has a bright spot — not something I’d go so far as to call a saving grace but a bright spot — it’s that it serves as a reminder that Lawrence is good at broad comedy. This is not a movie I’d put on her highlights reel but maybe this forgettable misfire will get her a stronger comedy that can take advantage of her skills. C-

Rated R for sexual content, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use, according to Directed by Gene Stupnitsky with a screenplay by Gene Stupnitsky & John Phillips, No Hard Feelings is an hour and 43 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Columbia Pictures.

Featured photo: Asteroid City

How to Survive History, by Cody Cassidy

How to Survive History, by Cody Cassidy (Penguin, 224 pages)

Until this week I never knew there was a category on Amazon called “humor history,” but I’m here for it. So is Cody Cassidy, who created for himself a cheeky publishing niche by imagining the improbable and then figuring out (with the help of experts) the answer to the question “What if…?”.

He did that first in 2017’s And Then You’re Dead, in which he wondered what would really happen if you, say, got swallowed by a whale, got caught in a stampede, went over Niagara Falls in a barrel or had sundry other unpleasant adventures. Now he’s back with How to Survive History, in which he offers (hopefully not useful) advice on how we can survive extinction-level events such as asteroids or volcano explosions should some time-traveling event send us back to one. It’s fanciful, of course, and a tad silly, but Cassidy comes to the task with a surprising gravitas and the right mix of “yes, this is kind of crazy” but also “this is serious stuff, pay attention.”

The serious stuff is the history behind the events, which include the strike of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, the sinking of the Titanic and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Most of us learned in childhood about the asteroid that hit Earth some 66 million years ago, and we may have even retained some specifics about the planet-altering event, such as the size of the rock, believed to be between 8 and 9 miles wide.

But reading Cassidy’s description of what happened in the aftermath was the first time I really understood the scope of the destruction and the chain of events it triggered. “If this asteroid hit in the same spot today, the blast wave would kill you in Texas, deafen you in New York and blow out your window panes in Buenos Aires,” he writes. “The rock rang Earth like a bell.”

And there were so many ways that it could have killed you, had humans been around then, from the skyscraper-high tsunamis, to raining debris the size of school buses, to the fires caused by thermal radiation, to raging snowstorms in which 10 feet of snow fell each day. Unless you were a turtle or other aquatic creature that could take relative shelter under water, it seems impossible to survive this sort of destruction, but in talking to experts Cassidy comes up with a plan — it just involves getting to Madagascar or Indonesia. (As I said previously, this is fanciful stuff.)

Similarly, Cassidy has suggestions on how we can survive the sack of Rome, a voyage with the pirate Blackbeard, the stranding of the Donner party on their doomed trek to California, and the devastating San Francisco earthquake in 1906. In these and other catastrophes, he colorfully provides the history while breezily inserting the reader into the event. An example from his chapter on Titanic: “you’re a frugal time traveler, so you elect to travel third class … That buys you a bunk on F deck, six levels below the top. It’s about the size of a prison cell, only it’s occupied by four people rather than just two. But who cares! All you do is sleep in it anyway, and this ship offers world-class amenities to its third-class passengers, who in this era would typically have to stuff themselves into one large, poorly ventilated and inadequately converted cargo hold.”

Cassidy’s survival plan when the ship hits the iceberg (with only enough lifeboats for a third of its passengers) involves calmly dressing in finery (to make it seem that you are a first-class passenger), using ladders that you’re not supposed to access, and going to the starboard side instead of port. Stay out of the water if you can — it’s 27 degrees Fahrenheit — but if you have to enter it, slip in rather than jumping, to give your body time to absorb the shock. Then swim hard for 10 to 15 minutes to build body heat. That could buy you time for passengers on a lifeboat to take pity and pull you in.

Yes, we’ve all seen the movie, but Cassidy gives us a wholly different experience with fascinating detail that James Cameron didn’t provide.

When he takes us to the port of Pompeii, 6 miles from Mount Vesuvius, he describes our plight as challenging but not hopeless. The Pompeiians who survived were the ones who took off immediately instead of taking shelter as the ash fell. The volcano erupted on Aug. 24, but it wasn’t until the next day that the entire village was wiped out, meaning that many people went to sleep that night thinking wrongly that they had survived. Where to go? Cassidy says there were two options: running north toward Naples or south toward Stabiae — fast. Both routes presented danger, but none that involved being consumed by a river of lava.

Will any of this information help you navigate life in the 21st century? Probably not. But is it more useful than anything you will find in the typical summer beach read? Absolutely.

That’s why anything by Cassidy is the perfect book for summer. It’s airy enough to not feel dreadfully important (you don’t have to retain information about how to survive the fall of Constantinople) but engaging enough that you will constantly want to quote from the book to people sitting beside you at the lake or beach. Plus, How to Survive History solves a problem of beach reads that has always irritated me — most often they’re romance novels written for women, a la Elin Hilderbrand.

It’s paperback and won’t be shortlisted for any elite prize, but Cassidy owns “humor history” and it’s top-notch for the genre. A

Album Reviews 23/06/29

Aja Monet, When The Poems Do What They Do (Drink Sum Wtr Records)

Right, so today I learned not only that famous-ish actress Amber Tamblyn is a poet, but that she was actually here in Manchvegas (unless it was her talking through a Zoom feed or some dumb thing) in May, at a Slam Free Or Die event at the Stark Brewing Co. This presents yet another opportunity for me to implore whoever runs the Slam Free thing to get in touch with me for press love opportunities, especially if any local poet has done a recording. And so on, but yes, all that stuff is relevant to this item, because Monet’s trip is beat poetry (or whatever she’s calling it, but it’s beat poetry, OK) and it comes from the heart of a community organizer and an enraged Black woman with the capacity to censor herself well enough. The New York Times and all those guys are into her very clever, very urban stuff; her backing musicians are quite creative as well. A

Austin Stambaugh, ‘Til I Reach Downtown (Anti-Corporate Music)

Recorded in just three days (probably owing to the fact that there are some pretty good session musicians who were on the clock), this is the latest album from the Nashville-by-way-of-Ohio guitarist/poet/songwriter, the preparation for which — so he claims — involved his listening to a lot of Roger Miller, but it’s all good either way. This is the most drawl-y sort of bluegrass, remindful of Hank Williams Sr. in his earliest heydey. The pedal steel is handled with tobaccy-spittin’ aplomb by Stephen Karney; there’s fiddle of course, including Jared Manzo’s (of Brazilbilly) “bass fiddle,” in other words upright acoustic bass. Any old-school — and I mean seriously old-school — country music fan would love these tunes about being lonesome, being lonesome around people, and being lonesome at a hotel. The whole record sounds like these folks were having a great time making it, oh, and by the way, the drummer, John Mctigue III, played with Emmylou Harris. Not a hair out of place on this one. A+


• Friday is the last day of June, the 30th, and that means the summer is already a third of the way over, can you even stand it? In addition, Friday is a day when new albums will emerge to bring us joy and happiness and barfiness in appropriate measure, and that’s what we’ll talk about today, in this multiple award-winning column, the good albums and the bad ones! The first thing we should cover is the “new” LP from Frank Zappa, Funky Nothingness, because a lot of people really like Zappa for some reason and I don’t want everyone to think I’m a jerk. OK, I really don’t care about that all that much, and in fact this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned The Zap in this column, because I’ve always thought of him as a cross between Captain Beefheart and Weird Al Yankovic, basically a joke-band leader I don’t have time for, but whatever, I think the most eyebrow-raising thing is that since 1994 the Zappa family trust has released count-’em 63 posthumous albums (nine of which have actually charted) prior to this three-record set. No, I’ve always viewed Zappa adherents as casual music fans who listen to his music because they’re afraid that if they listened to listenable music they’d actually like it; they’re sort of like Marxists who’d much rather discuss peripheral nonsense like “dialectical materialism” than do anything constructive. I mean, your mileage may vary of course; if you love Zappa because you had some sort of religious or drug-induced or whatnot epiphany that led you directly to the realization that he was a genius, then bless your heart, I accept you without reservation and hope this record makes your day. All I’d ask in the meantime is that you consider listening to Charles Mingus if you really want to hear noise-music-genius, and please don’t send me emails trying to convince me that I just don’t get it. I tried once in the past, I assure you: I bought the Joe’s Garage album with real American money long before I became a music journo whose only tangible reward has been receiving over 21,585 free albums from PR people since 2004, all of which I’ve liked more than Joe’s Garage. I don’t get Zappa and never want to. I’d rather listen to the 1970 nature album Songs Of The Humpback Whale than try to like Joe’s Garage, much less this new collection of balderdash, which is said to include a song I can’t name in this fine family newspaper, although a live version of it recorded at Olympic Auditorium in 1970 is blow-doors if you like hard jam-band music, which I don’t.

• Next up is another posthumous release, from former Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, widely known in musician circles as The Little Engine That Wasn’t Allowed To Make Interesting Drum Rolls. The LP is called Anthology and features the artiste’s impressions of old jazz tunes from Charlie Parker and such. Let’s move on.

• Folk-rock veteran Lucinda Williams, a.k.a. “not Bonnie Raitt,” returns with a new “platter” of music things, titled “Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart!” One of the songs is “Where The Song Will Find Me,” a slow moonshine-crooner with some nice pedal steel guitar, not that pedal steel guitar isn’t nice.

• We’ll close with Angelo De Augustine, an awkward California-indie dude who’s collaborated with and opened for Sufjan Stevens. His new LP is Toil And Trouble and features the tune “Another Universe,” which has lots of falsetto vocals and whatnot, making him the 2 billionth awkward indie-pop dude to rip off Pet Sounds this decade! Congratulations, Whatsyourface!

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).

Mushrooms filled with cheese, spinach and garlic

Stuffed mushrooms are a popular appetizer. They are easy to make at home and can be filled with so many different ingredients. For today’s recipe, I wanted to make an appetizer that leaned toward healthy. Goat cheese is the optimal choice for this. It’s lower in calories than many cheeses and also provides a creamy note.

This recipe has two rounds of baking. The initial round completes two important tasks. First, it helps to soften the mushrooms without drying out the filling. Second, it allows the mushrooms to release some of their liquids, so that you don’t have a watery mess for your final product. Don’t skip this first bake!

The ingredients in this recipe are straightforward: white mushrooms, frozen spinach, garlic cloves and goat cheese. Could you make them fancier and use porcini or cremini mushrooms? Sure, although baking times might vary. Depending on your garlic preferences, you could reduce the amount to one clove, and you definitely could increase it to three.

Once you have decided on your formula for these stuffed mushrooms (and bought the ingredients), you are only about 25 minutes away from a healthy, delicious snack!

Mushrooms filled with cheese, spinach and garlic
Makes 16

12 ounces white mushrooms
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces goat cheese, softened
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove stems from mushrooms, and set aside for use in a bit.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place mushroom caps on tray, stem side down.
Brush tops of mushrooms with olive oil.
Bake for 8 minutes.
While mushrooms roast, finely chop mushroom stems.
In a nonstick pan over medium heat, add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
When heated, add chopped stems, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add garlic and sauté for one more minute, stirring frequently
Remove mushrooms from the oven.
Reduce oven to 375 degrees.
Combine spinach, chopped mushrooms, garlic, goat cheese, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and stir well.
Throw away foil, and line tray with a new sheet of foil.
Coat with nonstick spray.
Fill mushroom caps with spinach mixture.
Place filled caps on the prepared sheet, and bake for 8 minutes.

Featured photo: Mushrooms filled with cheese, spinach and garlic. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Kami Raleigh

Self-taught baker Kami Raleigh started Pink Star Bakery in Deerfield in 2010. Between having kids and working a full-time job, she had to take a break before coming back and expanding Pink Star Bakery’s repertoire from just cupcakes to a wide variety of baked goods, such as custom cakes, dessert tables for events with treats like cookies and brownies, and most recently bread. Raleigh loves to experiment, often drawing inspiration from baking techniques she sees on social media. Pink Star Bakery is a vendor at the Deerfield Farmers Market this season.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A KitchenAid mixer. I could not live without the KitchenAid mixer. It’s super useful for kneading bread and all that but also I primarily use … buttercream for all of my cakes and cupcakes and that includes making meringue, and that is not something I would want to do by hand.

What would you have for your last meal?

I [make] a meal for my family and it’s this lemon chicken pasta. It is just so good and just like that perfect home cooked meal that you have in the wintertime and it fills your belly.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I have two, really. I really love Cotton in Manchester and then I also love the Taphouse in Hooksett. I really love that kind of kicked up, home cooked meal kind of style but using local ingredients and that sort of thing, and then any Mexican place really.

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

Probably Martha Stewart and she would definitely have to have Snoop Dogg with her.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

My favorite is either a chocolate peanut butter cake or cupcakes. It’s a chocolate cake with a peanut butter buttercream and I do chocolate ganache and cut up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups all inside of it.

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

I’m seeing a ton of doughnut places popping up so I think that’s probably a really big one. That, and a lot more farm-to-table, which I really love seeing.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

I really love doing bread for my family. I’m trying to start making a lot of our staple foods like things that you would eat regularly and not relying on the store for those products and just trying to make our daily life cleaner on what ingredients we’re putting in our bodies.

— Mya Blanchard

Grandma’s sugar cookies
From the kitchen of Kami Raleigh of Pink Star Bakery in Deerfield

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons cream or half-and-half
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cool butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in egg, cream and vanilla and blend well. Roll out dough on a floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake on an ungreased sheet pan at 400 degrees for five to eight minutes. Frost when cool.

Featured photo: Kami Raleigh, owner of Pink Star Bakery in Deerfield.

Cheers to six years

The Packie to celebrate six years in business with new beer festival

By Mya Blanchard

To celebrate The Packie’s sixth anniversary, owner Jon Pinches will host a beer festival on Saturday, July 1, from noon to 4 p.m. at his Hooksett location, for local craft breweries and eateries to showcase their brews.

Admission is free. The day will include food trucks, games, raffles live music and, of course, beer samples from local brewies.

The idea to establish what is now The Packie (a Massachusetts slang term for a package store — a place to buy beer and wine) came from Pinches’s girlfriend, now wife, Sarah.

“We’d been in some beer stores up in Canada and she thought it would be a really cool idea down here. … I’d been going to those stores my entire life, so it hadn’t really occurred to me that those were unique at all until she pointed it out,” Pinches said. “The surrounding states were going through big craft beer booms and New Hampshire was kind of lagging behind.”

Pinches said his passion for craft beer stems from his college days studying business at Arizona State University, where he would frequent the now bought-out Four Peaks Brewing Co. in the city of Tempe.

After a relationship ended while he was working at a Chili’s in Wyoming, he began looking for managerial positions at other locations, eventually finding himself in Massachusetts.

“I was the front-of-house manager as well as backhouse for lots of different places and got introduced to what was going on in Mass. craft beer, and just loved what I was seeing,” he said. “That’s where I got the name [The Packie], from living in Mass. for several years.”

By the time Pinches lived in Manchester, he felt New Hampshire was ready for a craft beer boom of its own.

“I decided … we’d better get on it, and the timing was perfect,” he said.

The Packie, which sells craft beer, cider and mead, held its grand opening in July 2017 and moved to its current Second Street in the summer of 2020. About two and a half years later, Pinches opened the second location in Hooksett.

“It was always part of the five-year plan … [and] I figured by this point we would be ready for it, so we really wanted to hit that goal.” Pinches said of opening a second location. “We were a little worried with the pandemic or at least coming out of the pandemic … because if you own a to-go beer place then the pandemic wasn’t good for you and you weren’t running properly. But now that we’ve come out of it, sales have started the other way … [and] it still seems like the right climate, and we needed the extra revenue from a second place to be able to keep surviving. If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating.”

In past years, The Packie’s anniversary has been celebrated with smaller-scale celebrations. Three or four different breweries would be invited and given a two-hour time slot to showcase their beers. This year, eight breweries and one meadery will be present, each likely bringing two beverage sample options.

“We always want to celebrate the anniversary. We’re so enthused and just grateful for what our customers have done for us,” Pinches said. “If this festival does well for itself, which I think it will, then yeah, absolutely every year we’ll do it.”

The Packie’s sixth anniversary beer festival
When: Saturday, July 1, noon to 4 p.m.
Where: The Packie, 88 W. River Road, Hooksett
Cost: Free admission

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 23/06/29

News from the local food scene

Get your Greek fix: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (68 N. State St., Concord) will hold its next boxed Greek dinner to go, a drive-thru event happening on Sunday, July 9, from noon to 1 p.m. Now through Wednesday, July 5, orders are being accepted for mezedakia, a Greek appetizer sampler plate featuring tzatziki, pita bread, tiropita, Greek meatballs, loukanikos (Greek sausages), feta cheese, Greek olives and a dessert, for $20 per meal. The event is drive-thru and takeout only — email or call 953-3051 to place your order. More takeout and pickup meals are expected at the church in the coming months. Visit

Showing some spirit: A new craft distillery is coming to The Factory on Willow (284 Willow St., Manchester). Manchester Distillery is slate to open its doors for tours and tastings this August, according to a press release, and will feature industry veteran Bill Tambussi as its master distiller. Small-batch test spirits of Manchester Distillery’s first official gin and vodka are in the works right now, while malt and bourbon whiskeys will also likely be available down the line, the release said. Visit

Brews on the Hill: Save the date for A Brew with a View, the craft beer and food festival returning to Steele Hill Resorts (516 Steele Hill Road, Sanbornton) for an eighth year on Saturday, July 8, with VIP admission from 4 to 5 p.m. and general admission from 5 to 7 p.m. With views overlooking Lake Winnisquam, Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Mountain Range, the festival will feature a variety of beers, meats, wines and spirits available for sampling, along with food, door prizes, games, music and more. Festivities begin with a VIP hour, followed by a general tasting session. Door prize drawings will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at and are $50 general admission and $65 VIP admission. Special Brew with a View “getaway” packages are also available, featuring two VIP tickets and 10 percent off accommodations of your choice — see

On The Job – David Brooks


David Brooks is a self-employed handyman and owns his own business, Dave’s Handyman Service (520-5408,, search “Dave’s Handyman Service” on Facebook) based in Concord.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I am a handyman who does basic home repairs for people. Sometimes I do multiple jobs in one day, or it may take multiple days to complete a single job.

How long have you had this job?

I launched my handyman business in March 2022.

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

I have always been a handyman. I worked in retail for 30 years and finally gave it up and decided to start doing my own thing.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I had no specific education or training for my job. I did some carpentry when I was younger. I am pretty much self-taught.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Basic attire: jeans, T-shirt and boots.

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

The most challenging thing is that I am a one-man show; I do all of my own estimates and all of my own bookkeeping, and I perform all of the work. I deal with it by working in my office in the evening or on the weekends.

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

I wish I had known how great my customers would be, which has made my business successful, and how much I like being on my own. I would have started doing this sooner.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

I wish other people knew how much time and effort it takes from [the point of] estimating a job to completing a job.

What was the first job you ever had?

My first job was mowing lawns and doing odd jobs for a retired doctor when I was 13 years old.

What is the best piece of work-related advice you have ever received?

Be open and honest with people, be a man of your word, show up on time and always do the best job that you can.

Five favorites

Favorite book:
I don’t have a favorite.
Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite music: Rock ’n’ roll and heavy metal
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite thing about NH: The small towns and the friendly people

Featured photo: David Brooks. Courtesy photo.

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