Granite State Songs

Rex triple bill spotlights New Hampshire talent

A showcase of singer-songwriters coming up at Manchester’s Rex Theatre will depart from the more common in-the-round “song pull” format and instead will allow the three featured performers — Cosy Sheridan, Kate Redgate and Jon Nolan — to stretch out with their bands.

The show is dubbed 603 Folk, though the music ranges beyond that to roots, rock and pop-inflected Americana.

Born in Concord, Sheridan is the veteran of the evening. She came up in the early ’90s folk boom after winning both Kerrville Folk Festival’s NewSong Award and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest. She was a fixture on the regional festival circuit, appearing at Newport and Falcon Ridge, among others. After a long stint living in Utah, she recently moved back to New Hampshire.

The other two have a lot in common, in their music and life choices. Redgate made an impact in 2009 with her LP Nothing Tragic but left the business soon after to raise her two children. However, as recounted in 2023 to writer Chris Hislop, Redgate didn’t stop writing, she simply “stopped trying to have a career doing it.”

That would change when the potent Light Under the Door was released a year ago. Nolan, who’s best-known for his time in the band Say ZuZu, produced, played guitar and co-wrote all but one song on the album. He’s a close friend of Redgate’s; like her, the singer-guitarist has recently returned to making music after leaving it to focus on family.

After lots of buzz, a few near record deals and 11 years together, Say ZuZu disbanded in 2003. After that, “I’d kind of broken up with music,” Nolan said by phone recently. He built a studio, did some solo work, but otherwise, “leaned into my day job for a minute.” While writing for the now defunct The Wire magazine he launched the RPM Challenge, which asks musicians to record and release an album during the month of February; it’s grown into a worldwide effort.

In the middle of the pandemic, a label that had almost signed Say ZuZu suddenly reached out.

“It was sort of this left at the altar thing,” Nolan said of the near-miss with New West Records. Twenty years later owner George Fontaine Sr. “called us back and said, ‘Hey, sorry about that; do you want to do that now?’ We were like, ‘Yes, George, we would.’

He created Strolling Bones Records for them and released Say ZuZu’s back catalog as Here Again: A Retrospective (1994-2002). In 2023 the group made No Time to Lose, its first studio album since 2002’s Every Mile. The revival helped Nolan “fall back in love with music and find a new way to experience joy,” he said.

Soon he was writing solo songs again, many of which will be in an upcoming Jon Nolan & Good Company album. The group includes Geoff Taylor, Rick Habib (who’s also Redgate’s drummer), Zach Tremblay and Roland Nicol.

“I found sort of a creative renaissance; it really feels like it uncorked a thing I had when ZuZu broke up,” Nolan said. “I think I just needed to break through something personally, and we’re all kind of doing that together as Good Company. I turned over the soil for all of us, found some fresh roots.”

The surprising Say ZuZu reunion inspired a documentary about the band, currently being worked on by Mississippi filmmaker Christian Harrison. He’d heard about the band from Kevin Guyer, who ran beloved Rock Bottom Records in Portsmouth for a couple of decades before moving south 15 years ago.

“It’s an unheard-of story in the music industry, and it’s not born of some desire to get rich,” Nolan said. “It’s not, ‘what I need to do is call a bunch of 50-year-old guys who haven’t been on the road in 10 years, that’ll be the next hit.’”

Asked about the upcoming show at The Rex, Nolan called himself “a longtime admirer of Cosy,” adding, “she was a couple years ahead of me when I was coming up … a staple in the folk scene before she moved out west and returned. I don’t think I’ve ever played a gig with her, but I’ve enjoyed her music for decades now.”

He and Redgate may join each other during the evening, he continued.

“I’m looking forward to playing in a different room; it looks charming,” he said. “I love the idea of three different writers, three different voices and three different perspectives coming at music from a similar pantry of ingredients, but each with their own distinct style.

603 Folk: An Evening of NH-Based Singer-Songwriters
When: Sunday, Feb. 3, 7:30pm
Where: Red Theater, 23 Amherst St., Manchester
Tickets: $29 at

Featured photo: 603 Folk. Courtesy.

The Music Roundup 24/02/01

Local music news & events

  • Get together: For anyone itching to play an original song for a sympathetic crowd, Acoustic Open Mic Night is a good place to land. Hosted by local singer-songwriter Mike Birch, the rules are pretty loose — no comedy or karaoke, and it’s a good idea to bring a personal microphone. Duos and trios are allowed, but not amplifiers or drums; for the latter, a little bit of thigh-slapping will suffice. Thursday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m., Casey Magee’s, 8 Temple St., Nashua. See
  • Beaching time: Taking its name from a classic Beach Boys song, All Summer Long is an annual long weekend tradition at a Londonderry craft brewery. With indoor sand and a bevy of local music, it’s a great way to forget about the cold. Nightshade kicks things off Friday, Supernothing and DJ Ache helm an all-day party Saturday and Slack Tide wraps it up Sunday afternoon. Starts Friday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m., Pipe Dream Brewing, 49 Harvey Road, Londonderry,
  • Heavy hearts: A multi-band show with a metal focus and an alt edge, Valentine’s Day Massacre gets the holiday off to an early start. Late 9 is a Boston quintet whose latest single, “Obsessed,” nicely balances melodic with metal. The Doldrums have a Green Day/Fall Out Boy vibe, while Cytokine and Creation from Crisis keep things hard and heavy; punk rockabilly band Ragz to Stitchez rounds things out. Saturday, Feb. 3, 7 pm., Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester, $10 at the door, 21+.
  • Lounge around: Ahead of a pair of Mardi Gras concerts, one of which will be streamed, Heather Pierson plays a late afternoon set in a duo format. The piano player launched a new group, The Potboilers, in 2022.The show happens in the venue’s upstairs bar. Sunday, Feb. 4, 6 p.m., Cantin Room at Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, $18 at
  • Classic covers: From its start as a bunch of high school pals making original music, Fortune became a mainstay on the regional club scene, making a pair of albums in the mid-’90s and opening for bands like the Guess Who and Cheap Trick. Their staying power has more to do with channeling classic rock energy, however. One band superfan dubbed them “the greatest cover band in the world,” and it’s deserved praise. Sunday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $30 at

American Fiction (R)

A writer creates a drunken joke that wins wide acclaim in American Fiction.

Fun note: that’s also kind of the plot to The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and American Fiction also shares some structural similarities with Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and both those things make me love this movie even more.

We meet author Thelonious Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), called Monk by nearly everybody, as he tangles with a college student (who is white) in the class he’s teaching over assigned readings that use racial epithets. It’s literature of the American South, his prickly explanation goes, if he can get over it so can she. She leaves the class in tears and Monk is called into a meeting with various deans where it’s explained that maybe he should take some mandatory time off. He heads to a book festival in Boston where he finds himself on panel discussion with an audience that could be generously described as a “smattering” of people. He learns his panel is at the same time as an event featuring Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), whose book We’s Lives in Da Ghetto is the hot book of the moment. It’s gritty and real and honest and raw, says everybody. To Monk, it’s a crass money grab by Golden, an Oberlin graduate who works in publishing, who is just feeding white editors and white readers a stereotype of Black life.

Monk’s life frustrations continue as he spends time with his family: his sister Lisa (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a busy doctor still recovering financially from her divorce and caring for their widowed mother Agnes (Leslie Uggums), who lives in the family home with longtime housekeeper Lorraine (Myra Lucretia Taylor). Lisa tries to explain that Monk and brother Clifford (Sterling K. Brown), who lives in Tucson (Monk lives in L.A.), haven’t been home enough to realize that their mom seems to be fading in terms of her memory and possibly her ability to live alone. When Lisa suddenly dies, Monk finds himself basically out of work and dealing with a mother who possibly needs very expensive care. With Lisa gone, Clifford struggling after his own divorce and Monk not receiving money, his only hope is his recent book, which agent Arthur (John Ortiz) is struggling to find a publisher for. It’s not “Black enough,” is what Arthur says he’s being told by the publishers, despite Monk’s arguments that he is Black and these are his stories.

Thus does a beleaguered Monk get drunk and get writing. He pens a story called My Pafology (after starting with “My Pathology”) full of every stereotype and flat depiction of hacky portrayals of African American life he can think of, with bad dialogue we see his characters work out in front of him. He jokingly sends it to Arthur and later tells him to send it around as something between a prank and a protest over what publishers seem to think constitutes “Black stories.” Except, of course, a publisher loves it, offers him more money than he’s ever been paid before for a book and quickly there’s talk of a film.

While the book by “Stagg R. Leigh” (Monk’s pen name for his prank) is receiving increasing acclaim (and even FBI interest because Arthur decides on the fly that “Stagg” is a criminal on the run), an ill-at-ease Monk is trying to find the nicest possible assisted living facility for his mom. He’s not delighted that cheeseball producer Wiley Valdespino (just a perfect Adam Brody) is looking to make a movie of his book but he also isn’t in a position to turn down an offer that includes the word “million.”

Of course the horrible thing is going to be the thing that hits — The Producers and 30+ years of the internet have taught us all this — but American Fiction tells this story through the lens of Monk’s late middle-age frustrations at all the things that have not worked out. Monk is funny like a sad three-legged dog, is how Clifford describes him to Coraline (Erika Alexander), the woman Monk starts dating. Jeffrey Wright perfectly captures this, sort of the quality of a guy tangled up in his own sweater and not able to fight his way out. He tries to operate as somebody on a higher plane, somebody who doesn’t see race (as he explains while not getting a cab that instead stops for the white guy half a block away) and doesn’t tolerate Gen Z discomfort. But he is also delightfully petty (attempting to move his books in a chain bookstore and getting into a fight with a college colleague about the quality of the colleague’s “airport novels”) and, as his family points out, is more emotionally detached than evolved. Even his frustrations with Sintara, who he eventually sits on a judging panel with, seem to have as much to do with the fact that she’s successful (and at such a young age, comparatively) as with his feelings about how she found that success.

The comedy of American Fiction is, of course, fun and has its laugh-out-loud moments. But the movie also has a lot of truly poignant little bits about family — the way Monk relates to his siblings, the way the family is still operating with the memory of their father who died years earlier, what it means to become a parent’s caretaker. And it’s all delivered via one killer performance after another. Wright and Brown both received Oscar nominations (for actor and supporting actor, respectively; the movie is also nominated for adapted screenplay and best picture) but Tracee Ellis Ross and even smaller roles, like Keith David’s appearance as a character Monk conjures up for his book, hit their notes just right. A

Rated R for language throughout, some drug use, sexual references and brief violence, according to the MPA on Written and directed by Cord Jefferson (and based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett), American Fiction is an hour and 57 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures & Orion Releasing.

Featured photo: American Fiction.

Catching up with Oscar

A look at some of the films on the nomination list

First and foremost, Oscar nominations are a list of movies worth checking out.

While the Oscar nerds among us might still be arguing whether Gretas Gerwig and Lee were robbed (yes) or if Saltburn should have been a contender somewhere (eh), it’s nice to occasionally remind oneself (me) that the Oscars can also help you catch up on the movies from the previous year you may have missed and the movies, like most of the International Film list and pretty much all but one of the shorts, that you (I) haven’t even heard of. (Find a list of all the nominees, announced last week, at

And, many of these films are available at home.

Of the 10 Best Picture nominees, currently, American FictionandPoor Things (in theaters) and The Zone of Interest (in theaters in Boston and slated to come to Red River Theatres in Concord in February) are not available for home viewing. (The Zone of Interest is the one movie on the list of 10 I haven’t seen yet.) Anatomy of a Fall, Past Livesand Oppenheimer are available for rent or purchase. Barbie (Max), The Holdovers (Peacock) and Killers of the Flower Moon(Apple TV+) are available via VOD and through a streaming service. Maestro is only on Netflix.

Plenty other nominees are also available for home viewing.

Rustin (Netflix) was the one movie on the list of five acting nominees I hadn’t seen yet (and the only one that doesn’t have a movie in the “best picture” category). Colman Domingo plays Bayard Rustin, a civil rights activist for the middle chunk of the 20th century who had a hand in a variety of movements for racial and workers rights, including, as documented here, in the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin was smart, funny, highly competent — and gay, a fact that made him a target for those in (old guard politicians) and out (the FBI) of the movement. Though this movie was written by Julian Breece and Dustin Lance Black, it has that very Aaron Sorkin feel — with people listing off accomplishments, learning to compromise, finding common ground. I don’t know if that makes it competence porn, exactly, but there is a very “chicken soup for a politically liberal soul” feel to the way it shows Rustin working with all the coalitions involved in the event. We also get his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. (Aml Ameen), drawn in a way that helps to remind you that this iconic figure was also a political person, who had to deal with the same pushes and pulls that would be familiar today. B+

Nyad (Netflix) is the actress category version of this (biopic, no Best Picture nomination, I hadn’t seen it yet). Annette Bening is Diana Nyad, an athlete whose claims to fame include distance swimming. After trying but failing to swim from Cuba to Florida as a twenty-something in the 1970s, she decides to try again in the 2010s, shortly after turning 60. This requires Nyad to train for distance swims again — first spending hours in a pool and then heading to more open water. In addition to just the physical differences of being 60, other challenges of the swim include strong (and changing) currents, weather, sharks and jellyfish. Jodie Foster, playing Nyad’s longtime friend and an athletic trainer who agrees to help Nyad train Bonnie Stoll, is also nominated for a supporting actress award. Bonnie and Diana are, as they both explain at various parts in the movie, each other’s person. Though not a romantic couple, they help to get each other through and bolster each other. Bonnie also helps Diana be more of a human who can relate to other humans. Diana Nyad as shown here is the personification of the phrase “she’s A Lot.” At a toast with her crew before one Cuban attempt, Nyad basically talks about herself and how great this is for her, with Bonnie having to step in to thank the team. Nyad is driven, sometimes to the exclusion of everyone around her. She is also extremely hard on herself and carries all sorts of baggage from a turbulent childhood and sexual assault by her swimming coach as a teen. Bening’s performance is a solid “great but flawed” athlete performance but there really is something extra to what Foster’s doing, something that gets to the emotions of a long-term partnership. B+

The only other acting nomination going to someone not in a Best Picture nominee is Danielle Brooks’ supporting actress nomination for The Color Purple, the musical based on the book of the same name and currently available via VOD and on Max. I reviewed the movie last week and thought it was fine, with Brooks definitely a standout performance.

In the writing categories — original and adapted — there is only one nominee not up for a Best Picture nod. Killers of the Flower Moon did not get a writing nod, but May December (Netflix) did. With a screenplay by Samy Burch, this Todd Haynes-directed movie (which I reviewed a while back) stars Natalie Portman playing an actress who has come to meet and study a woman (Julianne Moore) who decades earlier as a thirty-something had an affair/criminal relationship with a 13-year-old boy that sent her to jail. They later married; the movie is set when their youngest children are graduating from high school. It’s a dark, occasionally bleakly funny movie but it is also extremely hard to watch.

Some of the other nominees I’ve caught up with recently:

The Creator(VOD and Hulu) This sci-fi movie starring John David Washington is set in a future where America is at war with a country called New Asia where AI robots of all sorts — from robots that kind of resemble those pointed-headed Phantom Menace bots to simulants that look almost human — live in relative peace with the human population. America is dead set on eliminating AI creatures and is on the hunt for a rumored weapon that could take down the U.S.’s NOMAD aircraft, a giant metaphor for drones, I mean, a large plane thing that blows up villages with both precision and widespread destruction. Washington plays a former Army sergeant lured back for one more mission with the hope that he will be able to find Maya (Gemma Chan), the wife he thought had died years earlier. It is a solid adventure story and is nominated in the sound and visual effects categories. B+

The Last Repair Shop (Hulu & Disney+) Nominated in the Documentary Short Film category, this 39-minute film about Los Angeles students, the instruments they play and the adults who fix those instruments is a charmer. We hear the stories of kids talking about what music means to them and we hear from the adults talking about how they came to repair instruments, many with their own musical journeys. A

The ABCs Of Book Banning (Paramount+) Another short that makes good use of kid interview subjects, this Documentary Short Film (27 minutes) talks to kids about books that have been banned, challenged or restricted at public school libraries. The standouts here are the incredibly thoughtful kids who don’t get why a picture book about two penguins adopting a baby penguin (And Tango Makes Three) or, for older kids, books about the Holocaust (The Diary of Anne Frank, Maus) are not appropriate. The other star: a 100-year-old World War II soldier’s widow speaking at a school board meeting against book banning. That lady deserves her own doc. B

Ninety-Five Senses (on I found this Animated Short Film nominee thanks to the Oscar movies guide on Tim Blake Nelson’s voice accompanies the beautiful watercolor and sketch visuals of the story. A man on what we come to learn is his last day discusses his life as connected to his five senses. B+

The After (Netflix) This Live Action Short Film nominee (18 minutes) stars David Oyelowo as a grief-overwhelmed man just trying to get through his day as a driver for a ride service and facing what finally breaks him. Oyelowo’s performance makes the movie. B

Four Daughters (rent or purchase or streaming on Kino Film Collection) A Documentary Feature Film nominee, this movie about a Tunisian mother, Olfa, and her four daughters is a blend of documentary and reenactment, with actors playing her two oldest daughters, who ran away to join ISIS (and are now in jail in Libya), the real life younger daughters and another actor occasionally playing Olfa. The movie is not what you think at first, not a straightforward afterschool special-ish take on teen girls being sucked in by a dangerous organization — there are shipping containers of baggage related to Olfa’s young life, her turbulent relationship with her daughters, the violent men who were in their lives and the violence that was a part of their lives out in the world. The movie is mournful and disturbing but you also can’t look away. B+

20 Days in Mariupol (available for rent or purchase and at This Documentary Feature Film nominee features footage shot by AP journalist Mstyslav Chernov, one of the very few journalists in Mariupol, Ukraine, during the Russian invasion. Though we hear some of Chernov narrating what he’s seeing or how the war makes him worry about his own family elsewhere, the documentary is at its strongest when it’s just showing regular people trying to get through the war — sheltering underground, trying to get information about how to keep their families safe, trying to get medical help after a bombing. Footage of a mother crying “why, why” after hospital staff telling her they couldn’t save her child or a father sobbing “my son, my son” after his teenager is pronounced dead — both children killed in bombings — is among the movie’s most impactful moments. B+

Featured photo: The Creator.

Old Crimes by Jill McCorkle

The first short story in Jill McCorkle’s new collection, Old Crimes, is set in New Hampshire, but it’s not a story the Division of Travel and Tourism would care to tout.

In the story, a young couple, Lynn and Cal, spend a weekend at a family inn near Franconia, staying in a room with dark-paneled walls, “a faded floral bedspread, shades too small for the windows, and a forty-watt bulb in one lamp on the dresser.” It is a place full of toothpick holders and Early American decor that leaves Lynn “feeling like life had slowed, clicking like a dying engine, and then stopped.”

Oof. The Tyner Family Inn — “waterfront” if you don’t mind the long hike through the woods to get to a stagnant pond — is fictional though the rich detail suggests that McCorkle has had an unpleasant visit to a New Hampshire inn at some point in her past.

Lynn is hopeful that her boyfriend will suggest they look for a better place, but he doesn’t, and she struggles to find good in the weekend, her thoughts instead going to the titular “old crimes” — atrocities committed thousands of years ago and discovered by archeologists: for example, the Yde Girl and the Tollund Man, apparent victims of human sacrifice. She also ruminates on a vaguely threatening writing prompt from a creative writing class.

Concurrently, the couple encounter a 6-year-old girl — dirty, intrusive, “hair, teeth, nothing had been brushed” — whose presence triggers introspection in Lynn about her life and choices.

“Old Crimes,” the story, is stark and memorable, the kind of writing that could well end up in a “Best Of” anthology. The other 11 offerings are more of a mixed bag; though skillfully rendered, some are downright depressing, although that seems to be a requirement of the genre. There is a thread of humor throughout, however, as in the fourth story, “Commandments.”

In this story three women meet monthly at a cafe to commiserate about having been mistreated and then dumped by the same wealthy man — “kind of a First Wives Club, though of course, none of us had been married to him.”

The women are united in the shared experiences of over-the-top dates (one went to Bermuda, another to eat lobster in Maine, another flown to see the Northern Lights), of being wooed with suggestions of quitting their jobs and having children, of waking up under the same linen comforter in his ocean-view condo.

But there is a fourth woman in the story, the waitress named Candy: “ponytale, scaly reptile tattoo climbing her leg, big dark eyes that always look surprised.” The reptile isn’t her only tattoo. As the story unfolds, Candy keeps exposing others: some, quotes from Charlotte’s Web; others, random pieces of life advice she wants to remember. It’s unclear just how many tattoos Candy has, but the repeated revelations are a delight, set against the women’s discussion of how the unnamed man has done them wrong.

It turns out, however, that Candy has had her own encounters with the man; she had spurned his advances and dubbed him “the old creep.” Her take on the man turns the story — and our perception of all four women — on its head.

Although the stories in this collection are not all connected, Candy makes another appearance in “Baby in the Pan,” in which we learn that the reptile on her leg is a dragon. This is a deeply fraught story centered around an exchange between Candy and her mother, Theresa, over an image that Theresa is viewing on her computer. Theresa views the image of “a little bloody bird-looking thing” as a tragedy of abortion; Candy is much more pragmatic:

“Candy had all kinds of information she was ready to give like she might’ve been Moses on the mountaintop; she said the occurrence of such a late-term abortion (that’s what she called that poor baby in the pan) was a rare thing, and who knew what the sad circumstances might be. She said it was more likely someone’s sad miscarriage. She talked cells and clusters and what-have-you until Theresa wanted to throw a pan at her and she could have because Candy was standing right there in the kitchen in those short shorts she’s too old to be wearing with that scaly green dragon looking like he’s breathing fire on her you know what.”

The women go at each other, ostensibly over their differing views on abortion, but as in many mother-daughter relationships, there are onion-like layers of complexity, which culminate in Theresa saying, “Why don’t you just say you hate me?” and Candy responding bitterly, “I think you want me to say it so you can say it back.”

The Yde girl and the Tollund Man, to whom we were introduced in “Old Crimes,” also reappear briefly in “Sparrow,” a gut-wrencher of a story that closes the book. The narrator is a divorced woman living in a small New England town in shock from the apparent suicide of a young mother, who also took the life of her infant son. The incident causes the town and the narrator to reflect on other tragedies of years past, and the threats that always surround us: “icy sidewalks and empty wooded shortcuts, lone disheveled men, lean howling coyotes just beyond domestic tranquility ….” But life slowly gets back to normal and the narrator develops a relationship with another spectator at her son’s Little League game, a grandmother whose nonstop commentary provides comic relief and who cheers for everyone’s kids. However, in this world, even things that seem safe sometimes aren’t.

McCorkle, who has been writing fiction since college and whose literary awards include the New England Booksellers Award, has chaired the creative writing department at Harvard and is among the dwindling numbers of authors whose new titles merit a book tour. She is at the top of her game here, with a diverse and memorable cast of characters that plumb the depths of the human condition — but somehow manage to flutter with hope. A

Album Reviews 24/02/01

Diane Coll, Old Ghosts (self-released)

This Chicago-based singer-songwriter puts a decent-enough foot forward with this album, but the cascading verisimilitude of the songs and the lack of any experimentation left me feeling pretty uninterested. But as is the case with genres that I actually like, Coll’s strummy Americana is aimed a particular demographic and isn’t meant to rope in fans who’ve never heard Norah Jones before, which isn’t to imply that her bluegrass-tinged attempts at window-gazing acoustic chill sound all that modern. What I’m hearing is ’70s B-movie incidental music best suited for older hippies, which she obviously is, not that I have any call (or any other excuse, for that matter) to wax ageist. I’m probably her age in the first place, after all, but I did see one reviewer refer to her lyricism as “wisened,” an adjective that would fit here if the critic were being overly generous. I’d be more inclined to go with “wizened” owing to the archaic feel of the stuff. She does seem nice, though. C —Eric W. Saeger

India Gailey, Problematica (People Places Records)

Yikes, look at the calendar, it’s time for weird chicks with cellos, but this time we’re not talking about Rasputina, no sir. This Canadian-American gal’s trip is more in line with the self-indulgent explorations of certified wingnut Mabe Fratti, but in Gailey’s case — at least for this outing — there are no weird hippie dudes making faces and making incidental sounds. Instead we’re, ah, treated to a set of compositions that were written by other people on some sort of commission basis. The festivities begin with a tune written by one Sarah Rossy, an obscurity who’d probably be a big at sci-fi cons if she were encouraged to investigate such opportunities. The opening tune, “I Long,” showcases Gailey’s knack for noise as well as her often-captivating vocal talents, even if the first half of the song is pretty dissonant and indeed punctuated here and there with notes that sound, at least to ignorant peasants like yours truly, off-key. Nicole Lizée’s appropriately titled “Grotesquerie” is an exercise in funereal, unsettling noise if that floats your boat. B- —Eric W. Saegerr


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, Feb. 2, will be an epic day of albums, with new albums coming out of nowhere, dropping from the sky, onto our heads, with loving messages of rock ’n’ roll, corporate hipdy-hop and death metal! Some of you are old enough to remember Dinosaur Jr, a band that was led by J Mascis. The band members were from Amherst, Mass., where they helped to invent the indie rock that’s tormented us for decades now. His new album is What Do We Do Now and its rollout single, “Can’t Believe We’re Here,” is a hard jangle-rock thing spotlighting Mascis’s usual post-punkabilly drawl, and it all works well enough. Why, there’s even some decent lead guitar parts in there, you might like it.

• In the competition to be this year’s 4 Non Blondes or Kate Havnevik or Lana Del Rey or whatever, look guys, it’s Vera Sola, a singer, songwriter and mildly edgy nepo baby whose dad, the famous, overrated “conehead” comedian Dan Akykroyd, probably had nothing to do with her getting a big record contract, there’s just no way, so don’t even start. Her first album, Shades, got a lot of press love in France (you know what that means), and she’s here with her second full-length, Peacemaker. The first single, “The Line,” is decent enough, basically a metal-tinged no-wave tune without metal guitars or no-wave honesty, but nevertheless it’s good overall; if you like Garbage or any bands like that, you might be into this for a week or so before you regret spending $16 on it.

• U.K. electro-pop songbird L Devine was born and raised in Whitley Bay, a coastal town near Newcastle upon Tyne in England, Europe. Supposedly, when she was 7 years old she loved the Clash and The Sex Pistols so much — regardless of the fact that neither band played electro-pop — that she started a band called the Safety Pins, which I totally believe, because everything you read in a public relations announcement is always 100 percent true and never intended to make an artist look 100 times cooler than they actually are. Anyway, this person will release an album on Friday, titled Digital Heartifacts, which is, I think, a clever title, although I’m sure it won’t sound like the Clash at all, more like an album of bubblegum trinkets for people who wear Hello Kitty backpacks all the time, but let’s just go see what this nonsense is, shall we, yes, let’s. Yup, it sounds like Lorde, but it’s got a little kick to it, have fun with this, whoever you are out there.

• And finally, it’s Kirin J. Callinan, an Australian art-pop nerd who sounds just like the dude from the ’80s band ABC, you remember them, right? No, no, not Boy George, I said ABC, the skinny tie band that did “When Smokey Sings,” back when Reagan was the emperor of our land and all the boomer hippies had taken to behaving like grown-ups so they wouldn’t get in trouble with Reagan’s anointed pope, Jerry Falwell, I suppose you had to be there. OK, subject change, Callinan’s new LP is titled If I Could Sing, which doesn’t bode for the title of an album on which someone is singing, don’t you think? But no, you don’t have to worry about that, because the new single, “Eternally Hateful,” does indeed evoke an ABC filler song, except that there are some glitchy samples in there. In the video he’s getting the business from some medieval executioners, which he thinks is funny; your mileage may vary.

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

It’s been a week.

You don’t even have the brain cells to describe what kind of week it’s been. You just want to go home and eat something hot and homemade. Unfortunately, that involves thinking, which you just can’t do at the moment. You feel cold, hungry and stupid. That’s OK. Here is the easiest impressive food you’ll ever make. The only things you’ll need to measure are the seasonings, and you’ll use the same amount — a teaspoon — for each of them.

You’ve got this.

Corn Chowder

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1-pound bag of frozen corn

1-pound bag of frozen chopped onions – if your supermarket is out of frozen onions, there will almost certainly be half-pound containers of chopped onions in the produce section; just grab two of them

1 pound (half a 2-pound bag) frozen diced potatoes, usually labeled as “hash browns” or “O’Brien potatoes”

1 half-gallon container of whole milk

1 teaspoon salt – I like coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Put a large pot on medium heat. I have a 3-gallon soup pot that I like a lot, but anything you have that holds more than a gallon will work fine.

Unwrap the stick of butter and toss it into your big pot. I say “toss,” and that’s fine — there’s something very satisfying about the dull thud it makes as it hits the bottom of the pot.

Take a couple of minutes to pour yourself a glass of wine. If you have a bottle of something bubbly in the back of your refrigerator for a special occasion, this might be a good time to open it up.

Check on the butter. If it’s melted and foamy, or just melted, or almost melted, cut open the bag of frozen chopped onions. If the bag gives you any trouble at all, use your kitchen scissors or a wickedly sharp knife to slash it open. Don’t worry about making a nice, neat cut; you’re going to use the whole bag anyway. The onions will make a satisfying hiss as they hit the hot fat. Let them cook down until they are translucent and maybe the tiniest bit golden-brown. Stir from time to time.

When your kitchen starts smelling like fried onions, turn on the fan above your stove and empty the bag of frozen corn into the pot and stir it. Let that cook down for a few minutes.

Drink some more wine.

After a few minutes, add the potatoes. Don’t bother measuring them. I mean, you can, if you want to, but the whole point of this recipe is how undemanding it is. Stir them from time to time.

This is the only thing that you’ll have to measure: Add a teaspoon each of salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Stir them into the corn mixture.

Add the entire container of milk. Stir your proto-soup, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and go into the other room and do something for yourself. The key here is to shout, “I’M MAKING SOUP!” if anyone tries to make any demands on you.

After an hour of simmering, your chowder will be ready to eat. It will look a little pink from the paprika, but a quick stir will bring everything together. Ladle it into cups or bowls, and eat it with bread and butter. Just plain bread and butter. And more wine, if there’s any left.

This is a hearty, comforting, delicious chowder. It tastes like — surprise! — butter and corn and sweet onions and potatoes. It is perfect for dunking bread and butter into. Pretty much any adult will like this a lot and will grunt with satisfaction. It’s good, but not fancy enough that they will feel obligated to make a big deal out of it. Nobody has the energy for that this week.

Will children like it? There’s absolutely nothing in this chowder that a child would not like. Therefore, one of your kids will decide that they don’t like it. In which case, just tell them to eat their bread and butter.

John Fladd is a veteran Hippo writer, a father, writer and cocktail enthusiast, living in New Hampshire.

Featured photo: Corn Chowder. Photo by John Fladd.

The Weekly Dish 24/02/01

News from the local food scene

Cookies and candy: Chunky’s Cinema Pubs (707 Huse Road, Manchester; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, has upcoming foodie fun. On Friday, Feb. 16, and Friday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. the Manchester theater will hold a family-friendly theater candy bingo game. Reserve a spot for $10 per person, which includes a $5 off food voucher and a box of candy to go in the pot. If cookies are more your speed, check out the Girl Scout Cookie family-friendly bingo nights in Manchester (on Sunday, March 10), Pelham (Friday, March 15) and Nashua (Sunday, March 17) at 6:30 p.m. Reserve a seat for $12.99 per person.

Tastings, cards and more: Barrel & Baskit (377 Main St. in Hopkinton;, 746-1375) has several upcoming events. Stop by on Friday, Feb. 2, from 4 to 6 p.m. for a wine tasting and pop-up plant shop from the Black Forest Nursery in Boscawen, according to a newsletter. On Sunday, Feb. 4, at 1:30 p.m. the shop will host a fairy garden making event; sign up via the store’s Facebook page (the cost is $25). Stop by on Wednesday, Feb. 7, for a wine and chocolate tasting from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring wines from Crush Wines and Clandestine Chocolates, according to the Facebook page. On Saturday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m. kids can sign up to make Valentine’s cards at the Cookies & Cards event for $8 per person, according to the website.

What’s in your glass?

Learn about wine for fun or profit

Wine on Main is not only a cozy storefront where shoppers can acquire locally created artisanal crafts or boutique bottles of wine from New Hampshire and beyond. It’s also a place where people can quench their thirst for knowledge about wine.

Wine on Main, at 9 N. Main St. in downtown Concord, is owned by Emma Stetson. “My job is to pick the best wine for the customers at the store,” Stetson said.

Two courses from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust will be hosted here later this month. WSET, which sets industry standards for wine and spirits across the globe, selected Wine on Main as an official location for its Level I & II certification courses.

“There are only a handful of those around the world, so it is exciting that they are coming to Concord,” Stetson said. “They want to make sure we are following all the rules since this is an industry standard certificate.”

Stetson said “the WSET was invaluable” in deepening her understanding of wine.

The Level I course takes two evenings to complete and will run Tuesday, Feb. 20, and Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m.; the cost is $399 per person. Level II will take place over that weekend of Saturday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs $899 per person. Wine enthusiasts who participate in Level II will have an option to take the exam at another time if needed. Both tests, for levels I and II, are multiple choice.

“If people want to do the two courses together, there is a discount,” Stetson said. Participants may skip Level I and go straight to Level II as well. Group discounts apply too.

This is not the first time these courses have been offered at Wine on Main. The inaugural classes held last August were an enormous success with a 100 percent passing rate for both levels.

“A lot of people who took the Level I course were customers who were interested in learning more,” Stetson said.

She said the course “is not just a fun wine class that you take with your friends on a Tuesday night” — Wine on Main has many of those, such as a recent wine-pairing collaboration with New Hampshire Doughnut Co. But participants regardless of their level of wine knowledge should expect a good time. This course “caters to wine enthusiasts who want to know more,” as well as those in the wine business, “to put on their resume.” With WSET courses, participants “walk away with a certificate that is internationally recognized.”

The courses are taught by Master of Wine and New Hampshire native Lindsay Pomeroy, who also taught the courses at Wine on Main in August. There are only around 400 people in the world able to claim the Master of Wine title.

Pomeroy, a lifelong teacher who started a wine education company called Wine Smarties in San Diego in 2006, welcomes students of any level of expertise to Wine on Main this February. “Some of my best students are not even in the industry. Level I is very fun,” she said. The course “gives you a perspective, grounding, and a foundation,” she said, noting “you can’t be a great wine taster without any knowledge.” Pomeroy exudes joy about helping anyone willing to sign up “to be able to unlock and explain the wine. It is a fun puzzle.”

Stetson, a Level II & III WSET certificate holder herself, explained that those signed up for the Level I course “learn how to taste the wine and you learn how to describe the wine. You learn about the grapes, and you learn about the region.” The Level II course is longer and builds on Level I. Participants learn to decipher wine labels and select the best wine for the occasion. Level II delves into “more specific regions and more atypical grapes and wines,” Stetson said. The registration deadlines are Feb. 3 for the Level I class and Feb. 9 for Level II.

Wine and Spirit Education Trust classes
Wine on Main, 9 N. Main St., Concord
Level I

Tuesday, Feb. 20, and Wednesday, Feb. 21, 6 to 9 p.m.
$399 per person; $340 group rate
Level II

Saturday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 25, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
$899 per person; $801 4+ group rate

More info:,

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Wine and Chocolate

Classes create pairings for dinner and dessert

Other than red roses, nothing says “valentine” more than chocolate and wine, and LaBelle Winery will capitalize on this tantalizing pairing with two classes in February, available at LaBelle’s Derry and Amherst locations. Classes will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. and admission for each session is $40.

Chocolate Desserts & Wine Pairing is described as a special wine pairing event for lovers of decadent chocolate desserts.

“This is one of my favorite classes,” said LaBelle Winery Sommelier Marie King. “We pair four delicious wines with four specially made desserts made with white, milk, dark and spiced chocolates made by our amazing pastry chef, Sara Mercier.” The wine menu for the evening will include White Chocolate Mousse paired withLaBelle Cranberry; Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme paired withLaBelle Americus; Dark Chocolate Brownie paired withLaBelle Dry Blueberry; and Chocolate Cayenne Truffle paired withLaBelle Petit Verdot.

“I like to keep the class informal, fun, and have guests leave with a little more knowledge about wine and how to pair it,” King said.

Cooking with Wine & Chocolate, facilitated by Amy LaBelle and Executive Chef Justin Bernatchez, is an entertaining interactive cooking class demonstration. Guests will have the opportunity to sample fried chicken with chocolate BBQ sauce, steak with The Winemaker’s Kitchen Cocoa BBQ Spice Blend, Mexican mole sauce, and Chocolate Decadence Dessert — each paired with a LaBelle wine.

One of the surprising things people learn about cooking with chocolate is that it can be used to make savory dishes.

“Think of Mexican mole sauce,” King said. “The sweetness is an underlying note to the savory spicy notes of the dishes. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate, which are most often used for cooking, are actually quite bitter. The sweetness we equate with chocolate is from the sugar, milk and flavorings added to the bitter cocoa.”

What makes wine and chocolate compatible?

“Everything is better when paired well,” according to King. “We like to say that pairing wine and food well elevates the enjoyment of both. Finding what is compatible or contrasting between the wine and chocolate makes for fantastic pairings that neither the food or wine can create separately.”

Although many people tend to think that red is the only wine that can be paired with chocolate, King disagrees: “It does not have to be red wine with chocolate. It especially does not work well with white or ruby chocolate. Fruit or dessert wines are also fun to pair with chocolates.”

“Milk chocolate is sweeter, has less of a perception of tannins and is creamier on the palate. Dark chocolate is more bitter; you can perceive the tannins more easily and [it’s] less creamy on the palate. You might be able to pair both with a wine that is fruit-driven but also tannic, but one chocolate will generally pair better than the other depending on which characteristic dominates,” King said.

Which wines are best paired with white chocolate? “We like to use our Cranberry and Cranberry Riesling, but I have also had success with Seyval, riesling and Shimmer. If the white chocolate has citrus notes, it makes it even easier,” King said.

King noted that rosés have “more tannins than the average white and more acidity than the average red.”

“I am a sparkling girl, so I always try to find foods to pair with sparkling wines,” she said. “Our Tempest sparkling wine is great with milk chocolate as it has raspberry notes and the bubbles help to cleanse the palate from the buttery texture.”

Chocolate Desserts & Wine Pairing
Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 7 p.m.
LaBelle Winery, 345 Route 101, Amherst

Chocolate Desserts & Wine Pairing
Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 6 to 7 p.m.
LaBelle Winery, 14 Route 111, Derry

Cooking with Wine & Chocolates
Thursday, Feb. 15
LaBelle Winery, 345 Route 101, Amherst

Cooking with Wine & Chocolates
Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 7 p.m.
LaBelle Winery, 14 Route 111, Derry

For more info or to register, visit

Featured photo: Wines paired with chocolates. Courtesy photo.

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