Making the pieces fit

Slim Volume on the rise

Blending elements of alt country and harmony-rich classic rock, Slim Volume is a breath of fresh air on the local music scene. At the core of the four-piece band is the songwriting team of Trent Larrabee and Jake DeSchuiteneer, who met as coworkers at SNHU’s Manchester campus, bonded over a shared love of ’60s bands, and found their mojo at Strange Brew Tavern’s open mic night.

With the addition of Mike Morgan on guitar and, soon after, drummer Jonny Lawrence, they picked a name and began playing whatever bar, basement or party would have them, polishing their sound while writing a growing list of original songs. Their sound isn’t easily pinned down — the Jake-written “It’s Been Sweet” echoes “Take It to the Limit” from the Eagles, while Trent’s composition “Talk it Over” is a lovely slice of dream pop wrapped in Tom Petty jangle.

Ever present, however, is the pair’s lush harmonizing. This comes through in the covers they choose. A mid-February listening room show at The Livery in Sunapee included no fewer than four Beatles tunes — “The first song we learned together was ‘This Boy,’” Trent said from the stage — and “Dream” from the Everly Brothers.

Other influences include Wilco and Pavement, along with contemporaries.

“A lot of local bands inspired me the most,” Trent said in a recent phone interview. He specifically cited Evan Benoit and his band Badfellows, now called Happy Just to See You, and Great White Tourist. “Just the whole Manchester music scene from 2015 to 2017 was super influential on me because I was still living in a Beatles/Bob Dylan paradigm that I had not really broken out of yet.”

The duo’s vocal connection began with Trent teaching himself Ricky Skaggs’ “You’ve Got a Lover” and Jake deciding to come in on top of the vocal. “I remember we noticed that it worked, and Trent being like, ‘You should do more of that type of thing,’” Jake recalled. “My voice does things Jake can’t and he does things mine doesn’t really do,” Trent agreed. “They definitely complement each other in that way.”

Trent had played in a few other bands before meeting Jake, who was just starting to explore taking his interest in music to another level. Working together on Trent’s 2021 solo album Billions of Musics helped Jake’s songwriting to grow. It’s led to a collaborative process that usually starts with one or the other writing a nearly complete song and then taking it to the band for fine tuning.

“I was inspired by the fact that Trent seemed to be finishing songs [that] had something to say and were interesting from start to finish,” Jake said. “That kind of helped me to see my way toward doing more, because a lot of what I’d done at the time was just writing stuff on my own, with really no intention of any audience hearing it.”

They’ve released one EP, Staring at the Sun, and a handful of singles. They have two more finished EPs, set to drop later this year. Each represents a different side of the group, Trent said. “One is more indie rock, and the other is our indie soul folk kind of sound. So that’s going to be a great display of, I don’t want to say the polarities of our music, but the range and spectrum of what we do.”

They’re also at work on their first full-length album with, noted Trent, an embarrassment of riches facing them.

“We have so much material, it’s really become a problem,” he said. “We can keep doing singles and EPs forever, but putting 10 or 12 songs together is really more important. It’s helped us focus [and] filter songs through the lens of what’s going to be good on an album, what’s going to fit together sonically, and what’s going to be the most accessible to an audience.”

Jake agreed. “I think we’re really starting to circle the target on what our sound, Slim Volume original music sounds like,” he said. “It’s a little bit indie rock, a little bit folk rock, sometimes it’s a little pop, sometimes it’s soulful. I think the album is gonna really show in a cohesive way what that range is.”

Slim Volume
When: Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m.
Where: Twin Barns Brewing, 194 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 24/02/29

Local music news & events

Broadway bash: Four actors who’ve all starred in Phantom of the Opera gather for The Four Phantoms In Concert. The show, soon to be a PBS special, has both solo and group numbers from Brent Barrett, John Cudia, Franc D’Ambrosio and Ciarán Sheehan. It includes an appearance by Kaley Ann Voorhees, who played Christine in Phantom’s Broadway production. Thursday, Feb. 29, 7 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, $48.75 and up at

Hammer time: He’s popular enough to fill hockey rinks, but Tom Segura’s dark humor isn’t for everyone. He told in October his current tour is “bigger and blacker than anything I’ve ever done, but that name has already been used; Come Together gets the point across. Let us all come together for a night. ” Friday, March 1, 8 p.m., SNHU Arena, 555 Elm St., Manchester, $35.50 and up at

Mixed media: Standup comedy preceded by jazz music is on tap at a show topped by Kenny Rogerson, billed as “the funniest man you’ve never heard of,” along with Steve Scarfo and Jayson Martin. Rogerson is well-known to regional fans; he’s appeared in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and has made appearances on Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Comics Come Home. Saturday, March 2, 7 pm., Rockingham Ballroom, 22 Ash Swamp Road, Newmarket, $25 at

New Englander: No soundtrack of 1970s Boston is complete without Jonathan Richman, who yearned to “drive past the Stop n’ Shop with the radio on at night” on “Roadrunner” and wrote a love song to Government Center. These days, he’s a crooner who eschews his oldies for an ever-changing setlist of music that “works well in quiet places,” backed by Tommy Larkins. Sunday, March 3, 7 p.m., Nashua Center for the Arts, 201 Main St., Nashua, $39 and up at

Rap deconstructed: For anyone interested in the songwriting process of hip-hop, Cody Pope and Brian G will break it down during an Inside the Music presentation. Sure to come up in the discussion is the duo’s work in progress, a follow-up to 2021’s Meet Me In Gate City, and thoughts on their creative influences, which include Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Gang Starr and Kool G Rap. Monday, March 4, 7 p.m., Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua,

Drive-Away Dolls (R)

A pair of friends, one recently dumped by her girlfriend and one getting burned out at work, decide to take a road trip and become unwitting participants in a caper involving a group of tough guys and a couple of suitcases in the 1999-set Drive-Away Dolls.

Marian (the always fun Geraldine Viswanathan) is prickly at work and seems sort of exhausted by the idea of a romantic life, hers having petered out after a breakup with a serious girlfriend (who 1990s-ily worked for Ralph Nader) years earlier.

We learn Jamie’s (Margaret Qualley) whole deal while she’s in bed with one girl and on the phone with her live-in girlfriend Sukie (Beanie Feldstein). When Sukie kicks Jamie out of their apartment, Jamie decides that she will accompany Marian on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee. Marian’s plan is to visit an aunt and do some birdwatching. Jamie’s plan is that they hit as many lesbian bars on the drive down as they can. Both of them decide to take the trip in a “drive-away” — a car-share-type situation where they drive down a car that someone else has asked to have transported.

As it happens, they show up at the drive-away shop declaring their desire to go to Tallahassee just after its owner, Curlie (Bill Camp), is told in a shadowy phone call to expect people to take a car, and a “package” hidden inside, to Tallahassee. He thinks Marian and Jamie are those people, which is how these two twentysomething-ish girls looking for relaxation and romance end up in a car with a BEEP and a briefcase full of BEEP in the truck.

We know something’s in the trunk but it would spoil a couple of enjoyably dumb moments to tell you what it is.

Initially, I found Qualley’s Jamie deeply aggravating, Juno’s Juno dipped in a coating of Pulp Fiction. There is purposefully cartoony and then there is the Texas accent and devil-may-care affectations of this character and I just wanted Jamie to calm down — a vibe that extended to the movie overall. But then, at about the halfway point, the movie started to click. It found the key that it was meant to be in; it got how to mix the stuff about Marian and Jamie — their individual issues, their friendship-and-maybe-more with each other — with the crime caper. It wandered fully into the land of nuttiness and it dragged Colman Domingo, Matt Damon and Miley Cyrus with it. It gave in, or maybe I gave in, to the 2020s approach to the 1990s-ish take on the 1970s dirtbag indie tone of it all.

And I found it all kind of cute, sweet even.

Drive-Away Dolls doesn’t quite fill its 84 minutes; there is some bagginess that I wish the movie could have filled with more character detail or humor or something other than the banter that feels particularly loud and heavy in the beginning. But by the end, this movie won me over. B-

Rated R for crude sexual content, full nudity, language and some violent content, according to the MPA on Directed by Ethan Coen with a screenplay by Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke, Drive-Away Dolls is an hour and 24 minutes long and is released in theaters by Focus Features.

Featured photo: Drive-Away-Dolls.

The Frozen River, by Ariel Lawhon

The Frozen River, by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday, 432 pages)

Ariel Lawhon was in an obstetrician’s waiting room when she came across a story about Martha Ballard, an 18th-century midwife in Maine who is said to have delivered more than 800 babies without ever losing a mother — a remarkable record for anyone, even more so during that time period.

Lawhon tore out the article from the magazine she was reading and made a note on it: “Would make a GREAT novel!” Fifteen years later, The Frozen River tells that story — three-quarters based on historical record; the rest, as Lawhon describes it, “what could have happened.”

But it isn’t just the story of a midwife, but a true-crime mystery that is deeply New England, though written by a woman who lives in Tennessee.

It begins with the discovery of a body lodged in an iced-over river, “lips parted, eyes still widened in surprise.” After the corpse is pulled out and lugged to a local tavern, Ballard, a self-taught medical practitioner, is called to inspect it. She immediately recognizes the man: Joshua Burgess, implicated in the brutal rape of a pastor’s wife three months earlier. “I had hoped to see Burgess swing at the end of a rope for what he did, but dead is dead, and I’m not sad to hear the news,” Ballard, the narrator of the story, says.

It is clear to her that Burgess, despite where he was found, had not drowned. His injuries indicate hanging, and he is missing several teeth, among other gruesome injuries.

In the 1700s, when this story is set, Maine was not yet a state but part of the Massachusetts frontier. And while there was a judicial system of sorts, and men could be put to death when convicted of rape, such convictions were rare. Further complicating matters, the second person involved in the rape of Rebecca Foster was a judge, Colonel Joseph North, who lorded over official proceedings of the town.

So when Ballard recorded in her diary “Mrs. Foster has sworn a rape on a number of men,” this was a scandal of the highest order: “The people of Hallowell will be chewing on this bone for years.”

Ballard’s diary is central to the story; in fact, it’s the only reason we know about her at all. As recounted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale (later made into a film), Ballard kept concise notes about her life and work from 1785 to her death in 1812. Lawhon draws from the diary to weave her imagined account of how events mentioned in Ballard’s notes played out, using flashbacks to build out her life before the rape, death and trial.

Although Ballard’s assessment of Burgess’s cause of death was accurate, when the case comes before Colonel North, he dismisses it and rules the death an accidental drowning. Immediately after, a girl who works for Rebecca Foster (the woman who was raped) comes before the judge to report fornication, as it has become known that Rebecca is pregnant — the timing of the pregnancy corresponding with the rape. Ballard, who knows the truth, can’t stand for this, and says in the courtroom that the judge is the other man involved in the rape.

This sets up a battle royale between Ballard and North that will ultimately resolve much differently in fiction than it did in real life. It is a protracted battle that involves fear that Ballard’s own son might have been involved in the death of Burgess, and Colonel North using every means at his disposal to try to destroy Ballard and her family, even taking the family’s mill.

Throughout, Lawhon shows us what it was like to be a formerly enslaved person freed in the Massachusetts territory, how women were then treated (Ballard, for example, could not testify about the rape without her husband present in the courtroom) and how disease and death were constant companions to the colonists. (One particularly poignant chapter describes how diphtheria, sometimes called the children’s plague, ran through the Ballards’ Massachusetts home before the couple moved to Hallowell.)

And of course, the weather is practically a character in itself. Although Lawhon compresses the timeline of events for her purposes, the story takes place in what was literally called “the year of the long winter” in Hallowell, as the Kennebec River was ice from November 1785 to the following April. The icy river is an ominous presence from the story’s beginning until its end, as is a silver fox that seems to serve as an omen, as well as a biology lesson — who knew that “silver foxes” are actually black?

Lawhon followed the historical record enough to make the story feel real, but she reveals in an author’s note at the end of the book the major ways in which her story and the truth diverge, and why. Readers signing up for The Frozen River should prepare to make an investment of time, not only for this slow-moving, densely detailed story, but also because they will then want to read A Midwife’s Tale. Those more impatient might want to wait for the inevitable movie. BJennifer Graham

Album Reviews 24/02/29

Fire Sale, Albatross ()

Some call it “melodic punk;” I call it neo-emo (or usually just “emo” for short, most of the time), but either way it sounds more or less like Sum 41, Sugarcult and nine billion other bands, including this pop-punk supergroup, which brings together Matt Riddle (No Use For A Name), Chris Swinney (The Ataris), Pedro Aida (Ann Beretta), Matt Morris and perennial second-banana guitarist Brad Edwards. Their M.O. is releasing random singles, like this two-songer, so let’s get this out of the way, shall we. The title track starts out with a dextrous bass, then moves into a multi-voiced holler-along line of the type you’d associate with more roots-punk, which is a good sign, and then lead singer Aida eases his way in, sounding quite a bit like the dude from Living Colour actually (the tune is fast, by the way, in case you’re new to our planet). The other tune, “I Remember Damage,” has an OG emo sound to it that makes it workable. Decent stuff overall. A —Eric W. Saeger

Riot V, Mean Streets (self-released)

Ack, I had no idea these guys were still around. Actually “they” aren’t “still” around; after the death of chief-cook-and-bottle-washer guitarist/bandleader Mark Reale in 2012, various transitory members of this 1975-born heavy metal band (which used to be called Riot, which of course tells us that the “V” has been added owing to legal monkeyshines) got together and decided to make a little hay out of Reale’s legacy, and here we are. In their day, Riot wasn’t a dumb unintentional-joke band like Anvil; their tunes were hard enough, bespeaking the New York City streets from whence they came, and this stuff is actually pretty good. The ridiculously titled “Hail to the Warriors” launches this full-length in surprisingly nice style, evoking King Diamond singing over latter-day Slayer dipped in power-metal sauce. “Love Beyond the Grave” is even more Savatage-ish, but with more epic-metal vocalizing and stuff like that. These fellers did a pretty freaking good job with this. A —Eric W. Saeger


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Yee-hah, I can’t wait, the next all-in CD release day is tomorrow, March 1! As you know, nothing pleasant ever happens in March, and as for me, I completely hate it. The weather is just a hung-over February vibe; Mother Nature is like, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’ll be warm-ish for an hour, or — wait, a couple of minus-10-degree days would be interesting, wouldn’t they?” There’s March Madness too, of course, which used to result in Sports Illustrated’s publishing a “Special March Madness Issue” that no one ever read and was traditionally the only thing available to read at any dentist’s office, but the good news is that “SI” seems to be just about to go belly-up, so, ipso facto, there’ll be no more March Madness issues, good riddance. Anyway, we’ve got a lot of musical comedy in the works for this week, including a new solo album from Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson, titled The Mandrake Project! I totally know what you’re thinking, the same thing as I am, something about those little green mandrake plant monsters from Harry Potter, but guess what, fam, it’s not! It’s about something else, something more convoluted and whatnot, something that will be “revealed in time.” I did watch Dickinson’s “What is The Mandrake Project?” video on YouTube, in hopes of finding out, but guess what, it was a rickroll, a giant waste of 63 seconds of my life, because he didn’t answer the question at all, not that I expected him to make any sense. So guess what happens now? Yes, that’s right, it falls on me to go back to YouTube and listen to one of the songs, specifically “Afterglow of Ragnarok,” can you even believe that title, guys? I’m rolling on the floor laughing right now, you know which emoji I’m talking about, but nevertheless, let’s go listen to this silly new nursery rhyme from Mr. D&D Character. Let’s see, it’s obviously inspired by Crowbar, very doomy except for some boring Fates Warning parts. Somewhere, someone in the world will be massively impressed by this. I am not that person.

• Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a big longtime fan of industrial metal band Ministry and its anarchic frontman, Al Jourgensen, whose nicknames include “The Alien” and “Buck Satan.” Last I heard from the band, there was a kerfuffle going on, because Al wrote a song about antifa, which instantly got him embroiled in all the culture war nonsense that has turned this country into nothing more manageable than a Wacky Racers cartoon. It’s hard to believe that Al’s Slayer-like tune didn’t solve all our problems in 10 seconds flat, but it didn’t, even though he’d come out of “retirement” (which to him means sitting around in his scorpion-infested Texas compound, writing and recording heavy metal songs that all eventually wind up on albums made during periods of “un-retirement,” which usually occur once a year) in order to release it. The new album, HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES, is out tomorrow, spearheaded by teaser single “Just Stop Oil,” a surprisingly clean-sounding speed-metal joint with surfer guitar in it. As always, it’s essential listening, and I think Jello Biafra talks in it.

• Oh stop it, it’s sports-bar-rock phonies Kaiser Chiefs, from England, hawking their eighth album, cleverly titled Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album! The leadoff tune, “Burning In Flames” isn’t rockin’ at all, just some sort of Weeknd-infused lounge-pop. Never understood the appeal of these guys.

• And finally it’s Portland, Oregon-based indie band, STRFKR, with a new LP called Parallel Realms! The opening tune, “Together Forever,” sounds like something MGMT threw in the trash can, unlikely as that sounds. —Eric W. Saeger

Brass-Plated Shuffle

We’ve all been there.

You might be sitting and having coffee or cocktails with a friend. You start talking about something safe and ordinary but 20 minutes later realize the conversation has drifted drastically. You might start with, “Oh, I like that T-shirt. Is it new?” and before you know it you are arguing about what song Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu sang as he and his wife were led to the firing squad. (“The Internationale,” as it turns out.)

Sometimes you or your friend are curious enough to try to track the conversation:

“OK, you asked how my mother-in-law was, and I said something like, ‘Still mean as a snake.’”

“Right. Then that reminded me of the snake I saw in my backyard last week, and how it took me half an hour to get up my courage and try to herd it into a garbage can, but when I got close it turned out to be a hose that I forgot to roll back up.”

“Yes, and that reminded me that your son usually does that for you, but he’s in college in Omaha.”

“And then you started telling me about that girl you dated 30 years ago who used to be a fire-eater with a carnival — which I still don’t believe, by the way — and that got us talking about what kind of alcohol fire-eaters spit out to shoot flames, which led to us drinking gin.”

“I knew there was a reason.”

Drink recipes are a bit like that sort of conversation. Someone will develop a perfectly nice cocktail. Friends or customers like it, and the recipe gets passed around. At some point someone makes a reasonable substitution for one of the ingredients; then someone adapts that recipe, and eventually the drink evolves into something unrecognizable.

If you take a look through the cocktail classic The 1930 Home Bartender’s Guide and Songbook — a Prohibition-era book that warms even my cold, jaded heart — you will find a recipe for a Gin Sour, one of my favorite drinks. This is what used to be called a “Daisy.” I call it a “Utility Cocktail.” It consists of a spirit, a sweet syrup or liqueur, and something acidic, usually fresh lemon or lime juice. A margarita is a good example of this; so is a classic Daiquiri.

A riff on a riff on a riff of a margarita is a Gold Rush — bourbon, lemon juice and honey. This week’s drink is a further riff on that: rye instead of bourbon and maple syrup instead of honey. Instead of calling this a Gold Rush, we’ll call it a:

Brass-Plated Shuffle

2 ounces rye whiskey – I’ve been working my way through a bottle of Knob Creek, and I’m very pleased with it

1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

¾ ounce dark maple syrup

Combine all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake until your hands become uncomfortably cold. You want this drink to be as cold as possible.

Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Ask your digital assistant to play “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads. Sip your cocktail. The refrain of “How did I get here?” will resonate with you.

Whiskey and lemon are a natural partnership. Because it’s a little sour and spicy on its own, rye might be even a better match for lemon than other whiskeys. That sourness needs to be balanced out, however. In a whiskey sour, this would be done with sugar syrup. In this third cousin of a whiskey sour, the sweetness comes from maple syrup. The maple back-note adds a fortitude — you might even say “brass” — to the project.

Some cocktails go down quickly and often too easily. The Shuffle is a sipping drink; it commands a certain amount of attention and respect. As it chills, it becomes increasingly more sippable.

As it gets more sippable, you will become more convivial. Regardless of how you got there.

Featured photo: Brass-Plated Shuffle. Photo by John Fladd.

Burgerama and Fondi Week

The Bedford Village Inn livens up March with two events: Fondi Restaurant Week and Burgerama.

According to the Bedford Village Inn’s website, Burgerama will feature uniquely inspired burgers served in the Inn’s Tavern, a quintessential New England pub, ranging in price from $16 to $22 and served with an unending amount of fries.

For those in the mood for Italian cuisine, Fondi Restaurant Week will showcase a chef-curated dining experience at the Inn’s Italian eatery’s Trattoria Fondi from March 5 through March 9. The cost for the three-course Italian meal is $49 per guest.

No reservations are required for either event.

“Burgerama was inspired and established as a BVI tradition due to the popularity of our Wicked Burger (a menu staple in the Tavern dating back to 2011),” said Bedford Village Inn’s Sales & Marketing Director Melissa Samaras in an email. “Each weekend, our executive Chef would create an inspired, oversized and indulgent burger to offer in the Tavern. The popularity of the wicked burger inspired Burgerama.”

The burger celebration has been held in March at the eatery since 2012.

“Over the past few years,” Samaras said, “we’ve added an in-house competition to up the ante…. Our chefs enter the contest to create a new burger (never before offered on the menu), and staff votes for their favorite — the prize for the winning Chef [is] we feature their burger on Facebook and Instagram.”

Burgerama starts March with Italian Week, showcasing a Wicked Meatball Burger, Wicked Chicken Parm and Italian Sausage Sliders, all served with garlic Parmesan fries. The theme for the second week of the month is Mediterranean, where a Wicked Lamb Burger, Wicked Falafel Burger and Wicked Keftedakia Burger will be offered, all served with Za’atar Fries. The third week has an Asian spin, featuring a Duck Burger, Wicked Godzilla Burger, and Bahn Mi Sliders, all served with Togarashi Fries. Ending March with a flourish, Burgerama will showcase the Tavern’s own specialties: the Wicked Local Burger, Original Wicked Burger and BVI Sliders, all served with herbed Parmesan fries.

About Fondi’s Restaurant Week, Samaras said, “We’ve reimagined the idea to capture Italian food lovers who have yet to experience … Trattori Fondi … a hidden gem inside the Bedford Village Inn’s Grand Boutique Hotel.” Describing Fondi as “casual, yet elevated,” she added, “In Fondi, you won’t find white tablecloths…. Instead, you’ll find a large bar and intimate dining tables with plenty of privacy….”

Fondi’s menu “pays homage to the classics and offers modern Italian cuisine. All pasta and pizzas are housemade, and Chef Scott Siff composes each dish alongside Fondi’s Italian food-loving culinary team,” Samaras said.

Fondi Restaurant Week welcomes diners to choose a first course of tuna crudo, prosciutto board or romaine salad. Second-course selections are roasted pork loin, rigatoni cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla scampi, or Dunk’s mushroom risotto. To cap off each savory meal, diners are invited to take their pick from a dark chocolate torte, tiramisu sponge cake, gelato or sorbetto.

BVI Events

2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford

Fondi Restaurant Week
When: Tuesday, March 5, through Saturday, March 9 (open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m.)
Cost: $49 per guest; no reservation required


When: Friday, March 1, through Saturday, March 31 (open Monday and Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 2 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 2 to 8 p.m)
Cost: $16 to $22 per burger; no reservation required

Featured photo: Granola. Photo by John Fladd.

The Weekly Dish 24/02/29

News from the local food scene

Chef’s table dinners: Tickets are available for March Chef’s Table Dinners at Flag Hill Distillery and Winery (297 N. River Road, Route 155, Lee, 659-2949, The events start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, and Saturday, March 23. These are small dinner events, with four-course dinner. Each course will be paired with wine, a spirit or a cocktail made with one of Flag Hill’s house spirits. Tickets are $75 per person, including tax and gratuities, and are available on Flag Hill’s website.

Irish whiskeys and food: On Thursday, March 7, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission will host a “Spirit of Ireland” event at the Manchester Country Club (180 S. River Road, Bedford, 624-4096) from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. Eventattendees will be able to sample from a selection of 20 Irish whiskeys, try Irish whiskey-forward cocktails, talk with distillery representatives, and eat special Irish dishes. The whiskeys at the “Spirit of Ireland” event will include specially aged whiskeys from across Ireland, all of which will be available at New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets in March. Tickets can be purchased for $65 at

Murder mystery dinner: La Belle Winery in Amherst (345 Route 101, 672-9898) has added a second date for its murder mystery dinner. This encore event will be held on Saturday, March 9, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $79 and available at

Bar stool marathon

Use your barstool-sitting superpowers for good on Saturday, March 9, at the Tap House Grill in Hooksett during On Tap for CASA, their fifth bar stool challenge to raise money for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a nonprofit organization that advocates in court for children who have been the victims of abuse or neglect.

Teams of five to 10 competitors will each pay to occupy a bar stool for 10 hours. There will be an activity or a competition every hour throughout the challenge. The winning team will be the one that raises the most money for CASA.

According to CASA Director of Community Relations Erica Thoits, this is not a competition for lightweights. As at a high-stakes poker game, competitors have to put up some serious money to take part in the challenge.

“We require a minimum donation of $1,000 for a team to take part,” she said, “but the teams can fundraise right up to the end of the event. At the end, we give the winners a neat prize.”

Last year’s bar stool challenge raised approximately $65,000.

The rules of the challenge are that each team must have someone on their bar stool during the competition. Members of the team can rotate through stool duty. Over the 10 hours of the challenge the teams will compete against each other in hourly competitions, which can range from bingo to puzzle-solving to a beer stein hoisting competition sponsored by Sam Adams.

“I’m always surprised how much the teams just get into the competitive nature of the whole thing,” Thoits said. “This year, there’s a new coloring competition that I’m extremely excited about.” She said that the highest-profile competition is the stein hoist.

“I was curious, so I tried holding a stein out at arm’s length. I could only do it for a very short time. I don’t know how the competitors do it!” she said.

Participants will compete against each other in the hourly challenges for four hours, take a break — while still seated on their bar stools — for two hours, while the band plays, then compete for another four hours before a winner is announced. The band will be Rebel Collective, which describes itself on its website as “a New England based Irish/American pub rock/Celtic Folk-Punk band.”

The bar stool challenge began in 2017 and got progressively bigger and more popular for three years until being disrupted by the lockdown in 2020.

“We had to take an enforced break during Covid,” Thoits said. “This will be our second year post-Covid.” This year’s challenge promises to be the biggest yet, though there are still unclaimed bar stools, and time for new teams to register.

On Tap for CASA bar stool challenge
When: Saturday, March 9, noon to 10 p.m.
Where: New England’s Taphouse Grille (1292 Hooksett Road in Hooksett;
Register: Contact CASA at 626-4600, ext. 2111, or go to or

Featured photo: Photos courtesy of CASA from last year’s bar stool challenge.

Now showing

Red River Theatres’ Simchik Cinema is open again

After several months of repairs and refurbishment, the Simchik Cinema at Red River Theatres in Concord is showing movies again.

The Simchik, one of three screening rooms that make up the Red River Theatres, has been closed for several months to repair water damage, according to Angie Lane, Red River’s executive director. The 25-seat Simchik shows exclusively digital media and is the smallest of the theater’s cinemas.

Like the Red River’s two larger screens, the Simchik is currently showing Oscar-nominated movies in the lead-up to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 10. The Simchik has been screening The Zone of Interest, a nominee for Best Picture as well as Best Sound and Best Director.

On Friday, March 1, Simchik will start screening Hundreds of Beavers, a surreal independent film. Set in 17th-century Wisconsin, this black-and-white farce tells the story of a man who learns to become a fur trapper after “diabolical beavers destroy his applejack distillery,” according to the description on Red River’s website. In the trailer, the trapper, played by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, who is also credited as a co-writer, faces off against buck-toothed beavers of the person-sized mascot costume variety. Mike Cheslik wrote and directed.

“I can guarantee that this will be its New Hampshire premier,” Lane said.

“We hope that folks will come in and enjoy it,” she said, referring to Hundreds of Beaver. “It’s totally not what a typical movie viewer in this area is used to seeing.”

Red River has been fighting its way back up to speed after having to close down during Covid.

“It’s been a three-year recovery process,” Lane said. “We only got back to showing movies seven days a week last June.”

Hundreds of Beavers
When: Friday, March 1,- Sunday, March 3, 5;15 & 7:30 p.m.; Monday, March 4, – Thursday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. in Concord (224-4600,
More info: See for a movie trailer and more on the film.

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