Green weekend

St. Patrick’s Day nightlife options

For those looking to put on their Irish, however briefly, there are a variety of ways to approach St. Patrick’s Day 2024. Start with a pub crawl; there’s one in Manchester and another originating in downtown Nashua (see There’s a traditional Irish music concert from the Spain Brothers at Manchester’s Rex Theatre on Friday the 15th, and a few places are celebrating on Saturday night.

Of course the best way is to lock in a favorite Irish public house, the kind with a St. Patrick’s Day countdown clock on the wall running 365 days a year. There are many of those on the list below, along with casual entrants who need a reason to add corned beef to the menu or dye their Bud green. They’re usually less crowded, but whatever the choice, Sláinte!

Friday, March 15

Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St., Manchester, An evening of Irish songs and stories from Manchester’s own The Spain Brothers.

Saturday, March 16

Cara (11 Fourth St., Dover, 343-4390) Cara/Chameleon Club St. Patrick Eve Blowout Party, $10 at

Hillsboro Moose Lodge (15 School St., Hillsborough, 464-6024) St. Paddy’s Day dinner and dance for members and bonafide guests. Dinner from 5 to 7 p.m, dance is 7 to 11 p.m. $15 dinner only, $20 dinner and dance.

Pipe Dream Brewing (40 Harvey Road, Londonderry, 404-0751) Young Folk provide the music; raise a pint and sing along to the great tunes of old Ireland, and a bit of the new as well.

Stark Brewing Co. (500 Commercial St., Manchester, 625-4444) The Bar Hoppers perform, with a bagpiper visit promised.

Sunday, March 17

Alpine Grove (19 S. Depot Road, Hollis, 882-9051) Mike’d Up Comedy show follows Irish dinner at 6 p.m., $55 at

Artisan Hotel (17 Via Toscana, Salem, Celtic Celebration $75: live music from The Rebel Collective, creative whiskey cocktails with a menu including pretzel bites, beer cheese, shepherd’s pie, croquettes, potato skins and a buffet with Guinness beef stew, corned beef, bangers & mash and more.

Averill House Vineyard (21 Averill Road, Brookline, 371-2296) Gather in a private igloo for a four-course St. Patrick’s Day themed Mystery Dinner with wine pairing. Seating starts at 6:30 p.m. $299 (four people, additional guests $59 each) at

Barley House (132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363) All things Irish: music, dancing, beer, corned beef.

bluAqua Restrobar (930 Elm St., Manchester, 836-3970) Acoustic BS debuts, offering a blue/green approach to the day.

Casey Magee’s (8 Temple St., Nashua, 484-7400) Kieran Mcnally plays noon to 3 p.m., Acoustic Tandem 4 to 7 p.m., with Secondhand Band closing out at 8 p.m. Limited menu includes corned beef dinner, fish & chips, burgers, Reubens, Caesar salad, brownie sundae and select sides. Guinness and Bud Light promotions in the afternoon, $5 cover charge after 4 p.m.

Copper Door (15 Leavy Drive, Bedford, 488-2677) Brunch at 11 a.m. with violinist Lilly Innella and a menu including potato leek soup, warm Reuben dip, corned beef hash and Guinness-braised corned beef.

Copper Door (42 S. Broadway, Salem, 458-2033) Brunch at 11 a.m. with pianist Steve Aubert and a menu including potato leek soup, warm Reuben dip, corned beef hash and Guinness braised corned beef.

CrowBar Hardware Store (38 Opera House Square, Claremont, 504-6085) Moonlighter Burlesque presents St. Patrick With Love Late(r) Show, $35.

Derryfield (625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880) D-Comp starts the music at 4 p.m.

The Farm (1181 Elm St., Manchester, 641-3276) Traditional corned beef dinner, Guinness ice cream floats, and Irish step dancers at 1 p.m.

Flannel Tavern (345 Suncook Valley Road, Chichester, 406-1196) Food and drink specials and live music all day. “Mr. Party” Brian Booth plays 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., local favorite Joe Pero is on 4 to 7.

Foundation Kitchen + Bar (32 W. Broadway, Derry, 216-5590) Scott from Whiskey Business plays Irish sing-alongs and drinking songs starting at noon, with traditional Irish fare from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Pipe and Drum Corps makes an appearance in the afternoon.

Frogg Brewing (580 Sawyers Crossing Road, Swanzey, 547-7639) NH Music Collective presents Paul Driscoll, with refreshments from Voodoo Box Food Truck, Wine by Cabana Falls Winery, Sweets by Kupcakes & Kindness and Happy Girls Bakery, and a crazy hat contest.

Fury’s Publick House (1 Washington St., Dover, 617-3633) Open at noon and there are specials all day, with Erin’s Guild playing traditional Irish music at 6 p.m.

Harlow’s Pub (3 School St., Peterborough, 924-6365) Boiled Dinner and Guinness Beef Stew noon to 4 p.m.

Hen House (85 S. Main St., Newton, 382-1705) Second Take provides the shamrock ’n’ roll.

Holy Grail (64 Main St., Epping, 679-9559) Rasmyth Duo plays from noon to 3 p.m., Karen Grenier 4 to 7 p.m. and Kitchen Party 8 to 11 p.m., with Jameson drink specials, giveaways, raffles, contests and more.

Kathleen’s Irish Pub (91 Lake Street, Bristol, 744-6336) All weekend long: toga party on the 15th, and the big day opens with a toast and sing-along of “Ireland’s Call” followed by food, fun, friends and music, including a set from O’Brien Clan.

Kelley’s Row (417 Route 108, Somersworth, 692-2200) Music from Bradigan and Maggie’s Ramblers, along with Irish dancers and bagpipers, $15 cover charge. Three seatings for dining: 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., with the usual traditional fare, along with Kelley’s Prime Rib and Guinness-braised short ribs. Reservations required.

Makris (354 Sheep Davis Road, Concord, 225-7665) Taylor Hughes plays from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and there are St. Paddy’s day specials all weekend. Saturday’s party starts at 7 p.m. with Lichen. Throughout, there will be raffles and giveaways, a visit from the Easterseals Scarf Lady, Slap Me I’m Irish shots, and a jig dance contest.

Mama McDonough’s (80 Airport Road, Keene, 338-0105) Young Folk hit the stage at 2 p.m. with craic, great Irish music and a few originals — quaff a pint or three and sing along.

Marker 21 (33 Dockside St., Wolfeboro, 569-8668) DJ Dan Hayman spins on Saturday, with live music and food specials like Irish Cuban sandwich and loaded crisps on the big day.

Merrill’s Tavern (85 Country Club Drive, Atkinson, 382-8700) Hoppy Duo offering Irish music from 1 to 5 p.m. Food includes cod cakes & beans, corned beef boiled dinner, bangers & mash and shepherd’s pie, along with special beverages like a Chase the Rainbow cocktail — crème de menthe, white chocolate liqueur and vodka.

Murphy’s Taproom (494 Elm St., Manchester, 644-3535) Dancing Madly Backwards hits the stage at 7 p.m., after all-day celebrating.

Newfound Lake Inn (1030 Mahew Turnpike, Bridgewater, 744-9111) St. Patrick’s Day dinner on March 16 featuring an Irish-themed menu and live music by WhiteSteer Duo. Open from 3 to 9 p.m. St. Patrick’s Day brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an Irish twist. Bottomless mimosas and live music by Dan Fallon.

Northwoods Brewing (1334 First NH Turnpike, Northwood, 942-6400) A twofer, with St. Patrick’s Day trivia and karaoke hosted by Liquid Knowledge.

Old Salt (409 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 926-8322) Open at 11 a.m. with live entertainment all day, along with corned beef and cabbage and green beer.

Olde Kilkenny Pub (30 Middle St., Milford, 283-6632) At mid-day, a dollar from every Irish pint sold (Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s, Guinness 0.0) will be donated to The Memo Fund.

Patrick’s (18 Weirs Road, Gilford, 293-0841) Music from the Quincy Brothers at noon, Bagpipers at 3 p.m. and DJ Eric Grant from 4 to 8 p.m., with traditional dishes, seven Irish whiskies to choose from, and a lot more.

Peddler’s Daughter (48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535) This real deal Irish pub opens at 8 in the morning with a kegs & eggs Irish Breakfast, corned beef and other Irish favorites, with music from the Rambin’ Rogues Band starting at 10 a.m. The Jim Coyle & Joe Kessler Band follows, from 3 to 7 p.m.

Press Room (77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-5186) Bangers and Mash-Ups with DJ Chad Banks at 8 p.m.

Saddle Up Saloon (92 Route 125, Kingston, 369-6962) Live music performed by Half Price Whiskey starts at 1 p.m. Corned beef & cabbage special plus green beer.

Salt hill Pub Lebanon (2 W. Park St., Lebanon, 448-4532) This true Irish “local” begins with a ceremonial first pint at 9 a.m. and offers a full Irish breakfast, traditional menu, music from Rebel Collective (9 a.m.), Atlantic Crossing (1 p.m.), High Drive (5 p.m.) and O’Hanleigh (8:30 p.m.), Irish dancing, photo booth, the drive-by-bagpiper, Guinness Girls, cash and other prizes at each ShP, with an Ireland trip-for-two grand prize awarded pub-wide.

Salt hill Pub Newport (58 Main St., Newport, 863-7774) Same deal as the flagship Lebanon location, with the following musical schedule: O’hAnleigh at 9 a.m., Rebel Collective at 2 p.m.

Salt hill Pub Sunapee (1407 Route 103, Newbury, 763-2667) At the “Shanty” — named after the Sunapee pub formerly in the same location owned by ShP founders Josh and Joe Tuohy’s parents — it’s the same deal as the flagship Lebanon location, with the following musical schedule: Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio at 9:30 a.m.; O’hAnleigh at 2 p.m.; Atlantic Crossing at 8 p.m.

Shaskeen (909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246) Kicking off at 5:30 a.m. with breakfast served through 11 a.m. and first pints at 6 a.m. Live music starts with Rockspring at 1 p.m. with The Rebel Collective playing from 8 p.m. to close.

Stoned Wall Bar & Grill (37 Manchester St., Manchester, 698-2049) St. Patrick’s Day Drag Show starts at 4.

Strange Brew (88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292) At 9 a.m. it’s Andy Happel, at 1 p.m. it’s Jake Pardee, at 3 p.m. Thanks to Gravity performs, and at 7:30 p.m. NHPA Pipes & Drums stops by, then Jake Pardee & Friends take it to the finish line starting at 8:30 p.m.

Throwback Brewery (7 Hobbs Road, North Hampton, 379-2317) St. Patrick’s Day brunch and fiddler’s jam as Melissa Caron & Ellen Carlson join forces from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Listen and jam with them while enjoying farm-to-table food and drinks, including menu and cocktail specials aligned with the occasion.

Toll Booth Tavern (740 Second NH Tpke N., Francestown, 588-1800) Sheepdip playing classic shamrock ’n’ roll favorites sprinkled with some traditional Irish favorites starting at 3 p.m.

Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St., Derry, 437-5100) St. Patrick’s Day with the Glengarry Bhoys; show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $39 at

Village Trestle (25 Main St., Goffstown, 497-8230) Corned beef cabbage dinner and Reubens all day with live music from D-Comp at 11 a.m. and Bob & Amberly at 3 p.m. Giveaways and Irish drink menu, special desserts with Amberly’s Guinness Stew too.

Wild Rover (21 Kosciuszko St., Manchester, 669-7722) Recently completed renovations should boost the already venerable pub’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration.

New addition

The Rebel Collective welcomes fiddler

Soon after they formed a few years ago, The Rebel Collective became an in-demand band on St. Patrick’s Day. Their mix of traditional Irish music and Celtic rock rivals the Pogues or Dropkick Murphys; they’re a great fit for the annual revelry. In fact, an ex-member is currently the Dropkicks’ full-time piper.

Thus, they have multiple gigs on the big day, and a pair of lead-in dates to boot. Most were booked a year in advance.

Beyond that, the group recently welcomed a new member, fiddler Audrey Budington. A Berklee graduate with a resume that includes solo recordings and multiple collaborations, she’s injected them with new energy. This extends to sessions for a new album in the works, their guitar and mandolin player reported in a recent phone interview.

“Truthfully, she’s way too good for our band,” Ross Ketchum said, “but she wants to be a part of a group that’s playing constantly. She takes our sound to a whole new level … [and] she’s so intuitive on where to chop, where to pull out and where to really hit a good lead. It’s been unreal working with her.”

Ketchum got a tip about her from Andrew Richardson, who runs the New Hampshire Highland Games.

“He called me up on a random Thursday night saying, ‘You’ve got to get to Penuche’s in Concord, there’s a fiddle player here who is unbelievable.’ I tossed out a bunch of names and sent some pictures. He said, ‘No, it’s a completely different person.’ I was like, ‘OK, I’ll take your word.’ I live right down the street, so I walked over. Immediately, I was like, ‘Holy crap, this girl is unbelievable.’”

Budington recently performed with Senie Hunt’s band at Bank of NH Stage in Concord. One of the reasons she was keen to join Rebel Collective is she’s aiming to become a musical ambassador.

“She’s trying to get her international musician’s visa, which allows her to work in any country that accepts it,” Ketchum said. “She needs to show a panel of people who she’s playing with, her past repertoire recordings, all that stuff. This will definitely help her out.”

The band had been looking for a new fiddler since last August. At last year’s Highland Games, “we ended up flying in our cousin Brian who used to be in the band on accordion to kind of fill in the sound,” Ketchum said. “We kind of had given up hope to find someone.”

With the busy St. Patricks’ Day schedule approaching, the new arrival was timely. This year kicks off in an unlikely place, the Artisan Hotel, in Salem’s not-quite-Irish Tuscan Village. The venue’s new events coordinator had hired them for a couple of release parties when she worked at Flag Hill Winery, Ketchum explained.

They’ll perform for a dinner crowd at the event, dubbed A Celtic Celebration, which includes an Irish whiskey tasting.

“A predominantly Italian place throwing an Irish event … it’s a pretty big deal,” he said. “They’re giving the whole ballroom in the new hotel to the band to throw the dinner.”

It happens Friday, March 15. The next night they’re in more familiar confines, at Salt hill Pub’s Sunapee location, The Shanty. On the big day it’s Salt hill’s Lebanon location in the morning, then on to their Newport pub for a midday set. After that, they’ll pack up and head to Manchester, where they’ll close out the night at Shaskeen Pub.

When all that is complete, they return to work on their next album, with Budington helping to reshape their sound.

“She’s already started writing her own parts for some of the songs that we previously released,” Ketchum said, “and she’s written a bunch of new stuff. After our St. Patrick’s Day run, we’re going to get her back down into the studio and get her ripping on some of this stuff so we can get some tracks coming out.”

The Rebel Collective
When: Friday, March 15, 8 p.m.
Where: The ArtisanHotel, 17 Via Toscana, Salem
Tickets: $75 at
Also playing Saturday, March 16, at 8 p.m. at Salt hill Shanty in Newbury, and Sunday, March 17, at Salt hill Lebanon (9 a.m.), Salt hill Newport (2 p.m.) and Shaskeen Pub in Manchester (9 p.m.).

Featured photo: The Rebel Collective. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 24/03/14

Local music news & events

Kilting it: Start the upcoming Green Weekend early at the 4th Annual Celtic Night. Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day food and drink specials along with music from Warren Smith, playing what some tongue-in-cheekily call one of the four instruments of the apocalypse, the bagpipes (the others are banjo, accordion and bongo drums). Anyone showing up in a kilt will receive a dinner discount. Thursday, March 14, 5 p.m., Flannel Tavern, 350 Suncook Valley Hwy., Chichester,

Gospel guys: With accolades including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Blind Boys of Alabama have cemented their place as legends in the gospel music world. Last year’s Echoes of the South album looks at facing hard times and echoes the band’s credo: “As long as everybody gives all that they have to give and we sing songs that touch the heart, we’ll live on forever.” Friday, March 15, 7:30 p.m., The Flying Monkey, 39 Main St., Plymouth, $45 and up at

Dead set: With only five shows booked this year, Lichen doesn’t often perform these days, but the venerable band keeps the fire burning. Loosely formed in 1981 after friends John Zevos and Charlie Windhausen bonded over their first Grateful Dead concert, the group mixes tasty originals and classics from the Dead, Allmans, Springsteen and Little Feat, with an occasional guest joining in. Saturday, March 16, 6 pm., Makris Lobster & Steak House, 354 Sheep Davis Road, Concord,

Blues power: As a kid in Texas with a concert promoter/radio DJ dad, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was inspired to play guitar by watching Stevie Ray Vaughan from backstage while sitting atop the blues legend’s amp; since, he’s carved a solid niche of his own. His latest, Dirt On My Diamonds, was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Fellow Lone Star Stater Ally Venable opens. Sunday, March 17, 7 p.m., Chubb Theatre at CCA, 44 S. Main St., Concord, $48.25 and up at

Local lights: The Tony Mack Band is known for a solid mix of deep tracks, classic rock and rhythm & blues. Among their set highlights are a raved-up version of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” complete with horn refrain. Monday, March 18, 7 p.m., Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, 135 Congress St., Portsmouth, $15 at

Kung Fu Panda 4 (PG )

Jack Black returns as the voice of Po, the panda who is here to kick butt and eat dumplings, in Kung Fu Panda 4, a competent and enjoyable entry in this series.

Dragon Warrior Po was given the staff of wisdom in the third movie and his instructor Shifu (voice of Dustin Hoffman) thinks this means it’s time for Po to start thinking about a promotion to spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace, meaning he’d have to pick a new Dragon Warrior. But Po loves being the Dragon Warrior; it sounds cool and it helps his dads — panda dad Li (voice of Brian Cranston) and goose dad Ping (voice of James Han), who have become friends are are now in business together — drum up a crowd for the opening of their new noodle stand. But Shifu urges him to do more with his powers.

With the Furious Five — animals voiced by actors who are not in this movie — out fighting other battles, Po is left to investigate alone when he hears that Tai Lung (voice of Ian McShane), villain from the first movie, has somehow returned from the spirit world. Maybe it’s not actually Tai Lung, suggests Zhen (voice of Awkwafina), a fox and a thief doing time at the Valley of Peace correctional facility after Po catches her trying to steal stuff from the kung fu headquarters Jade Palace. She tells Po a villain known as The Chameleon (voice of Viola Davis) has the ability to appear as anyone and is looking to spread her influence from her current power-center of Juniper City. Zhen convinces Po to let her come on his one-last-Dragon-Warrior quest to find The Chameleon, who is a powerful sorceress and seems to be messing with the spirit world in an attempt to gain kung fu skills. Country panda Po finds the big city bewildering and he’s a little too trusting for the gang of petty thieves Zhen considers her family. Meanwhile, his nervous dads take off after him, creating fun buddy road trip antics.

My kids were on board with this movie as soon as they saw the cutesy baby bunnies who hunger for violence in the trailer. The movie basically sticks to this tone of animal cuteness and solidly PG action (maybe occasionally scary for the littlest movie goers) and butt-kicking (skadoosh) mixed with overall silliness. Occasional moments of earnestness are never allowed to get too sweetsy and villainous evil is often cut with humor or a sense that someone with a legitimate beef has made, as they say at school, a wrong choice. B

Rated PG for martial arts action/mild violence, scary images and some mild rude humor, according to the MPA on Directed by Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Ma Stine with a screenplay by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger and Darren Lemke (with additional screenplay material by David Lindsay-Abaire and Lillian Yu), Kung Fu Panda 4 is an hour and 34 minutes long and is distributed by Universal Studios. Want to make sure the Kung Fu Panda universe is your kid’s thing before you shell out for theater tickets? According to, find original Kung Fu Panda streaming on Peacock and Freevee, Kung Fu Panda 2 streaming on Peacock Premium, Kung Fu Panda 3 streaming on Netflix and all of those films available for rent or purchase. There is also an assortment of series and specials available on different streaming services (and a few specials not apparently available anywhere) but the most recent, Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, has three seasons available on Netflix, said.

Featured photo: Kung Fu Panda 4.

Mayluna, by Kelley McNeil

Mayluna, by Kelley McNeil (Lake Union Publishing, 399 pages)

It’s tempting to compare Kelley McNeil’s excellent second novel to Daisy Jones and the Six, but Mayluna is more than rock history. Its story revolves around a fictional chart-topping rock group but is more focused on the emotional lives of two main characters: Carter Wills, the eponymous band’s creative force, and Evie Waters, a music journalist who becomes Carter’s lover and muse.

One key Daisy Jones divergence is that Mayluna the band doesn’t easily hew to any other group of the era; they could be Coldplay as easily as Radiohead. Also, and more importantly, it’s a tautly written and engaging story, full of highs, lows, passion and agony, not emotion-flattening oral history.

Carter meets Evie, who writes using a gender-neutral pseudonym, when she attempts to do a backstage interview at Jones Beach Amphitheater. McNeil’s past career in the music industry lends authenticity to Evie’s interactions with the press-averse band’s leader, and to their late ’90s pre-Napster milieu.

Their banter includes business advice from Evie to lean into the band’s mystery, make their reticence a marketing tool. There’s also plenty that could be cut and pasted into the movie version of the novel, which one hopes will come. Their connection is well-crafted by McNeil, but this love won’t last — Mayluna is a look back at what might have been.

In a clever narrative device, Evie tells her story in the present day to her married daughter, who’s returned home for her father’s funeral; he died after a bout with cancer. She stumbles onto a trove of memorabilia in a closet, and in a magazine story about Mayluna spots a bracelet on the arm of someone who looks a lot like her mom.

Evie, who wrote the article as Cameron Leigh, decides it’s time to raise the curtain on her past life.

At the same time, the members of Mayluna are on a private jet, winging to a South America stadium gig, and sharing “the whole story” with another journalist. There’s a sense that their 25-year Rock & Roll Hall of Fame eligibility date is near, and it’s time to come clean. Carter alludes to but never identifies Evie, while the rest of the group drop clues to who she is and what she meant to him — and them.

Carter and Evie’s entanglement is presented as destiny — “There are signs everywhere, Ev,” he tells her. “You just have to pay attention” — and as children they both witnessed the strange celestial phenomena referenced in one of his songs, of a star twinkling through a crescent moon. Evie saw it from her home in Pennsylvania, Carter from the English shore.

So when the relationship abruptly ends a third of the way through the novel, one wonders what will carry the story to its conclusion. McNeil handles it perfectly, giving clarity to the decisions made by Evie while watching Mayluna from a distance, until an unwitting friend’s invitation to see the band at a local football stadium, and a surprise seat upgrade, put Carter and Evie back on a collision course.

The rest of the novel revolves around reconciling, in Evie’s words, having “been gifted with the mating of souls with one man and a lifetime of loving companionship with another,” and eventually realizing that “the one we love most in life may not be the one we love the best.” Mayluna’s greatest strength is the balancing act it achieves between being about a band bound for glory and being about two star-crossed lovers.

It’s to McNeil’s credit that Carter and Evie’s meet-again-cute development doesn’t turn the novel down an easy path; rather, it never stops exploring the hard choices, and often heartbreak, that face both artists and those in their orbit. The drive to create is summarized brilliantly during their initial backstage conversation.

Evie shares with Carter her hope to “write something that isn’t terrible so that I can get the chance to do more interviews with more bands and write even more words and do more films and somehow eke out enough of a living to not worry so much about paying my rent and hope that somewhere along the way, someone will think that the stories I tell matter.”

“So we’re the same, then,” an impressed Carter answers, “That’s us. That’s our band. And our future, all in one sentence.” A-

Michael Witthaus

Album Reviews 24/03/14

Loreena McKennitt, The Road Back Home (Ume Records)

For most people, hearing the music of this platinum-selling ren-faire folkie evokes thoughts of witch conventions (by the by, we just went to one of those the other week at the Masonic Temple in Manchvegas, and Petunia was selling her witch stuff there); stinky, allergy-triggering incense and homemade “herbal tinctures,” whatever those are. To this day her big hit remains “The Mummer’s Dance,” a lively departure from most of her other fiddle-laden, Celtic Woman-inspired songs, which at least, praise Hepzibah, don’t have much tin whistle in them. This live album features a rendition of “On A Bright May Morning,” a concert-harp-buttressed exercise that’s depressing, lonely and inspirational at the same time, you know the routine. “Mummer” isn’t here, but the violinist gets a right smart workout on “Salvation Contradiction.” “Searching For Lambs” and its bummer cello lines are here too. A —Eric W. Saeger

Devon Thompson, “Poison Me” (Exquisite Feline Records)

Teaser single for an EP that’ll be out this spring from this Los Angeles-based singer, who’s been compared to PJ Harvey and Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano. What we’ve heard from her before has been pretty nice, starting with her 2023 debut single, “Soft Like Water,” whose plinky, vintage-themed guitars must have made plenty of Rasputina fans stand up (phlegmatically of course) and take notice. Then came “Napoleon,” which blended Sheryl Crow and both of the aforementioned ’90s-deconstruction princesses in a borderline cowgirl tune rooted in a Creedence Clearwater Revival vibe. With this new borderline-ballad song, she dabbles with a Siouxsie/Florence Welch sound but her tongue-in-cheek sensibilities lead to moments that make you think of B-52s singer Kate Pierson. She has a knack for sweeping epicness, and I think we’ll hear some remarkable stuff from her in future. But this song isn’t it, probably more a testing of the pop waters. A- —Eric W. Saeger


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Like Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs once sang, watch it now, watch it, watch it — here comes March 15, and it has new albums for you! Here it comes, here it comes, look at ’em all, all these new freakin’ albums, what’s a music journo supposed to do with ’em all, someone tell me! Ack, great, here we go, I suppose I’ll have to pretend I’m not mad at arena-blues hacks The Black Crowes, but that’ll be hard. You see, they’ve been very cheap about sending out review copies of their CDs to us CD reviewers, so we can review them in our CD review columns, and even worse, it’s a pain to get them just to let us stream them, like they guard their stupid songs as if they’re Queen Nefertiti’s priceless collection of bejeweled scarabs instead of a bunch of hackneyed songs that pretty much sound like a Jack White side project. You know, while I’m at it, there’s been a trend lately in which bands do all kinds of stupid things to get reviews, and those things often backfire. Like, if you want me to talk about your album, don’t send the whole thing in an email, that’s Rule No. 1. Every week I have to arrange my emailbox by email size and delete all the multi-megabyte emails from public relations people and whatnot who think I have limitless space on my server, it makes me so mad, guys. That’s not the worst, though. The worst is when I just want to review someone’s album and their PR person sends me a link to some obscure streaming service that wants me to register, which I basically never do, but when I do, the page is a horrible, idiotic mess and I have no idea what to click so I can listen to their music. Whatevs, the new album from whatstheirface is Happiness Bastards, and — wait a second, watch it now, watch it, the whole album is available on YouTube right now, so I guess I have to walk back everything I said. They’re not total cheapskates, let me go listen to one of the songs, “Wanting and Waiting.” It’s very stompy, bluesy, mid-tempo and exceptionally boring, same old stuff, a Baptist choir singing every once in a while and such and so. Let’s move along.

• False teen idol Justin Timberlake parlayed his love for being in a famous boy band into marrying Jessica Biel, sounds like a square deal to me. Of course, before he became a boy-bander he was in the actual, literal Mickey Mouse Club, where he met and started dating fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears, you know, like normal people do. Oh, whatever, I don’t care about this stuff, and you shouldn’t either, so why don’t I mosey on over to the YouTube and check out JayTee’s new album, Everything I Thought It Was, oh let’s do. Ack, the new song, “Selfish,” is really mellow, with some old, vintage-sounding 808 drum loop holding down da beats for a makeout-sexytime song about something or other, and JT is doing the usual boy band thing, trying to sound like Usher and all that nonsense, may I go now?

• Ha ha, it’s indie-rock whatchamacallits Dandy Warhols, with a new album, Rockmaker! 2024 will see these wanton sellouts commemorating the 20th anniversary of Dig!, the documentary covering their bizarre relationship with acid-dropping loons The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Don’t you feel old now, do you still have your skinny jeans and your Pokemon backpack? The single, “Rockmaker,” has a neat 1950s sock-hop groove to it, but wait, that’s just the beginning, let’s see if it gets bad. Hm, the singer thinks he’s Iggy Pop now, that’s cool. The chorus is OK. It’s not completely worthless.

• Finally it’s Lenny Kravitz, also known as “the ex of ex-Mrs. Jason Momoa,” is this dude really still around? The new LP, Blue Electric Light, features the single “TK421.” It sounds like Living Colour trying to be Men Without Hats. How did this even happen? —Eric W. Saeger

Exotic and dangerous

First, travel to somewhere people don’t know you. You can try this at home, but frankly, convincing people you already know that you have a mysterious past is an uphill slog. You can pretend you have a history of things like knife-fighting in an alley in Eastern Europe, but your friends and family will remember the time you walked into a telephone pole, or laughed so hard as a kid that milk came out of your nose.

When you get there, pepper your conversation with small clues to a worldly past. If anyone asks what you do for a living, say vaguely, “I’m in imports and exports.”

If your brain cramps up in a conversation, and you can’t think of a word, say, “I forget how to say that in English.”

If there’s a loud startling noise — a busboy dropping a dish, or a seagull screeching suddenly — adopt a martial arts stance, then relax it very slowly, looking conspicuously from side to side.

Ask a bartender for something really exotic, something you know she won’t have, then “compromise” with this:

The Alias

2 ounces peach-flavored whiskey – I like one by Whiskey Smith; Crown Royal makes one, too

1 ounce orange juice – fresh-squeezed is really good; you only need an ounce, so you can take out your inner rage on half an orange, if you want to; alternatively, if your supermarket sells fresh-squeezed juice near the takeout coffee counter, that would be super-excellent

½ ounce orgeat (almond syrup)

large pinch of black pepper – if you don’t like the look of black specks of pepper swirling through your drink, white pepper will work almost as well, but the black pepper will make you look more exotic and dangerous

5 ounces (give or take) plain seltzer

Clear your mind, and open yourself to your instincts. This is what an unpredictable, mysterious stranger would do before mixing a drink.

Pour the whiskey, orange juice and orgeat over ice in a cocktail shaker. Grind some pepper over the top. Ask your digital assistant to play the theme to Mission: Impossible. This will bump up your shaking game by at least 20 percent. Shake for at least 30 seconds.

Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top it off with seltzer. Stir gently.

Garnish with a paper cocktail umbrella. Sip with a straw, which probably won’t make you look any cooler but will keep you from accidentally jamming a paper umbrella up your nose. If you want more spy music to drink a couple of these to, look up “Sneaky Spy Music for Writing Heists and Mysteries” on YouTube and play it in the background.

If it weren’t for the pepper and a back note of whiskey, this would taste a lot like a tropical soda. It’s deceptive, the sort of drink a mysterious stranger would drink in order to throw any enemies off their scent. Goons in trench coats will look for a tough guy in a nice suit drinking straight whiskey, or a woman in an exotic evening gown drinking a martini, not a relaxed-looking bystander in a concert T-shirt, drinking an umbrella drink.

Peach has an affinity for almonds and for black pepper. Orange juice gets along with almost any other fruit. The base flavors for this drink get along very well but are on the sweet side on their own. Instead of adding lime juice or bitters to offset the sweetness — which would cover up some of the more subtle flavors — the plain soda dilutes it and gives it some sparkle.

If anyone asks what you’re drinking, you can say, “Oh, just a little something I picked up in Mandalay….”

(It’s a city in Burma, if they ask any inconvenient follow-up questions.)

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

Featured photo: The Alias. Photo by John Fladd.

Sweet time in a tough season

New Hampshire celebrates Maple Weekend

Each year, on the third weekend in March, the maple producers of New Hampshire celebrate Maple Weekend, a statewide event to share the maple syrup making process with the public. Dozens of local producers will hold open houses on Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17. According to Andrew Chisholm, President of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, this maple weekend is very important to New Hampshire’s maple producers.

“There will be lots of unique opportunities for visitors to see a multigenerational tradition, first-hand,” Chisholm says. “For us, this is like the Super Bowl and Daytona 500 wrapped up into one.”

The participants represent a wide spectrum of producers, from large operations that produce several thousand gallons of maple syrup to hobbyist producers who finish the season with less than 100.

Big or small, one thing that all the maple producers agree on is that this has been a rough year for maple production.

The weather hasn’t cooperated. According to Darcy Lefebvre of Peterson Sugarhouse in Londonderry, maple producers need a combination of cold nights and warm days to collect enough sap from maple trees to make syrup.

“It’s been a really weird winter,” she says. “It’s been either too frigidly cold this winter, or the nights have been too warm.”

According to Emily Sliviak, the operations manager for Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, this will probably be a short maple season as well.

“If the weather continues to be this warm, the maple trees will wake up and start to bud; that leads to some ‘ropey’ [off] flavors,” she said.

According to Christopher Hicks, owner of the Sugarhouse at Morningstar Farm in Plaistow, this is not an isolated phenomenon.

“This is shaping up to be an especially tough year,” Hicks said. “It’s an El Niño year,” he explained, referring to a weather pattern that often blows mild weather into New England. “It’s affecting producers all the way up to the north of the state and into Quebec. That’s farming, though; last year there was too much rain for us to harvest much hay, and the year before that there was a drought.”

Hicks said there are a lot of factors that affect the quantity and quality of sap.

“The trees aren’t developing their sap now,” he said. “That all happened last summer. They [the maple trees] need a lot of sunlight and water to develop the sugars that go into syrup.” Over the past couple of years, he said, New Hampshire has gotten a lot of one or the other, but not in the right ratio for sap production. This year Hicks is expecting to produce a little more than 10 percent of the syrup he would in a good year.

“I’ve heard that some farms are getting as much as 50 percent, but that’s not what anyone hopes for,” Hicks said.

Dale Smith, owner of Mt. Crumpet Farm in New Boston, is excited by the changes in the maple syrup this year. Even though there is less of it, the syrup this year is darker than usual, with a stronger maple flavor.

“Early-season sap makes a lighter syrup,” Smith said; it gets darker throughout the season. This year’s syrup has been darker from the start. He likes that. “Everyone thinks they like lighter syrup,” he said, “but in blind taste tests, almost everyone prefers the dark.”

You get the feeling, talking to maple producers, that they really enjoy what they do. They get to spend time outdoors, working with their hands and producing a tangible, delicious product. But most of them seem especially excited about the equipment they get to work with. Darcy Lefabvre says that the No. 1 item on Peterson Sugarhouse’s “I Want” list is a reverse osmosis system, which can remove up to 40 percent of the water content from sap before it even gets to the boiler that cooks it down into syrup.

“We’re trying to do a little bit more each year, and we’d love to have reverse osmosis here,” she said.

Emily Sliviak agrees.

“We have one of the largest R.O. systems in the country,” she said. “It’s really advanced; we can control it from our phones. It’s a real game-changer.” She says that going out to the sugar house in the middle of the night used to be one of those things that a farmer just had to do. Now she and her husband have a better chance of sleeping through the night.

Marc Fortin of 2 Sappy Guys in Bedford puts it more succinctly: “There’s so much equipment to play with,” he said, “so much shiny equipment….”

This year’s Maple Weekend is shaping up to be a big one. Christopher Hicks, one of the biggest maple producers in the state, with almost 10,000 taps in operation, is enthusiastic about Maple Weekend.

“We’re expecting between 6,000 and 7,000 visitors this year,” he said.

Emily Sliviak said Ben’s Sugar Shack is planning several activities, from wagon rides and sugar-on-snow to tours that show visitors how the syrup is produced.

“We start tours every 10 to 15 minutes,” she said. “We take visitors out to see how we collect the sap — our plastic lines and some of the old-fashioned buckets. They have a chance to watch us boiling [the sap into syrup], and we give out samples of the syrup and some of our maple products.”

Marc Fortin is excited about showing off his operation.

“We’re not usually open to visitors,” he said, explaining that because he produces such a small amount of syrup — he estimates about 50 gallons this year — he doesn’t boil frequently enough to have regular hours. “We’re hobbyists,” he said.

Levi St. Germain of MapleSaint in Deerfield is looking forward to a relaxed experience at his open house. “People come, get to see the evaporator working, and ask a lot of questions,” he says. “Some people stay for a couple of hours; some stay 10 minutes.”

Like many maple producers, Peterson Sugarhouse has diversified its products from traditional maple syrup.

“We’re looking forward to sharing our candy, maple pecans, and our bourbon barrel-aged syrup,” Darcy Lefebvre said. Other producers mentioned maple cotton candy, maple barbecue sauces, spreadable maple cream, maple kettle corn and even maple hot sauce.

Maple producers in general are excited advocates for how versatile maple syrup is. Christopher Hicks likes to use it on the grill.

“We make two types of maple mustard,” Hicks says, “but we make a maple-garlic barbecue sauce that will knock your socks off.”

Dale Smith likes using it as a dipping sauce for sharp cheddar cheese: “You get that whole sweet-salty thing going, and it is fantastic!” he says.

Emily Sliviak likes a maple pulled pork sandwich with sliced ham, called a Boss Cuban sandwich. Darcy Lefebvre has two favorite uses for maple syrup: on ice cream, and in cocktails. “The other night, I had a bourbon Old-Fashioned, with maple syrup instead of simple syrup,” she said. “It was a revelation!”

Sugar houses

Here are some of the sugar houses participating in this year’s Maple Weekend, according to, where you can find more locations across the state.

2 Sappy Guys (324 Joppa Hill Road in Bedford, 860-7992) Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days with tours of the maple sugar bush and sugar shack, according to their Facebook page.

Ackerman Brothers (137 Amherst Road in Merrimack, 714-9784)

Babel’s Sugar Shack (323 Hurricane Hill Road in Mason, 878-3929) Open both days, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association’s website.

Ben’s Sugar Shack (8 Webster Hwy. in Temple, 924-3111, Ben’s is open every weekend in March, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tours and samples, according to a Facebook post. The Temple location also has a deli/cafe selling breakfast and lunch.

Blue Roof Sap Camp (6 Carter Hill Road in Canterbury, 234-5067,

Blueberry Hill Sugarworks (31 Blueberry Hill Road in Raymond, 300-6837, Open both days, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to their website.

Briar Bush (160 Briar Bush Road in Canterbury, 809-6393,

Brookview Sugar House (154 Gage Road in Wilton, 731-5214)

Dill Family Farm (61 Griffin Road in Deerfield, 475-3798,

Ice Mountain Maple (276 Queen St. in Boscawen, 341-4297,

Lamb’s Maple Syrup (228 Shaker Road in Canterbury, 783-9912) Open Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association’s website.

LMP Maple (6 Jump Lane in Hudson, 781-539-2087)

MapleSaint (28 Lang Road in Deerfield, 235-7167) Open both days, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association’s website.

Meadow Ledge (612 Route 129 in Loudon, 798-5860)

Mt. Crumpit Farm (207 Lull Road in New Boston, 325-5900)

Munson’s Maple (44 Blueberry Hill Road in Raymond, 303-8278) Open both days, according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association’s website.

Peterson Sugarhouse (28 Peabody Row in Londonderry, 247-5289)

SMD Maple Syrup (6 Falcon Drive in Merrimack, 978-815-6476,

Sugar House at Morningstar Farm (30 Crane Crossing Road in Plaistow, 479-0804)

Open both days, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a pancake breakfast both days, fresh cider doughnuts, maple dogs, farm animals and syrup production, according to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association’s website.

Sunnyside Maples (1089 Route 106 North in Loudon, 783-9961,

Windswept Maple Farm (845 Loudon Ridge Road in Loudon, 435-4003, Open both days, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to their website.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Ben’s Sugar Shack.

The Weekly Dish 24/03/14

News from the local food scene

Maple wine tasting: As part of Maple Weekend, Wine on Main in Concord will host a tasting of Averill House Vineyard’s Sweet Moonlight Red, a raspberry-maple merlot. The wine is made using raspberries and locally sourced maple syrup. Wine on Main describes the merlot as a “dark, fruity merlot that is deep and balanced with just the right amount of sweetness.” This wine tasting is scheduled for Saturday, March 16. Wine on Main will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is at 9 Main St. in Concord, 897-58128,

Kegs and eggs: Derryfield Restaurant (625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, will offer a St. Patrick’s Day special of “Kegs and Eggs” — two eggs, corned beef hash, home fries and toast with a Bud Light, Coors Light or Sam seasonal draft beer — from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday, March 17. The restaurant will keep the celebration going with live music from D-Comp from 4 to 7 p.m.

Irish breakfast buffet: The Red Blazer Restaurant and Pub (72 Manchester St. in Concord, 224-4101, the will have a breakfast buffet on Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, from 8 to 11 a.m. They will serve their regular menu and offer a traditional boiled dinner along with other Irish specials. The cost will be $20 for adults and $10 for children. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Central and Northern New Hampshire.

Easter bread and baklava: The Philoptochos Ladies Society at Assumption Church (111 Island Pond Road in Manchccester; 623-2941) will hold an Easter Bake Sale on Saturday, March 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event is walk-in and will feature spinach peta, cheese peta, baklava, kourabiethes, finikia, koulourakia, tsoureki (Easter bread) and pastry platters, according to an email.

On The Job – Elaine Setas

Owner of Taste & Art of Greece

Elaine Setas is the owner of Taste and Art of Greece at 32 Hanover St. in Manchester.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I am the owner of Taste and Art of Greece. We are a Greek import business supporting small-batch artists and designers of Greece… .

How long have you had this job?

I started in 2018, with launching a website, Since 2021 we have had some pop-up boutiques that were temporary around Manchester. [The Hanover Street location opened in 2023.]

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

…A friend of mine in Greece who lives on the island of Lesbos who is my business partner, he had the idea to bring a traditional store but didn’t know how to launch it. I… I ended up getting laid off from my office job right before Covid in 2019 and decided to give this 100 percent of my energy, and it has become a labor of love for me.

What kind of education or training did you need?

Everything I have done has led up to this point. I was an English major, I was in theater, but I was an office assistant. What helped me with what I took in school: I was well-spoken, well-read, I could write well. I wasn’t shy in front of people because of my theater training. I learned a lot from my various office jobs over the years. Especially my last job I was at, 11 years working for CEOs and presidents. … They showed me a lot of the marketing that you need for this kind of job, because I am not just selling product. We are sharing stories about the artists, about who made the product… .

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Well, right now, I try to wear Mediterranean-inspired clothes, but on occasion you will see me in leggings and a sweatshirt.

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

I want to say sometimes people don’t understand what goes into the price of something. Or they don’t understand that a handmade item that’s being shipped from Greece might be at a certain price point … we are not buying our things mass-produced. Then we’re paying for customs, we are paying for shipping, we are paying the artist to support their work.

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

Learning how to bring things in through customs was not easy. We wanted to have more food coming from Greece and we realized we had to deal with FDA regulations. … I wish I knew more Greek. … I can answer in English, I can understand [Greek] but I speak in English.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

I don’t take the fact lightly that I am representing special artists and designers.

What was your first job?

The first job I ever had was working for my dad at Dunkin’ Donuts. As a waitress.

Zachary Lewis

This interview was condensed.

Five favorites
Favorite book: short stories and short story anthologies
Favorite movie: A Room with a View
Favorite music: U2. ’80’s music. Anything with George Michael.
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite thing about NH: I love that it’s got mountains and lakes, and you can feel like you are in another world in some parts of the state.

Featured photo: Elaine Setas. Courtesy Photo.

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