Few area drinking and dining establishments offer as much live music as Lebanon’s Salt Hill Pub, and there’s never a cover charge. Except, that is, when tavern owners Josh and Joe Tuohy’s community spirit takes over.
Once every few months, Salt Hill picks a charity. Their first effort came back in 2004, when the then-relatively unknown ALO raised a tidy sum for Global Healh Cares. The organization, founded by local doctors, helps provide eye care to rural Nicaraguan families.
GHC cofounder Chris Fields is a pub regular. “He tells me a lot about what they do, and what the conditions are,” says Josh Tuohy. “They get eyeglasses for people who’ve never had them in their life.”
Salt Hill is again helping Global Health Cares. Proceeds from a benefit this Sunday will go to fund construction of a new hospital in Manugua. GHC’s goal is no less than “re-shaping the health care delivery system of southwestern Nicaragua.”
Two area bands will perform that evening The Starline Rhythm Boys, based in Northern Vermont, specialize in the honky-tonk sound familiar to fans of the Flatlanders and Dwight Yoakam. “They got some serious twang in them,” Tuohy says. Johnny B. and the Goodes play down-home blues, led by harp player and Salt Hill mainstay Johnny Bishop
Even though they’re helping a community that’s 2,000 miles away, Josh and Joe feel right at home.
“We have a lot of causes that we support that are local,” Josh says, including CCBA, MS fundraisers and more recently for the playground built in memory of a Plainfield family who perished in a 2005 fire.
“Global Health Cares isn’t local, but it was created locally,” Josh continues. “These are all people we see at the pub, and in the community.”
Salt Hill tries to do one charitable event per quarter, and not all of them are ticketed shows. “Sometimes we donate a percentage of sales,” Tuohy says.
For the Putnam Playground benefit, organizers found a band willing to play for free; the pub gave 25 percent of the afternoon and evening sales..
There’s always the occasional customer who balks at paying. “When it comes to the day of the show, I will tell customers it’s a suggested donation,” Tuohy says. “If they just want to have a sandwich and not stay, it’s OK.”
“By the end of the night, though, they usally find the donation jar,” he adds.
The rest of the weekend has plenty to offer as well:
Thursday: Jason Cann, Brown’s Tavern – People come for Cann’s eclectic covers, such as “Friend of the Devil” and “Please Come to Boston.” But while they enjoy his steady guitar hands and soothing voice, he occasionally slips in a fine original tune. There should be a campaign to force him to make a CD. I’ve been waiting patiently. He appears every Thursday in this Ascutney Resort dining spot.
Friday: Spiral Farm Band, Sophie & Zeke’s – Reading through last Sunday’s feature on the renaissance of downtown Claremont, one might have gotten the mistaken impression that it was only just now getting started. Hardly. It was an uphill fight to get this place open, and next month marks one year of live music at this midtown dining mainstay. Spiral Farm, with their soothing and spirited.bluegrass sound, has been a big part of things.
Saturday: Roadhouse, Imperial Lounge – If straight ahead, familiar rock and roll is your mug of Bud, this is your band. The Washington Street establishment has a little bit of everything, and a big dance floor. Roadhouse is their de facto Saturday night band, so they must be doing something right. Mix Chinese food, Japanese sushi and American classic rock and what do you get? A party.
Sunday: Benefit Show, Fall Mountain Regional High School – In 2000, a 4 year old cancer patient named Alexandra Scott opened a lemonade stand in her front yard to raise money to find a cure for all kids with cancer, setting off a world response. Tonight, four area bands do their part: Sun King, Second Wind, Smoke & Mirrors and Stonewall. A good time for a good cause.
Tuesday: Dick Dale, Iron Horse – He invented surf guitar before the Beach Boys, and he’s still at it 50-plus years later. Dale was one of the first to pick up a Fender Stratocaster, though Leo Fender, the guitar’s inventor, laughed heartily at his first try. He was playing it upside down and backwards. You can’t argue with the sound, though.
Wednesday: Cheryl Wheeler/Anais Mitchell, Colonial Theatre – Wheeler made her mark years ago with folk gems like “Autumn in New England.” Mitchell’s just getting started. The young Vermont singer-songwriter has a new record on Ani DiFranco’s label. Check it out – Keene’s a quick hop, even with three dollar gas.