Go to a local farmer’s market and buy some food that’s so fresh, you’ll have to brush off the soil.
“Dirt is a beautiful thing,” says Rocky Saccento, the point man for the Newport Farmer’s Market, which begins June 12 on the town common. “You can tell where it came from.”
In other words, why buy produce flown in from Chile, when there’s something better tasting available from a town or two away?
Besides, since live entertainment is a mainstay at these events, you can go local with both food and music.
Lebanon opens for the season today (May 28) with fiddler John Specker providing the soundtrack. Future performers include guitarist David Surette, Sylvia Miskoe (accordion) and Terry Ray Gould.
Terry and his singing partner Suzi Hastings, better known as Second Wind, kick off the Claremont Farmer’s Market next Wednesday. They’re a ubiquitous duo at these kind of events, appearing later in the summer in Newbury (Fridays, 3-6) and Wilmot (Saturday mornings).
The Hanover market happens Wednesdays; across the river in Norwich (Saturdays), there’s elk meat available along with the more standard fare, plus jams, jellies, cheese and crafts.
Musical guests at the Newport market – “as of last year, the second largest in the state,” according to Rocky – include finger picking guitarist Wayne Duvaul, the Sugar River Band and Mike & Mike.
Ninja Monkey and Spike Dogtooth’s appearance Friday, June 12 at Bellows Falls market is part of the “Fred X” – Roots on the River Festival’s 4-day weekend.
There’s also a pair of one-off events celebrating all things “localvore” deserving special mention.
This Sunday is the second annual Hartland Farm Fest, billed as “a celebration of local food, arts and the economy,” with singer-songwriter Jason Cann topping a talented musical lineup.
Finally, at the Saturday, June 6 edition of Brattleboro’s farmer’s market, the Vermont hamlet becomes a real cow town for the “Strolling of the Heifers.”
The event features 100 or so heifers along with all manner of livestock parading through the streets.
Also marching are the 15-member Leland & Gray High School Samba Band, the Quaboag Highlanders bagpipe unit, plus local elementary, middle school and high school bands.
Later, the Hot Club of Portland, Zydeco stalwarts Three Way Street and a few different fiddlers will hold forth in a music tent.
Oh, and five lucky kids will compete in a “moo-off” for a new bike.
Some fun, huh? Here’s the rest of the week:
Thursday: Natalie MacMaster, Claremont Opera House – Cape Breton’s most fervent musical ambassador, who also happens to be on the most exciting fiddle players on the planet, performs in Claremont for the first time since 2000. There are just a few tickets left for this show, which is not surprising. When fans experience MacMaster (who’s also quite a step dancer), they want to see her again – and again.
Friday: Talkin’ Smack/Groove, Colburn Park – A Project Graduation party on the Lebanon Green featuring the stellar R&B band formerly known as Junk in the Trunk, led by nimble guitarist/singer Rich Cortese. Carey Lee Rush sent me a few enthusiastic e-mails about Groove, his latest project. The band includes some familiar local names playing a style described as “New Orleans-style Funky Rockin’ R&B” – can’t wait to hear ‘em.
Saturday: David Newsam & Emily Musty, Elixir – A wonderful combination of talent, with the scholarly (he created the UNH guitar program), nimble-fingered Newsam accompanying Musty, who evokes Bonnie Raitt or Norah Jones with her smooth and soulful singing. Emily traveled west to try her luck as an actress in 2006. She’s back now, finishing a degree and doing the occasional show. Hollywood’s loss is the Upper Valley’s gain.
Sunday: Willie Nelson, Meadowbrook US Cellular Pavilion – I have to give props to the author of Nelson’s Wikipedia entry. The anonymous wag pithily labeled him an “elderly, lifelong marijuana-smoking, tax-evading, biodiesel-burning, old-school cowboy-hippie troubadour.” Nelson’s latest album is “Naked Willie,” a collection of his early (1966-70) tunes with the ham-handed orchestrations stripped from the recordings.
Monday: Sandy Pinkas, Hopkins Center – The Boston Globe called Pinkas, a Dartmouth Professor of Music “a dauntless pianist.” Tonight, she performs a program of music including Beethoven’s Sonata in G Major, Op. 31, No. 1, a “brilliant, whimsical and graceful work emblematic of the composer’s consummate mastery of rhythmic subtlety,” along with selections by Gabriel Fauré and Sergei Prokofiev.
Wednesday: Open Mic, One Mile West – This Sunapee spot is my kind of roadhouse – steaks, burgers, and chicken dishes aplenty. Best of all, they have 20 beers on tap, including six rotating seasonals, 99 cent PBR and the “always available” Stone Ruination IPA, perhaps the most seductive 20 ounces of snakebite available in a glass. One or two of those should steel your courage to step up to the microphone and show your chops (musical, that is).