This week’s Hippo – Ya gotta laugh

A guy walks into a bar …

At a weekly promotion at Mottley’s Comedy Club in Boston, anyone who shows up on a Wednesday night with a pink slip, unemployment check stub or some other proof of joblessness gets into the club for free. Mottley’s calls it a “Comedy Bailout” — when everything else fails, all that’s left is laughter.

“You can’t be sick, sore or tired if you’re laughing,” said agent and comedian Mike Smith, whose Laugh Riot Productions books shows throughout the region, at venues including Tupelo Music Hall and the recently opened Boynton’s Taproom.

Rob Steen is a stand-up comic and promoter, operating Headliners clubs in Manchester, Gilford and Newington, along with locations in Portland and Auburn, Maine. With 14 or 15 New Hampshire venues, including an annual series at Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts, Steen said business is booming.

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This week’s Hippo – Ron Noyes lays low, works on album

The Ron Noyes Band’s gutsy, blues-infused brand of rock has allowed them to succeed where many area bands falter — playing mostly original music for crowds expecting covers.

The Concord quartet’s material “seems familiar, even on first listen,” said Josh Tuohy, who called them “one of the best young groups in New Hampshire.” Tuohy regularly books Noyes and his band mates — Tim Gray, Chuck Tufankjian and Jarrod Taylor — into his Lebanon and Newport bars, including the only appearances scheduled between now and April, as they scale back on performing to focus on finishing their first studio work in four years.

“We’re laying low right now,” Noyes said recently from his Concord home. “We’ll just play enough to knock out the rent, and give our full attention to the album.”

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This week’s Hippo – Maiden-capable @ Estabrook

Jazz and dinner go together like scotch and soda. In the case of Estabrook Grill, perhaps chicken and pepperoni – key ingredients in the Nashua dining spot’s Tuscan chicken sandwich – is a better analogy.

Estabrook’s culinary pedigree set it apart when the restaurant opened last spring – comfort food with flair, affordable yet upscale home cooking. The restaurant has taken a similarly unique approach to live music.

Maiden-capable, the regular Wednesday night band at Estabrook, favors free form improvisational flights, with Justin Piper stitching ferocious guitar licks over Peter Maclean’s polyrhythmic drumming.

When Kevin O’Brien holds down the rhythm, it’s on electric bass, not upright.

The trio’s roots are in rock music – Piper and O’Brien regularly play classic rock with Mindseye down the street at Peddler’s Daughter, and “Maiden-capable” is a nod to heavy metal band Iron Maiden’s signature way of ending songs.

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