This week’s Hippo

Haiti benefit at Milly’s – Local bands come together for a cause

Musicians often disagree on style. Metalheads keep folkies at arm’s length, while folkies scorn rappers, who themselves sneer at some vaguely defined notion of country music.

They’ll all unite around a cause, however. That’s the case this Sunday, March 28, when Milly’s Tavern and Manchester-based Jesus is the Way Ministry Worldwide Missions hold a fundraiser for Haiti earthquake relief.  The all-day show includes pop, rock, metal, acoustic and everything in between.

Hard work pays off – New Hampshire wins big at national country convention

That there aren’t many maple syrup operations in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is no big surprise.

But for some reason, New England is a hotbed of country music. Once again, a contingency from New Hampshire and Vermont won big at the annual gathering of the North American Country Music Association International earlier this month.

Nite Roundup includes TranScenT, Driving Sideways, Irish comedy, McAllister Drive and a rescheduled Hey Mama show

This Week’s Compass


Worth driving out of town

What: The Honey Dewdrops

Where: Starving Artist, 10 West St in Keene

When: Friday, March 26 at 8 PM

Tickets: $5

More: or call 352-6900

Distance: 45 Miles

No doubt before Johnny Cash and June Carter went public with their romance, plenty of fans suspected they had more than onstage chemistry.

The same is true of the Honey Dewdrops – Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish – who perform in Keene tomorrow night. Listening to “If the Sun Will Shine,” the duo’s debut CD, stirs thoughts of milk and honey, peaches and cream and other perfect elemental unions.

They harmonize with comfort, ease and sweetness.  When Wortman croons, “I love to hear his guitar singing … the sweetest song you ever heard,” punctuated by Parrish’s impeccable finger picking, even a casual listener detects something deeper than notes, chords and choruses.

The pair met in a college party band – she sang and he played guitar.  Between Stevie Wonder and Doobie Brothers covers, they connected. Soon were performing together in the same Virginia clubs where the Dave Matthews Band got their start.  In 2008, they beat out five other groups chosen to compete in A Prairie Home Companion’s “People in their Twenties Talent Show” – a sort of slow lane American Idol.


Mark your calendar

What: Leo Kottke & Jerry Douglas

Where: Lebanon Opera House

When: Friday, April 16

Tickets: $41/general admission


*Leo Kottke is a master of 6 and 12 string guitar – his playing defies time and space.  Judging by his command of the lap steel resonator guitar, Jerry Douglas might as well have invented the Dobro. The chance to see these two masters, both synonymous with their instruments, on the same stage is a rare one that should not be missed.

Kottke and Douglas had an opportunity to perform on the same show a few years ago in Colorado. Since then, they have expressed an interest in doing so again.  It is the region’s good fortune that two of a handful of shows will be in New Hampshire (one in Lebanon, the other in Derry) – their first and only appearances together east of the Mississippi.

Kottke doesn’t sing a lot – he once likened his voice to “geese farts on a muggy day” – but he’s a great storyteller and a superlative guitar player.  Douglas is a go-to guy for too many musicians to mention, but it’s worth mentioning that following this tour, he’s heading out on the road with Elvis Costello’s band.


Local Music Spotlight

Who:  Screwtops

What:  Multiple era classic rock

Sounds like: Beatles, Stones, Band

The Screwtops are a regular attraction at Electra Nightclub in West Lebanon, Salt hill Pub in both Lebanon and Newport, Shenanigans in White River Junction and Colatina Exit in Bradford, Vermont.  The band features Charlie Glazer on keyboards, drummer George “Animal” Chris, John Bristol on guitar and Lance Mills, who doubles on bass and guitar. All four members sing, and Mills and Bristol often perform as a duo.

Heavily influenced by the Beatles, early Rolling Stones and 60s-era Motown, the band covers everyone from the Clash to Johnny Cash along with the a growing list of classic rock by artists like the Doors, Stray Cats and Van Morrison.  They bring a surprising freshness to familiar favorites – layered harmonies on their version of CCR’s “Travelin’ Band” give it a Beach Boys feel.  The band’s faithful cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” is also a nice showcase for the Screwtops’ vocal prowess.

Upcoming gigs:

Friday, April 9 – 7:00 p.m. at Colatina Exit, Bradford, VT  (Mills and Bristol duo)

Friday, April 30 – 9:00 p.m. at Salt Hill Pub, Lebanon

Friday, June 4 – 9:00 p.m., Salt Hill Pub, Newport

Local Rhythms – Pitching in for a fellow player

Let’s say it again – no one lends a hand like musicians. They always step up to help those in need, and never more so than when the person that’s hurting is one of their own.

Drummer Bobby Gagnier has been gigging around these parts since the 1960s. He played the same high school gyms as Steve Tyler back when the Toxic Twin was a drummer in a band called the Strangers, singing behind the kit and opening for Gagnier’s band Anvil.

Over the years, he’s contributed to records by Pete Merrigan and Johnny Bishop, and plays out regularly with the Elmores.

Bobby’s a solid anchor to any rhythm section. That’s why bands like Dr. Burma, About Gladys and the Squids routinely call upon his drum skills.

But a few weeks back, a doctor spent four hours rebuilding his left thumb. The surgery will prevent him from working or playing the drums until mid-June.

So Bobby’s band mates and friends are pitching in to keep the beat for him in the intervening months.

This Saturday, March 27 at the White River Junction American Legion Hall, a “JAMboree for Bobby G” will be held from 7 – 11:30 pm.

Six area bands – JukeJoynt, Pete Merrigan and the JBG3, the Chris Kleeman/Johnny Bishop duo, the Squids, About Gladys and Dr. Burma – are performing to raise funds for the drummer,.

Since he’s a self-employed painter and home repairman, the downtime’s been extra hard.

Bobby told me he’s truly touched by the effort, led by longtime pal and Dr. Burma leader Ted Mortimer.

“It’s a humbling thing, and a bit overwhelming,” Bobby said. “I have no problem playing these  things, but to be on the receiving end – wow.”

Here’s more good news – rather than competing for crowds, the Upper Valley Dance Club is merging their regular fourth Saturday dance into the event, and offering free short beginner’s lessons during the first two breaks of the evening.

“This is a great subculture of music lovers in the Upper Valley,” Brian Kennell of the Squids wrote me recently.  “This just shows what great people they are.”

I’ll say.

A couple of years ago, a guy named Joe Peters told me something I’ve never forgotten.

“You can be down on your luck,” he said, “but when someone throws you a jam, you’re all set.”

We should all have friends like that.

For more details and tickets, call 542-6523.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, March 25: Claire Lynch, United Church of Putney – A fiddle player and singer who’s been featured on albums by Emmylou Harris and Sarah Watkins of Nickel Creek, Lynch began her career with 70’s bluegrass sensation the Front Porch Band.  She’s also written songs for the Whites and Kathy Mattea. Given Lynch’s gospel-infused material, it’s fitting that she and her formidable band are appearing in a church.

Friday, March 26: Patsy Whelan, One Mile West – A talented Irish musician comes to the Sunapee tavern for the first of a two-night stand, joined by sideman Paul Kenney.  The Dublin born Whelan has long been a mainstay of the Boston Irish music scene, loved for his fiddle and guitar playing along his humor and wit.  This is a great booking for pub that, under new ownership, is showing a strong early commitment to live music.

Saturday, March 27: Jamantics, Salt hill Pub Newport – A new band on the rise makes its first local appearance.  The Concord-based quintet passes the ball like a musical Harlem Globetrotters, giving every member a chance to shine.  I’m partial to jazz-rock that features a violin, as well as bands that rely on original material.  Jamantics are prolific – they’ve released three full CDs since forming little over a year ago.

Sunday, March 28: Nick Scalera, Old Courthouse – What’s brunch without a piano soundtrack?  The downtown Newport restaurant features North Country Smokehouse meats, potato latkes, English scones and a tasty array of fresh juices.  And music – did I mention that?  Scalera plays the American Songbook with restraint, never dominating the room, but always providing a nice backdrop.

Tuesday, March 30: Live Music, Windsor Station – There’s plenty going on lately in Windsor, weekend music, films (last Monday’s Movie, Martinis & Margaritas screening of Ocean’s 11 was a great way to kick off the week), and a regular Tuesday night half price burgers and music feature that usually includes solo acoustic music from the restaurant’s go-to guitar player, Gregory Brown or another equally talented player.

Wednesday, March 31: Billy Rosen, Canoe Club – One of my favorite “soft touch” guitarists goes solo in Hanover, playing selections from the Great American Songbook, and channeling players like Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Kenny Burrell.  There’s always great music to accompany a tasty meal at CC – 363 days a year.

Local Rhythms – No skip button for you!

Mixing music and lawyers is more often than not a bad thing, but a recent British court decision may actually be an exception to that rule.

Last week, the surviving members of Pink Floyd successfully sued to prevent their record label from selling the band’s songs online.

They argued that single tracks, ring tones and the like violated the artistic integrity of works like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.

The band’s albums are still available on Internet music stores like Rhapsody and iTunes, but cherry picking “Wish You Were Here” or “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” will henceforth be disallowed.

That’s how it should be.

I’m a big fan of XM Radio’s Deep Tracks station.  A couple of on-air slogans sum up their philosophy (and mine): “we’re not single minded” and “we play careers.”

There was a time when a musician wouldn’t be taken seriously without a great album – heck, without two or three.

Dropping the needle on side one of a record used to mean something. Last summer, Steely Dan performed Royal Scam, Aja and Gaucho in their entirety over three consecutive nights to sold-out crowds.

Van Morrison did the same thing with Astral Weeks in 2008.

Nowadays, music fans have the attention span of a fruit fly, and promiscuously flit from song to song.  Some bands with number one records can barely fill nightclubs.

On the other hand, Bob Seger will draw regardless of whether he plays “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Promise full-length Night Moves or Against the Wind, and the shows would sell out in seconds.

I can’t think of a single release by a post-2000 artist that I’d pay to see performed from start to finish.

Granted, song-centricity came into vogue as retaliation for all the CDs released with one good track, but that’s no reason to abandon the album as an art form.

So I applaud Pink Floyd.  They should take it a step further, and deliver albums from the vinyl era (pre-1983) only as side-length files.

Cue up Dark Side of the Moon, and you won’t hear “Us and Them” without first listening to “Money.”  On Led Zeppelin II, “Living Loving Maid” will follow “Heartbreaker” as sturm follows drang.  No skip button for you!

What this generation needs is patience, and more decent full-length records. If I sound like a grumpy old man, so be it.

Now get off my lawn.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, March 18: Locals Jam, Salt hill Pub Newport – The family that plays together, a/k/a the Moores, is now permanently hosting this weekly open session, after alternating with the Shane Harrington Band for a while.  Bring your guitar, bass, harp, or voice and join in the fun; it’s a great way for anyone looking to start a band to find potential mates. Even if you don’t play, stop by just to listen.

Friday, March 19: Bow to None, 802 Music – I drove by this all-ages performance space in downtown Springfield the other night and it was teeming.  There’s live music most Fridays and Saturdays; typically, three or four bands are on the bill.  Bow to None play uncompromising heavy metal, while on other nights there’s punk, power pop, post-grunge, all in a substance-free environment.

Saturday, March 20: The Elmores, One Mile West – After beginning with Tuesday open microphone nights, One Mile West is now doing music on weekends.  Sometimes Friday, but always on Saturday, live bands are working in the back. Up front, the bar pours beer from 20 different taps, including some great craft brews like Rogue Yellow Snow and Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale.

Sunday, March 21: Click & Joanie Horning, Crocker’s Coffee Shop – Overlooking Lake Sunapee in Newbury is a charming coffee shop, overflowing with bric-a-brac like a genuine ski lift gondola.  Every Sunday from 4-6 in the afternoon, Click and Joanie play music.  Click has a long history in the area, going back to his days in the band Night Kitchen. Crocker’s serves some tasty desserts, too.

Monday, March 22: Bryan Adams, Paramount Theatre (Rutland) – Speaking of artists who made albums that yielded singles, Canadian rocker Adams brings his sizable catalog to Vermont for an unplugged solo show.   Adams calls it the “Bare Bones” tour, and recently explained to a Pennsylvania writer, “I’m getting back to the basics of the songs, just me and my voice.”

Wednesday, March 24: Open Mic, Skunk Hollow – Gregory Brown helms this weekly affair. If you’ve ever wondered whether you should take your playing to another level, this is a good starting point. Bring your axe and your songs. You have 15 minutes. The best part is that Simon Cowell is nowhere to be found, and the food’s better – a lot better, and the guy running the kitchen also a musician.

Today’s Compass – Players

Local Music Spotlight
Who:  Larry Walker Band
What:  Classic rock covers
Sounds like: Foreigner, Free and the Doors
The Rumney-based Larry Walker Band is a regular attraction at East Buffet in Claremont, playing a crowd-friendly mix of familiar rock from the 60s to the present day.  The core lineup consists of Larry Walker on keys, guitar and vocals, drummer Joe Jurta, James Holzrichter on bass and vocals, and Jack Petrycki on keyboards, guitar and vocals. Walker’s cousin Frank Walker occasionally subs for Petrycki on keyboards.
Originally called Three’s A Crowd, Walker and Jurta have been playing together for about twelve years.  Holzrichter came on board about three years ago; Petrycki joined a few months later.  They became the Larry Walker Band in late 2008.
When playing out, the band performs covers, but they’ve recently begun work on original material at Walker’s Walka-Walka Sound in Dorchester.  They’re hoping for a fall release date, at which point the band will begin incorporating their own music into live appearances.
Upcoming gigs:
Saturday, March 20 – Foresters Club, 38 Maple St. in Newport (with Frank Walker)
Friday, March 26 – Bridgewater Inn, Route 3A, 367 Mayhew Turnpike in Bridgewater, NH
Saturday, April 17 – East Buffet, Pleasant St. in Claremont

Today’s Compass – Horizon

Mark your calendar
What: Snoe.down Music Festival
Where: Killington Resort and Spartan Arena (Rutland)
When: Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28
Tickets: $49/single day, $79 full festival
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Higher priced combination packages, including lift tickets and other goodies like V.I.P. status, are available online.

Today’s Compass – Beyond

Worth driving out of town
What: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Where: Barre Opera House, 6 N. Main St. in Barre, VT
When: Wednesday, March 24 at 7:30 PM
Tickets: $28 – $32
More: or call 802-476-8188
Distance: 75 Miles
Jackson Browne and Steve Martin are among the musicians who interned with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which formed in Southern California during the spring of 1966 as a jug band when surf music was all the rage.  The present day lineup includes original members Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and John McEuen, along with Bob Carpenter, who joined in 1977. They were the first band to have a hit with Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” and they made a memorable cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Voila, An American Dream.”
Over the years, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has helped define what’s now known as Americana. Their signature achievement was Will the Circle Be Unbroken, a three-album project in 1972 that helped expose a younger generation to Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff, Maybelle Carter and other country legends in a time of musical apartheid.  In the late 80s, the band made Will the Circle Be Unbroken II. Among other things, it reunited former Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman for Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.”

Today’s Hippo – blues, trip-hop and more

Rynborn reborn, at the Draft in Concord:

Andy and Laurie Sanborn remember a time when Luther “Guitar” Johnson lived down the road from them in Antrim, and on any given night something magical might happen in a rough and tumble blues shack called the Rynborn.

“We’d go there all the time,” says Laurie. “It was nothing fancy, but it was the best blues.”

“When the Rynborn left Antrim and went to Keene and then closed, it left a void in my soul,” Andy said. He added: “I consider the blues to be the foundation of original music.”

Chemical Distance moves away from metal:

Otto Kinzel IV bowed out of live music for a while last year. He was bored with the metal scene, an endless succession of peaks with no valleys. He likened it to a crowded NASCAR field, with everyone going 180 miles an hour, all the time.

“It was all very predictable — two down-tuned guitars and a screaming vocalist. If you stood in the back of the room, everything was a wash,” he said — a wall of sound with no discernible elements.

He also sensed an unwillingness on the part of most bands to move beyond the genre’s narrow boundaries.  “When they hear drum machines and synthesizers, it’s met with resistance,” he said.

So he stepped away and went looking for new musical challenges.

In Nite Roundup, Mama Kicks ends 13 years of Wednesdays at Black Brimmer, Claremont duo Second Wind plays Concord, a blues jam moves in Manchester, John Waite and Alan Jackson announce upcoming shows.

This week’s Hippo

St. Patrick’s Day on the way

This year, St. Patrick’s Day lands smack dab in the middle of the week. The entertainment choices run across the spectrum, from steak houses pouring green beer alongside plates of corned beef and cabbage, to places where March 17 is New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July rolled into one day.

You know the latter type — more Irish than thou, with a Guinness-logo digital clock above the bar that’s been counting down the days to St. Patty’s since mid-October. A word of warning: such places usually fill up early, so advance planning is a good idea.

Here’s a checklist of choices to consider while rummaging around for your shamrock pin and green bowler hat.

Band Karaoke with Mindseye:

So you want to be a rock and roll star?

According to the song, that involves first getting an electric guitar and then learning how to play. In today’s world of instant gratification, who has time for that?

Instead of setting for another turn at Rock Band, why not go for the real thing, with a ready-made band that already knows “Free Bird,” not to mention “Kryptonite,” “Use Me” and most of your favorite Tom Petty songs?

That’s the idea behind Band Karaoke, hosted by local cover combo Mindseye every Thursday night at the Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua.

Continue reading “This week’s Hippo”

Local Rhythms – St. Patty’s Old School

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but some more than others.

99 percent of taverns serve corned beef, cabbage and green light beer.

The rest have a digital clock on the wall with a Guinness logo that’s been counting the minutes and hours to March 17 since last autumn.

These are the ones I care about.

For Emerald Isle fealty, it’s hard to match Salt hill Pub, where St. Patrick’s Day is a weeklong celebration at their three locations, beginning on Saturday in Lebanon with a visit from Burlington’s Longford Row.

The five-piece band specializes in traditional, whisky-soaked fight songs.

Guinness Stout and Irish breakfast, complete with beans and black pudding, is de rigueur on the big day at Salt hill, along with lots of music.  In Lebanon, it starts with a ceremonial pint at 9 a.m., followed by an All-Star Irish Breakfast Session at 10.

The Short Brothers provide evening entertainment at Salt hill Newport, but music begins there at 11:30 a.m. with the Junior Stevens Traditional Band followed by O’hAnleigh at 4 p.m. – both perform later in Lebanon

Over at the new pub in Hanover, there’s a special afternoon traditional session with Anthony Santoro and Geordie Lynd at 4, followed by the hard working Junior Stevens All-Star Traditional Band at 9.

Another Hanover restaurant gets into the act this year, as Canoe Club welcomes Skellig to play reels and jigs.

The Killarney in Ludlow sponsors a family-friendly scavenger hunt at Okemo resort, with music from Gypsy Reel, who then take the party down the road to the pub for the rest of the night.

Up in Killington, McGrath’s Irish Pub has old school cred, with the distinction of being the first tavern in Vermont to offer Guinness on tap.

McGrath’s welcomes the fine Burlington trio Trinity for their St. Patty’s party.

For those looking to avoid the bars but still craving a Celtic fix, consider the Tartan Terrors, performing irreverent folk songs that frequently employ break-dancing sheep and saucy women in mini-kilts.

The Tartan Terrors are three Canadian brothers masquerading as Scotsmen – not exactly Irish.

Don’t forget, however, that St. Patrick was born in England, and only migrated to Ireland after finding religion.

Similarly, Ireland waited until the early 1970s before really embracing his day.

Why? They noticed what the United States was doing, and decided it looked fun.

So I guess St. Patrick’s is really an all-American holiday.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, March 11: Supply & Demand, Bentley’s – This Woodstock restaurant, a big player in the area nightlife scene for nearly 35 years, is among the many dishing up corned beef (and Tad Davis) on the 17th. But their real specialties are steak, meatloaf and chicken schnitzel. They also serve up live music most every Thursday night, including this cover band.

Friday, March 12: Kind Buds, Jesse’s – I think of these guys as the Dark Star Duo – they love the Grateful Dead (enough that they once sat on a symposium about the band), and they perform a lot of their songs – very well. But this is not a one-trick pony – their spirited originals are pretty tasty, too. Hearing them makes me think of summer – they pair are a mainstay on the New England festival circuit.

Saturday, March 13: Jandee Lee Porter, Curtis’s BBQ  – A few weeks ago, I watched this Charlestown born singer-songwriter delight a crowd in Manchester with her soaring voice and heartfelt songs.  Country music fans should not miss a chance to see her close to home. Porter writes like she means it, and if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d swear she hails from Nashville – but she’s all ours.

Sunday, March 14: Mike Gordon, Lebanon Opera House – A brief 8-date swing through the Northeast includes a rare Lebanon appearance for the Phish bass player, who will likely draw from his recent release, The Green Sparrow, a record rich in funk, groove and jam elements. Gordon’s band includes Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, jazz drummer Todd Isler, UVM teacher and pianist Tom Cleary and percussionist Craig Myers.

Tuesday, March 16: Acoustic Coalition, Murphy Farm – This loose affiliation embodies the Upper Valley scene. Most of the players at this weekly Quechee jam session gig with other bands, some with several. Listen to Acoustic Coalition recordings on, my favorite website for local music, for a sense of the inspired fun that transpires.

Wednesday, March 17: Gully Boys, Firestones – Here’s an alternative St. Patrick’s Day gathering to think about, hosted by the area’s jam band standard bearers. Speaking of Yellow House, their lineup includes site founder, the many musical hat-wearing Dave Clark.  They always provide a good time, and any excuse – green beer or brown acid (just kidding) – can get the party started.