Local Rhythms – Don’t get fooled at the Super Bowl

Pete Townshend once wrote, “I hope I die before I get old.”

I won’t go that far, but I wish he’d retired, sparing me the agony of having to watch him and Roger Daltrey perform Who songs at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

It’s wrong on a few levels.

First, why has the Super Bowl become the venue of choice for every dinosaur rock star aching for a second look?  The game itself now seems to be just one ingredient in a bloated media stew, with every attention junkie in the world jockeying for screen time.

A better food analogy is a baked potato – fattening enough with butter and sour cream, loading it up with bacon, cheese, chili and anything else you think to chop up is overkill.

Why does this game have to be a conduit for a million other distractions? How about just 60 minutes of football and a few overpriced beer commercials?

Isn’t that enough?

There is true athletic drama on the field this year.   The city of New Orleans has never produced a world champion in professional sports, and it’s been just a few years since Hurricane Katrina. The whole world is pulling for the Saints.

The other Super Bowl team is led by Peyton Manning, one of the most gifted athletes in the world, who happens to be the son of the Saints’ former star quarterback.

How much more drama do you need?

Make no mistake – I love rock and roll as much as anyone. But what does the music of the Who have to do with any of that?  Besides, they’re English – when someone says football, Pete Townshend thinks of soccer.

In any case, the Who isn’t a band – it’s a brand name, now owned by two surviving members of the legendary group.  A case could be made that it ended when Keith Moon died in 1979; John Entwistle’s passing left no doubt.

If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr tried to tour as the Beatles, would anyone believe them?

This whole mess began when Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem before the 1990 game and turned it into a hit record.  A few years later, Michael Jackson appeared with 3,500 kids (isn’t that ironic?) and three body doubles to sing “Heal the World.”

It’s been spinning out of control ever since. Let’s call an end to the ridiculous excess.

Just play the game – please.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Feb 4: Lannen Fall, 802 Music – In a world of minimalist pop bands, Boston-based Lannen Fall bring a big sound to the stage, influenced by modern rockers like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and A-list producer Butch Walker.  The five-piece band plays tuneful songs with memorable choruses, tight harmonies and solid instrumentation. This is a good excuse to hit an off-night show at the downtown Springfield venue.

Friday, Feb. 5: Saylyn, Salt hill Newport – Saylyn is the area’s hometown reggae band, an authentic sound that always makes me think of summer. The band is best enjoyed under the stars on a hot night, but since the elements have other plans, at least for the next few months, indoors at Newport’s most bustling nightspot will have to suffice. Fronted by two brothers born and raised in Jamaica, this band is the genuine article.

Saturday, Feb. 6: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Plainfield Blow-Me-Down Grange – Folk music in Plainfield – what a treat.  Check out Gillette, a                terrific songwriter, performing “Darcy Farrow” on YouTube with Mangsen, and see if you don’t wonder like I did – where’s the other guitar?  When Gillette and Mangsen weave their tapestry of music, with deft playing and lovely harmonies, the result is spellbinding.

Sunday, Feb. 7: Celia Sings Sinatra, Canoe Club – The Super Bowl plays on a 91 inch high def screen in the bar, while one of the area’s most popular doppelgangers performs on the other – a pleasant schizophrenia, indeed, especially when factoring in the Chinese box effect of the game broadcast, with half of the viewers wondering how far the Go Daddy Internet ad will go and the other focused on Peyton Manning’s passes

Tuesday, Feb. 9: Open Mic, One Mile West – The Sunapee restaurant recently changed ownership, and plans to expand the music offerings are in the works.  The weekly open mic continues, hosted by a rotating crew of the Moore family, George Johnson and Steve Currier. The beer menu and the vibe of the room, covered with old concert posters, are both great.

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Jason Cann, Salt hill Pub Hanover (Grand Opening) – The Tuohy dynasty expands into downtown Hanover with a formula much like the Newport and Lebanon locations, comfort food, perfectly poured pints of Guinness and a great music lineup.  Opening night features one of the area’s best singer/songwriters – Cann, who will continue to appear every Wednesday.

This Week’s Compass

Beyond – Worth driving out of town

What: Slam Free or Die with feature poet Diane Haas

Where: Bridge Café, corner of Bridge and Elm Streets, Manchester

When: Friday, Feb 5, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $3

More: www.myspace.com/bridgepoetryopenmic

Distance: 70 Miles

There’s a growing poetry scene in New Hampshire, and not the kind that one time resident Robert Frost could have comprehended.  Every other week in downtown Manchester, poets gather to read, or rather perform, their work.  It’s slam poetry, where words and attitude receive equal emphasis.  This is also competitive verse – each month, poets vie for a chance to attend the national slam poetry event, to be held this August in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This week features a Valentine-themed erotic poetry open microphone, capped by a feature reading by Diane Haas, whose appearances are equal parts poetry, burlesque and rock show.  Haas is building a big regional buzz for her often-provocative work – double entendre laced poems like “Honey,” “Not the Girl Next Door” and “Jessica Rabbit.”  The Derry poet is a Lady Gaga of verse, too – wearing outfits to match her R-rated words. The Bridge Café is an intimate venue, so patrons are encouraged to arrive early – it fills up fast.

Players – Local Music Spotlight

Who:  Last Kid Picked

What:  Covers, with an emphasis on modern rock

Sounds Like: Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls

More: www.lastkidpicked.com

You have to love a band that owes its existence to a Warren Zevon song.  On Halloween night 1996, they played first show, performing as the Werewolves of London. The following year, the band became Last Kid Picked, building a steady following with a set list of classic and modern rock songs. In late summer 1997 they had a big night opening for Mountain and Blue Oyster Cult.

The band has had a few lineup changes over the years; original members Mark & Deb Bond met and married while in the band; Carey Lee Rush was also a founding member.  Last Kid Picked front man John DeGange is a LKP constant, bespectacled and given to occasional rubber chicken stunts.  Their set list ranges from Aerosmith to Buckcherry, with an odd Neil Diamond or Dixie Chicks song tossed in to mix things up.

The band’s crowd-pleasing antics make their annual hometown Halloween party at the Newport Opera House a certain sellout, and they have been the feature band at Winter Carnival for several years running.  Current band members include DeGange on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica, Kyle Flewelling playing drums, Jason Ricci on guitar and vocals and bass player Mike Sherman.

Upcoming gigs are:

Friday, Feb. 5 at Electra Nightclub in West Lebanon

Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Derryfield in Manchester

Saturday, Feb. 13 at Newport Winter Carnival

Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Rusty Nail in Stowe, VT

Horizon – Mark your calendar

What: Mike Gordon

Where: Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park St. in Lebanon

When: Sunday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $35/$25

More: 448-0400 or go to www.lebanonoperahouse.org

After a concluding a massive reunion tour, Phish bass player Mike Gordon embarks on a brief 8-date swing through the Northeast that includes a rare Lebanon appearance.  Gordon’s solo projects have been quite eclectic – a pair of duet albums with acoustic guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke, and a tour with the jazz-fusion Benevento/Russo Duo which yielded a 2-disc live set containing a few significantly rearranged Phish songs.

He also played for a while with the Dead spin-off Rhythm Devils; typically, when Gordon strikes out on his own, it’s a left turn into uncharted territory.

But Gordon’s Lebanon show will likely draw from his most recent release, The Green Sparrow.  The 2008 album is a more straightforward affair, with funk, groove and jam elements, along with guest help from Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones), Ivan Neville and fellow Phish member Trey Anastasio.

Gordon’s band includes Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, jazz drummer Todd Isler, UVM teacher and pianist Tom Cleary and percussionist Craig Myers.

This week’s Compass

Local Music Spotlight

Who: Reid Travaskis
What: Funk, Blues, Classic Rock, Oldies
Sounds like: Depends on the band

Reid is a Wednesday night fixture at Andre’s in Sunapee, where he’s led the open rehearsal since for  many years.  Most nights, singer Jan Bear and bassist Ben Butterworth join him for blues, oldies and whatever else he’s in the mood for.

Reid had a long career in New York City.  Look hard enough, and you’ll find YouTube videos of him onstage at CBGB with his prog-pop band Positron.  Billboard Magazine twice named his original band, The Funky Knights, as Best Unsigned Band.  They are at work on a new CD.

Since moving to New Hampshire, Reid has played as a sideman in many blues bands including several led by the late George Gibson and also fronted his own band, The 5 Woodies (their piano player, Travis Colby now plays with Roomful Of Blues).

This singer, musician and songwriter plays with several other New Hampshire bands, including the funk horn combo Manchuka, classic rockers Hurricane Alley, and with Nashua blues singer Lisa Marie, as either a duo or part of her band All Shook Up.

Upcoming gigs:

Friday, Dec. 11, Shenanigans in White River Junction (with Hurricane Alley)
Wednesday, Dec.16, Cafe Andre, Sunapee (special Christmas party – dinner & show for $17)
Friday, Dec. 18, Chandler’s, Manchester (with Manchuka)
Wednesday, Dec.23, Cafe Andre, Sunapee

Worth driving out of town

Winterbloom: Holiday Traditions Rearranged
The IMA Big Barn
Rte 112/165 Cape St., Goshen, Mass.
Tickets: $16
Web: http://www.myspace.com/winterbloomholiday
Distance: 90 Miles

Winterbloom, the seasonal side project of Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman, doesn’t stick to standard holiday fare.  Their eponymous 8-song CD includes evergreens like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night” (the latter sung in Duvekot’s native German) alongside bittersweet, lovely originals.  Hutchinson’s “Of the Magi” laments love gone by in the context of the timeless O. Henry story, while Duvekot’s wry “Thanks for the Roses” is undoubtedly the first Christmas song containing the word ‘thong’.

Their overall mood is more December than Christmas, though Hanukah gets a nod in “The Riddle (Tumbalalaika),” a Yiddish folk song re-imagined by Zukerman. Best evoking this melding of secular and mystical is their cover of Greg Brown’s  “Rexroth’s Daughter,” a song about longing, coping and holding out hope.

The band grew out of an in-the-round show the four did in Cambridge, Mass., at the Club Passim Campfire Festival’s 10th anniversary in September 2008.  The one-time performance led to a short run of shows a few months later, where the group had a sudden realization – they were on tour in December without any holiday songs.   No such trouble now, though.

Mark your calendar

What: Cold River Ranters with Blackjack Crossing
Where: Mole Hill Theatre 789 Gilsum Mine Road, Alstead
When: Saturday, Dec. 19 7 p.m.
Admission: Donation at the door
More: http://www.myspace.com/coldriverranters or 352-0460

A little off the beaten path in Alstead sits a former industrial building that’s been transformed into a performance space. Metal Stamping was still using the space for manufacturing when occasional shows began in 2003. “It was a bit greasy then,” says owner/proprietor Dennis Molesky. Now it’s shined up, with the dormant machines painted bright primary colors, and hosting concerts in earnest.

The double bill on December 19 will features two of the area’s finest examples of American roots music – one a bit newfangled, the other so pure they could have been preserved in amber 60 years ago.

The Cold River Ranters call their music “hot gonzo primitive folk jive.”  If Leon Redbone shared a moonshine-soaked night with Daisy Dukes, their love child would sound like this.   With a repertoire that ranges from mountain music to sea chanteys, with the odd John Prine or Rolling Stones song, they’re a perfect fit for the era-spanning Mole Hill stage.

Joining them are old time pickers Blackjack Crossing.  Watch them play, and you’ll swear you’re in Nebraska circa 1950, listening to a tabletop radio broadcast of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.

Local Rhythms – Autumn is my favorite color

When I first came here, autumn in New England meant nothing to me. Born and raised in California, I only knew two seasons – raining and not raining.

But after 30-plus years, fall’s crisp dawns, metallic blue skies, wood smoke and turning leaves thrill me as much as any native.

I know, I’m still a flatlander.

Of course, the sheer volume of festivals in late September and early October is another reason I love this change of season. Here are a few I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks.

All of them pretty close to home:

The Sunapee Chowder Challenge, always a tasty battle, will be held this Sunday, September 27 on the harbor. Bubba’s in Newbury won the People’s Choice award last year, while the Anchorage took the judge’s prize. If you’re not a fan of seafood, this year’s competition will also introduce a “soup master” category.

Yum – comfort food.

Speaking of which, the Claremont Fall Festival on Saturday, October 3 includes a chili cook-off and an apple pie contest. It’s being held for the first time in the new Visitors Center Park. Downtown, 18 students and 7 adult actors will present an all-day living history performance called “The Pride of Pleasant Street.”

Windsor’s Moondance is always a lot of fun, with dueling LED hula-hoops, a microbrew beer garden, Celtic music and stories from Jennings and Ponder. Club Soda also performs at the event, which happens from 5-10p.m. on Friday, October 9.

The 62nd Warner Fall Foliage Festival, held October 9 through 11, is in a word, huge. It literally covers the entire town. There’s a midway with carnival rides, a farmer’s market, parades, crafts and an oxen pull. There’s also music from the East Bay Jazz Ensemble, Fountain Square Ramblers and others.

The annual Harpoon Octoberfest, held at the Windsor brewery on October 10 & 11, includes a German oompa band and plenty of Bavarian food like sausage and sauerkraut. Oh, and there’s lots of good beer. What more could you ask for?

The family-friendly Springfield Apple Festival also happens on the 10th and 11th, with cider, fried dough, crafts, pony rides and other distractions – most of them edible.  There’s also music, including local favorite Alli Lubin.

Finally, the Newport Opera House Masquerade Ball with Last Kid Picked on Halloween night typically sells out. With an extra hour due to the end of Daylight Savings Time, it should be a gas.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, September 24: Jason Cann, Harpoon Brewery – The expanded brewpub is, it turns out, a great music venue. Jason is the perfect choice for entertainment, which is why he’s a regular Thursday attraction. He covers the Grateful Dead and Dave Matthews, reinvents Michael Jackson songs, and does “Please Come to Boston” better than Dave Loggins, who wrote it. But I like his originals, like “I Want,” a free download on his jasoncann.com website.

Friday, September 25: Community & Youth Connect, Broad Street Park – Chris Kazi Rolle is a playwright, rapper and motivational speaker whose life is the subject of a movie, The Hip Hop Project. That’s also the name of Rolle’s after school music project, which travels the country and stops today in Claremont at 4p.m. Rolle’s performance is followed by a local battle of the bands at 6p.m.

Saturday, September 26: Gatsby Gala, Cornish Colony Museum – Though a bit pricey at $75 a ticket, this re-creation of a night at a Roaring Twenties speakeasy is nonetheless intriguing. The Downtown Windsor location is a secret that’s only revealed (along with a password) after guests RSVP for the event. It’s all for a good cause, with dinner and music by the Gerry Grimo-led East Bay Jazz Ensemble.

Sunday, September 27: Stolen by Gypsies, Parker House (Quechee) –Samantha Moffatt sings and plays accordion, with Mike Gareau on fiddle and mandolin and the ubiquitous Dave Clark on bass. Stolen by Gypsies plays French folk music, the kind that goes well with cheese, a piece of crusty bread and a glass of good red wine. This is an outdoor event, held weather permitting from 6-10p.m., so be sure to call ahead of time.

Tuesday, September 29: Traditional Irish Session, Salt hill Pub – If you live or commute to the Upper Valley, there are few better ways to end the work day than this song circle, which starts at 6p.m. and takes a different form every time it happens. It’s led by Chris Stevens, Roger Burridge and Dave Loney, but things really get fun when guests begin showing up.

Wednesday, September 30: Mark & Deb Bond, Ramunto’s – Yippee, another music venue in Claremont, something I’d always for this riverfront pizza/sub sit-down restaurant.  The bar’s great, the beer selection is first rate, and the calzones are fantastic.  How great that music’s been added to the mix.

Thanks to Jesse Baker for this week’s headline!

This week’s Hippo – 10 September 2009

A run, a shave and a party
Wild Rover raises money and celebrates Irish/Scottish culture with Celtic Fest

For the first annual Celtic Fest, Manchester’s Wild Rover takes to the streets with an afternoon-long block party and a couple of big charity events — a “holy trinity” celebrating all things Irish and Scottish. It takes place on Sunday, Sept. 13, which just happens to be about six months away from the biggest day of the Celtic year.

From Rihanna to Reba
Hometown girl finds Heaven on Earth with country

Ashley Alexander has been onstage at the Palace Theatre before, when she was 17. However, it was under much different circumstances than her Thursday, Sept. 10, appearance, opening for country hunk Chuck Wicks.

Weekly Music Roundup

Reggae, Metal-odic music, Great Bay Festival, Red Molly and Disco Biscuits

Compass Preview – 10 September 2009

We’re talking about…

Re-meet the Beatles

Leave it to the biggest musical group in history to whip up the masses without a single new song. On Wednesday, Sept 9, the faithful lined up to purchase the Beatles catalog yet again – and again.  New stereo versions of the band’s 13 studio albums, and a Past Masters disk of non-album tracks, are now available.  The reissues, available in a box set and as single discs, represent a huge sonic upgrade from the first CD releases of 1987.

Purists are excited about the release of an 11-disc mono box set.  The only Beatles studio albums actually recorded in stereo were Let It Be, Abbey Road and Yellow Submarine (and it only had four new songs).  The rest were made for single channel sound – even Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

There is some new material here – each disc includes a mini-documentary video, along with clips of the band’s in-studio chatter.  Whether that’s worth the $18.98 list price depends on how much you love the Beatles.  Some apparently do – a lot.  Pre-orders ate up all of Amazon’s allotment for both the stereo and mono box sets, though more are expected in a few weeks.Horizon

Mark your calendar

Who: Jonatha Brooke
Where: Lebanon Opera House
When: Thursday, Sept. 24, 7:30pm

After finding a cache of lost Woody Guthrie lyrics a few years back, the folksinger’s family scouted about for players who might do them justice.  The first effort, two albums’ worth of a Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration, felt like something Woody himself might have done were he alive for the roots-rock Americana wave of the late 1990s.

Enter Jonatha Brooke.  She mixed Woody’s words with much jazzier elements, bringing in everyone from Keb’ Mo’ to Joe Sample to contribute to the project. The result, The Works, served as a reminder that folk music has evolved considerably since the days when Bob Dylan imagined himself a one-man Guthrie tribute band.
Brooke has a deep catalog – everything from the edgy folk she made with Jennifer Kimball as the Story, to the psychedelic flourishes on her last album of original material, Careful What You Wish For.  Her live shows, which tend to rock a bit harder than her recorded work, are always a treat.

Worth driving out of town

Palace Theatre,
Manchester, NH

Distance: 50 miles
Why: Chuck Wicks
When: Tonight, September 10 at 7:30 PM
Tickets: $29.50 – $39.50

It won’t be long before this country rocker is headlining bigger places like Meadowbrook, so this intimate show is a real opportunity.  Wicks sold out the Claremont Opera House earlier this year, and repeated the feat at Keene’s Colonial Theater a couple of months ago.  He and girlfriend Julianne Hough finished high in “Dancing With the Stars” competition.  Hough’s country music career is also taking off, so the pair could become another Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Wicks’ song “Stealing Cinderella” is fast becoming a wedding standard, and revved-up numbers like “She’s Gonna Hurt Somebody” are the sort that get fans dancing in the aisles (along with screaming girls rushing the stage, which happened, to the horror of some board members, at the Claremont Opera House).  Manchester hometown girl Ashley Alexander opens.

Places to go

This week we check out the Sunapee area

One Mile West
Brook Rd and Route 103
Open: Tuesday through Sunday at 4 PM

A nicely varied menu complemented by a great beer selection – 20 drafts from around the world.  The walls are covered with concert posters from the classic rock era.  They do a Tuesday open mike night, with hosting duties split between George Johnson and the Moores.

1403 Route 103, Newbury
Open: 7 days

This steakhouse and pub, once known as the Shanty, hosts a Monday open mike night with Terry Ray Gould, and presents live music on the weekends when ski season ramps up.  During the summer months, the deck is alive with music.

Goosefeathers Pub
Spruce Lodge, Mt. Sunapee Resort
Open: 7 days (seasonal)

The hottest pub on the mountain, when ski season starts there’s music from people like Jason Cann and Pete Merrigan, along with one or two big national events.  There’s a full bar and food menu.

71 Main Street, Sunapee
Open: Thursday through Sunday until October 12

In the summer months, this restaurant/bar has live music most Fridays and Saturdays.

Rt. 103 Newbury (on the harbor)
Open: 7 days

Bob “Bubba” Williams and his wife Robin ran the Gray House in New London for many years before opening in Newbury, where their chowder is the bowl to beat at the annual Sunapee Chowder Challenge (Sunday, Sept. 27)

Café Andre
699 Route 103
Open: Wednesday through Monday

Fine dining, with dishes like Tournedos Royale and Escargot Provencal.  There’s music Wednesday nights, with Reid Trevaskis and an accompanist hosting an open mike.

Local Music Spotlight

Who: Dave Clark
What: One-man musical vertical integration chain
Sounds like: Depends on the band, but his singing voice suggests Tim Hardin or Bob Weir

Dave Clark is a bit like the Michael Keaton character in Multiplicity – it seems impossible that there’s only one of him. He can be heard playing jam band favorites with the Gully Boys, original roots rock with Juke Joynt, or solo folk music at places like Canoe Club, Elixir or lately, Silver Fern Grille and Bar in Claremont.  He also pops up in loose configurations like the open mike Acoustic Coalition, and he’ll sit in with any number of other performers.

As if he didn’t have enough on his plate already, Clark also runs the Yellow House Media web site, one of the most valuable local music resources anywhere.  He produces the public access Homegrown music series in his hometown of Woodstock, and provides booking guidance to several area music venues.

Local Rhythms – TV is King

Picture 1When MTV hit the airwaves, I was addicted.  Music, I believed, should be seen and heard.

These days, MTV wallows in tawdry reality television, and urges anyone with an interest in the “M” part of the network’s name to visit a web site.

I’ve tried to watch music videos online, and there are too many Max Headroom moments for my patience. Plus, there’s the short attention span factor.  Combining the Internet with a bunch of five-minute vignettes is a recipe for distraction.

Then I discovered Palladia, CMT HD and the HDNet Sunday concert series, presenting long-form music that can be seen, heard and experienced in high definition.

Once again, I’m blissfully chained to my TV.

Let me offer some advice to those of you who find this unhealthy. Watch your favorite band in seven-channel high definition and then talk to me.  Put it another way – if you enjoy live music, you’ll enjoy high fidelity, high definition television even more.

It’s like having a concert hall in your living room.

I knew Sara Bareilles only in passing, until I caught her “Live at the Fillmore” set on Palladia the other night.  She mesmerized me with every song. Best of all, her performance looked and sounded as good, if not better, than actually being there.

In another time, I’d have been intrigued enough by Bareilles’ bouncy hit “Love Song” to check her out live.  But let’s face it, while clubbing is still a realistic pursuit, concerts cost too much to attend every one that looks interesting.

Palladia features programming from MTV, VH1 and CMT artists, so on any given day you can catch a Jay-Z “Storytellers,” Def Leppard and Taylor Swift doing “Crossroads,” or new and interesting acts like Silversun Pickups and Adele on “Unplugged.”  If you’re lucky, they’ll show Jeff Beck’s “Live at Ronnie Scott’s” again, which is amazing.

CMT looks great in high definition.  Not on stuff like Toby Keith’s “Beer For My Horses” movie, which in 1080p is probably bad for the environment, but for full length musical performances by Reba McIntire, Alan Jackson and others.

Every Sunday, HDNet dedicates its programming to a wide array of concerts, from Gwen Stefani to New Found Glory, Meat Loaf to Jet, Styx performing with an orchestra, or Heart re-creating “Dreamboat Annie” (something they’re charging 150 bucks to do next week in Manchester).

I think of shows like these as another form of local music.  I don’t have to leave town, or for that matter my house, to see them.

Here are some live local performances worth heading out for:

Thursday: Jesse Carr Trio, Burdick’s – A regular occurrence every first Thursday at this Walpole restaurant and chocolate shrine, Jesse Carr sings and plays saxophone, with Genevieve Rose on upright bass, and Joe LaCreta on guitar.  Order a bite from the French bistro menu and end with a mouse (not mousse – this one has a tail) made of the darkest, most decadent chocolate you’ve ever tasted.

Friday: Spinning Leaves, Pleasant Valley Brewing – This is worth the drive to Saxtons River.  Spinning Leaves are a duo hailing from Pennsylvania.  They sound like a more carefree version of the Swell Season, the Oscar-winning stars of “Once.”  This charming little roadhouse, located in the middle of downtown, has great beers, a top-notch menu and music every weekend.

Saturday: Jason LeVasseur, Colby-Sawyer College – This Nashville-based rocker reminds me a bit of Matt Nathanson. He’s won all kinds of awards on the college circuit, with fun songs like “Driver is the Deejay,” where he reminds his passengers that “I get to pick what goes in the stereo.” LeVasseur’s band, Life in General, was a semi-finalist in last year’s “America’s Got Talent” series.

Sunday: Tall Granite Jazz Band, Sunapee Harbor – Is it Labor Day already?  There’s little doubt when Sunapee hosts the final outdoor concert of the season.  Closing out summer (sigh) is a band that keeps things swinging, with selections by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and other performers from the Big Band era.  Maybe Steven Tyler, who’s recuperating at his lake house, will stop by for a song or two.

Tuesday: Irish Sessions, Salt hill Pub – An Upper Valley treasure that’s gone in 5 years from treat to institution to (dare I say it?) franchise, coming soon to Hanover (with music, of course).  About tonight: if you haven’t stopped in after work (or looking for work – times are hard) to check out this circle of scintillating Celtic sounds, you’re really missing out.

Wednesday: Reid Trevaskis, Café Andre – Most nights food draws customers to this roadside restaurant, tucked a mile or so from the Sunapee traffic circle.  Traviskis was a big deal in New York a few years back, and is known these days for his band Hurricane Alley, specializing in “Abba to ZZ Top.”  Tonight, he’s solo, but no less entertaining.