The Hippo


Jun 6, 2020








Live Music Grab Bag

If you’re up for anything, check out these venues, which host live music of various genres on the noted days and times.
Hermanos, Concord, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. 
Covered Bridge, Contoocook, Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. 
True Brew Barista, Concord, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. 
Savory Square Bistro, Hampton, Friday and Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m. 
Pitman’s Freight Room, Laconia, Friday, 8 p.m.
Asian Breeze, Hooksett, Saturday, 8 to 11 p.m  
Wild Rover, Manchester, Thursday through Saturday, 9 p.m. 
O’Sheas Irish Tavern, Nashua, Friday and Saturday night
Peddler’s Daughter, Nashua, Friday and Saturday, 9:30 p.m.
Tortilla Flat, Epping, Friday, 7 p.m. 
Chapanga’s, Milford, Most Saturday and various scheduled dates, 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Riverwalk Cafe, Nashua, Usually every day, 7 or 8 p.m. 
Stella Blue, Nashua, Friday and Saturday, 9 to midnight, and various Wednesdays 
Molly’s Tavern, New Boston, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. 
The Stone Church, Newmarket, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, various times 
Harlow’s Pub, Peterborough, Sunday, 8:30 or 9:30 p.m. 
Racks Bar & Grill, Plaistow, Friday and Saturday, 9 to midnight
Pimento’s, Exeter, Thursday, 7 p.m. 
The Dolphin Striker, Portsmouth, Sunday, 7 p.m., Monday & Thursday, 9 p.m., Tuesday & Wednesday, 8 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 9:30 p.m.
The Red Door, Portsmouth, Mondays 9 p.m. 
Thirsty Moose, Portsmouth, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m.
Birdseye Lounge, Portsmouth, weekly, varies
Blue Mermaid, Portsmouth, Friday & Saturday
Portsmouth Book & Bar, weekly, various days and times
Portsmouth Gaslight, Friday & Saturday, 7 p.m. 
The Press Room, Portsmouth, Usually every day, various times 
Ri Ra, Portsmouth, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 p.m. 
Demeters, Portsmouth, Most Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m. 
White Heron Tea, Portsmouth, Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m.
Orchard Street Chop Shop, Dover, Friday, 9 p.m. 
Dolly Shakers, Nashua, Friday & Saturday, 9 p.m.
Lakes Region Casino, Belmont, Saturday, 9 p.m. 
Club Social, Nashua, Saturday, 8 p.m. 
Fody’s Tavern, Nashua, Friday & Saturday at 10 p.m. 
The Derryfield, Manchester, Friday & Saturday
Murphy’s Taproom, Manchester, Friday and Saturday, 9:30 p.m.
Shaskeen, Manchester, Various Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
True Brew, Manchester, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m.
Mama McDonough’s, Hillsborough, Various Fridays
Black Water Grill, Pelham, Friday & Saturday
Telly’s, Epping, Thursday (Ladies Night), Friday and Saturday
Sabatino’s North, Derry, Various Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7 to 10 p.m.
Auburn Pitts, Auburn, various Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. 
Toll Booth Tavern, Francestown, Friday, 7 p.m.
Hill Top Pizzeria, Epsom, Saturday 
Dover Brickhouse, Various Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
Village Trestle, Goffstown, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. to midnight

Find your jam
Bars, clubs & venues that play your favorite music

By Angie Sykeny

Hip-hop: Defining NH’s scene

When lifelong friends Doug York and Brian Ladd decided to form a hip-hop group in 2005, they wanted a name that would reflect who they were and would connect with their listeners. 
“We wanted to represent where we’re from and be proud to say we’re from New Hampshire,” York said. “So we called ourselves Granite State, and that resonated with people. It made [our music] more tangible to them.” 
Ten years later, York and Ladd, who goes by Bugout, are still together, making albums and performing consistently as the Exeter-based Granite State. York calls their music style “regular guy” or “working class” hip-hop. Many of their songs are about growing up and the realities of life. Their new album will continue with that theme, but with a new perspective. 
“We’re both in our 30s now,” York said. “A lot of people talk about their 20s, finding a job and settling down, then they talk about their 40s and being settled down. No one talks about being in your 30s and not seeing your friends as much and trying to figure out if you should do what’s in your heart or give up on your dreams and be a responsible adult.” 
Newer to the New Hampshire hip-hop scene is ETS, short for Emmanuel the Saint, from Nashua. He describes his style as “old-school,” citing influences like Biggie and 1990s-era hip-hop in general. In just a little over a year of performing, he’s done shows at multiple venues, opened for one of his idols, Dead Prez, and reached several thousand plays on nearly all 16 of his tracks on SoundCloud. He too writes with openness about his personal experiences. 
“I really just write about the journey of life,” ETS said, “going from being a boy to becoming a young man, finding direction, fitting in, going through doubts. I have a couple love songs, songs about betrayal and songs about internal conflicts.” 
There is a strong camaraderie in New Hampshire hip-hop. ETS said once he got “in the in” of the scene, he got tremendous support from other artists.
Two of the biggest outlets for hip-hop in New Hampshire are the weekly Rap Night at the Shaskeen in Manchester and the bi-weekly Misery Loves Company showcase at Carlo Rose Cigar Bar & Lounge in Pelham. These venues provide a place to perform and network. 
What it means to be a New Hampshire hip-hop artist, ETS said, can’t be put in a box. 
“We all have our own styles, so it’s unique, and it can’t be defined,” he said. “We are all the true representatives. We are the ones defining what New Hampshire hip-hop is.” 
Visit for upcoming Misery Loves Company shows. Visit for upcoming shows at the Shaskeen. 
Singer/songwriters: Finding a place of their own
There’s nothing like enjoying a hot cup of coffee while listening to live acoustic music. It’s such a beloved combination that there’s now a “coffee house music” genre.
But not everyone is liking the trend. As the coffee house scene grows, singer/songwriters struggle to be seen as more than a cliche. Many of what were once places of reverence for artistry and songwriting have become hangout spots, and the performers are merely adding to the coffee shop ambience.
Singer/songwriter Rachel Vogelzang has been performing in New Hampshire since 2010, first as a solo artist and more recently as one half of the Concord-based duo Feisty Pants. In a genre that centers around creative expression and often deeply personal lyrics, Vogelzang said the biggest struggle is finding a quiet space where people can listen.
“There aren’t a lot of venues for singer/songwriters,” Vogelzang said. “Even places like True Brew, when there’s a lot of people, it’s hard to be heard. Singer/songwriters need a place where they can not only perform, but also be heard, where people can pay attention to the lyrics.”
After seeing this problem, Rachel Vogelzang and Feisty Pants partner John Burlock began hosting the Near/Far music series, a once-a-month showcase of two local singer/songwriters. The series is held in New England College Concord, a space that, in addition to its collegiate use, has become a much-needed venue for poetry and music events. Vogelzang said it’s a “low-key thing,” and that she’d like it to stay that way.
“It’s a very intimate performance,” she said. “We have a small following of people who come, and we appreciate the small room for people to listen. ... I wish there were more listening rooms with this atmosphere, and bookstore-type places that would open their doors.”
Lauren Hurley, a singer/songwriter from Manchester, has been performing in New Hampshire for nine years. She too has experienced difficulty with finding venues. The only one she’s found that is quiet and has an attentive audience is Modern Gypsy, a vintage clothing shop that occasionally serves as a performance space for various artists.
“There are some strong singer/songwriters around right now, but with acoustic shows, it’s hard to keep people excited,” Hurley said. “That’s why Modern Gypsy is so special to us. I wish I could say there’s more places, but Modern Gypsy is holding it down.”
Despite the shortage of singer/songwriter-friendly venues, the scene is thriving. Both Hurley and Vogelzang (between her solo and Feisty Pants page) have over 1,000 likes on Facebook. Interest in more artistic music and the demand for more non-bar places to hear live music are on the rise.
“There’s plenty of fans, but they just don’t know where to go,” Vogelzang said. “For people who don’t like the bar scene or music-lovers looking for somewhere different, there’s not a lot of places. So that’s what we’re working on now.” 
Visit for upcoming shows at New England College Concord. Search Modern Gypsy on Facebook for upcoming shows. 
Sea music: A nautical revival
In a small but growing scene in New Hampshire, musicians are reviving the nautical days of yore with a subgenre of folk known as maritime or sea music.
London Julie is a four-woman sea music group from Portsmouth. They sing and use instruments like a cittern, fiddle, bodhran and whistle to produce an authentic, old-maritime sound.
“Sea music is a few things,” said Justine Donovan, a member of London Julie. “Songs that sailors used to pace their physical work aboard sailing vessels are shanties or work songs. Songs of the sea tell tales of mermaids, ruins, ballads and superstitions. Cautionary tales are also considered sea music and may have also been sung aboard the ships to pass the time when the sailors were relaxing.”
The largest outlet for sea music in New Hampshire is the Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival, a weekend event held every September. It’s hard not to notice when the festival is in town; performers will often roam the streets, singing and passing out programs, and many of the performances take place in and around Market Square.
“We are a comparatively small festival, but very intimate,” said Linn Schulz, president of the PMFF board. “We bring the music to the people, including people who may have never heard anything like it before. We bring it into the pubs, restaurants, cafes, churches and streets of Portsmouth.”
Schulz also leads two sea music-friendly sessions at The Press Room: the weekly Friday Trad, which welcomes all traditional folk music, and the monthly Shanty, Forebitter and Foc’s session, a sea music sing-around. Several groups that perform at these sessions have gone on to be featured performers at the PMFF, including London Julie.
Before London Julie was formed, the members had been attending the Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival and Press Room shows for years. After seeing a scarcity of female performers in the sea music scene, they decided to fill the void.
“We [wanted to] focus on sea music that gives the women’s perspective … the women left on shore, the brave, strong women who were part of the sea scene, [and the] cross-dressing women who refused to be left out,” Donovan said. 
One of the biggest draws for sea music is that it invites audience participation. Sailor shanties were, after all, designed to be sung by a group, and many performers in the scene want to keep that tradition alive. Some even advertise their shows as an “open sing,” which means people are encouraged to sing along. With the repetitive and rhythmic choruses that are inherent to sea music, nearly anyone can catch on and join the fun, even if they’re new to the scene.
“People like to sing, and there aren’t many acceptable outlets for singing in our society,” Schulz said. “If you walk down the street singing … people avoid you. If you sing at work, you’ll likely be asked to keep quiet … but at a sea music session? An enthusiastic ‘yes.’ Join in the … choruses or even lead a song.” 
London Julie has an upcoming show at Red and Shorty's in Dover on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. Visit for upcoming sea music events at the Press Room in Portsmouth. 
Blues jams: Staying alive 
Almost every day of the year, in coffee shops, clubs, book stores and bars, there is an open mike event happening in New Hampshire. For musicians, open mikes have become a scene in their own right, a gathering place to get performing experience and valuable feedback, or even to get a foot in the door for future ambitions. But within this community dominated by singer/songwriters with acoustic guitars lies the small, enigmatic subdivision known as the open blues jam.
Here’s how it works: A house band leads the jam with a full backline. Interested jammers simply show up with their instruments and tell the coordinator they want to participate. When the coordinator gives them the go-ahead, the jammers and house band agree on a structure, then play, completely unrehearsed.
Peter Zona has been coordinating the Sunday afternoon blues jam at the Village Trestle for 11 years. He sets up the PA system, mixes the sound and makes sure each jammer gets to play a set of at least three songs.  
“The reason most jams are blues in nature is because blues is basically a simple genre to follow,” he said. “Extremely hard to master, but the structure is fairly simple.”
One of the defining qualities of an open blues jam is its welcoming and nonjudgmental atmosphere. Experienced musicians come to challenge themselves and have fun while novice musicians come to hone their skills and get practice playing with a band. There are just a couple of rules. One, stick to the blues. Do not use the jam as an open mike opportunity to play non-blues music. Two, know when to wrap it up. Neither the audience nor the band wants to endure a single 20-minute-long jam.
Though blues jams are a staple in the blues community, the long-standing residency of Zona’s jam at the Village Trestle is an anomaly.
Nick David, also known as “Mr. Nick,” organizes the monthly blues jam at Riverwalk Cafe and is the singer and harmonica player for the house band, The Savage Tones. The Tones’ roots in the scene run deep. They have had regular jams at Whippersnappers and N’awlins Grille, both of which were discontinued, and their weekly jam at Riverwalk Cafe was recently reduced to a monthly jam.
David said he worries not only for blues music, but also for live music in general.
“It’s a scary time to be a musician,” he said. “People don’t have reverence for live music anymore. They’re watching their phones, watching the 10 TV screens behind the band, shooting pool. You’re competing with so much to get the audience’s attention.”
Zona has noticed the downturn as well. He said that, to his knowledge, the jam at the Trestle is the longest-running blues jam in the state. But having seen how fickle the New Hampshire music scene can be, he believes they’ll come back around.
“The number of jams ebbs and flows,” he said. “Currently, they are waning, but if a couple bars have success with them, then all the bars try it. Some work out, some do not. They go in cycles.”
Blues jams are currently held at Auburn Pitts on Thursdays from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., The Village Trestle on Sundays from 3 to 7 p.m., Strange Brew Tavern on Sundays at 8 p.m., Riverwalk Cafe on the third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m., The Stone Church on Mondays from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., and Rack’s Bar & Grill on Thursdays, at 8:30 p.m.  
Country: Taking different roads
"Living ain't hard if you know a few jokes, but every once in a while, you get a stick in the spokes." These are the lyrics Manchester singer/songwriter Tristan Omand revealed on his blog earlier this month from a new song he’s writing. The inspiration, he said, came from a childhood memory of when bullies stuck a stick in the spokes of his bike as he was riding past them.
Many of Omand’s songs follow this pattern, telling stories that unveil the darker side of humanity but also offer a bit of hope. Though his vocals and guitar picking resemble the country music style, you won’t be hearing his songs on a contemporary country station. And yet, he’s had tremendous success. He plays 100+ shows a year and has three albums, one of which was accepted by Pandora. As it turns out, a lot of people appreciate music with sincerity.
“The appeal is in the raw subject matter of the songs,” he said. “You don’t hear modern country or pop-country acts singing about anything with much substance. I like tractors and pickup trucks just as much as the next guy, but there are more things to sing about.”
A little less Johnny Cash and a lot more Hank Williams are the Seldom Playrights, a self-defined honky-tonk band from Portsmouth. Unlike Omand, who transcends the country genre into the greater Americana territory, the Playrights’ music is particular, and an old-fashioned particular at that.
Honky-tonk hit its peak in the 1950s. With simplistic melodies, an emphasis on rhythm and twangy instrumentals, it was made for dancing — something the Playrights’ founder, Jim Lamond, has seen less and less demand for. The Playrights’ weekly honky-tonk night at the Blue Mermaid was recently discontinued. Now, they play wherever they can, sporadically at the Blue Mermaid, Strange Brew Tavern and private events.
“The sports bar growth has had an impact on live music,” Lamond said. “There are few places where people can listen to the music instead of watching the TVs, and there are few with a dance floor and space to move around, which is what our music is for.”
But the honky-tonk scene may make a comeback. While the primary audience includes middle-aged people who grew up with the honky-tonk revival in the 1970s (a bit rowdier than the ’50s) listening to artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Lamond said there has been an increased interest from people in their 20s and 30s. Though not as gritty as Omand’s music, honky-tonk seems to have a similar appeal.
“When [younger people] come upon it for the first time, they seem to like the authenticity of it,” Lamond said. “These songs are about the realities of life. The ups and downs. And I think there’s a healthy appetite for music like that.”
Tristan Omand has upcoming shows at New England College Concord on Friday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m., and at Holy Grail in Laconia on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m., as well as a new album to be released in 2016. See the Seldom Playrights Facebook page for updates on upcoming shows. 

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