The cable ship Thorco Luna is still at the Tyco terminal, where it will continue loading fiber-optic cable until July 15. A couple of other ships are due to arrive in port this week. Get the details in the latest installment of Port Watch.
POTOMAC (and DS-55)
Type: tug (and barge) Arrival: June 19 (sailing June 20) Flag: United States Cargo: diesel Terminal: Sprague River Road Deadweight: 364 tons Length x breadth: 30 x 10 meters Year built: 2006
Type: oil/chemical tanker Arrival: June 28 Flag: Marshall Islands Cargo: heating oil and diesel Terminal: Irving and Sprague River Road Deadweight: 37,456 tons Length x breadth: 184 x 27 meters Year built: 2007
Information via Portsmouth Pilots and MarineTraffic.com. Note: Ship schedules are subject to change.
Several events coming up this weekend offer opportunities to have a good time while supporting worthy causes. Here are a few of the highlights.
Spamalot and a lot more
Friday, June 23, marks the start of several notable happenings in the Seacoast theater scene. First off, it’s opening night of the Prescott Park Arts Festival’s summer musical, “Mary Poppins,” which runs through Aug. 20. It’s also opening night of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, which runs through July 30. Finally, The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth kicks off its summer Late Night Series with Stephen Belber’s “Tape,” which runs through July 2.
Local indie rock
Marvel Prone and The Woolly Mammoths are both young Seacoast rock bands with followings that are growing fast. The two groups, both of which have released new albums this year, will join forces for a show at The Stone Church in Newmarket on Friday, June 23, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door; for more info, click here. To read The Sound’s reviews of the bands’ latest releases, click here.
Fill the Hall
The third annual Fill the Hall Food Drive takes place at The Music Hall in Portsmouth on Saturday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests are invited to drop off bags of nonperishable food items, which go to the Summer Meals 4 Kids program at Gather (formerly the Seacoast Family Food Pantry). The goal is to fill every seat in the theater with a bag. Last year, seven tons of food were collected. More info here.
The Southern New Hampshire Ukulele Group presents the second annual SNHUGFEST celebration at Henry Law Park in Dover on Saturday, June 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Numerous uke-friendly bands from the Seacoast area (and one from Nashville) will take the stage at the Rotary Arts Pavilion. The event is free; proceeds raised from donations and sponsors go to the Ukulele Kids Club, a nonprofit organization that helps hospitalized children through music therapy. Learn more here.
Seacoast Outright’s third annual Portsmouth Pride celebration moves to Strawbery Banke Museum this year. The event — which last year drew more than 2,500 people to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied youth — takes place Saturday, June 24, starting at Portsmouth Public Library at 2 p.m. Color groups led by the Leftist Marching Band will then march in rainbow formation to Strawbery Banke, where there will be food, entertainment, speakers, and a marketplace. For more information, click here.
It’s the final weekend before summer, and a number of upcoming events mark the start of the season, including a sand-sculpting competition at Hampton Beach and Prescott Park’s first concert of the year. There are lots of other musical and spoken-word performances coming up; check out some of the highlights here.
Master Sand Sculpting
Ten of the world’s top sand sculptors will carve their masterpieces during the 17th annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic this weekend. Beachgoers can watch the artists at work, then vote for their favorites from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. An awards ceremony takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Seashell Stage, followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m. The sculptures will remain on display through June 28. Learn more here.
Foreside Music Festival
Kittery Foreside has become the hipper, less-crowded alternative to downtown Portsmouth. This weekend, The Foreside Music Festival presents around 20 local acts, plus readings from area writers. It begins Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m. and continues through Sunday, with most events at Folk and The Dance Hall. It’s part of the Kittery Block Party, which is Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more on the festival, click here; for more on the block party, click here.
The second studio recording from local jazz septet Sojoy is more than an album. “The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook” is also an interactive live experience that combines words, art, music, dance, and animation to follow an adventurer’s fantastical journey. The show is on stage at New Hampshire Theatre Project in Portsmouth from June 16-25. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($10 for kids); learn more here.
Not to be confused with the recently revived David Lynch show, Twin Peaks is a Chicago-based indie-rock band that sounds like a touring party. The group will be at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m. for an all-ages concert. The rapidly rising band released “Down In Heaven” in 2016, and they’ve been unveiling new singles every month this year. Area bands Hammydown and The Green Bullets open. Tickets are $15, available here.
Lake Street Dive
The Prescott Park Arts Festival is about to get noisy. The River House Restaurant Concert Series kicks off on Sunday, June 18, at 7 p.m., with Boston-born band Lake Street Dive. The rock, jazz, indie-pop quartet is in the midst of a summer-long national tour. They released their latest album (their first on Nonesuch Records), “Side Pony,” in 2016. Suitcase Junket opens the show in Portsmouth. There is a suggested donation of $8-$10; for more information, click here.
With temperatures expected to surge this weekend, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors or hide from the heat inside. Here are some of the most intriguing events coming up in the area.
Maine linocut exhibit
Nancy R. Davison has been making linoleum cuts of various geographic areas for 50 years. She owned a gallery in York, BlueStocking Studio, from 1985 to 2007 and has created many images of York and Ogunquit. The Morgan Gallery at the Kittery Community Center is showing Davison’s work through September. She’ll discuss her process at a reception for “Linocuts: Past & Present” on Friday, June 9, from 5:30-7 p.m. For more information, click here.
Rock for the Arts
The Cocheco Academy of the Arts (CATA) offers programming with a focus on performing and visual arts. On Friday, June 9, the Dover Brick House hosts a concert to raise funds for the public charter school in Dover. On the bill are area rock bands People Like You and Red Tail Hawk, as well as UNH band Marvel Prone and CATA student band Citronella, among others. The show takes place 6-10 p.m.; tickets are $7-$12, available here.
Po’ Boys album release show
Popular Seacoast band the Soggy Po’ Boys are set to unveil their new four-song EP, “Hang it on the Wall,” with an album release show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m. The New Orleans-style jazz septet takes the stage following an opening set from Martin England and the Reconstructed, another local favorite. Tickets are $12, available here. To read a recent interview with Po’ Boys bassist Nick Phaneuf, click here.
Market Square Day
Downtown Portsmouth has changed over the last four decades, but Market Square Day has been a constant. The 40th annual festival takes place Saturday, June 10, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Presented by Pro Portsmouth, the event features live entertainment on two stages, as well as many crafters, local businesses, and food vendors. There’s also an Historic Walk on Friday at 6 p.m., and a 10k Road Race on Saturday at 9 a.m. For more information, click here.
World Ocean Day
If you visit the Seacoast Science Center in Rye on Sunday, June 11, you’ll have a chance to walk through a life-size inflatable whale, dissect a squid, and try on a blubber glove, all in one day. From 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., the museum will celebrate World Ocean Day with whale, dolphin, and seal activity stations; children’s games; a beach cleanup; a guided walk along the shore of Odiorne Point State Park; and more. For more information, click here.
The Soggy Po’ Boys have been ladling out their sloppy stew of New Orleans-style jazz for over five years now. When they’re not on tour, you can still catch them every Tuesday night at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, and at other venues across the region. The infectious spirit of their music and the party vibe of their concerts has long since made the Po’ Boys one of the Seacoast’s favorite bands.
On their new four-song EP, “Hang it on the Wall,” the Po’ Boys continue to celebrate the multi-cultural traditions of early American jazz. From the upbeat swing of the original “Maybe Baby” to the loungy loll of Freddy Taylor’s “Blue Drag” to the tongue-in-cheek humor of “Would I Lie?” to the festive creole of “Ba Moin Ti Bo,” the EP offers a sweet and spicy dose of the Big Easy.
Although the style of music is similar to that heard on their three previous studio albums, some tweaks to the septet’s lineup add nuance. The band’s newest member is Nick Phaneuf, a guitarist and bassist in several area groups. He plays upright bass for the Po’ Boys, replacing the tuba heard on prior recordings. The rest of the band includes guitarist and singer Stu Dias, soprano sax and clarinet player Eric Klaxton, trumpet player Zach Lange, tenor saxophonist Nick Mainella, pianist Mike Effenberger and drummer Brett Gallo.
Phaneuf joined the band over two years ago, but this is the first album he appears on. “I’m like the new guy, even after being in the band for a couple of years,” he says with a laugh.
Phaneuf and Effenberger recorded and mixed the new album, which was recorded in Kittery at the Second Congregational Church, where Effenberger serves as music director. The record is available on 7-inch vinyl or as a digital download.
The Po’ Boys play an album release show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Friday, June 9, following a set from local band Martin England and the Reconstructed. In advance of the show, Phaneuf spoke to The Sound about the new album, the band’s passion for New Orleans jazz, and what lies ahead for the Soggy Po’ Boys.
New Orleans music has such a melting pot of influences, and that really comes across on the new album. Can you talk about the appeal of New Orleans-style music?
Yeah, you hit it on the head that it is definitely the nexus of American music in that it combines blues and European influences, along with the Caribbean influence that is evident in this recording too. It represents an exciting time in American music, before it developed into what we now consider to be jazz. You can kind of feel the energy, I think, of a music that’s about to explode into different things, but also that it’s a time where it’s still meant primarily to be popular music, so it’s very acceptable to people still.
“Hang it on the Wall” includes two originals and two covers. Is that right?
That’s correct. Yeah, it’s the first time the band has recorded any traditional music. The first two full-lengths are all originals, or predominantly original music. So it was exciting to try to put our stamp on some traditional material.
The covers, at least to modern American audiences, are relatively obscure songs. What led you to cover those songs in particular?
Specifically with “Ba Moin,” we felt like we really wanted to show our audience the Caribbean side of the music that influences kind of the second line, dancier side of the music, but show where it came from out of the original tradition. That was important to us, to bring some of that to the table.
And “Blue Drag,” I think we just liked that song (laughs). Even across a four-tune EP we wanted to have kind of a balance of feelings, and (“Blue Drag”) seemed to bring something that wasn’t present in the other tunes to the table.
As for the originals, I know Stu wrote “Maybe Baby.” Was he the primary writer on both of those songs?
Actually, no. The other original (“Would I Lie?”) was written entirely by our drummer, Brett, lyrics and all, which is unusual in the Po’ Boys. Everybody in the band does write, but often the lyrics are always from Stu. So this tune came in complete from Brett, and it’s charming and funny, and whenever the audience can hear the lyrics the jokes land, which is really gratifying to play it live. So I was excited that we were going to put it out so people could hear it.
You mention that everybody in the band writes. When Stu or whoever brings an idea to the table — there are a lot of guys in this band — how much do all the individual instrumentalists get to put their own mark on the song?
That’s a great question. Because we are trying to write within a tradition, there’s a lot about what each person does on their instrument that’s kind of prescribed by the style, so there are roles that each of us understands that we’re meant to play on the material. But, within that, the music itself … has a lot of improvisation within it already, so any given performance is going to be pretty unique, and there’s a lot of room for the personality of the individuals, especially in the horn section. So, no matter what the song is, there’s a fair amount of people putting their own stamp on it.
And a lot of the music is worked out on the bandstand, which is kind of nice. It’s a similar tradition in New Orleans. It’s not like we’re in a rehearsal room writing. Someone brings in a tune and then we try it live in front of people. So that influences the writing process, because you get instant feedback of what’s working and not working. It’s a different process for me from being in rock bands, specifically, where you might work and craft a song in isolation and have it all fully formed before anybody ever hears it.
You guys are known for the energy and atmosphere of your live shows. But the album is very lively and has its own energy to it as well. How do you go about trying to translate that live energy to the studio, if that is something you consciously try to do?
No, it definitely is conscious. We recorded it in a church, which definitely gave it a vibe of a real space. And it didn’t matter that the church wasn’t the exact perfect acoustics. Just that it had a character to it, I think, adds to it having a believable vibe of a live performance. It sounds like it took place in a space, so it’s not clinical.
And then, while recording, we were conscious to keep things moving along, because it’s easy to get bogged down on details when you’re recording, because you know that you’re trying to commit to something that people are going to listen to over and over again. But that element of the live show is not caring and treating it like a moment that’s going to pass and never happen again. So part of it is, you play a take and you don’t think too hard, you play another one, and then if you start getting bogged down you switch to a different tune and come back to it so that we weren’t overthinking it.
Do you feel like this album reflects any new directions or growth for the band?
I think that the band adapting to adding me was part of the growing process of the last year and a half, because replacing the tuba with string bass changed something, necessarily. So I think that the music is accommodating that change of instrumentation. It’d be hard for me to articulate exactly what’s different about it, but everybody’s role within the band shifted slightly with that change. So I think that everybody was probably, consciously or unconsciously, writing and playing more to the fact that there’s a string bass instead of a tuba than they had been. So, yeah, that was definitely a part of it.
Also, one of the things that excited us about doing an EP was that we had these two original songs that we really wanted people to hear, and we wanted to just capture this moment of the band and not wait until we had all the material for the next full-length record to put something out. We were like, “This is what we’ve got right now.” There’s always another record to be made, and we figured it was better to capture the energy of the band as it was and put it out there rather than wait.
You and most — if not all — of the other members of the Soggy Po’ Boys are also involved in other bands and projects in this area. And you have day jobs and touring and everything else. How do you balance all these things?
Google Calendar (laughs). Having a shared Google Calendar is a huge part of that, because we have to try to coordinate everybody’s schedule. And the band has started scheduling further in advance. We play a lot of shows, and the way that it works is there’s just an agreement that we’ll be on top of that stuff far enough in advance that we can get all seven people in the room. We are actually scheduling in the middle of 2018 right now, which sometimes is terrifying just as a person, to be like, “I can’t believe I have things on my calendar that I have to do within a year from now.” But, that’s how we’re able to get the people that we want in that band to be in the same place at the same time.
Tell me about the tour coming up this summer.
It’ll be the Eastern Seaboard. We have some places that we really like that we’ll spend some time in, like Ashville and Charleston, South Carolina, but we’ll go through New York, D.C., Nashville, Tennessee. I think we’re going to Georgetown this time. That was a debate, because sometimes you pick one city that you’d really like to go to and it adds eight hours of driving just to pick up one extra city. We found this place in Pennsylvania — or rather, they found us — that has this blues and jazz festival — Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s not a place that was on my radar, but we went there in February to play this festival, had a blast, and we immediately were like, “OK, well I guess that’s going to be a tour stop in the summer,” because there are a lot of really interested music fans in this city that I wouldn’t have even thought to go to.
Closer to home, The Press Room is closed for the summer. The Blue Mermaid is closed at least for the summer (they plan to reopen in the fall). No more Coat of Arms, no more State Street Saloon. As an active musician, do you feel like there’s still a healthy number of venues in the area? Is this something that local musicians worry about?
It’s definitely a conversation. I mean, I think depending on how long you’ve been around here, your view ranges from (negative) to optimistic. For me, I have worried about it at times, but I feel like the community is resilient and that we might go through periods of up and down, but that there’s a broad orientation toward art and community that will win out over time. That said, if someone told me that The Press Room was closing for good, I would start to really worry. We’ve definitely lost places over time. It’s hard, because the process of gentrification cuts both ways. It brings things in and then it pushes other things out.
The Dance Hall (in Kittery) is a thing that wasn’t around a few years ago, and it’s been a great addition to the music scene, because it’s specifically not a bar, so they’re really open-minded about people doing artistic things there. So, when we did the shows a couple years ago playing the music of Tom Waits, that wouldn’t have really landed in a bar. And the Po’ Boys, a few times a year, will do a night of specially programmed music and a lecture that accompanies it, and again, that wouldn’t really work in a bar. So they’ve been a great addition to the scene. I mean, I would love if there were more clubs with more music happening, for sure. But you’ve just got to ride the wave, I guess.
Do the Po’ Boys have any other news to report at the moment?
I think that’s it. We’re playing regionally through the spring, going on tour in the summer. We’re actually probably going to book the recording session for the next full-length next week, as soon as the smoke clears from this release. So we’re ready to go, already thinking about the next one.
The Soggy Po’ Boys will play an album release show for “Hang it on the Wall” with opener Martin England and the Reconstructed at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12, available here. The album is available from the Po’ Boys Bandcamp page or at their live shows, and digital downloads can be found on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
There’s a lot going on this weekend. Lots of art, lots of chowder, lots of shopping, and a couple of temporary farewells. Check out some of the weekend highlights below.
New art is everywhere
Friday, June 2, brings Portsmouth’s Art ’Round Town (5-8 p.m.) and the Dover Art Walk (4-8 p.m.), as well as several other art happenings. The grand opening of local fabric artist Nancy Morgan’s new gallery in Portsmouth, Nancy Morgan Art, is 5-8 p.m. A reception for “Easy Village,” a three-artist show at Buoy in Kittery, is 6-9 p.m. Also, from 5-8 p.m., photographer Nate Hastings introduces his show “The Five Spot” in the lobby of 3S Artspace in Portsmouth.
Compleat Female Stage Beauty
In 1661 London, playing a woman on stage was a man’s job. Jeffrey Hatcher’s play “Compleat Female Stage Beauty” documents the saga of one such man, who falls from theater glory after the king undoes the law prohibiting women from the stage. Back Alley Productions is staging Hatcher’s show at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth from June 2-18. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.; tickets are $15, available here.
The WOKQ Chowder Festival is one of the longest-running events of its kind in the country. The 33rd annual taste-testing fest comes to Prescott Park in Portsmouth on Saturday, June 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Not only will guests be treated to an array of delectable chowders — and be able to vote on their favorites — but there will also be live country music, kids’ activities, beverages, and other treats. Tickets are $10-$14 ($7 for youths), available here.
The Press Room’s summer hibernation
State Street Saloon is gone. The Coat of Arms is closed. And The Press Room is shutting down for three months of renovations. The good news is that the beloved Portsmouth pub reopens under new ownership in the fall. In the meantime, savor one last show on Saturday, June 3, at 9 p.m. Local legend Dan Blakeslee headlines, with support from Melvern Taylor and Jonah Tolchin. Tickets are $7-$10, available here. (This is also the final weekend before the Blue Mermaid closes its Portsmouth location on June 6, with plans to reopen in Kittery in the fall.)
Shop Portsmouth Day
More than 50 of downtown Portsmouth’s independently owned and operated shops, boutiques, and galleries will host special sales and events during Shop Portsmouth Day on Sunday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Presented in partnership with the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, the day-long event features wine and cheese tastings, sidewalk sales, mimosas, treats, pottery demonstrations, cooking classes, trunk shows, and more. For a list of participating businesses and more information, click here.
The LPG tanker Polar set sail on Memorial Day, while the tug Coho and barge Penn 92 arrived that night. A couple of other ships are expected later in the week. Get the details in the latest installment of Port Watch.
COHO (and PENN 92)
Type: tug (and barge) Arrival: May 29 (sailing May 30) Flag: United States Cargo: asphalt Terminal: Sprague Avery Lane Deadweight: 428 tons Length x breadth: 35 x 11 meters Year built: 2008
Type: bulk carrier Arrival: June 2 Flag: Marshall Islands Cargo: gypsum Terminal: Sprague River Road Deadweight: 58,750 tons Length x breadth: 190 x 32 meters Year built: 2008
Type: general cargo Arrival: June 3 or 4 Flag: Philippines Cargo: fiber-optic cable Terminal: Tyco Deadweight: 16,953 tons Length x breadth: 132 x 23 meters Year built: 2014
Information via Portsmouth Pilots and MarineTraffic.com. Note: Ship schedules are subject to change.
A range of emotions will swell across the Seacoast over Memorial Day weekend. There will be sadness and laughter, running and revelry, mad men and dark arts. Learn about some of the highlights below.
Farewell to the Coat
For 22 years, the Coat of Arms has been serving frothy beers and delectable pub food on Fleet Street. The beloved British bar was one of the few remaining establishments in Portsmouth known as a place for the locals. But the Coat pours its last pint on Saturday before closing permanently. Loyal patrons are organizing a farewell event on Friday, May 26, starting at 5 p.m., to give a final toast. For more information, click here.
The Big Lebowski
The 1998 Coen brothers film “The Big Lebowski” tells the story of a man, known as “The Dude,” who… Ah hell, you already know what it’s about. You’ve seen it 400 times. And yet you want to see it again, on the big screen, surrounded by people in shabby bathrobes. The Music Hall in Portsmouth is giving you that opportunity on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $11; available here.
Midnight Mad Haus
To get a glimpse of Portsmouth’s freak-filled underbelly, you have to stay up late. The next installment of the Mad Haus series is on Friday, May 26, at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre. There’s a party in the lobby at 11 a.m., followed by the performance at midnight, when the Mad Men of Oopsy Daisy Inc. present cirque, theater, vaudeville, dance, drag, fashion, burlesque, puppets, and more. Tickets are $15 (or pay what you can), available here.
Dark Arts and Crafts
The mysterious proprietors of Deadwicks Ethereal Emporium in Portsmouth invite guests to their Parlour of the Paranormal for a Dark Arts and Crafts Faire this weekend. The event features esoteric artwork from more than 20 regional artisans, including jewelry, candles, prints, rare books, clothing, costumes, herbal products, statues, sculptures, pins, photography, and various other oddities. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, click here.
Memorial 5k Road Race
The 20th annual Runner’s Alley/Redhook Memorial 5k Road Race takes off from the Redhook Berwery in Portsmouth on Sunday, May 28, at 11 a.m. Afterward, regain the weight you lost with a feast and party featuring live music and beer. There’s also a Kids Fun Run at 10:15 a.m. All race proceeds benefit the Krempels Center on the Community Campus in Portsmouth. The entry fee is $35 ($5 for the Fun Run). For more information, click here.