February 11, 2010

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Valentine’s Day is for lovers — and also not
Celebrate coupledom or the lack thereof at area parties
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com

Whether you’re a “born alone, live alone, die alone” misanthrope who thinks Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark conspiracy, or a starry-eyed romantic who reads all the messages on those inedible candy hearts and has multiple circles around the number 14 on the February calendar, there’s something for you to do this weekend.

From multi-course meals to metal bands, deep blues or bright pop — you can be sick of love or waiting for a ring — either way, you can still rock Valentine’s Day. Here are a few options across the region:

• The party starts early, on Friday at the Barley House, 132 N. Main St. in Concord, with local favorites Jamantics playing originals, along with Valentine’s meal specials.  The dinner deals happen Friday and Saturday, but the Capitol City bar is closed on Sunday. Call 228-6363 or go to www.thebarleyhouse.com.

• Life’s a drag on Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Breezeway Pub, 14 Pearl St. in Manchester, with the annual Kamikaze Drag Show featuring gift card giveaways from local businesses for the best drag entertainers. Hosted by Des O’Deria and DJ Sean McKay, the event begins at 10 p.m. Call 621-9111 or go to www.thebreezeway.net.

• Dan Webster plays tunes from 4 to 8 p.m. at Brookstone Grille, 14 Route 11 in Derry, which offers romantic fare like tempura shrimp and coriander scallops, lobster ravioli and mood food from a well-appointed raw bar. Call 328-9250 or go to www.brookstone-park.com.

• On Friday, an annual anti-Valentine’s tradition continues at Burgundy’s Billiards, 35 Manchester St. in Derry, which offers a solution for people who don’t care for cards, flowers or boxes of chocolates. DJ Steve Martel spins tunes, and there are drink specials, giveaways and special prizes for the best breakup story. Call 437-6600.

• The recently renamed City Sports Grille & Spare Time Manchester, 216 Maple St. in Manchester, shows its sentimental side with a “Sweetheart Scotch Doubles” bowling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 13, with regular live music in the bar next door. Call 625-9656 or go to www.stadiumtenpin.net.

• Jazz livens up the fine dining at C.R. Sparks, 18 Kilton Road in Bedford, www.crsparks.com, with a three-course menu including appetizer and dessert for $29.95 to $39.95.  Drummer/vocalist Steve Wark leads his trio through Great American Songbook standards by Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Hoagie Carmichael and Irving Berlin. Call 647-7275 for reservations.

• A special three-course meal at $50 per person happens Saturday and Sunday at the Dolphin Striker, 15 Bow St. in Portsmouth, www.dolphinstriker.com, and includes appetizer and a champagne toast. There’s music from Sinatra disciples the Bob Arens Trio on Sunday, and the Celtic rhythms of Crazy Maggie on Sunday. Call 431-5222.

• Dinner is enhanced by an acoustic guitarist playing in the main dining room, while a piano player tickles the keys in the bar at Don Quijote, 333 Valley St., Manchester. Call 792-1110 for reservations.

• Go back in time and don’t forget the big hair as New Hampshire’s ’80s tribute band Gazpacho hosts the “Love Stinks!” Valentine dance at the 11th Frame Bar at the Dover Bowl, 887 Central Ave., Dover, on Saturday, Feb. 13. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the band will perform from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased at the door or in advance at Ralph’s House of Tone (474 Central Ave., Dover, 749-7473, www.houseoftone.com). Learn more about the band, which has been performing for more than 10 years, at www.facebook/gazpacho80s.

• A $30 three-course Valentine’s Day dinner with a live performance of Broadway show tunes happens at Fody’s Tavern, 9 Clinton St. in Nashua, www.fodystavern.com, on Sunday. Call 577-9015.

• The Gate City Pub, 56 Canal St. in Nashua promises free gifts — chocolates, flowers and the like — to every lady in attendance at its Valentine’s Day party, which features a DJ and raffle prizes for everybody else. Call 598-8256.

• The annual Valentine’s Ball and Dinner happens Friday at Gaucho’s Churrascaria Brazilian Steak House, 62 Lowell St. in Manchester. Dancing starts at 9 p.m. The restaurant opens early on Valentine’s Day, with dinner beginning at 2 p.m. and Brazilian musicians turning up the heat. Call 669-9460 for reservations.

• A violinist plays romantic music at the Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover Street in Manchester, where the main attraction will be a 4-course tasting menu of selections from their upscale offerings. The restaurant is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Call 644-2467 for reservations.

• Celebrate Valentine’s Day and support a local singing group at Harris’ Pelham Inn, 65 Ledge Road in Pelham, www.harrispelhaminn.com, on Sunday with the New Greeley Singers, who hold their Second Annual Cabaret Fundraiser starting at 4:30 p.m. The community-based chorus promises songs about love, along with the Inn’s famous turkey dinner. Tickets are $30 per person, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the chorus. Call 635-7438.

• Neutralize any concerns about dates who won’t laugh at jokes by going for the sure-fire funny at Headliners Comedy Club, located in the Clarion Hotel at 21 Front St. in Manchester. Tickets are $20 for the 8 p.m. (21+) Valentine’s Day show, with standup comics Jim Colliton and Jody Sloane, hosted by Rob Steen. Save $5 off the cover by having dinner at nearby Harts Restaurant. Call 669-2660 or go to www.headlinerscomedyclub.com.

• Catch a south-of-the-border vibe at Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave. in Concord, with the State Street Combo playing jazz while the bar and restaurant gets into the spirit with drink and dessert specials, including a red velvet cupcake and a chocolate/raspberry martini made with fresh raspberries and dark chocolate from Granite State Chocolate. Call 224-5669 or go to www.hermanosmexican.com.

• The Hooksett American Legion, 5 Riverside St. in Hooksett, will host a St. Valentine’s Day Bash on Saturday. The event starts with cocktails at 6 p.m. A spaghetti dinner runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. A comedian will perform from 8 to 9 p.m. and then kick off your heels to dance to Rich & The Poor Boys from 9 p.m. until midnight. The cost is $15 per person. Call 485-7781.

• Jewell & The Beanstalk, 793 Somerville St. in Manchester, the funky breakfast and lunch spot, isn’t usually open evenings. That changes this weekend, with a special dinner event, with seating at 5, 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. on both nights — and local music. On Friday, Nine Pound Hammer plays traditional bluegrass. On Saturday, Bill Kasper and Jonee Earthquake perform their unique brand of tropical folk. $60/couple includes soup or salad, choice of entree, choice of dessert, and coffee, tea or soda — and a long-stem rose. BYOB beer and wine; call 624-3709 or go to www.jbeanstalk.com.

• Country crooner Tim LaRoche entertains with acoustic music at Linda’s Sport Bar, 2B Burnham Road in Hudson. Of his many original tunes, LaRoche has one that’s particularly fitting for Valentine’s Day — “I Feel a Love Song Coming On.” Call 886-0792.

• It’s lobster heaven at Makris, 354 Sheep Davis Road in Concord, where, as in years past, a violin player offers romantic music to go with the steak and seafood on the menu. Romance-challenged guys will like the promised NASCAR giveaways — nothing gets in the way of the Daytona 500, not even Valentine’s Day. Call 225-7665 or go to www.eatalobster.com.

• Enjoy a Champagne & Chocolate Soiree at The Middle, 316 Franklin St. in Franklin, with the Lakes Region Big Band playing swing music for dancing, along with specialty boutique chocolates, complimentary champagne and a range of decadent desserts. Couples tables are sold out, but $15 balcony tickets with full floor privileges remain at www.themiddlenh.org.

• A metal Valentine’s Day show at Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commercial St. in Manchester, www.millystavern.com, provides dirges for the dumped, hardcore for the heartbroken and respite for anyone totally crushed by the cancellation of the Megadeth/Slayer show at the Tsongas. The lineup includes As They Looked To The Sky, North Shore Lockdown, Fates Intentions, Last Shot and Relegation. Call 625-4444.

• There’s live jazz at brunch and dinner at Mint Bistro, 1105 Elm St. in Manchester, www.mintbistronh.com. Dinner features a regular menu and a special five-course meal at $75/person, featuring entrees like Filet Oscar, braised short ribs and orange-spiced black tea salmon. A champagne brunch happens Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with music throughout and a rose for every lady.  Call 625-6468 for reservations.

• It happens every Sunday, but this week in particular the blues jam at 900 Degrees, 50 Dow St. in Manchester, may be just the thing to help cranky souls past the hearts-and- flowers crowd. It’s hosted by blues chanteuse Francine Calo, and if you want to give a tune like “My Baby Left Me” or “Serves You Right to Suffer” a whirl, she’ll likely oblige. Call 641-0900 or go to www.900degrees.com.

• Red 2, an evening of dancing, happens Saturday at Sky Lounge, 522 Amherst St. in Nashua, www.skyloungenh.com, a Valentine’s Day special event hosted by Danny D with DJs Josh Porter, Aktiv &K Ra, Chris Beatz and Spivak. Call 882-6026.

• For those craving a backlash, a Black Valentine “Love Bites” event runs all weekend at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St. in Nashua. Patrons are encouraged to come alone or bring their future ex-wife. Live music is on the schedule: Chad Verbeck on Thursday, Sam Kiri on Friday, Mindseye on Saturday and an act TBA on Sunday. Call 578-5557 or go to stellablu-nh.com

• Love stinks at Studio 99, 115 Main St. (3rd floor) in Nashua, www.studio99nashua.com. At an encore performance of Love Gone Bad on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m., the jilted, dumped and just plain cranky are asked to bring bitter breakup poems, love-gone-wrong songs and broken-hearted monologues for a celebration of bad love poetry and prose. Admission is $10, $5 for seniors and students, with all proceeds going to VH1’s Save the Music. Call 562–5179 or check #lovegonebad on Twitter.

• Ryan Montbleau pours his heart out on Valentine’s Day at Tupelo Hall, 2 Young Road in Londonderry, in a full band performance revealing a romantic fire not usually associated with blues music. Montbleau’s pure soul voice, wrote one critic, isn’t packed with Memphis clay or greased with urban sophistication — it’s as open and honest as the stories he tells in song. General admission tickets are $20 for the 8 p.m. show. Call 437-5100 or go to www.tupelohall.com.

• Best Not Broken will play at the King & Queen of Valentine’s Eve Contest on Saturday at Whippersnappers, 44 Nashua Road (Route 102), Londonderry Commons, Londonderry, at 9:30 p.m. Enter at bestnotbroken.com to perform a talent on stage to win prizes.

• Check out silver screen romance at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Main Street in Wilton, where a “Valentino for Valentine’s Day” double feature happens Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Rudolph Valentino, the original Latin lover of the silent screen, stars in The Sheik and Son of the Sheik, which are accompanied by live music from Jeff Rapsis. Admission is free, though donations are accepted. Call 654-3456 for more.

• Love and pain is a roller derby thing at The Yard, 1211 South Mammoth Road in Manchester, for a Heartbreaker’s Ball with the New Hampshire Roller Derby team. The rockabilly-themed party happens Friday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. and features Rock 101 DJ Adam Furious spinning Stray Cats, Eddie Cochran and Billy Burnette records, along with giveaways, prizes and dancing. Tickets are $5 with costume, $7 without — go to www.nhrollerderby.com.