Highlights: Valley Native Returns Home and Prepares for Change (Video)

  • Jes Raymond and The Blackberry Bushes Stringband play Freight House Hall with Brooks Hubbard on Friday night.

  • The Sky Blue Boys will play roots music with Last Train to Zinkov at Artistree Arts Center in South Pomfret on Friday night. See 'Music' for more information.

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, April 13, 2017

Emerging from her first full winter back in the Upper Valley since graduating from Hartford High School in 1995, Jes Raymond still can’t get over the novelty.

It hits her every time she walks through downtown White River Junction, whether she’s heading out to shop or to grab a bite to eat, or to a gig with her bluegrass ensemble The Blackberry Bushes Stringband. They’re playing Freight House Hall on Friday night with Enfield native singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard.

“It’s encouraging to come home and see a creative energy that I’m really excited about,” Raymond recalled this week, in a telephone conversation from her garden in Wilder. “There’s the Newberry market, all the restaurants, Main Street Museum, the stores. That was definitely not a part of my childhood. When I was little, it was Aubuchon’s and the Polka Dot.”

Come autumn, Raymond will be sharing her new-look hometown with a little one of her own. Her first child, with husband and band co-founder Jakob Breitbach, is due in September — around the same time as a combined video and album project featuring the music of favorite artists ranging from Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan to Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe, “things we cover on stage but hadn’t gotten around to recording.” By that time, Raymond also hopes to have a demo ready for a CD of new songs that The Blackberry Bushes will record over the winter.

“It’s a big due date for all sorts of stuff,” Raymond said. “It’s hectic, but it’s kind of nice. It’s made us focus on the important parts of what we’re doing: How can we expand? What can we cut back on?”

One thing they’re reducing is time on the road: Before relocating to the Upper Valley in 2016 from Seattle, where Raymond and Breitbach attended Evergreen College, met and based themselves for more than a decade, “we typically did between 100 and 150 shows a year,” she recalled. “We’re cutting back by about half, trying to focus on playing the kind of shows we really want to, focusing on producing new music.”

Recent shows have included both individual club gigs for Breitbach and a recent Blackberry Bushes appearance at Sharon resident Jim Rooney’s Briggs Ol’ Opry show in White River Junction.

And after Friday’s collaboration with Hubbard, who’s visiting the Upper Valley from his new work base of Nashville, The Blackberry Bushes hit the road for an out-and-back tour to Austin, Texas. After a summertime tour leads them through Breitbach’s native Midwest, they’ll settle in for baby time and for recording a new album of original music.

“There’s some coverage of the current political landscape, you could say,” Raymond said. “How we keep ourselves connected and engaged and awake in a crazy time that’s also sobering.”

She’s taking some comfort in writing and singing about the state of the world from the perspective of the valley where she grew up.

“There’s a lot of coming-home type of stuff.”

Jes Raymond and The Blackberry Bushes Stringband take turns with Brooks Hubbard performing at Freight House Hall in White River Junction on Friday night starting at 8. To reserve tickets ($12) and learn more, visit or call 802-281-6080.

In addition to Friday’s show, Hubbard makes solo appearances at Salt hill Pub in Hanover tonight at 8, at The Public House in Quechee on Monday night at 6, at Ramunto’s in Claremont on Tuesday night at 6, at Salt hill Pub’s new West Lebanon venue on Wednesday night at 8 and at the Lebanon Salt hill Pub next Thursday night at 8 .

Best Bets

If you’re going to venture beyond the friendly confines of the Upper Valley for one concert over the coming week, do yourself the favor of catching the Acadian folk ensemble Ten Strings and a Goatskin at either the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vt., tonight at 7:30, or at the Riverwalk Cafe in Nashua on Friday night at 8. The next time the precocious Prince Edward Islanders play within a 90-minute drive will be the New World Festival in Randolph during Labor Day weekend. For tickets ($20 to $25) and more information about the Stowe show, visit sprucepeakarts.org or call 802-760-4634. To reserve tickets ($12 to $15) to and learn more about the Nashua performance, visit riverwalknashua.com/upcomingshows.

The 1-2 banjo punch of Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn performs at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on Friday night at 7:30. Admission ranges from $15 for students to $75 for VIP seating that includes a post-concert reception for the performers. To reserve tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show, and to learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

Jazz trombonist Don Glasgo joins the B3 Brotherhood for a funky, soulful show at the new Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9.

Fiddler-singer Ruthy Ungar and guitarist/banjo player Mike Merenda lead the latest incarnation of their roots ensemble The Mammals into the Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Friday night at 9. Admission costs $10 in advance and $12 at the door. To reserve tickets and learn more, visit skinnypancake.com or call 603-277-9115.

The Raq-On Dance studio showcases the art and soul of belly dancing on Saturday night at 7 at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction. The show, for which admission costs $18 in advance and $20 at the door, is part of the studio’s seventh annual Shimmyathon festival. To reserve tickets, call 603-304-8676. To learn more about the festival workshops, which will be taking place around town, visit raq-on.net.

Looking Ahead

Juilliard-trained cellist Eric Kutz will join pianist Daniel Weiser for three Classicopia concerts in the Upper Valley over the third weekend of April. The duo will take on the cello sonatas of Mendelssohn and Barber as well as works of Mili Balakirev and Gaspar Cassado. The mini-tour begins April 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Hartland’s Damon Hall, and stops next at Lebanon’s First Congregational Church at 7:30 p.m. on April 22. Admission to both of these concerts costs $18.

Kutz and Weiser will complete their collaboration with a house concert in Hanover, at 1 p.m. on April 23. Because of limited seating, reservations are required.

To reserve tickets (discounts are available for advance orders for the Hartland and Lebanon performances) and learn more, visit classicopia.org.

Fiddler Martin Hayes will lead his Celtic ensemble The Gloaming into Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover on April 21 at 8 p.m. For tickets ($17 to $40) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-727-3304.

Senayit Tomlinson and her band will kick off the Summer Street Music Series in Bradford on April 22 at 7 p.m., with a set of alt-rock and soul during a house concert at 30 Summer St. Admission is $10. To learn more, visit the Summer Street Music Series page on Facebook.

Fiddler Paraic Keane and flutist Peter Maguire will perform Celtic music during a house concert in Braintree, Vt., on April 22 at 7 p.m.

The Full Circle chorus will celebrate its 25th season with concerts at 7:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Bradford Congregational Church and at 7:30 p.m. on April 29 at the Lyme Congregational Church. Admission is by donation. To learn more, call 802-785-4321.

Theater/Performance Art

Northern Stage opens its production of Mamma Mia, the musical built around the hit songs of ABBA, with previews at 7:30 on Wednesday night, next Thursday night and the night of April 21, before opening officially on April 22. To order tickets and learn more, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

The Parish Players perform the Jack Neary play Jerry Finnegan’s Sister on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 at the Eclipse Grange on Thetford Hill. This adaptation, which stars Erik Gaetz and Erika Wetzel as childhood friends approaching a do-or-die crossroads at a wedding, runs through April 23. After Friday night’s show, Neary, the cast and the crew will answer questions from the audience. To reserve tickets ($12 to $15) and learn more, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344.


The Sky Blue Boys and Last Train to Zinkov play an acoustic session of roots music on Friday night at 7, at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. For tickets ($20) and more information, visit artistreevt.org.

In the kickoff to the 10th season of performances at the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts, clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and his New York-based CityBand play a mix of classical, jazz and Syrian folk music at the Union Episcopal Church in Claremont on Wednesday night at 6:30. Azmeh played clarinet on Sing Me Home, the Grammy Award-winning album by YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. While admission is free, donations are welcome. To learn more about this and subsequent shows, visit wcc-ma.org.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Dixie Dinosaurs appear in the tavern of the Lyme Inn tonight starting at 6:30.

Singer-songwriter Brian Warren plays at the Taverne on the Square in Claremont tonight at 7. Following him to the microphone on Friday night at 7 is Wherehouse guitarist Jason Cann.

Twisted Knickers performs its mix of classic and modern Celtic music at the Skinny Pancake in Hanover tonight at 7:30. End of the Night pays tribute to The Doors at the venue on Saturday night at 9, before Out on a Limb plays the Bluegrass Brunch on Sunday from noon to 3. Also, Bow Thayer performs his weekly set of Americana at the Skinny Pancake on Wednesday night at 7:30.

Frydaddy frontman Carlos Ocasio rocks the tavern of Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday evening starting at 5.

Guitarists John Stowell and Billy Rosen perform at the Canoe Club in Hanover on Friday night at 6. Musicians appearing at the venue with 6 to 9 p.m. shows over the coming week include guitarist Ted Mortimer and singer Linda Boudreault on Saturday, jazz singer Cyn Barrette and pianist Alki Steriopoulos on Tuesday and pianist Bob Lucier on Wednesday. And on Monday night from 5:30 to 8:30, Marko the Magician performs his tableside sleight-of-hand.

The weekend lineup at The Public House in Quechee features guitarist Ted Mortimer on Friday night at 7 and Sensible Shoes on Saturday night at 7.

Cloud frontman Mark Aldrich kicks off the weekend of music at Salt hill Pub in Hanover with a set of rock on Friday night at 8. And on Saturday night at 9, the Blues Brothers Revue commands the venue.

Club Soda performs its mix of Top 40, classic rock, dance music, R&B, pop and country at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday night starting at 9, followed on Saturday night at 9 by About Gladys.

Singer-songwriter Seth Adam plays at the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday night at 8. And at 9 on Saturday night, acoustic rocker Chris Powers takes the microphone.

Will Michaels & Friends performs blues, soul and classic rock at the Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Saturday night at 9.

Randolph singer-songwriter James Mee performs at Stone Arch Bakery in Lebanon on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Open Mics

Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret tonight at 7.

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights starting at 6.

Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic Tuesday nights at 8.

Jim Yeager hosts his weekly open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern at 8:30 on Wednesday night.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.