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Entertainment Highlights: Josh Ritter Brings Acoustic Show to Lebanon

  • Josh Ritter

    Josh Ritter

  • Clockwise from top left, Jack DeJohnette, by James Adams; Joe Lovano, courtesy of the artist; Esperanza Spalding, by LaNita Adams; Leo Genovese, by Carlos Pericias. Their Spring Quartet plays Tuesday at the Hopkins Center at 7 p.m.

    Clockwise from top left, Jack DeJohnette, by James Adams; Joe Lovano, courtesy of the artist; Esperanza Spalding, by LaNita Adams; Leo Genovese, by Carlos Pericias. Their Spring Quartet plays Tuesday at the Hopkins Center at 7 p.m.

  • A scene from Hair, the 1979 movie based on a Broadway play about the youth counterculture. It’s being shown tonight at 7 at the Town Hall Theatre in Woodstock. Admission is free.

    A scene from Hair, the 1979 movie based on a Broadway play about the youth counterculture. It’s being shown tonight at 7 at the Town Hall Theatre in Woodstock. Admission is free.

  • Josh Ritter
  • Clockwise from top left, Jack DeJohnette, by James Adams; Joe Lovano, courtesy of the artist; Esperanza Spalding, by LaNita Adams; Leo Genovese, by Carlos Pericias. Their Spring Quartet plays Tuesday at the Hopkins Center at 7 p.m.
  • A scene from Hair, the 1979 movie based on a Broadway play about the youth counterculture. It’s being shown tonight at 7 at the Town Hall Theatre in Woodstock. Admission is free.

Soon after his sudden divorce several years ago, Josh Ritter sat down to write what would become his 2013 album, The Beast In Its Tracks. It didn’t go so well.

“I started off writing almost as a chicken with its head cut off,” Ritter said. “I was scrambling and spurting blood everywhere. It was jerky and awful. It was horrible and it was messy.”

The album, Ritter’s seventh and first with autobiographical lyrics, began to come together when he let the rage and sadness subside a bit, he said. He’ll bring the songs of that album and others to the Lebanon Opera House on Tuesday for an acoustic performance.

“It’s not selfish to write about your own experience if you feel like you’re sharing something that has a larger influence,” he said.

A larger influence, maybe — the songs touch on bigger themes — but, in Lebanon, perhaps a smaller sound.

Though generally lumped into the contemporary folk singer-songwriter genre, Ritter often strays from the guy-and-guitar stereotype. He employs a full band on many of his songs and performances. Several years ago, a performance of To The Dogs or Whoever on the Late Show With David Letterman was 100 percent rollicking noise.

On Tuesday, though, it’ll be just Ritter and a pair of co-conspirators, Zack Hickman and Josh Kaufman. The m ore intimate performances lead to new takes on familiar songs, he said , like on Folk Bloodbath , from 2010’s So Runs the World Away . The song’s recorded version requires five or six people, and builds from nothing to a trumpet-led fanfare. On this tour? Not so.

“This one it’s just me on guitar, the world’s tiniest little pump organ and mandolin,” Ritter said.

The setup also provides a venue for the more inward-looking songs on The Beast In Its Tracks , which eschews tales about mummies coming to life and parables about heaven, hell and poker for honest autobiography.

And now, after those first, ugly writing sessions, and the ultimate completion of the record, Ritter has been able to write again. And it’s going well.

“Writing right now these days is such an amazing refuge, and it’s my playtime,” Ritter said. “I love it. I love it. What free moments I have these days, I have my notebook, and if I can get a verse down in a day, I don’t know what I was spending six hours doing before.”

Josh Ritter will perform at the Lebanon Opera House at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Tickets are either $26 or $36, and can be purchased from lohic.org. Gregory Alan Isakov will open.

Best Bets

Noted minimalist artist Phill Niblock, who creates huge soundscapes and films to accompany them, will perform and show his piece The Movement of People Working at 7 p.m. tonight at Dartmouth’s Rollins Chapel. Boston-based musicians will accompany Niblock live, and a film of people working in extreme conditions will be shown during the performance. Adult tickets are $25 and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Spring Quartet, made up of four multi-generational jazz artists including Grammy-winning bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Jack DeJohnette, will play at the Hop on Tuesday. Tickets range from $17 to $40, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Looking Ahead

Jefferson Starship, the rock group that came to be after the break up of Jefferson Airplane, will perform at White River Junction’s Tupelo Music Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 14. The show is part of the group’s 40th anniversary tour. Tickets range from $55 to $65, and can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

Of Note

The upcoming Woodstock Town Hall Theatre performance by folk and blues artist Tom Rush, who has been playing guitar and singing since he was part of the folk revival of the ’60s, has been postponed. The show was initially set for 8 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, go to pentanglearts.org.

Theater

North Country Community Theatre will perform its 21st annual Teen Show, Seussical the Musical, at the Lebanon Opera House through the weekend. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for those 18 and under, and can be purchased from lohic.org.

∎ Valley Improv will perform a family-friendly comedy show at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Norwich Public Library. The show is free.

∎ Entertainer Andrew Pinard will present “Professor Ossum’s Wonder Show,” a wide-ranging comedy, magic and storytelling show, twice on Saturday at the Newport Opera House. At 2 p.m., Pinard will host an hour-long one-man show; at 7 p.m., there will be a larger, two-act show. Tickets for the early show are $10 for adults and $5 for children, and $18 for adults and $10 for children for the evening show. They can be purchased at newportoperahouse.com.

∎ The Off Broad Street Players will host a dinner theater murder mystery, called “The Curse of the Hopeless Diamond,” on several dates in March. The first will take place at the Claremont Country Club on Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. Another will occur at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Joey’s on the River in Claremont. Tickets are $25 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, email offbroadstreetplayers@gmail.com.

∎ The first preview show for Northern Stage’s production of Good People, the David Lindsay-Abaire play about a Boston woman who pursues her well-off high school boyfriend, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Opening night is Saturday, March 8. Tickets for the preview are $30, and can be purchased from northernstage.org.

∎ The Hopkins Center at Dartmouth will host a showing of War Horse as part of National Theatre Live in HD, tonight and next Thursday at 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $23, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Hop will also host a showing of Prince Igor, Alexander Borodin’s epic opera, as part of the Met Opera Live in HD Series. The two showings will be at noon on both Saturday (in the Black Family Visual Arts Center) and Sunday (in the Spaulding Auditorium). Tickets are $29 for the general public, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Dartmouth Theatre Department will continue its production of Spring Awakening, the famous contemporary rock musical, this weekend. This weekend’s shows are at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $15, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Film

Colby-Sawyer’s “Favorite Film Series” will continue on Monday with a screening of the 1999 mind-bender Being John Malkovich. The showing is at 7 p.m. at the New London school’s Clements Hall, and is free.

∎ Pentangle Arts will show the 1979 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Hair tonight. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre, and is free.

Music

Interplay Jazz will present a free jazz concert featuring Fred Haas, David Newsam, Mark Shilanksy, Dave Clark and Rich Greenblatt on Sunday. The show begins at 4 p.m. at the Faulkner Recital Hall at Hanover’s Hopkins Center.

∎ The Good Old Plough band, a New Hampshire-based trio, will play at the Blazing Star Grange in Danbury, N.H., as part of a benefit show for the building. The Saturday show begins at 7 p.m., follow by a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. Suggested donation for the show is $5. Snow date is March 8.

∎ The Hop’s pianist-in-residence Sally Pinkas will perform music by Beethoven, Harold Shapero, Debussy and Schumann during a Spaulding Auditorium performance at 7 p.m. on Monday. Tickets range from $17 to $27, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Bar and Club Circuit

Funky organ-heavy duo Soule Monde will play at New London’s Flying Goose Brew Pub and Grille at 8 p.m. tonight.

∎ The John Lackard Blues Band will play at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday.

∎ Boston-based old-school rock and country group Girls Guns and Glory will play tonight at New Socials in Claremont. The show starts at 8 p.m.

∎ The Conniption Fits will play the Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday. The next night at the same time, classic rock group Hi-Way Five will take the stage.

∎ Electic group The Squids will play at Hanover’s Salt hill Pub on Friday, starting at 9 p.m. Acoustic and country artist Wayne Canney will play at the same time the next night.

∎ Canney will also visit Salt hill Newport on Friday for a 9 p.m. show. The Jordan Tirrell Wysocki Irish Trio will play at the pub at 9 p.m. the next night.

∎ The Squids will also play at Sunapee’s One Mile West on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m. Sean Wyatt will play at the restaurant from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

∎ Frydaddy front man Carlos Ocasio will play at Jesse’s in Hanover at 5 p.m. on Friday.

∎ Clay Canfield brings his musical talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 8 p.m. He also performs at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

∎ The Billy Rosen & Steve Ellis Jazz Duo will perform at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight, followed by guitar duo Putnam & Pirozzoli on Friday. Jazz guitarist and vocalist Ted Mortimer will play the club on Saturday, guitarist Steve Cornell will play on Sunday and Tom Pirozzoli will come back to the club on Tuesday. All music begins at 7 p.m.

Open Mics

The Sunapee Community Coffee House will host an open mic on Friday, starting at 7 p.m.

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

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com.