Article: “Added perks: Portsmouth Book & Bar adds music to its lineup”


By Christopher Hislop
May 23, 2013 2:00 AM

It’s been just about six months since Portsmouth Book & Bar opened up its doors and showed off the painstaking renovations that transformed the historic granite Chase House into the thriving business atmosphere you see today. Walking through the doors you’re welcomed by bright and vivid colors accented by remarkably ornate pillars and decorative trim molding around the ceiling — all of which was hidden by a suspended ceiling in a past incarnation of the establishment. A shame…; but boy is it nice to see the architecture of the building highlighted as it has long meant to be seen.

To say the least, the Portsmouth Book & Bar is a unique place. It’s comfortable, it’s inviting, and everything about it is infinitely interesting. It’s an establishment that is looking to aid in the distribution of fine used books for those who still covet the tangible and beautiful entity that is a book. It’s an establishment that allows you — while thumbing through said volumes of fine books — to partake in a tasty beverage, be it a gourmet latte, a high-quality wine, or a delicious craft beer. And don’t forget the food. Crafted by Chef Amy Mehaffey, the Book & Bar conjure up a luscious array of cuisine to tempt any palate — from baked goods, to sandwiches, small plates, and more.

WHAT Music at Portsmouth Book & Bar

WHERE 40 Pleasant St., Portsmouth

COST Varies

CONTACT 427-9197,, and on Facebook


• June 21, 9 p.m., The UnExplainable Billy Eli & The Spook Lights (proceeds benefit the Birchtree Center for children and youths with autism)

• July 6, Ken Stringfellow. His newest album is “Danzig in the Moonlight,” and he’ll be coming from France. His band, the Posies, has been recording and playing for decades. Stringfellow played with R.E.M. for 10 years and has been with Big Star for more than 17 years.

• Aug. 2, sultry indie-jazz singer Margaret Glaspy

So…; apart from giving folks the opportunity to divulge in the age-old tradition of soaking up the ambient pleasure that you can only experience in a bookshop — an ethereal opportunity that continues to phase out at the expense of virtual shops, and the cold, personality-less plastic thin-line box known as a digital reader — what else is the Book & Bar up to? Glad you asked…; They’ve been giving touring musicians an opportunity to play their songs. In a town where music venues seem to be failing and falling in similar fashion to bookshops, Portsmouth Book & Bar is adding a little space to listen to interesting music that you may not otherwise see and hear in the Seacoast.

The three owners (of note: they have 80 years of book selling experience among them), David Lovelace (who has built upwards of seven book shops in his life — including The Montague Bookmill, which has become an iconic cultural presence in Western Massachusetts), John Petrovato (who also owns and operates Raven Books — with two locations in Boston and Cambridge), and Jon Strymish (who recently sold New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, Mass. — the largest independent bookstore in New England for the past two-decades), along with Mehaffey have collectively orchestrated a music series that speaks to the eclectic tastes present among them. From folk, to Americana, bluegrass, Celtic, alt-country, rock, and even cabaret style performances, the series has (in its short life thus far), and will continue to offer unique listening experiences for everyone — from the casual music fan to hardcore music lovers.

Strymish — who was on the board of directors at Club Passim in Cambridge for the better part of a decade — has strong ties to the Boston music community and is looking to expound upon those connections for the continued cultivation of the series.

“My theory is to get, and expose people to musicians that are making, and feeling music, not simply selling it,” said Strymish in a recent interview. “When a musician is ‘selling’ music they’re never as interesting and exciting as they were when they started out, or had an inherent passion to play. Those are the folks we’re looking to book here. The folks that are excited about playing and have the ability to engage the crowd in amazing ways. I’m pretty excited about what we have going on.”

Mehaffey — who has spent portions of her life in Oklahoma, Los Angeles, Austin, and Boston, also has thick ties to the music scene here and abroad including Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore who has expressed interest in a future performance at the venue.

“So far it’s going great,” said Mehaffey. “The artists have been enthusiastic about the space, and the people that have attended the shows have been very appreciative and have expressed interest in what we have going on (musically) moving forward. We’re happy to have this space to afford people an opportunity to play, and listen to music. So far all the shows have been a ‘pass the hat’ affair, but for some shows we’re looking to bring in, there will likely be a cover charge. It will be a mix for sure. It’s good to have a mix (of free shows, and ticketed events).”


Up to this point the Book & Bar have hosted Session Americana, Boston favorites The Swinging Steaks, innovative cellist Rushad Eggleston, Damon and Naomi (of Galaxie 500), The Jimi Hendrix of the mandolin — Jimmy Ryan (of the Blood Oranges), Soprano Julie Braun Haines with an evening of cabaret music featuring songs by Weill, Satie and Gershwin, The Murphy Beds with Irish folk music from Brooklyn, Anna and Elizabeth — ballads, fiddle tunes, great harmonies and storytelling, and Sisters of the Moon featuring members of Della Mae.

“You never know what’s going to come through the door,” said Lovelace. “From the music, to author events, to films…; We’re just trying to keep it fresh, and keep it interesting. And — I can say this because I’m an author myself — if you’re not interested in what’s going on in here (or you’re just interested in conversing with your peers), there’s an escape valve by way of the patio that we’re building outside.”

As of right now future shows include Texas songwriter Billy Eli (June 21), Ken Stringfellow — founding member of the Posies, as well as a former member and longtime collaborator with R.E.M., and a member of Big Star, Lagwagon, and many others…; (July 6), and sultry indie-jazz singer Margaret Glaspy (Aug. 2).

“We’re not looking to pack a schedule just for the sake of booking a schedule,” said Lovelace. “We want to make sure that what we have coming is of the highest quality, and something you probably can’t get anywhere else around here.”

“We’re still getting organized, but we want folks to know that this is happening,” said Mehaffey. “It takes a village. We’re happy to have become a welcome part of the Portsmouth community, and we’re trying to give back with unique programming. We hope you’ll join us.”

Austin country musician Billy Eli to perform Portsmouth Book and Bar!

FRIDAY, JUNE 21 9:00 p.m. > BILLY ELI

Texas songwriter Billy brings his “country that rocks and rock that’s country” to Book & Bar with his band featuring world class musicians. Comparisons to Billy’s style have been made to Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle.

Indy rock legend Ken Stringfellow to perform at Portsmouth Book and Bar


Founding member of The Posies, member of R.E.M for ten years and with Memphis’s Big Star for seventeen years, Ken comes to us from his home in Paris for a night of solo performance from his new record “Danzig in the Moonlight” and beyond. Ken’s shows are legendary, pushing minimalism to its core definition, often performing without using the house PA. His voice soars, cries, leaps from barely audible to room-filling anguish, joy, sorrow and humor. Ken’s live shows have been raved about in packed audiences from Lithuania to Lima, from Taipei to Tasmania, from Johannesburg to Trinidad.

Ken Stingfellow to play first ever show in Portsmouth, NH.

Mark your calendars for Ken stringfellow coming to Portsmouth Book and Bar on July 6th. I have been a fan of his since the Posies in the 1990s, through his solo stuff and his work with REM, Big Star and others. Should be a great event.

REdesign: libraries – Speaker Bios for event at Worcester Art Museum, May 3, 2013

Matthias Waschek, PhD, became Director of the Worcester Art Museum in November 2011. Originally from Germany, Dr. Waschek wrote his PhD on French art theory of the end of the 19th-century, which encompasses thinking about the Fine and Decorative Arts, as well as architecture and literature in a globalizing world. Dr. Waschek served as Head of Academic Programs at the Louvre Museum in Paris from 1992 to 2003. His broad range of publications, along with his teaching (Ecole du Louvre, Parson’s School of Art, Sciences Po, Université de La Rochelle, etc.), had one major focus: exploring the relationship between artwork, artists and their public. He was instrumental in enhancing the Louvre’s academic profile by creating a series of international symposia and lectures on art historical and archeological themes.

As Executive Director and Curator of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (2003-2011), Dr. Waschek published extensively on 20th Century and Contemporary Art. He shaped the identity of the Foundation as a young and experimental institution with a strong community impact by clarifying its mission “as a laboratory and a sanctuary.” Waschek is widely respected for his innovative programs and exhibitions, as well as his talent for establishing robust strategic partnerships with community stakeholders and businesses. During his successful tenure at the Pulitzer, he built a stable organizational and financial structure to ensure long-term strength and sustainability. In order to raise the Foundation’s institutional profile and impact, he grew the annual operating budget by 52% over six years and increased professional staffing considerably. Throughout his museum career Dr. Waschek has generated numerous collaborations between universities and museums to develop experimental programs, such as a partnership between the Pulitzer Foundation and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Waschek hopes to make the Museum an urban player in Worcester, strengthening an already existing culture of creativity, innovation and cohesion. His goal is to maximize the Museum’s regional impact, to engage the local community including more than 30,000 college students, and to make the institution organizationally and financially more sustainable for the next chapter of its growth.
Kristin Waters, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at Worcester State University, and a resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center.  Recently she was named the first Presidential Fellow for Art, Education and Community and in this role serves as a liaison between the university and museum facilitating pilot programs to engage WSU students and faculty, and working towards making WAM a university museum. Her recent scholarship reclaims the philosophical work of women and African Americans situating it historically and within contemporary intellectual frameworks.  Her book, Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds (UPNE 2007), co-edited with Carol B. Conaway was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize for best anthology from the Association of Black Women Historians.  The 2000 collection, Women and Men Political Theorists: Enlightened Conversations (Wiley) remains one of the few race and gender-inclusive political theory collections.  Her most recent book chapter, “Past as Prologue: Intersectional Analysis in Nineteenth Century Philosophies of Race and Gender” appears in Why Race and Gender Still Matter: An Intersectional Approach, will be published by an imprint of Cambridge University Press in March, 2014.

Kulapat Yantrasast, a native of Thailand, is the co-founder and principal of wHY Architecture which he founded with fellow architect Yo-ichiro Hakomori in 2003 in Los Angeles, and opened with a New York location in the spring of 2012. Newsweek magazine’s recent article on architecture noted wHY Architecture as one of the most innovative architectural practices of the new generation, and their philosophy of integration of creative thinking with timeless design, along with their focus on intelligent and high-quality construction, have gained them a reputation for their architectural works and projects for the arts and culture all over the United States. In 2007, wHY Architecture completed the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which became the first new art museum in the world to receive the LEED certification for environmental design. Current projects include the expansion and renovation of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, the oldest and largest art museum in the state, a series of gallery design and collection installations at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Harvard Art Museums, the Art Bridge at the Great Wall of Los Angeles, and the new Tyler Museum of Art in Texas as well as many residential and commercial projects. Other recent art cultural projects include the new Pomona College Studio Art Hall facility in Claremont, California. Prior to wHY Architecture, Kulapat worked as a close associate with Tadao Ando and served as a project architect on many projects during 1996 – 2003, which includes the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas, the ARMANI / TEATRO in Milan, the projects for the Calder Museum in Philadelphia, the Fondation Francois Pinault in Paris and the project for the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, that he continues to work on with Tadao Ando. Kulapat graduated with degree in Architecture from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and received his Masters and Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Tokyo under a scholarship from Japanese Government. He lectures regularly in the US and worldwide, and since 2005 he has served on the Artists’ Committee of American for the Arts, the nation’s oldest organization for the support of the Arts in society. He was also awarded the prestigious Silpathorn Award in 2009 from the Government of Thailand for outstanding achievement and notable contributions to Thai contemporary arts and culture; in doing so he became the first architect to receive the award. In 2012, he was named as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in the Art World in Art+Auction’s annual Power 100 issue.










Michael Edson is the Smithsonian Institution’s Director of Web and New Media Strategy. Michael has worked on numerous award-winning projects and has been involved in practically every aspect of technology and New Media for museums. In addition to developing the Smithsonian’s first Web and New Media Strategy, the Smithsonian Commons concept, and the Smithsonian’s multi-award winning Web and New Media Strategy Wiki, Michael helped create the Smithsonian’s first blog, Eye Level, and the first Alternative Reality Game to take place in a museum, Ghosts of a Chance. Michael is an O’Reilly Foo Camp veteran and was named a Tech Titan 2011: person to watch by Washingtonian magazine. Michael has a BA from Wesleyan University. He has worked at the Smithsonian for 20 years.





Adam Reed Rozan is the director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, overseeing education, the studio class program, marketing, design and visitor services. Previously, he was the Audience Development manager at the Oakland Museum of California, and before that, served in various functions at Harvard Art Museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Public Library and Boston Museum of Science. His expertise is in visitor engagement through online and onsite innovative programming, and in-gallery/exhibition exploration. Rozan is a frequent lecturer and writer on museum engagement and contemporary art, and holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Museum Studies from Harvard University Extension School.



Jeff Goldenson works at the intersection of libraries, technology and fun. He is the designer in the Harvard Library Innovation Lab where he imagines and builds new library projects, from policy to software to experiences.  He’s Co-Teacher, Harvard Graduate School of Design Seminar 09125, The Library Test Kitchen, a workshop where – with the financial support of the Harvard Library – students design and build their own library projects.  Previously, Jeff was an artist-in-residence at EdLab, Teachers College, Columbia University.   He earned a Masters of Science from the MIT Media Lab and a BA in Architecture from Princeton University.


Tona J. Hangen is a social and cultural historian of the 19th and 20th century U.S. at Worcester State University in Worcester, MA, where she also serves as the Assistant Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program. She holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brandeis University and a B.S. in Anthropology/Archaeology from MIT. She is the author of Redeeming the Dial: Radio, Religion, and Popular Culture in America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) and a contributing author to the recently published Cambridge History of Religion in America and to the Oxford Handbook of Mormonism (in press) and the forthcoming Routledge Companion Volume to Religion and Popular Culture. Her essays on media and religion have appeared in Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life, edited by Michael Keith, and in Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio, edited by Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio. Her research interests include popular culture, media, religion, women’s history, digital humanities, and the pedagogy of history. She has consulted with Teaching American History programs affiliated with the American Antiquarian Society and the Five Colleges consortium in Northampton, MA.

Molly Rubenstein joined the Artisan’s Asylum staff in July of 2011. First working as volunteer Outreach Coordinator and then Director of Operations, she is honored to be serving now as Interim Executive Director. Molly’s professional background is in community organizing, education, and the performing arts — she seeks out systems through which a community of people can explore new things and engage in a common vision. Her previous work with the public policy initiative Workplace Flexibility 2010 strengthened her conviction that there should be other options available for professionals than the standard 9-5 job; she’s excited to help makers and fabricators of all kinds find ways of supporting themselves through their creative work. Molly is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Linguistics that she likes to find creative uses for in her day-to-day life.




Martha Mahard has more than three decades of professional experience with the Harvard University Libraries, including work in photography and visual collections at the Fine Arts Library, visual resources at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard Theatre Collection of The Houghton Library. She has written numerous publications and presentations in the field of photographic archives and visual information. Mahard received her D.A. and M.S. from Simmons GSLIS. She is currently Professor of Practice at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

John Petrovato
has been a bookseller for over 20 years in Massachusetts.  Co-owner of the Montague Book Mill in the 1990 to 2000 and currently owner of Raven Used Books located in Harvard Square in Cambridge (2004) and on Newbury Street in Boston (2009). Also, co-owner of the newly opened Portsmouth Book and Bar in Portsmouth, NH.   The Raven specializes in used scholarly, literary, and art books in excellent condition. Winner of the “Best of Boston” by Boston Magazine (2012) and “Best Used Bookstore” by Boston Phoenix in 2011, each store sells over 5000 books monthly and 2012 was the best year thus far.   The Portsmouth Book and Bar combines used books along with a full restaurant and Bar and books well known regional and national musical acts.