A taste of Bob McCarthy

03-22 James Montgomery and Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy, right, plays with blues harpist James Mongomery at the Flying Monkey. McCarthy, who has played with Jefferson Airplane, Neil Young, John Mayall and more, will perform at the Taste of the Lakes Region this Sunday. (Courtesy photo)

Altrusa International event to feature local musician and food Sunday


LACONIA — "Music doesn't define who I am," remarked Bob McCarthy, whose skill with guitar and mandolin has earned him respect, friends and a living for more than half a century, "but it has given me something to do."

Sipping coffee at his home overlooking Lake Winnisquam, McCarthy, when asked what sort of music he plays, answers "How much do you have?" He said his father, an academic who played violin, once told him "There are no bad gigs." In a recent interview with Blues Magazine he described himself as "a working musician with emphasis on work."

McCarthy played his first "big gig" at 16, performing with the Back Alley Boys at the New World's Fair in 1964 then began plying the coffee houses and college stages around Boston and Cambridge. "Boston was San Francisco east," he recalled. His talent took him to New York, where his solo performance at Gerde's Folk City, the legendary Greenvwich Village venue, prompted Variety to note that "His work on six-string acoustic guitar stands out" and he "seems unhampered by delivering solo stylings usually associated with combos."

McCarthy began picking folk songs and country blues, which have remained the staples of a repertoire that stretches to jazz, ragtime, bluegrass, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel, laced with strains of Ireland and Brazil. "You have be versatile to make a living at this," he said. "I've had to do everything."

The breadth of McCarthy's repertoire reflects his aesthetic approach to his music, which he described as "conceptualist." Himself a painter, he suggested that like painters, musicians have a concept or sense of the changes overtaking the culture at particular times and present themselves in harmony with it.

"Remember the boy bands wearing matching suits? You don't see them anymore," he said. "That's why Bob Dylan's voice changes," he laughed, or "why Lou Reed's sound echoed what was going on with Andy Warhol."

McCarthy's virtuosity has placed him on the stage and in the studio of any number of more familiar names, including the Jefferson Airplane, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, Pentangle, Neil Young, Taj Mahal, John Prine, the Youngbloods, Larry Coryell, Livingston Taylor, Nanci Griffith and Leo Kottke. With John Compton and Andy Pratt of Appaloosa, he shared a stage in Washington with Charlie Mingus, Jonathan Edwards and Linda Ronstadt, and recently played alongside bluesman John Mayall

When Tommy Makem found himself short a guitar player, McCarthy pinch hit. He said that he was not altogether familiar with the set list.

"I figured I could watch Tommy's hands" he said, "but discovered he was playing banjo."

No matter. McCarthy spent the next 12 years touring with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. He remembered he and Makem were a good match because "we were both Catholic and Tommy didn't drink and I'm not a drinker either."

McCarthy has also enjoyed a longstanding friendship with James Montgomery, there master of the blues harp, with whom he formed a jug band in 1967. Montogomery is featured on McCarthy's album "Satisfied Mind," which he described as a collection of blues he began with.

McCarthy admitted to being something of a introvert, who would rather practice his art than promote himself. Critics have referred to him as "a sadly lesser known" picker, singer and songwriter and "one of New England's closest kept mandolin/guitar secrets."

McCarthy himself noted that his work serves as "bumper music," the riffs played between stories, on National Public Radio. "I've made it," he crowed. "Bumper music. Nobody knows who you are."

But, McCarthy has not escaped the praise and respect of peers.

"If there were any justice in the world," said Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and a bluesman in his own right, "you'd be a well-known big dawg!"

McCarthy, together with Tom Logan, with whom he has played since they were teens, will perform at the 27th Annual Taste of the Lakes Region, presented by Altrusa International of Laconia, on Sunday, March 26, between 4 and 6 p.m. at Church Landing in Meredith. Admission is limited those 21 and over and tickets are $30 per person. McCarthy said he will offer a mix of classic and original material, leavened with instrumentals.

03-22 Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy at the Flying Monkey. (Courtesy photo)

Belmont OK’s sale of Mill

03 21 belmont votes for responders

Belmont firefighters are shown clearing hydrants following one of the winter storms to dump on the Lakes Region. Voters approved collective bargaining agreements with town workers. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)


Voters back contracts with Public Works, emergency responders: SB2 stays


BELMONT — Voters embraced three town departments hardest hit by last week’s nor’easter.
The town passed collective bargaining agreements with employees in the fire, police and Public Works departments, during Thursday, March 16, voting. They also approved both fixing and selling the Belmont Mill.

Voting was delayed from the previous Tuesday due to a nor'easter which created havoc across the Lakes Region.
Selectman Ruth Mooney said she was happy to sign the labor contracts Monday, March 20, during a selectmen's meeting. The board members signed the agreements and said copies and originals would be sent to the employees.
"They deserve it," Mooney said.
Article 18, for the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A, the police unit A, passed 423-283. The Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B agreement passed 436-273. The Public Works Employee Union agreement passed 398-279.
"The people very much supported them," Mooney said.
When fire and police personnel waited outside the polling place Thursday night, they showed signs of exhaustion, Mooney recalled. Likewise, Public Works crews worked long hours clearing roads after the March 14 nor'easter.
"These guys did a phenomenal job," Mooney said.
"These guys, they got my vote. I wouldn't want to do it," she said, noting the snow plow crews and emergency responders had a "rough week" responding to snow-clogged roads and motor vehicle crashes.
The selectmen as a board wrote a letter praising the three departments in the wake of last week's storm.
Combined, the three contracts will cost the town $457,510 in increased costs, based on a three-year overview in which the salary costs are compounded each year. However, the town estimates the costs differently, year to year, rather than against today's existing budget, for a three-year estimated cost of $226,488.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A carries a first-year cost of $48,260, and increased year-to-year costs of $126,328 over three years.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B costs $18,040 in the first year, and $59,892 over three years. And the town estimates that the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Works Employee Union costs $18,415 in the first year, and $40,268 over three years.

In other business:

• A slate of Shaker Regional School District articles passed with voters. These included Article 2, the collective bargaining agreement with teachers, 418-373; Article 3, permission to call a special meeting for the collective bargaining agreement if needed, 435-359; Article 4, the operating budget of $22,475,634 for the school district, 581-221; Article 5, $75,000 to be added to the School Facilities & Grounds Expendable Trust Fund, 561-244; Article 6, $10,000 to be added to the Technology Expendable Trust Fund, 593-209; and Article 7, authorization of voting places, 602-189.

• Shaker Regional School District voters decided to stay with the SB2 form of town government. Article 8, a petition to rescind SB2, or official ballot voting, failed 308-495. Advocates for SB2 said voters could more readily go to the polls during daylong voting rather than face a limited afternoon or evening of deliberating and voting as combined under a traditional Town Meeting.
• In town voting, Claude "Sonny" Patten won a single selectman's seat with 335 votes. Brian Watterson finished with 252 votes, Ronald Cormier received 94 and Richard Pickwick received 24 in the race. Patten and other elected officials were sworn in Monday at the selectmen's meeting. Others sworn in included newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, who ran unopposed on the ballot for three-year and one-year terms, respectively; Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, with 492 votes and 488 votes, respectively; and Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, who won one of two seats with 402 votes. Not present for the swearing-in were Susan Harris and Peter Wells, who won Budget Committee seats with 497 and 462 votes, respectively, and Peter Harris, who received 462 votes for Planning Board. Harris and Patten also were elected to the Zoning Board.
• An article for the All Veterans' Tax Credit passed 600-106. Article 9 adopted new provisions of the veterans' tax credit, after legislators removed a date restriction for times of service. This change could add 195 credits in Belmont, and the veterans' tax credit cost could climb from $235,300 in 2016 to $335,500, nearly a 30 percent increase, according to the budget.

• Voters endorsed either the restoration or the sale of the historic Belmont Mill building.

Ballot Question 6, asking voters if the town should renovate the Belmont Mill, passed 440-267. Ballot Question 7, asking voters if the town should demolish the Belmont Mill, failed 170-522. Ballot Question 8, asking voters if the town should sell the Belmont Mill, passed 383-320.
The Belmont Mill, an 1833 brick structure originally constructed by the Gilmanton Village Manufacturing Company was restored and rededicated through community efforts in 1998 and currently additionally houses several community service facilities.
In January 2015, selectmen estimated the cost of renovations at over $1 million.
A warrant article calling for the Belmont Mill's renovation was defeated by Belmont voters in March 2015. The proposal called for dedicating $3.36 million — most of it in bond funding — to refurbish the building and move town offices there.


03 22 belmont voting swearing in
Belmont Town Clerk Cynthia DeRoy, right, issues the oath of office to newly elected officials on Monday. Those sworn in included, from left, newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, and Claude "Sonny" Patten, who won a single selectman's seat. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

Campground plans alarm neighbors


LACONIA — Residents of a rural area near Pickerel Pond gasped, groaned and laughed at a public meeting Monday night when Jill Miller told them how many recreational vehicle sites could be placed in a campground she wants to build near them.

“As far as RVs, I would say there wouldn't be any more than a hundred of them in there,” the Massachusetts woman said at a Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, where Miller was asking for a special exception for the campground.

One woman shouted in disbelief, "A hundred?"

Board Chairman Steven Bogert demanded quiet.

Miller, who hasn't yet purchased the 99-acre site near Parade Road and Roller Coaster Road, also envisions tent camping sites, a neighborhood store, and farm animals like goats, horses and chickens.

Board members told her to come back when she has refined her plans, which didn't have details like exact numbers of camping spaces and how sewage would be handled.

Bogert said a preliminary site plan should be prepared before zoning variances and exceptions for the project can be considered.

“How many campsites are you looking at?” he asked. “That's going to be an important question, because too many can impact the character of the area.”

Miller sought to assure those at the packed meeting that she doesn't want to disrupt the area's rural character or intrude on the privacy of those who live there. She said she would put up fences or walls, and even use wild game cameras to ensure campers aren't wandering onto nearby properties.  

“I'm very concerned about not impacting the neighbors at all,” she said.

Those at the meeting seemed unconvinced. Several said the project could lead to odors, trespassing, noise, traffic, air pollution, water pollution, damage to wetlands, fire danger, drunkenness and loss of property values. Traffic accidents could be expected on the busy, twisting road leading to the property, they said.

Debra Cheney, who lives in the area, asked the board to reject the project.

“If people are tenting, how do we prevent invasion of our own property?” she asked. “Who's going to prevent these people from four-wheeling through our fields? It's going to be an intense impact on city services. During Motorcycle Week there will have to be police officers for traffic.

“I think this is poorly presented," Cheney continued. “I just would hope that you'd truly take into account those of us who live there and take pride in that area. The wetlands should not be disturbed, and you're not going to protect it if you have that many campers. If an applicant can be this shoddy about what she brings to this board, there is no guarantee that she's going to sustain that in a manner that would help any of the abutters. It's a rural residential area. I beg the board to please retain that for the city. This is not in the best interests of the city.”