A number of years ago, the small city of Nashua, New Hampshire was named by Money magazine as the "Best Place To Live In America." I lived right near there at the time and most of us took this honor as some sort of practical joke. It always seemed to me that some of the criteria used were a little bogus. The city got extra points for the arts because of its proximity to Boston (45 minutes away). Right. Nashua is the kind of place that's the "best place to live" if your idea of a good time is eating at TGI Friday's followed by a stroll through the mall.
This week, Budget Travel magazine named my local point of destination, Peterborough, New Hampshire, as one of America's Top 10 Coolest Small Towns. Now there's an honor I can get behind. It is truly a fun little town, and I do mean "little." The entire downtown area might be the size of a single New York city block. This is truly a case of "size isn't everything." Peterborough has music from folk to classical to avant noise-a-skronk. It has not one but two theatre groups. There are museums, galleries, some pretty cool shops (including my favorite, Steele's, where you can stock up on writing accoutrements, artist supplies, and cigars). It is home of the MacDowell Colony. Ah, and then there's the food. Everything from diner fare to the swank-a-licious is available.
All of this in an area so small that Tim Conway's Mr. Tudball character could visit its four corners in a few short minutes. At first glance, it's just a small town. Upon closer inspection, the range of what it has to offer is very, very wide.
As I read the article about Peterborough last night, I glanced over and saw the Nels Cline Singers Draw Breath on the top of the CD pile. Cline is the genuine article, a guitar player of so many talents that it's difficult to guess his next direction. The arc of his career (so far) definitely reminds me of some of the music I've enjoyed locally, from country/folk to nerdish avant-garde-isms, to shattering rock. It's all here and it's all in Cline's repertoire.
Look, I know some people love TGI Friday's…and love going to the mall. Me, I'd rather have a blue plate special with a cuppa, followed by a show involving a man wearing a plastic shower cap, playing a PVC pipe didgeridoo. It's a big 'ole world out there, you know?