ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 4 * * All Arts News On the Web * * June 22, 2000


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      There is a free AAC Networking Meeting/Coffee House at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, and workshops every month at Simple Pleasures in St Albans.


      The tenth season of free concerts begins in Highgate on Sunday evening as O.C. McCuin and Sons present folk-pop singer/songwriter Diane Zeigler with an evening full of her own graceful, introspective melodies. The Got Milk Summer Sounds concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free.
      Vermont's Diane Zeigler has won five national songwriting contests including the Kerrville Folk Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, Napa Valley Folk Festival, Columbia River Folk Festival, and the Sugarbush Folk Festival. She was also showcased at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival last season.
      The AAC will host a CD party at the concert for the release of These Are The Roots, her first album in since the popular Sting of the Honeybee in 1995. Diane uses her stunning voice in counterpoint to her own emotionally charged lyrics. This could be your favorite CD of the year.
      People appreciate thoughtful lyrics and intelligent songwriting. "That's the kind of music I am drawn to," Diane said, "not the sugar pop candy lyrics. People deserve to be challenged with what they listen to."
      These Are the Roots combines the musical backup of T-Bone Wolk, Artie Traum, Dean Sharp, Bruce Stockwell, Josh Colow, and Geoff Sather with Diane's poignant lyrics, percussive and intricate guitar work, and emotionally intimate vocals. Most of the album's 14 songs reflect the difficulties she faced as a mother choosing between music and family.
      We talked about the challenges of self-producing an album. "I had retired my career for four years to be Mom," she said, "so my last release came out on Rounder Records in 1995." That CD did well nationally but Diane did not tour to promote and support it. "This record represents a major turning point for me in that I'm kind of reembracing the career that I abandoned."
      Recording it was difficult.
      "January 2 was our first studio date at Sound Design in Brattleboro. I had played First Night Burlington on New Year's Eve, then the next day my entire family came down with that flu. I think the only reason I didn't get sick was that I had mommy immunity. We postponed the recording and rescheduled and somehow got through it."
      Many musicians today do just what Diane has done: become their own record company and distributor, an option that wasn't as simple five years ago. Although she will probably work with a label again, her shift shows that the Internet provides a similar distribution opportunity to a traditional release. And this way, a fan in Utah ("I have one") can order her CD online.
      Local artist Nobby Reed reports that his CDs sell well online in the former Iron Curtain countries where they also understand the blues and 8084 also has a growing market in Europe.
      Diane contracted a fulfillment company for Internet orders from all over the world. "This is an important point," she said. "Had I never been with Rounder, that wouldn't have happened because I already had the experience of distribution and radio play." Record companies are enormously helpful to alternative artists. They make the contacts and get the air time in the niche market. That experience schooled her in what was possible.
      "I did 40 or 50 hours of Internet research and came up with a database of about 700 stations that play this music." She is contacting the DJs herself, something she can do while running her household. I wondered whether program directors prefer to get a standard label disk through the normal channels or get a "20 minute call from the artist herself." Diane does it by email because "phone calls are too expensive. And I have found that the short calls really are 20 minutes," a big burden on her time and that of the DJ.
      The technology makes it so much easier. "It also allows you to have a life. If you look at the lifestyle that musicians lead, not many women of childbearing years are out there doing this."
      Joining Diane in the Highgate Park will be emerging folk artist and composer Josh Brooks, a Panton, Vermont, native who blends country and folk music. "Vermont is definitely something that has shaped my musical perspective," he said.
      Josh started guitar as a senior in high school. He played at St Michaels College and "started getting some attention there." He began playing out last October. He has opened for Ellis Hall at the Burlington Coffee House, played gigs at The Boonys in Franklin, and was accepted for the Emerging Songwriters Showcase of the Flying Under the Radar Series in Bellows Falls. His new seven-song cassette is getting very positive reviews.
      His repertoire includes John Prine and Johnny Cash and he will do mostly original material in Highgate.
      Just before the concert, stop by for Dessert in the Park at the Highgate Caring Community social starting at 6:30 p.m. The social hour is a chance to visit with friends and eat some delicious desserts; don't forget to add an extra notch to your belt.
      Summer Sounds concerts in Highgate are presented by the Town of Highgate and the All Arts Council, and sponsored by Champlain Valley International, Chevalier Drilling, Dexter Products, O. C. McCuin & Sons, Ray's Extrusion Dies & Tubing, and The Tyler Place.
      The rain site is the Highgate Methodist Church. The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont.


      Summer Music at Grace presents classical guitarist Peter Matthews of Sheldon on Tuesday. Peter will perform works by William Walton, Augustin Barrios, Domenico Scarlatti, and others at 7 p.m. in Grace Church, Sheldon.
      Peter performs across the U.S. as a solo guitarist, and with his wife, flutist Wendy Matthews, in the Matthews duo. He studied with Stephen Aron and earned a Master of Music at the University of Akron School of Music. Peter has taught at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson Ohio, the University of Akron, and at the University of Arizona. He currently directs the music department at Richford High School.
      Admission is free but donations are welcome.


ST ALBANS--Pat Austin and Friends begin a new series of evening concerts at Chow Bella tonight at 6:30 p.m..
      Pat started singing folk and blues after college. She formed a folk trio which grew into a folky/bluegrass quartet. That became the legendary rock band Elephant Gerald, then New Leaf, and Spyders. Today Pat does a sultry mix of jazz and blues.
      The friends are recording artist Steve Blair of Free Fall, retired Navy Jazz Band member Tom Steele on keyboards, sax, and flute, and Bill Patton of Redwing. is finishing a CD of jazz mandolin and will appear in the Got Milk Summer Sounds in August.

FRANKLIN--The Sky is Blue over the Boonys as Pat Murphy and Chris Conti of Blue Sky perform an eclectic mix of country and more on Saturday.

ST ALBANS BAY--Nasty Habits plays the Bayside BBQ Friday and Brady Kindred plays Saturday this weekend at 9 p.m.

BURLINGTON--The Dark Horse Band, a favorite of the Vermont Dairy Festival, plays the Holiday Inn Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. until closing. Blue Sky and Dark Horse will play Summer Sounds in August


      The Got Milk Summer Sounds schedule and information about the artists is right here.
      Everything you ever wanted to know about Diane Zeigler is online.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


AAC dancing logo

Dick Harper, Chair

Support Free Speech on the Internet
All Arts Council of Franklin County
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
e-mail us

Go to [ Dick Harper | All Arts Index | ArtBits Archive ]

Copyright © Richard B. Harper, 2000. All Rights Reserved.