ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 4 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 16, 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.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the first Thursday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the third Thursday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The AAC CoffeeHouse has a twin on the third Thursday of every month! The new CoffeeHouse gathering is filled to the brim with new opportunities for good music, gossip, and "show-and-tell" at the Kept Writer in St Albans tonight.
      Green House, a new acoustic trio from St Albans who debuted two weeks ago with Blue Sky, will be just one of the featured performers. Dave Wilson, Ben Duchaine, and sculptor Dan Green will play their own compositions perhaps some Grateful Dead covers. AAC artists Alan DeMont's new series of Native American paintings and Connie Clay-Bickel's nudes are on exhibit.
      The Kept Writer features an acoustic Open Mike Night with the best new artists in Vermont on the third Thursday of every month. Call Jedd or Launie (802-527-6242) for info.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents an old-fashioned Franco-American Soiree with the modern stars of the genre on Saturday night. The concert is part of the Millennium Series at the Opera House.
      Franklin County recording artist Michele Choiniere and the racy Canadian trio Matapat will bring to life a music that not only shares its roots with the popular Celtic and folk movements but also brightens the kitchens and halls of French-speaking Franklin County natives.
      "The traditional music that I was born into came from my grandfather," Michele said "The music was carried through my father's harmonica playing, transferred from Quebec to Vermont through my parents' kitchen. Everything happened in the kitchen." Fabe, Lucille, and Michele Choiniere will open the show.
      "This community has so many Franco Americans but they are quietly here and it's not like they want to come out and say, 'Hey! I'm Franco-American.' We don't eat Spaghetti-Os. We never had canned pasta and sauce growing up," Michele said.
      "The Spaghetti-Os put a negative overtone on our culture. The whole Franco thing is for everyone. There's an energy attached to this music that is contagious."
      That energy is why Celtic and Greek and African music is so popular.
      Although the Matapat performance of lively jigs, red-hot reels, and passionate ballads is world class, Matapat is also intimate enough for a Quebecois kitchen party in Highgate. Canadian Juno Award nominees Simon LePage, Gaston Berard, and step-dancer Benoit Bourque
      "The kids will like the groovy Matapat," Michele said. "They have an African bass line that adds a real modern touch of world music."
      Benoit is well known to Franklin County audiences for his work here in the 1996 Franco Voyageur tour (Soiree Franco-Americaine), the 1997 La Danse des Enfants as well as other soirees and residencies that demonstrated and made accessible the heritage, traditions, and contemporary identity of the culture.
      Participating in a live concert like this is so much more than watching a video. It's the difference between watching the Shuttle launch on TV or feeling it blast the air and ground from a sand dune at Cape Canaveral.
      "I've told my students if they show up they get extra credit," Michele said. "They need to see it and feel it to believe it. I really want the younger kids to take a chance and experience it so it doesn't become a TV artifact."
      After the concert, Michele, Benoit, Gaston, and Simon will come down from the stage to hold a combination quadrille and contra dance with the Opera House audience. Benoit will call the dance in French and English.
      The Franco-American Soiree is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Opera House. Admission is $9/adult, $7.50/seniors and students. Save a buck tonight or tomorrow morning with an advance sale ticket at the Merchants Bank, Spears Pharmacy, or Swanton Rexall. Call the Opera House (802-933-6171) for more info.


      Will Patton of Bakersfield has been a professional musician since he was 13. His newest CD is the AAC Feature Album tomorrow morning at 8:20 on WWSR 1420 AM
      "I've had this idea of redefining the classic bop combo." Will said. He uses guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass to play hard, swinging jazz. At the same time, he is attracted to the romantic, bluesy sound of Django Reinhardt and the Gypsy jazz tradition, to the rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova, and to the ancient musical form of Choro. For the last five years, he has extended the mandolin in Jazz and Brazilian music and has blended all these influences into a new album, Latitudes and Departures. The CD is the AAC Feature Album of the Week and will be featured at CD release parties tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Kept Writer and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Borders Books & Music in Burlington.
      Will's music brings people to concert halls and to "parks in the evenings playing these wonderful melodies." Those concert halls and parks are in Rio de Janeiro, Philadelphia and Paris, New York and Los Angeles, Montreal and here in Franklin County. He has also played in many of the better known local bands and was featured in the Got Milk-Summer Sounds lineup. His bands have opened for Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Earl Scruggs, John McLaughlin, and Toots Thielemans. Joining him on the CD are VSO violinist David Gusakov, music professor and guitarist Steve Blair, and teacher and flutist Tom Steele who also played with Will in the John Cassel band.
      Will returned last week from the annual Classical Mandolin Society of America convention where he rubbed strings with "the world's best collection of mandolin players ever under one roof" and shopped for a label.
      In real life, he is a surveyor with Cross Engineering. "Latitudes and Departures" is also a surveying term "which has real resonance for me," he said. I'm an engineer in real life, so I too like the clean, geometric layout of the album cover. Latitudes and Departures is available at Jeff's Seafood, the Kept Writer, Barnes and Noble, Pure Pop,, and through Will's own website


      Our annual Christmas exhibit and sale at Northwestern Counselling and Support Services is coming soon. This evening of fine music, fine food, fine company, and fine art is a fund raiser for NCSS and an opportunity for Franklin County artists to "strut their stuff." If you haven't signed up yet, E-mail the All Arts Council


      The Rose & Thorn Writers Contest offers a full year of Nirvana Belgian Chocolates, for the best theme describing an ambrosia that could melt Attila the Hun's heart. Writers need to finish one or all of these jingles in 150 words or less:
      "Chocolate reminds me of...."
      "What Chocolate means to me...."
      "Chocolate is..."
      Entries of more than 150 words will be disqualified. Click here for the rules and guidelines. The deadline is next Wednesday, November 22.


      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 ]

      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2000 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.