ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 5 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 4, 2001


      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 second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday 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.

Programming note: we have changed the AAC CoffeeHouses to a new date and time in January:
Simple Pleasures ... 2nd Wednesday of each month
Kept Writer ... 4th Wednesday of each month


      The AAC/WWSR Feature Artist Showcase spotlights songs from Ben Patton's new album, A Thing in Motion tomorrow morning. The Feature Artist Showcase is broadcast on Fridays at 8:20 a.m. on WWSR-1420 AM, when there is a new release by Franklin County artists.
      Ben Patton, heir of the Franklin County musical family, was born in Bakersfield where he grew up "listening to the Beatles, different kinds of jazz, and lots of Motown and R&B that his parents' band [The Spiders] played." He started writing at age 12, recording the songs with a "funky old four track and a drum machine."
      Ben is home-schooled which has opened time for musical experimentation. A Thing in Motion is his third CD. It is available at Snarf's, the Kept Writer, Pure Pop, and at


      I am not stuttering.
      Starting next week, the AAC CoffeeHouses change to Wednesday evenings. We made the change so there will be music in northwestern Vermont every Wednesday evening.
      The first Wednesday of each month is the Cambridge Arts Council's CoffeeHouse at Dinner's Dunn at the Windridge Bakery in Jeffersonville. The second Wednesday of each month is our own AAC CoffeeHouse at Simple Pleasures Cafe in St Albans for a booked performance. The third Wednesday returns to the Cambridge open mike CoffeeHouse at the Windridge Bakery. The fourth Wednesday we go to the Kept Writer in St Albans for the AAC CoffeeHouse acoustic Open Mike Night. We take a night off in five week months.
      All Arts Council members and friends are invited to the first AAC Coffee House in 2001, next Wednesday, January 10, at 7 p.m. as Norm Blouin and Friends sing and play. The poetic photography of AAC member Lauren Young will be on exhibit. The artwork will remain at Simple Pleasures through February 14.
      The All Arts Council sponsors the CoffeeHouse with music, networking time, and "show-and-tell" at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Admission is always free, but donations are appreciated.
      The watercolor paintings of AAC member Meredith Roberts are featured this month at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center, immediately south of the U.S.-Canadian border crossing.


      The All Arts Council and the Rotary Club of St Albans are back together! I wrote the check Monday to secure our handball court space for the Rotary Home Show at the Collins-Perley Complex in March. We will exhibit and sell the work of 20 of Franklin County's best painters, photographers, and sculptors.
      This year, we will have four permanent galleries at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center, Simple Pleasures Cafe, the Franklin County Family Center, and the new Swanton School Apartments. The rotating Art on the Walls and Music in the Halls exhibits will pop up at a moment's notice in area businesses with fine art and great music in the Abbey, Bayside, the Boonys, Chow! Bella, Jeff's Seafood, Kept Writer, and Northwestern Medical Center, as well as most Franklin County schools and libraries, other retail businesses, and many other local eateries and drinkeries. We will hold one- and two-day shows in City Hall for the Maple Festival, at the VSO concert, an outdoor Summer Show in Taylor Park, and our Christmas exhibit and sale at the NCSS annual fundraiser.
      Got Milk Summer Sounds will present free concerts every other Sunday in Highgate and St Albans, and regular concerts in Fairfax, Franklin, Richford, and St Albans Bay. We are already planning a year of really big shows for Summer Sounds 2001 with some of the favorite brass, classics, country, jazz, pops, and rock-n-roll acts. If your town would like to schedule additional summer concerts, E-mail the All Arts Council .
      The AAC will continue several other popular events, including solo recitals and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in concert at BFA. We hope to return to a Franklin County-wide Grand Holiday Art and Crafts Tour for Thanksgiving.
      The Vermont Maple Festival, Vermont Dairy Festival and Franklin County Field Days have asked the AAC to book entertainment for this season.
      The AAC Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in Conference Room #1 at the Northwestern Medical Center. The membership drive, recruiting directors, and strategic planning are on the agenda.
      We may undertake two publishing projects this year. Local artists and musicians have wanted to contribute to a Franklin County multi-media album. This CD would include music tracks and images in all genres. We are also investigating an All Arts Screen saver computer program to be used as a fun fundraiser.


      The Fairfax Community Theater Company is planning spring and summer shows now. Proposals for the spring show are due Monday, January 8, and for the summer show are due February 5. All FCTC board members have a form to help guide producers through the process. Call Tom Townsend (849-2923) for info.
      The Gate Players hope to do three or four shows this year. They will announce an all-members meeting to plan the season soon.
      Sue Nadeau will start a Franklin County teen dance and performing arts group through UVM Extension Service and 4H in February. It will be a free program for 16 kids. "4H isn't just cows and cooking," said the now almost grown up 4H kid. Call Sue (868-3551) for a flier and info.
      The Green Mountain Wind Ensemble will offer concerts in St Albans and Enosburg Falls in March and at the Maple Festival in April. This select group of student musicians from Northwestern Vermont specializes in the major works of contemporary composers, classical overtures and transcriptions, and traditional marches.
      Island Arts will have events for everyone including three year round and two seasonal art galleries, a craft show, a classical concert gala, children's concerts, the house-and-craft studio tour, and the international croquet tournament. They will host a performance in the Barn at Apple Tree Bay, an Improv Day at Camp Ingalls in North Hero, and the Outer Island Tour on Savage Island. Jim Hogue will return with another Cabaret Shakespear program. Island Arts give musical and performance scholarships for area kids. There are 12 active directors, citizen committees working on specific events, and a group of donors called Friends of Islands Arts.
      The 2001 lineup for the Opera House at Enosburg Falls begins with a Green Mountain Wind Ensemble in March. The Opera House has four different performance series this year: a Community Series with the Town Band and Community Chorus Events; the Traditional Events Series with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; the Emerging Talent Series including the North Country Dance Company, the District Jazz Festival and the Talent Search; and the Mentor Series to highlight the more professional performers including the VSO Brass Quintet.
      There will also be performances by Enosburg grammar school, middle school, and high school groups; the FNESU Art Show; the Dairy Princess Pageant; the EFHS Alumni Banquet and Ball; the Winterfest; and other county-wide concerts, exhibits, and workshop/performances scheduled through the year. The Opera House serves as a rain site for Concerts by the Enosburg Town Band.
      South Hero Players will produce Any Number Can Die by Fred Carmichael in March at the Folsom Community Center. John Labarge is directing this murder mystery with hanging bodies in chimneys, and closets, and all over the stage.
      "We're also still working with the schools and helping them with lights and sound," Mike Guernsey said.
      The Village Players' summer musical will be Kilroy Was Here in July in North Hero. David Light will direct this production of the USO in World War II. The play will use an all-volunteer cast and crew and will benefit the North Hero Town Hall renovation.
      Summer means music around Franklin County. St John's Ministry of the Arts, the Montgomery Historical Society's Concerts By the Common, Summer Music at Grace Church in Sheldon, the Fifth Annual Blues Fest at the Boonys at Lake Carmi, and the Ninth Annual Jig in the Valley will offer classical and popular performers in some of the area's nicest summer settings. The events benefit a variety of community centers and activities.


ST ALBANS--The Northwest Music Festival District #1 scholarship finalists competition showcases a dozen students performing their challenging solos from the district auditions. The concert is at St Lukes Episcopal Church, Wednesday, January 10 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.


      Dawn Jaksons of North Pole, Alaska, is webmistress of and a recorder of 10 years of Ice Festivals in Fairbanks. This annual Festival gives sculptors the clearest ice in the world. It is sponsored by Ice Alaska.


      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.


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Dick Harper, Chair

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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2001 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).
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