ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 26 , 2002


      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 second and fourth Wednesday 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.


      The 35th annual Vermont Maple Festival begins tomorrow in downtown St Albans.
      Pottery sculptor Diana Herder Bennett will demonstrate hand building techniques in the City Hall AAC exhibit on Saturday, 12-3 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4 pm.. Her pinch pots, coil, and tree pieces got rave reviews at the Rotary Home Show.
      The AAC raffle of Vermont artist Corliss Blakely's Blue Cupboard limited edition print began last month. This still life captures an antique blue cupboard filled with antiques, vegetables and canned goods. It is framed in a beautiful hardwood frame and will be on exhibit all weekend at City Hall. The raffle proceeds help the AAC underwrite exhibits and concerts like this. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. We will draw the winner on the Main Street stage on Sunday.
      The All Arts Council will fill City Hall with an exhibit of works by Franklin County artists on Saturday and Sunday. We will have painting, photography, sculpture, and original music from AAC member artists Eric Bataille, Bob Brodeur, Corliss Blakely, Connie Clay-Bickel, Alan DeMont, Josh Derner, Dan Green, Mary Harper, April Henderson, David Juaire, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Beth Maginn, Patrick Murphy, Ellen Fox Reardon, Meredith Roberts, and Wayne Tarr as well as newcomer (to us) Kate Ritz and more. The show will also feature works from the Elder Art program and an exhibit of upcoming young artists from area schools. We are sharing the space with the wonderful aroma and tastes of the Vermont Specialty Foods show.
      The Maple Festival/All Arts Main Street stage offers a statewide showcase of popular bands, a magician, individual musicians, a classic ensemble, storytellers, dancers, and even a family of 3-foot puppets. The continuous entertainment begins at noon tomorrow.
      CDs from the Main Street Stage performers will be on sale in City Hall.
FRIDAY--Franklin County recording artist Michele Choiniere will join the famed Maple Festival Fiddlers for an outdoor "Kitchen Session" to preview the Fiddlers Variety Show and demonstrate some old and some new traditional music on the Main Street stage. Michele's music builds from strong roots in the kitchens and halls of French-speaking Franklin County natives to create a unique sound. Together, Michele, Fabio, Norm Blouin, and other performers will cook up a contagious energy in a stage full of music.
      Singer/actor Tim Stetson and His Invisible Friends will present a few of his favorite gospel songs. Tim has appeared in stage productions, performed as a magician, clown, and juggler, and as a drummer in country rock bands; he hosts "Gospel Gold Country" on Radio WLFE and was recently filmed for a Vermont College System commercial. Tim works full time as the Director of Emergency Services for the American Red Cross in Burlington and co-owns TimKath Enterprises, the lighting, sound and production coordination company that will provide sound for the Vermont Maple Festival.
      The nationally known educational puppet troupe Kids on the Block production returns with their Japanese Bunraku-style puppets that look like real kids. Each play covers real issues and puts out a positive message to help kids deal with the scarier aspects of life. This year's theme is "bullies."
      The BFA Chamber Singers perform Renaissance and Baroque music, requiems, and new choral music. They are directed by Armand Messier.
      Funk/jazz/blues combo Turning Point features Eric Bushey, guitar, Justin Bedell, bass, and Craig Benson, percussion.
      Friday evening brings the opening of the Three Muses benefit weekend at the Kept Writer cafe and bookshop with performances by Colin Clary, Amanda Gustafson of Wide Wail, and The Most. The performances are a fund raiser for the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center.
      Friday evening is also the traditional Youth Talent Show in the BFA Auditorium. This annual favorite showcases some of the most talented children in the County. Very early entries for the show include singer Lindsay Larivee, a group of Beach Boys singers, singer Jennifer Roach, Kathryn Gates, a clarinet quartet, and duo Heather Lee and Brittany Ann French on piano and flute. The dress rehearsal is held this evening. Tickets for the performance are available at the Chamber of Commerce and the festival office.
SATURDAY--The Dares kick off a day of music and fun on the Main Street Stage. The Dares are a six-piece rock band of fifth graders from Burlington. They perform original music written by band members Matt and Ben Peterson. They are popular performers on WCAX, at the St Patrick's Day celebration, and at First Night. They released their first CD during Marketfest.
      The popular five-piece country band South Junction headlines Saturday with a fresh look at traditional country music. Kevin Connelly, lead guitar, keys, vocals; John Geno, fiddle, steel, guitar, sax, vocals; Shelly Sears, vocals, keys, guitar; Bobby Sears, drums and vocals; and Geoff Bradt, bass guitar combine the powerful melodies of new country, old rock, and original material with impeccable harmonies and instrumentation.
      Folk artist, composer and Panton, Vermont, native Josh Brooks, blends country and folk music. "Vermont is definitely something that has shaped my musical perspective," he said. Josh has become a regular in Franklin County with gigs at the Got Milk Summer Sounds, AAC CoffeeHouse, The Boonys and the Kept Writer. He will also perform tonight at the Three Muses benefit at the Kept Writer. His repertoire includes John Prine and Johnny Cash and he will do mostly original material.
      Our Franklin County Performance Medley features some of the best performers from the annual Maple Festival Talent Show plus the Roxy Dance Studio Dancers, a troupe from all around Franklin County under the leadership of Roxy Bissonette.
      Vermont Arts Council Artists, the Green Mountain Cloggers' energetic, foot-stomping, toe-tapping Appalachian style dance may shake the sound system off the stage.
      Throughout the afternoon and evening, the Kept Writer will host the Three Muses benefit "Muse-ical" with Michele Choiniere; Karen McFeeters, John Gibbons and Craig Daniels; Jim Daniels; Josh Brooks; Michael Scott; Kate Barclay; and Patrick Fitzsimmons.
      The Fiddler's Variety Show Saturday evening in BFA Auditorium is Northwest Vermont's largest assemblage of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, clogging, and fancy fiddlers. George Woodard will emcee. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce and the festival office.
SUNDAY--WLFE and morning show host Matt Henry will be the official Maple Festival disk jockey on the Main Street stage. Matt will entertain the crowd with country music favorites and the platter patter beloved of his radio audience.
      Wit's End, the popular Rock & Roll band stars Charlie Couto, vocals, Dan Larrow, guitar, Jim Bose, guitar, Kevin Holmes, bass, and Cheryl Driver, drums.
      The 30-piece Green Mountain Wind Ensemble specializes in the major works of contemporary composers, classical overtures and transcriptions, and traditional marches. They are directed by Eric Bushey.
      The Three Muses introduces story teller Peter Burns with traditional and original tales, poetry and song at the Kept Writer Cafe.
      This lineup of arts and family entertainment is sponsored by the Vermont Maple Festival and presented by the All Arts Council.


      Exit Stage Left is back! Their summer production is A Bad Year for Tomatoes by John Patrick who also wrote the Teahouse for the August Moon.
      Exit Stage Left will hold auditions starting Tuesday, May 2-4 at 7 p.m. at St Albans City School.
      "We're looking for everyone," said Peter Murray. They need actors, stage crew, costumers, and lighting people. For more information, call director Matt Peck (527-1937) or Peter Murray (434-5912).
      In A Bad Year for Tomatoes, Actress Myra Marlow relocates to rural Beaver Haven, Vermont, to get away from the Hollywood hubbub. Myra wants a quiet life writing her memoirs, but her nosey neighbors spoil her solitude so she invents a mad sister. The story degenerates with neighborhood concern over the mad sister's murder and more.
      The play will be staged in July.


      This week's site is, of course, the Vermont Maple Festival. One popular feature of the site is "Your Picture." If you attended the Festival last year, Joe and Eddy may very well have captured you forever.



      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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      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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