ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * October 23, 2003


      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 live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Kept Writer in St Albans most Friday and Saturday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      "This is nothing like you've seen us do," Jenni Johnson said.
      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents A Tour down Memory Lane with Jenni Johnson and Friends on Saturday night, October 25. Jenni and Friends will perform tunes recorded by Big Mama Thorton, Lulu, the Pointer Sisters, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, the Exciters, the Cookies, the Supremes and other "girl groups" in an evening of music from the '40s, '50s and '60s.
      International entertainer Jenni Johnson sings jazz, blues and funk in a voice that is sometimes Billie Holiday, sometimes Aretha Franklin, and always Jenni. Singing has been a central part of Ms. Johnson's life since her teen days in New York City. In the 1980s she pursued musical projects in Houston, Texas and Boston including unique work she titled "The Billie Holiday Story." She also worked in a Boston recording studio producing demo tapes for Star Search and the Coca-Cola Company. After returning to Burlington in 1989, she launched Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers, singing jazz and blues standards by her favorite African-American artists such as Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, W. C. Handy, and others.
      This active Vermont Council on the Arts Touring Artist is a regular performer in the Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds, Discover Jazz, Yarasavi, First Night, and other major Festivals and in most Franklin County hot spots. Her current CD is Black Pearls.
      The Tour Down Memory Lane features 10 of her musician and vocalist friends: Nick Aloi, drums, Bob Gagnon, guitar, Rob Guerrina, keyboard, Smokin' Joe Moore, baritone and alto sax, Will Patton, bass, and vocalists Pat Austin, Marsha Brewster, Aiyana Ise, Evelyn Kwaanza, and Debbie Patton. Coletta Greenbaum has accompanied all the tours and handles backstage production.
      "I'm producing this thing," Ms. Johnson said. "It's a big investment but it's a great concept" blending incredible music and exceptional musicians. The tour is doing what she hoped: it gives her a wider audience base and keeps the music alive.
      "Once this tour is over, I'm going to do 'Black Pearls' for Women's History Month" next March, she said. She and the Junketeers will celebrate through the music of at least four or five different women.
      The Opera Houses are ideal and essential for productions like this one.
      The Tour Down Memory Lane will have one performance at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls on Saturday at 8 p.m. It premiered to a sold out house at the FlynnSpace in May and has played three of Vermont's Opera Houses and two 'unofficial' Opera Houses including the Rotunda at Plattsburgh City Hall, the Town House in Hardwick, and the Barre Opera House. The tour will conclude at the Vergennes Opera House on November 1
      Tickets are available at the All Arts ticket centers, the Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank in Enosburg Falls, Better Planet in St. Albans, and Swanton Rexall. General admission is $15/adult, $12/seniors, and $6/students. Buying in advance can still save adults and seniors two bucks. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.


      Josh Brooks has released Better Days, a new CD featuring romance, humor, and social commentary from the standup Vermont comic who accidentally became a songwriter. With drummer Kent Blackmer, Josh Brooks will host a CD release party at the Vergennes Opera House on Saturday, October 25, at 8 p.m. Admission is $7 at the door.
      Josh Brooks music shows the influence of Johnny Cash, John Prine, and even Bob Dylan. The addition of percussion brings a sense of drive, some swing, and depth to Mr. Brooks' dynamic country/folk melodies.
      He has been a regular solo performer at First Night, the Champlain Valley Folk Festival, the AAC Summer Sounds concert series and at the Kept Writer. The CDs are available at Better Planet Books Toys and Hobbies and on online at and


MARYLAND--Vermont singer/songwriter and popular Summer Sounds performer Diane Zeigler will take part in Wellstone World Music Day, a nationwide movement of concerts celebrating Senator Paul Wellstone's life on Saturday, October 25, the first anniversary of his death. My show at the Panzer's home will be offered in his honor, she said.
      Reservations are required for the Panzer House Concert in Columbia, MD. Call (410)-531-9233 or e-mail for reservations and info.


CALL FOR ENTRIES (October 31)--The Art Department of Sinclair Community College is planning the 2005 exhibition season for two separate, professionally designed galleries, including one dedicated to photography-based media. Sinclair provides return shipping or an honorarium to defray return travel expenses. E-mail or click here for more info.

NATIONAL JURIED SHOW (October 31)--The Baker Arts Center in Liberal, Kansas, offers $6400 in prizes money for 2 and 3-dimensional original Fine Art including Photography completed within the past 2 years. Call 620-624-2810 for more info.

CALL FOR ARTISTS (Ongoing)--Hospitals display a lot of art. Here's one in Mount Holly, Burlington County, NJ. The Pavilion Gallery of Virtua Memorial Hospital presents work in all media, including painting, photography, digital art, drawing, graphics/printmaking, fiber, sculpture and other two and three dimensional art. The gallery presents a variety of exhibits, each based on a unifying theme, subject, medium or artist group. No fee. Call 609-267-0700 x43202 or e-mail

JOURNALISM COMPETITION (November 30)--Students & writers 25 and under may submit 3-5 articles, editorials, opinion pieces, essays or reviews published in student newspapers or other periodicals between since July, 2003. Entries should communicate classical liberal principles. Prizes $2500, $1000, $750, $250. No fee. Click here


      Singer/songwriter John Prine has had Bette Midler cover Hello In There, Bonnie Raitt adopt "Angel From Montgomery" as her own, and Tammy Wynette and Johnny Cash release Unwed Fathers. He moved to Nashville in the early 80s to make records his way. With his manager, Al Bunetta, John Prine founded the record label Oh Boy Records. It is not the easiest site to navigate, but it does have info about and links to his music.


      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 © 2003 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.