ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 8, 2004


      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 about once each month, 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.


      2004 will be a busy year in the arts with over 250 concerts, exhibits, recitals, and shows from more than 38 organizations.

      This feels like "deja vu all over again" as we begin 2004 in search of an executive director, cash money, and a membership maven. The E.D., the volunteers, and a permanent base make up the "back room" a Local Arts Service Organization like this needs to offer marketing and technical help, have resources, store stuff, and to host meetings and exhibits, and concerts and workshops for artists, other groups, and local presenters.
      I am seriously seeking a local improv troupe and a musical and/or musical comedy troupe. And, of course, artists in all media, bands, and solo performers. If you are one or know one

      The AAC will focus on four arenas this year: staffing, continuing our popular programs, continuing our support of artists and other presenters, and (I hope) staging the first Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival.
      The AAC will maintain three permanent gallery exhibits: the AAC/Opera House Gallery in Enosburg Falls, the Swanton Library Gallery, and the Highgate Springs Welcome Center Gallery. We will also have several one-time shows and are looking for new venues. Email the All Arts Council if you would like to suggest or host a show.
      The All Arts Council books the entertainment for Franklin County's premiere outdoor events: the Vermont Maple Festival and the Summer Sounds concert series, and lends a hand with other festivals. All together, more than 100,000 people hear the bands at those venues. We use that drawing power to market local talent to visitors at the Maple Festival and book groups you haven't heard before for Summer Sounds.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, continues with a lineup of bluegrass, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, opera, and classic rock-n-roll. The concerts always alternate between the Highgate Municipal Park, Taylor Park in St. Albans and St. Albans Bay; we host additional concerts in Fairfax, Franklin, Richford.
      The Grand Holiday Crafts and Fine Arts Tour of Franklin County will take Christmas shoppers to Enosburg, Fairfield, Franklin, St. Albans, Swanton, and more.
      The All Arts Council has one significant new arts event planned. We will host the Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival, a juried art and music weekend that will bring a large audience to Franklin County in September.

      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls plans a mix of touring and community events with an aim of at least one major production each month. They will continue strengthening the youth series (Emerging Talents) by supporting and presenting performances by area groups of young aspiring performance artists and dancers. In conjunction with the AAC, they will host exhibits of artwork by Franklin County artists in the downstairs Gallery.
      "Provided essential funding is obtained," Jon Scott said, the Opera House will augment the Emerging Talents Series with a new event, the First Vermont Youth Folk Festival. Staged by Mark Sustic, this daylong event will present the new generation of Vermont traditional and folk artists. Some of Vermont's best seasoned artists will join the up and coming performers on stage.
      The Mentors Series will highlight a classical music concert by an internationally known artist, as well as the first appearance at the Opera House of Mac McHale & The Old-Time Radio Gang with their incomparable old-time country music.
      The Community Treasures Series will continue to encourage the Community Chorus, and the establishment of a theater troupe drawn from local talents and working out of the Opera House.
      A Special Presentation in the works is a visit from a Canadian Drama Group to bring live theater to Franklin County early this Spring.
      The Opera House will also host the Franklin Northeast Supervisory District Art Show and Exhibition, the EFHS Mr. Hornet Talent Competition, and a number of other community events.

      I fielded a request this week for a list of galleries around Franklin County. That information is new for 2004 online at
      Bay Days will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with continuous entertainment all day and the Summer Sounds and fireworks to cap this July Fourth blowout.
      Chow Bella has one of Franklin County's biggest music lineups for 2004. Connie Warden presents solo jazz guitarist Jerry Levine every Monday, a "rotating" pianist on the baby grand every Tuesday, duo nights on Wednesdays and more. This month alone, Nobby Reed plays Saturday, followed later in th month by the Will Patton Trio, Big Joe Burrell, the Funkestra, and a reprise of the special Latin Salsa and Swing night.
      The First Congregational Church has a series of musical and historical will continue the schedule of Community Dances featuring New England contras, squares, and Circles one Sunday afternoon each month.
      The 2004 Events for Tom series started with the Petestock concert at FlynnSpace on January 2. It was the 17th concert in the series. Organizer Mark Sustic has planned about one event per month this year. Upcoming are Randal Bays and Daithi Sproule, the Life and Music of Johnny Cunningham, Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer, all at FlynnSpace.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company is planning Spring and Summer shows at the Brick Meeting House in Westford. "I've heard some good rumors" about the upcoming shows, said Billie Hall, "but we won't know until the board meeting." The FCTC board meets later this month.
      The Fairfax Festival of Talent will be held in March at BFA Fairfax. The Festival will include a silent auction, and a bake sale plus workshops, demonstrations of quilting, henna art, fiber arts, storytelling, photography, Irish Step Dance, juggling, and rug hooking.
      Franklin County Field Days swells with crafts, exhibits, agricultural exhibits, cattle judging, antique tractor pulls, rides, and more at the Franklin County Airport in Highgate. This long running event fills a tent, the grounds, and the new stage with popular bands and solo performers from near and far.
      Gail Salzman will lead three Healing with Visual Art workshops for women who want to experience the transforming qualities of art and self-expression. The workshops will explore writing, verbalizing, movement, drawing and painting. The AAC will help exhibit and promote the results in February
      The 12th Annual Jig in the Valley will benefit the East Fairfield Community Center with a family day of music and picnicking on the last weekend in July. This concert helps raise funds and awareness for the NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs.
      The Kept Writer Bookshop and Cafe will have a continuous exhibit of fine art and photographs by area artists, singer/songwriters, folkies, unplugged rock, and blues on an irregular schedule, and the Kept Writer Magazine.
      County-wide, our public libraries have a slew of plans including readings, lunchtime concerts, art shows, and kids performers.
      Music Sessions will continue on most Saturdays at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax for acoustic, non-amplified instruments and voices. The sessions start about 1 p.m. and end no later than 4 p.m.
      St. Luke's Art Show will showcase area artists in a setting of wine and cheese this spring at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
      St John's Ministry of Arts plans monthly outdoor summer concerts in its annual 3-concert series at St John's Episcopal Church in Highgate Falls.
      School art shows will include FNESU's sixth annual Art Gala and the third annual FCSU Art Show. The shows bring together hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces in schools and halls around the County.
      The Summer Music at Grace series at Grace Church in Sheldon will again bring some favorite classical performers to Franklin County for three concerts this summer.
      The Swanton Summer Festival presents local performers to a large audience throughout their four-day July extravaganza. The festival may reprise the national Country Showdown.
      The Vermont Dairy Festival will spotlight Franklin County performers in a benefit weekend for the Lions Club.
      The Vermont Maple Festival will bring more than 50,000 people to St. Albans for three days of continuous entertainment in April. The AAC books the best of Franklin County performers for the free Main Street stage for this first major outdoor event of each year and holds a major art exhibit in City Hall. The Maple Festival hosts a popular talent show, a sold out fiddler's variety show, and embraces many other community events.
      This election year will surely bring larger contingents to the parades.
      Scoop: the City of St. Albans will rename the Taylor Park band shell the Edric A. Loomis Memorial Band Shell in honor of the founder and director of the Citizens Concert Band. Mr. Loomis was "the guy" who raised money, found business sponsors, and approached the City Council to erect the shell. He died in 2003.
      The Citizens Concert Band will celebrate its 56th year with outdoor concerts alternating on Wednesdays between Swanton and St. Albans, starting in June. Call Kevin Loomis (802-868-2684) for info.
      The Enosburg Town Band performs Tuesdays in the Lincoln Park Bandstand, starting in June. Call Alisa Martin (933-2062) for info.
      The Fairfield-Fletcher-Westford Band will start rehearsals Thursday nights in late April and will begin playing concerts around Franklin County in June. Call Bruce Webb (849-2295), Louise Minor (849-6760), or Frank Mehaffey (527-0289) for info.


FAIRFAX--The first regular Music Session of the New Year with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs will be held at the Foothills Bakery on Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.

ST. ALBANS--Chow Bella presents the Nobby Reed Project on Saturday evening beginning at 9 p.m. Renowned local blues singer/songwriter Nobby Reed has always been about playing the guitar. He makes the guitar talk, sing, cry; he plays the blues. With drummer Eric Belrose and bass Tim Comings the brick walls at the restaurant will sing. The Project has shared the stage with Blues Traveler, James Cotton, Delbert McClinton, Roomful of Blues and the Neville Brothers.

ST. ALBANS--The First Congregational Church presents a Community Dance with New England contras, squares, and Circles on Sunday, 3-5 p.m. The caller is Mark Sustic, with Erica Hurwitz, fiddle, and Eric Andrus, piano.
      Admission is $3/person or $10 for the whole family. Be sure to bring non-marking, soft-soled shoes to preserve the floor. There is parking on Church Street or behind the church and the courthouse. Call 524-0044 for information.


      In keeping with our "look ahead," here's a preview of some festival sites for arts and music here this year. The Franklin County Field Days and Swanton Festival do not (yet) have web sites:
      Summer Sounds concert series
      38th Vermont Maple Festival
      Click Vermont Dairy Festival


      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 © 2004 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.