ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * March 25, 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 mostly 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.


      "We're here primarily to support the academic programs at the college," Dibden Center for the Arts Director Jan Herder said. More than just a college theater, "we also are the venue for whatever entertainment or shows the Student Association wants to bring in." Driven by student interest, the Center may have Ricky Scaggs one weekend and a video game tournament the next.
      The Dibden Center at Johnson State College houses an acoustically acclaimed 450-seat theater (by comparison, the Trahan Theater at MVUHS is 525 seats). They host local and national cultural events ranging from free student shows, to significant touring artist performances, to lectures by nationally known public figures throughout the academic year. The center also houses the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery with ongoing student and touring art exhibits annually.
      This week, the Dibden Center hosts a Dance Club Performance tomorrow evening, Yarina on Saturday, and a Video Game Tournament (the "Weekend Special") on Sunday. All three events begin at 7 p.m. Click here or Call the box office (802-635-1386) for tickets and information.
      Yarina means "remembrance" in the Quichua language of the Incas. Founded in Ecuador by four brothers, the group is dedicated to the music, preservation, and sharing of "the beauty, courage and survival of the ancestral traditions and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Andes." In 20 years of travel throughout Europe and the Americas, they have blended the pure and haunting music of the Andes with a repertoire of jazz, blues, Latin, and Western classical pieces.
      Yarina is here at the request of JSC Student Association president Jessica Prince to build an awareness of South America.
      Dibden has a regular proscenium, but big, "bigger than the Flynn," he said. The proscenium opening is 44 x 24 but there is 80 feet backstage of wing space and 36 feet back to the back door. I can do a lot of dance. The 30-year old house was designed for dance and the VSO, so the acoustics are very sophisticated. Johnson also has an active tech theater degree program. Mr. Herder also likes to find shows that give the kids exposure to "interesting things."
      Dibden is successful at presenting big shows.
      "It seems to me there are sure bets. I've tried to aim toward Grammy winners. There's no question about their talent, just a difficulty at getting the word out," Mr. Herder said. "I brought in Ricky Scaggs and it was fantastic. I'd love to bring in another country star with cross-over appeal because country has the largest of the demographics."
      Critical mass is the core audience building problem in northern Vermont because the small population has fragmented tastes.
      "When you break down the people into rock and country and reggae and jazz you can end up with 25 people [in the audience]," he said.
      JSC has added one more annual theater production and added student shows. The Theater Club performed David Mamet's Sexual Perversity of Chicago on Saturday night. "No class, no money, just to be on the stage." There are also recitals and other projects that don't have broad appeal but they keep the Center busy.
      "Music and sound is going crazy," Mr. Herder said. Music Club plays Tuesdays. Jammed. Every other Wednesday night is a band playing or a jam session. Thursday night is Coffee House. Every weekend has a DJs and live performances.
      Dance is very big and very popular. The Dance Club students formed to do performances. They also host performances by area high schools and River Arts.
      The Julian Scott Memorial Gallery has primarily MFA exhibits plus a limited number of undergraduate, faculty, and touring shows. "It's pretty busy with just the stuff we have to do to graduate the people."
      The Saturday weather forecast for Yarina calls for weather that's lousy enough that people want to get out of the house but not so bad to keep them away from Johnson.
      "Let's hope," Mr. Herder said.


      The fifth annual Franklin County Quilt Show wants you. The show, April 3 in St. Albans City Hall, will feature quilting deomonstrations, vendors, a silent auction, and more than 100 quilts.
      Have quilt to exhibit? Call 802-524-4920 for info.


      The ARChive of Contemporary Music consists of an archive, research center, and (somewhat noisy) music library. They collect, document, catalog, preserve, and present information about popular music from 1950 to the present.


      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.