ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * June 17, 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.


      Bring your father, bring your kids, bring yourself; Father's Day, the first day of summer in Franklin County and the kickoff of the summer concert season all happen this Sunday. The Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds is Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series. The series opens this Sunday in Taylor Park as Northwestern Medical Center presents 8084, Vermont's own rock band, (with lead singer Randy Smith now of Underhill in his "away" uniform) in Taylor Park. "Eight-Oh-Eight-Four" played our Floodstock benefit, has toured with Blue Oyster Cult and April Wine and is wildly popular in Europe.
      "Music and maple go together year round," said outgoing Maple Festival chairman Jim Cameron.
      8084 features Randy Smith on vocals, keys, and guitar; Andre Maquera, all guitars, sequencing, vocals, and high jumps; Gary Spaulding, on percussion; and Roy Brown, bass and vocals who will sing lead on the Frank Barnes song Rosita. They will play the best of their originals plus the power pop sounds from the seventies such as covers of Van Halen and Bon Jovi. Their play list on Sunday includes cuts from the forthcoming CD The Last Great Train and from So Far, their retrospective of the three previous albums. They re-recorded five songs at West Street Digital including the underground classics Bad Man, Fire, and Lover's Feel and created a fresh, hot sound. 8084 has played together for 22 years. This is a band with legs.
      "The All Arts Council will focus on eclectic groups for the Maple Festival/Summer Sounds series this year," said treasurer Tim Stetson. "We'll have live free concerts in a Town park every Sunday evening throughout the summer." With a mix of old time and modern country, folk, jazz, singer/songwriters, gospel, and a Brass Band for the Fourth of July, the performers include 8084, Atlantic Crossing, the combined Milton Community and Fairfield Fletcher Westford Bands, the Dixie Six, FatBack, Mark LeGrand and his Lovesick Band, Meatpackers, the Nobby Reed Project, the Social Band, and the Soul Rockers. Bring your own bug spray.
      Summer Sounds concerts in St. Albans are presented by the Vermont Maple Festival, the City of St. Albans, and the All Arts Council of Franklin County, and sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Homemade, the Handy Group of new car dealers, a select group of Main Street stores, Key Bank, Merchant's Bank, Northwestern Medical Center, and St. Albans for the Future, the Downtown St. Albans group, with media sponsorship from the Buyers Digest, the Champlain Radio Group, and the County Courier. This concert is hosted by the Franklin County Humane Society; there may well be a dog who loves maple syrup at Taylor Park.
      The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont. The Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds concerts are always on Sunday night, always in a Town Park, always at 7 p.m., and always free. The rain site is the First Congregational Church.


      Summer Music at Grace presents a night of Gypsy Jazz and Brazilian grooves with the Will Patton Quartet tonight at 7 p.m.
      Mr Patton has extensively studied Gypsy jazz and built a Brazilian repertoire with breadth and originality. The quartet includes Will Patton on mandolin and octave mandolin, Tom Steele on flute and clarinet, Steve Blair on guitar, and Clyde Stats on string bass. They have played First Night Burlington, the Discover Jazz Festival, and the famed Jig in the Valley.
      Summer at Grace is an ongoing series of inspired music in the sanctuary at 215 Pleasant Street in Sheldon Creek. Admission is $8/adults, $6 for seniors and students, and $20 for families. Call 326-4603 or click herefor more info.


      Edric Loomis founded the Citizens Concert Band in 1949 to continue a Town Band tradition of "concerts under the stars" in St. Albans that began in the 1880s. St. Albans will dedicate the Taylor Park Memorial Band Shell as the Edric Loomis Band Shell at a concert next Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m.
      His son, Kevin Loomis, is the current director.
      Composer Kevin Loomis has written Bandstand Moods, which the Citizens Concert Band will debut. The band will also play Totem Pole, His Honor by Henry Fillmore, selections from Chicago and more. Lynn Smith will also lead the [name to come] choir.
      St. Albans would have neither a band nor a band shell without Edric Loomis.
      "He was more than instrumental," Kevin Loomis said. "It was his project. He started the whole thing back in 1967 [when] he started raising the money for the bandstand. The fund raising went on for some 17 years." The band raised about 82% of the cost, mostly in small, weekly donations.
      "We raised money by private donation and Dad would have drum majorettes go around with buckets during the concerts to help buy music and for the bandstand."
      The band played every week. "It used to be Sundays, then we switched to Mondays. It has been Wednesday nights for years," he said. The AAC now hosts the Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds concerts on Sunday night concerts in the band shell.
      "The cement was poured two years before the shell was built," Kevin Loomis said. "They kind of goofed. The raised part of the bandstand was supposed to be hollow to store chairs. Dad went down to check on the cement--he worked on the railroad at the time--and they had already poured one big solid hunk of cement."
      The band played on the open cement for two years. The Building Trades program at BFA program then built the shell, completing the project in 1984.
      "We have about 30 people," Kevin Loomis said. Town Bands are military-style bands. This band has the full complement of brass, percussion, and woodwinds. The Citizens Concert Band is St. Albans' and Swanton's town band but "We don't call ourselves by any town name, " because they do not have an exclusive arrangement with any single town. "We go where we are hired."
      There will be free refreshments at the dedication concert including cookies, brownies, and Fred's Famous ice cream. The concert is free, but the audience is allowed to "tip" the majorettes. There is no rain date or site.
      "Dad started it back in '49 and it has never had a break," he said. "The band will definitely continue."


      This All Arts Council site has more information about and the complete schedules for the Town Bands in Franklin County, the Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds concert series, and more.


      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.