ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * July 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 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.


      The Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds moves to Highgate Municipal Park on Sunday as Ray's Extrusion Dies and Tubing presents the amazing bluegrass of the Meatpackers.
      "The name has nothing to do with food," front man Nick Cowles said. "It started off as being anti-New Age music, sort of a poke at the New Age repertoire."
      The band, originally named Macho Mack and the Meatpackers, has a song titled Sensitive New Age Redneck. The Highgate concert will be a combination of half bluegrass, half country and half fun stuff. The Meatpackers recently played with Pete Seeger at Bard College and their Truck Song, an original, aired on Car Talk on National Public Radio.
      "We're famous, right?" Mr. Cowles said.
      I asked them to send me a publicity photo by email but that wasn't possible. I don't know if that's because they don't do email or don't do pictures. We considered running a drawing of stick figures, but assumed this newspaper wanted a slightly higher class of art.
      With Peter Swift, bass and vocals, Kevin Clayton, guitar and vocals, Adam Growald, banjo and vocals, and Nick Cowles, mandolin and vocals, the Meatpackers all live in Shelburne.
      Summer Sounds concerts in Highgate are presented by the Vermont Maple Festival, the Town of Highgate, and the All Arts Council of Franklin County, and sponsored by Chevalier Drilling, O. C. McCuin & Sons, Ray's Extrusion Dies & Tubing, Roy's Housing/Your Vermont Home, and the Tyler Place.
      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 Highgate United Methodist Church.


      Summer Music at Grace presents the Saline Fiddlers tonight in Sheldon. The Fiddlers, a company of exceptional music students from one high school in Saline, Michigan, will perform an "energetic, polished stage show" with the music, song, and dance of American folk fiddle, bluegrass, western swing, and Celtic music.
      The Saline Fiddlers have performed over 600 concerts across the United States, Canada, and Great Britain with special performances at the White House, The Kennedy Center, and an Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush. The Saline alumni include a two-time National Scottish Fiddling competition winner and a State of Michigan Old Time Fiddling champion.
      Admission is free, but a freewill donation to the Saline Fiddlers will help them keep the music going.
      The Summer Music concert is tonight at 7 p.m. in Grace Church, 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon Creek. A potluck dinner will precede the concert at 5:30. Call 933-4083 or visit for directions and info.


BELVIDERE--Cambridge Arts Council presents the Will Patton Quintet from Bakersfield live on Sunday afternoon in the Belvidere Pavilion. This quintet came together in 1998 as a recording project to bring the mandolin into Gypsy jazz and be-bop with the acoustic ensemble sound of bluegrass. Their repertoire includes Brazilian sambas and choros with many original compositions in all these styles.
      The Will Patton Quintet will perform rain or shine in the Belvidere Pavilion from 4-6 p.m. Sunday. Call Carol Baker (802-644-2570) for info.

FAIRFAX--Fairfax Community Theater Company presents The Scarlet Pimpernel beginning next Wednesday, July 14, at BFA Fairfax High School. The musical offers an evening of adventure, romance, and rescue.
      Robert Martin of Burlington plays Percy Blakeney, a.k.a. The Scarlet Pimpernel. He has worked with numerous companies throughout the state, including Lost Nation Theater, The Champlain Arts Theater Company, and Green Candle Theater. FCTC founding member Margie Cain plays Percy's French wife, Marguerite. She has also worked as a stage manager, director and actor in many Vermont theater companies. Former Fairfax resident Kim Ward of Montpelier will direct. The production has a 12-piece orchestra conducted by Norm Lavallee, over 20 cast members and a fully mechanical Guillotine. The cast is drawn from Franklin and Chittenden Counties.
      FCTC has performed high quality musicals, drama, anc comedies theater since 1991. The Scarlet Pimpernel, with music by Frank Wildhorn, Book and Lyrics by Nan Knighton, runs Wednesday-Saturday, July 14-17, All performances are at 8 p.m. Admission is $10/adults and $7/seniors and children under 12.


      The International Bluegrass Music Association in Nashville has pages of the history of bluegrass, careers and education, resources for performers and presenters, and a wealth of industry info.


      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.