ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * September 2, 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.


      G.G. Griggs of Hinesburg won the Colgate Country Showdown at the June Dairy Festival.
      "I remember being under a table making noise like a little kid would just to be a part of the music," he said of the kitchen junkets or kitchen tonks his parents held. Reg and Eleanor Griggs, his father and mother, now sing some of the old ballad songs, as well as the songs he wrote for them. "They brought me up in the realm of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubbs. The music I like to sing and the lyrics I put on paper is that kind of music."
      In Enosburg Mr. Griggs performed his original What Can I Do (to Get a Little Hugging and Kissing) and In a Jailhouse Now, written by Jimmy Rogers. He has written Uncrossed Ts and Open As, a letter from a soldier to his wife, for the next Showdown level in Massachusetts next month. "I was inspired because my son-in-law just got activated and sent to Iraq. I hadn't really thought about writing about the war, although there are a lot of songs out there. What happened to my son-in-law became personal, something easy to put on paper. And people seem to like it."
      The songs he chose are uplifting and fun to listen to.
      The singer has a radio voice. "I always tell people I have an Eeyore voice: 'Oh well.'"
      He learned to play a guitar at about 11 and started writing song lyrics for a girlfriend at age 16. "When I first started to write, I remember having a girlfriend and putting stuff down because we weren't together all the time. As I matured and got married I got more into the Gospel aspect of music." The best writing, not just songwriting but all writing, comes when you write for yourself and not for the audience.
      After writing songs of the heart, his gave out. He had a quadruple bypass in 1991. A severe heart attack in 1997 led to another bypass and to congestive heart failure. He had a heart transplant on June 29, 2000, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Within a week after that I was still in the hospital, I was writing a song called That's Divine, Love. It was written for the donor, Steven." Mr. Griggs spent Mother's Day afternoon this year with Steven's mother in Alabama and they visited again in Minnesota at the 2004 U.S. Transplant Games, Olympic-style games for transplant recipients.
      "Music is getting me so I'm able to open up and talk about awareness and what someone can do by giving of themselves, as a living donor or after death to help someone like me as Steven did." Steven was just 17 years old.


      The Summer Sounds concert series wrapped up a soggy season Sunday evening. Our host towns, eleven businesses, area community groups, and dozens of volunteers all worked together; everyone but the weatherman cooperated. The Vermont Maple Festival joined our roster of generous sponsors--Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Chevalier Drilling, the Handy Group new car dealers, Key Bank, O. C. McCuin & Sons, Merchant's Bank, Northwestern Medical Center, Ray's Extrusion Dies & Tubing, Roy's Housing/Your Vermont Home, St. Albans for the Future, and the Tyler Place, plus the Buyer's Digest, Champlain Radio Group (WLFE, WTWK, and WRSA), Channel 15, and the County Courier--and the Town of Highgate, the City of St. Albans, and the Town of St. Albans to make the season possible. Desserts were presented by the All Arts Council, Business and Professional Women, Foster Grandparents, Franklin County Humane Society, and Highgate Historical Society.
      The rains came early and often as eleven different groups with one foot in and one foot outside Franklin County played concerts in Highgate Municipal Park, Taylor Park, and St. Albans Bay. We opened the season with 8084 in Taylor Park. A combined Milton Community and Fairfield-Fletcher-Westford Band lit off the Fourth of July. Atlantic Crossing, the Dixie Six, Mark LeGrand and his Lovesick Band featuring Sarah Munro, the Meatpackers of Shelburne Orchards, the Social Band, Soul Rockers with Evelyn Kwanza, the Stockwell Brothers, and the Upstate New Yorkers kept us dry at heart. And our old friends the Nobby Reed Project brought us home with a great outdoor concert that went indoors.
      In 2005, Summer Sounds will renew a focus on musicians who have never performed in Franklin County. The AAC needs more volunteers and community groups to book the 2005 Summer Sounds season with excellent new groups playing country, jazz, pops, brass, classics, and even a little rock-n-roll. And a new weather man.


FAIRFAX--Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax. The acoustic music session run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. most Saturdays. "Rarely would anyone go and fine no one there and the food is fresh," Mark Sustic said.
      "Some of the Fiddleheads come," Mr. Sustic said, "so a number of younger people as well as" more experienced players are there. E-mail.

TEEVEE--Northwest PEG TV serves Highgate, St. Albans, Swanton. Known as Adelphia Channel 15 for five years, the service expanded to Channel 16 yesterday with increased coverage of local government. PEG stands for Public Education Government. Channel 15 will now have space for added programming.
      At the same time, Almost Live on Channel 15 is moving to a new time slot.
      Channel 15 and the All Arts Council produce this series of live concerts that airs each week on Channel 15. One set of a new concert "Almost Live" in Franklin County will now debut on Friday nights at 9 p.m. Each concert will repeat at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. each Saturday. This week Almost Live features the first set of Soul Purpose with Evelyn Kwanza in the Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds concert from Highgate. They will sing the soul music of the sixties and seventies, "a little bit of Motown, a little funk, a little Stevie Wonder, and a little Tina Turner. We like to sing," Ms. Kwanza said.

JERICHO--The Village Cup Cafe will host a Celtic Jam Session from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening September 7 and ongoing on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Call Kelly Brannagan King (899-5043) for info.

ENOSBURG FALLS--The Opera House at Enosburg Falls will present Echoes from the Opera House, a celebration of song from Opera to Broadway in the ongoing Community Treasures Series, on Saturday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now at the All Arts ticket centers: Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank in Enosburg Falls, at Swanton Rexall, and at Better Planet and at the Kept Writer in St Albans.


      Attention high school seniors and (older) lovers of graphical stories. Next year, the Center for Cartoon Studies will begin offering a two-year course of study centered on the creation and dissemination of comics, graphic novels and other presentations of visual narrative.
      With a faculty of internationally known cartoonists, writers, and designers, CCS has located in the historic Colodny Surprise Department Store in White River Junction. The CCS Advisory Board includes Steve Bissette, Will Eisner, publisher Gary Groth, Sammy Harkham, film maker William Horberg, Denis Kitchen, Scott McCloud, publisher Chris Oliveros, Diana Schutz, Seth, Art Spiegelman, Eric Reynolds, and R. Sikoryak.


      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).
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