ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * October 21, 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.


      Cardiac Capers 2004, Hooray for Hollywood, a Tribute to the Silver Screen, opened last night on the BFA-St. Albans stage and continues its run tonight through Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. each night.
      The entire production is local again this year. "We're doing everything ourselves," director Helene Biggie said, to save the cost of the professional director and to raise more money for the hospital.
      Hooray for Hollywood includes an abundance of dance numbers and solos. "There is something for everything," co-director Helene Biggie said. "This is a very challenging show. We're starting in the 1900s and working our way to 2003 music-wise." They kick off with one radio show but "all the music is from the movies." They have numbers from the Sound of Music, the Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma, as well as Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Chicago, and much more.
      I'd pay extra to see Tessie doing Dirty Dancing.
      The cast of 70 includes past performers and "we have new people including John Schreindorfer from the Post Office and Dave Southwick," Ms. Biggie said.
      Dance captains Diane Bruley, Jeannine Chadwick, David Chambers, and Linda Warner designed the choreography. "I also want to mention that Diane Wisehart and Joanne Chambers have helped a lot as dance captain assistants," Ms. Biggin said. "We met all summer and they were there all summer" blocking out the show.
      Brian Fredette is handling lights and sound. The stage crew, led by Tonya Saunders, Chris White, and Jason Bruley, includes many community volunteers plus students from the BFA drama department. Costume chair Jan Corrigan, along with Loli Berard and Helene Biggie built a wardrobe from scratch two years ago and have created a range of new costumes again this year. Sue Tessier coordinates the music. The pit orchestra is Verne Colburn, David Ducham, and Peter Williams. Michele Ovitt and Helene Biggie are the producer-directors.
      Tickets for the shows tonight, Friday, and Saturday cost $10 at the door. "The same prices as we had two years ago," Helene Biggie said. Cardiac Capers started as a community hospital fund raiser in 1980. This is the 13th biennial show.
      "We do it in two weeks," Ms. Biggie said. "You'll see something for everyone."
      Hospital CEO and cast member Peter Hofstetter assured me that there will be no fire extinguishers squirted at the front row.


      The Friends of the Opera House at Enosburg Falls present the Twelfth Annual Talent Search on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Opera House. The Junior Division will perform only on Friday evening; the Adult Division takes the stage on Saturday, at the Opera House.
      "We had so many contestants last year," said producer Harry Benoit, "that we decided to risk expanding the show to two nights this year."
      One of the premiere talent events in Vermont, this show is an evening of entertainment, celebration, and the arts with the most talented performers in the area.
      Miss Vermont 2004, vocalist Megan Yardley of Burlington, is traveling this week. Her platform, Promoting Literacy, will take her around the country all year. She will return Saturday to perform and will be a judge. 2003 Junior Winners, The Electronic Cheese Experiment, and 1995 First Place Winner and former Miss Vermont Sarah Jo Willey will co-host Friday evening.
      "This show has provided a showcase for hundreds of talented performers," said producer Harry Benoit. "It is not only the 12th annual Search but also the tenth anniversary of the Junior Division." The 2004 show will feature jazz, classical violinists, fiddlers, piano soloists, modern dance, flutists, and more.
      With such a broad array of musical styles and abilities, judging a talent show can be as difficult as entering one. Each contestant competes only against him or herself. The criteria include originality or interpretation, weighted at 25% of the total, technical ability, 30%, performance and presentation, 30%, costumes or props, 15%, and accompanist, 0%. Although this "isn't an audition for Julliard," Mr. Benoit said, contestants from years past have gone on to the Miss America pageant, the Crane School of Music, the Country Music Showdown, and to professional careers in entertainment. "The whole philosophy behind the talent search is to give that opportunity, to build self esteem, and to get stage experience."
      Once a contestant wins first place they are no longer eligible to compete in their division but are invited to host and perform in the future events. Past winners include Miss Vermont, 1997, Jill Cummings (1993), Johanna Roddy (1994), Sarah Jo and Jared Willey (1995), Armand Messier (1996), Brian Sheih (1997), David Bish (1998), Meg Willey (1999), Riley Kempton (2000), "The Sticky Wickets" Teen Barbershop Quartet (2001), Alyssa Bouthillier (2002), and Shayna Sherwood (2003) who also won the Junior Division in 1997. Added in 1995 for contestants under 14, Junior Division winners include Emily Cseh (1995), Amy Robinson (1996), Sarah Watson (1998), Jennifer Roach (1999), Emily Burbank (2000), Lindsay Larivee (2001), Molly Renning (2002), and the Electronic Cheese Experiment (Marty Cseh, Alex Kehaya, and Alexa Johnson (2003). The Opera House awards bragging rights plus cash prizes in each division in the amount of $200, First Place; $100, Second Place; and $75/Third Place. "We do not charge any entry fee whatsoever," Mr. Beloit said.
      The Talent Search is a community event. The Community Service Recognition Award was inaugurated two years ago to recognize individuals who serve Enosburg and the Opera House. The Opera House recognized John Whiting and Janice Gera in 2002 and 2003.
      Tickets are available at the All Arts ticket centers, the Enosburg Pharmacy, Better Planet in St. Albans, and Swanton Rexall. Buying in advance can still save two bucks off the general admission of $12/adult, $10/seniors and students. Children under 12 are free. There is a further discount for a ticket for both nights. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.


      Music at Grace presents singer-songwriter Rebecca Hall on Friday at Grace Church in Sheldon. The concert will feature Ms. Hall in a duo with producer-husband Ken Anderson on bass, harmonica and harmony vocals.
      Ms. Hall began performing regularly in Greenwich Village in 1990 where she built a repertoire early jazz and blues standards. Her career as a songwriter began with the reissue of the Anthology of American Folk Music. The collection of ballads, gospel and blues are timeless vignettes of everyday life. She became a storyteller in song, combining American roots sound with the English folk-rock tradition.
      They have played alongside such notables as Laura Cantrell, Kris Delmhorst, Mark Erelli, Vance Gilbert, Erin McKeown, David Olney, John Renbourn and Cheryl Wheeler, and have toured Europe three times. Her fans include Roger McGuinn, Laura Cantrell, and Bob Harris of BBC Radio.
      Admission is by donation of $5 (although more is acceptable). Refreshments will be served. Call 326-4603 or Click here.


      WRSA's G.G. Griggs of Hinesburg won the Colgate Country Showdown in Enosburg and spent last weekend at the New England Showdown Finals in Princeton, Massachusetts. He performed his own letter from a soldier to his wife, Uncrossed Ts and Open As, a song he wrote when his son-in-law was sent to Iraq.
      "People loved the song," he said. "That was important to me, to tell the story of Steven and of my son-in-law." After writing songs of the heart, his had given out. He had a heart transplant in 2000, receiving the heart of a young man named Steven.
      Fans from Lamoille County came down on the bus and had seats right up front.
      He also talked with Tammy Snyder of Ticonderoga NY, the Washington County winner. "We're going to get together and do some gospel stuff," he said. "Who knows? Next year we may do a duet down there."
      Tracy Lynn of Boston won the New England Showdown Finals. Her father is a living donor who gave his own brother a kidney.


ST ALBANS--The All Arts Council presents Vermont singer-songwriter Karen McFeeters in a concert of original contemporary folk/pop music at St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Saturday, November 6, at 8 p.m. The concert celebrates the release of her second CD, Maybe Day. Tickets will be available at the door.


      WinterOriginals offers "Fish & Wildlife Art" by award winning Vermont artist Susan Winter of Colchester. A current project is a poster for Vermont's Department of Fish and Wildlife. The site has examples of her clay sculpture, fish wood sculptures, wildlife prints and greeting cards.


      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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