ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 6, 2005


      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 or at the Overtime Saloon 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.


      2005 will be a busy year in the arts with over 250 concerts, exhibits, recitals, and shows from more than 40 organizations.

      This feels like "deja vu all over again" as we begin 2005 in search of an executive director, an operating grant, a sponsorship finder, and a membership maven. The E.D., the volunteers, and a permanent base make up the "back room" a Local Arts Service Organization like this needs to offer marketing and technical help, have resources, store stuff, and to host meetings and exhibits, and concerts and workshops for artists, other groups, and local presenters.
      AAC will pay actual cash money for an interesting local improv troupe and a musical and/or musical comedy troupe to perform at the Maple Festival and other venues. And, of course, artists in all media, bands, and solo performers. If you are one or know one, Email the All Arts Council .

      The AAC will focus on five arenas this year: staffing, continuing our popular programs, continuing our support of artists and other presenters, creating partnerships, and (I hope) staging the first Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival.
      We will work with St. Albans for the Future and other organizations to grow the Creative Economy.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum and the AAC are creating a partnership to operate and maintain the Museum theater. We will jointly run some small events this winter/spring before the elevator is finished and expect to hold a grand opening later this year.
      The AAC will maintain three permanent gallery exhibits: the AAC/Opera House Gallery in Enosburg Falls, the Swanton Library Gallery, and the Highgate Springs Welcome Center Gallery. We will also have several one-time shows and are looking for new venues. Email the All Arts Council if you would like to suggest or host a show.
      The Concerts for Grumpy Grownups series began early this season. It will continue with CD release celebrations from area artists.
      The All Arts Council books the entertainment for Franklin County's premiere outdoor events: the Vermont Maple Festival and the Summer Sounds concert series, and lends a hand with other festivals. All together, more than 100,000 people hear the bands at those venues. We use that drawing power to market local talent to visitors at the Maple Festival and book groups you haven't heard before for Summer Sounds.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, continues with a lineup of bluegrass, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, opera, and classic rock-n-roll. The concerts always alternate between the Highgate Municipal Park, Taylor Park in St. Albans and St. Albans Bay.
      The Grand Holiday Crafts and Fine Arts Tour of Franklin County will take Christmas shoppers to Enosburg, Fairfield, Franklin, St. Albans, Swanton, and more.
      The All Arts Council has one significant new arts event planned. We will host the Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival, a juried art and music weekend that will bring a large audience to Franklin County in September.

      The first big event of the season is a Tsunami relief concert at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls next Saturday, January 15. Vermont musicians will donate their time and talent to raise funds for the Red Cross Relief Fund.
      The Opera House also plans a mix of touring and community events with an aim of at least one major production each month. They will continue strengthening the youth series (Emerging Talents) by supporting and presenting performances by area groups of young aspiring performance artists and dancers. In conjunction with the AAC, they will host exhibits of artwork by Franklin County artists in the downstairs Gallery. The Mentors Series will highlight a classical music concert by internationally known artists. The Community Treasures Series will continue to encourage the Community Chorus; we also hope to see a theater troupe established to draw from local talents and work out of the Opera House.
      The facility will also host District Art Shows and a number of other community events and is available for rental.

      The AAC helps promote many other Franklin County presenters and individual artists. A constantly updated calendar is online here.
      Bay Day will celebrate again this year with continuous entertainment and family activities all day plus a Summer Sounds concert and fireworks to cap this July Fourth blowout.
      The First Congregational Church will continue the schedule of Community Dances featuring New England contras, squares, and Circles one Sunday afternoon each month.
      The 2005 Events for Tom series begins with Pete Sutherland and Friends in a concert of new and recent work at the FlynnSpace on Friday. Organizer Mark Sustic has planned about one event per month this year in a series that supports the Tom Fund to assist families with children with cancer.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company needs show proposals right now for plays produced at the Brick Meeting House in Westford. "We're going to have a full season," said Billie Hall. "It will be a change in our format but it will be nice because people will know what the whole year will be." The FCTC board meets later this month.
      Franklin County Field Days swells Highgate with crafts, exhibits, agricultural exhibits, cattle judging, antique tractor pulls, rides, and more at the Franklin County Airport. This long running event fills a tent, the grounds, and the new stage with popular bands and solo performers from near and far.
      The 13th Annual Jig in the Valley will benefit the East Fairfield Community Center with a family day of music and picnicking on the last weekend in July. This concert helps raise funds and awareness for the NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs.
      County-wide, our public libraries have a slew of plans including readings, lunchtime concerts, art shows, and kids performers.
      The Music at Grace series at Grace Church in Sheldon expanded past the summer months last year. This eclectic series will again present exceptional performers to Franklin County for several concerts this summer and fall.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum will complete its fund-raising effort to renovate and provide elevator access to the top floor theater.
      St. Luke's Art Show will showcase area artists in a setting of wine and cheese this spring at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
      School art shows will include FNESU's seventh annual Art Gala and fourth annual FCSU Art Show. The shows bring together hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces in schools and halls around the County.
      The Swanton Summer Festival presents local performers to a large audience throughout their four-day July extravaganza.
      The Vermont Dairy Festival will spotlight Franklin County performers in a benefit weekend for the Lions Club. The festival may reprise the national Country Showdown.
      The Vermont Maple Festival will bring more than 50,000 people to St. Albans for three days of continuous entertainment in April. The AAC books the best of Franklin County performers for the free Main Street stage for this first major outdoor event of each year and holds a major art exhibit in City Hall. The Maple Festival hosts a popular talent show, a sold out fiddler's variety show, embraces many other community events, and offers the biggest parade in Vermont.

      The Citizens Concert Band will celebrate its 57th year with outdoor concerts alternating on Wednesdays between Swanton and St. Albans, starting in June. Call Kevin Loomis (868-2684) for info.
      The Enosburg Town Band performs Tuesdays in the Lincoln Park Bandstand, starting in June. Call Alisa Martin (933-2062) for info.
      The Fairfield-Fletcher-Westford Band will start rehearsals Thursday nights in late April and will begin playing concerts around Franklin County in June. Call Bruce Webb (849-2295), Louise Minor (849-6760), or Frank Mehaffey (527-0289) for info.


BURLINGTON--The Events for Tom series presents songwriter, composer and folk musician Pete Sutherland and Friends in a concert of new and recent work on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the FlynnSpace. The musical guests include Patti Casey, Jeremiah McLane, Colin McCaffrey, Will Patton and Karen Sutherland. They will debut a number of new pieces on the Flood of '27, the Barre granite strike, American cultural imperialism, Irish hospitality, and the often overlooked parallels between the Hobbits and the Beverly Hillbillies.
      Admission is $17 at the door or $15 in advance through the FlynnTix Regional Box Office (863-5966 or

FAIRFAX--The first regular Music Session of the New Year with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs will be held at the Foothills Bakery on Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.

ST. ALBANS--Chow Bella has one of Franklin County's biggest music lineups for 2005. Connie Warden presents a "rotating" pianist on the baby grand every Tuesday, duo nights on Wednesdays and more.

JERICHO--The Jericho Celtic Music Jam is held every Tuesday, 7-9:30 p.m., at the Calvary Episcopal Church. Call John Valance (802.899.2581) for info.

ST. ALBANS--The Overtime Saloon offers Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Abby encourages performers of all kinds to attend. If you need instrumental accompaniment, e-mail with the title/artist of song you wish to perform. click herefor more info. The Abby Jenne Band plays Middle Earth Music Hall in Bradford on Saturday.

ST. ALBANS--The Kept Writer Bookshop and Cafe will have a continuous exhibit of fine art and photographs by area artists, singer/songwriters, folkies, unplugged rock, and blues on an irregular schedule, and the Kept Writer Magazine.


      In keeping with our "look ahead," here's a preview of some festival sites for arts and music here this year. The Franklin County Field Days and Swanton Festival do not (yet) have web sites:
      Summer Sounds
      Vermont Maple Festival
      Vermont Dairy Festival


      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 © 2005 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.