ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 14, 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 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.


      Spring maybe bitten us, eh? Some maple producers had above average yields; most found less than half their average production in the barrels by Tuesday night.
      The Vermont Maple Festival will kick off three days of entertainment next weekend, April 22-24 in St. Albans, in this 39th annual hallmark of Spring. This "King" of Vermont festivals coincides with the 39th running of the Super Bowl in which the New England Patriots proved that sports and snow do mix. This week, I will cover some of the music and entertainment. Next week, I will describe the rest of the music and the arts.
      The All Arts Council books all of the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival; each year we boast some of the best performers in Franklin County and Vermont.

      Visitors have asked for consistent hours with all the attractions open at the same time. This year, all food, arts, and crafts exhibits are open Friday, 12-5 p.m., Saturday, 10-5 p.m., and Sunday 10-4 p.m.
      Dancing in the street is a lot easier with the street closed to traffic. Main Street between Lake and Kingman will be a Maple Pedestrian Mall as long as music plays on the Main Street Stage, from noon to 6 on Friday, 10 A.M. to 6 on Saturday, and noon to 5 on Sunday.
      The Magasuwin Drums will open the day on Saturday with drums, chants and, yes, dancing. The Native American ritual will open and bless the day.
      Saturday also features the first official Vermont Maple Festival Sock Hop as Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs light up the stage and street.

ON STAGE--Free family Festival frolicking will include shows all day long at the All Arts Main Street stage with country, classic rock, folk, blues, concert band jazz, pop, fiddling around, debut groups, and a showcase of song and dance in a showcase of the finest Franklin County performers.
      Starting at noon on Friday, the Main Street stage offers continuous free entertainment with the country-rock extravaganza of Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band, the Body in Motion Dance Studio, the classical and jazz piano of vocalist Melinda Firkey, the Fiddlehead fiddlers, two new giant puppet skits from Kids on the Block-Vermont, Nothing Better to Do, a young alternative and classic jazz band from Franklin County, and St. Albans torch singer/songwriter Meg Willey with tracks from her 2004 album, Seemingly Collected as well as some jazz and pop favorites.
      The music will play until the sun goes down.
      Friday evening features the Youth Talent Show in the BFA Auditorium. This annual favorite brings together some of the most talented children in the County. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce and at the festival office.
      The free entertainment on the Main Street Stage continues as the Magasuwin Drums kick off a powerful day of continuous music filled with the country rock music of Borderline, solo artist and the "first hippie" in Bakersfield John Cassel playing from Jade Lady, the danceable jazz of the Citizens Concert Band, singer/songwriters Karen McFeeters, John Gibbons and Craig Anderson, world class blues from the Nobby Reed Project with cuts from his new CD, Moonlight Drivin', the Roxy Dance Studio, Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs, and award winners from the Vermont Maple Festival Talent Show. The free Main Stage music will continue until 6 p.m.
      The Fiddler's Variety Show is an annual sellout in BFA Auditorium with two hours (or more) of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, and clogging. Tickets for the Variety Show are available at the Chamber of Commerce and at the festival office.
      On Sunday, the free Main Street Stage hosts WLFE Disk Jockeys leading into the Parade. Electric Youth Dance will dance in the street and arresting rock legends Machines at Rest will finish up the day.
      The All Arts Council organizes the Main Street entertainment and hosts a major Maple Festival art exhibit each year.

DANCE--A Native American trupe will offer dances, prayers, and drumming. Three dance studios will bring their performers and competition dance teams to the center of Main Street all three days of the Festival. The Citizens Concert Band invites dancers and listeners alike to its program. And the first ever Maple Festival sock hop will rock Main Street.
      The Body In Motion Dance Center competition team from Georgia is one of Vermont's largest. competitive dance teams with dancers who range in age from 8 to 17. The group performs a wide array of styles including jazz, tap, lyrical, and modern. Last year they competed in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Montreal, and Florida beside some of the largest and best known dance teams in the country. With more than 20 new works this year, they will travel to New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and to the Nationals in Las Vegas. This is their first Maple Festival appearance. Denise Flinchum is the director.
      The St. Albans-based Electric Youth premier Dance Competition and Performance Team Dance performers travel to competitions and workshops from Montreal to Boston. They have earned platinum, gold, and silver medals as well as judges' awards for a repertoire that draws from jazz, tap, ballet, Irish, lyrical and hip hop. This season, their performance trips included Walt Disney World and First Night-Burlington. This appearance marks their return to the Maple Festival. Cheryl Ann Kelley is the director.
      Roxy Dance Studio students from two years old through adult will perform dances prepared for their June final show. The studio was formed in 1996 in Swanton and St. Albans to teach all styles including jazz, hip hop, tap, and ballet. Roxy Bissonnette Skeels is the director.
      Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs perform the 50's and 60's Vermont Maple Festival Sock Hop. The Swimming Frogs, a poodle-skirted dance and theater team, add audience interaction, as they "twist the night away," lead hula-hoop contests, perform skits to songs such as Love Potion #9 and Bobby Darin's "Splish-Splash", and a few other surprises.
      "We encourage audience members to arrive in costumes from the 50's era," Maple Festival co-chair Dennis Chrin said. "We have prizes for creativity and participation."
      The show will include hits from the 50's and 60's from the Everly Brothers, Dion and the Belmonts, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Del Shannon, Chuck Berry, and more. Mr. Shelton's vocal style and larger than life presence on stage is internationally known. Not only has he performed in countless clubs, fairs, cruise ships, colleges, festivals, and Mountain tops, he has starred here in the Dairy Festival and the Maple Festival. He is also the voice in the WCAX commercials starting next week. He had his first recording contract, with Colony Records, at age 16; he performed the music of Elvis Presley throughout Canada.


ONE WORLD, MANY VISIONS (April 30)--The 3rd annual Northbrook Public Library show wants 2D or 3D fine arts reflecting customs, cultures, ideologies, regions or locations around the world. Prizes include a $2000 purchase prize and other cash prizes. Show juried via slides or digital submissions. Entry fee. E-mail or click here for prospectus or info.

22ND ANNUAL ART COMPETITION (May 1)-- The Artist's Magazine offers more than $25,000 in cash prizes. Top Award Winners will be featured in the December 2005 issue. Five categories include Portrait & Figures, Still Life, Landscape, Experimental, and Animal Art. Special Student/Beginner Division for new artists. E-mail, click here, or call Terri Boes (513.531.2690 x1328) for info.

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM (May 2)--Three-month Fall 2006 and Winter 2007 sessions offer private studios, $2,000 materials budget, $3,300 stipend, and 24 hour access to fully-equipped metal and wood shops, media lab, darkroom, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramic studios. Paid travel and condominiums for out-of-state artists. E-mail or click here for application guidelines.

SECOND BIENNIAL INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION (May 12)--The World Council for Arts and Culture holds this show in San Francisco. Open to all media including digital, fine crafts, fiber, and large work including furniture, art quilts, sculpture, installation and video. Juried by projected slides. Entry Fee. A special Animal Art Exhibition and Purchase Award(s) will be presented in collaboration with Wildlife Rescue. E-mail or click here for info.


      Palomar Community College offers study guides for movements in Twentieth-Century Art Before World War II, including Fauvism and Futurism, Dada and De Stijl.


      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).
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