ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 21, 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.


      The "King of Festivals" begins tomorrow morning in St. Albans. In addition to maple exhibits, food, and family fun, the Vermont Maple Festival committee and the All Arts Council showcase some of the best artists and best performers in Franklin County for about 50,000 visitors.
      And yes, that is your favorite arts columnist using maple syrup as a hair care product in the WCAX-TV commercials. [Editor's Note: Maple syrup is not a hair care product unless applied by trained professionals. Do not try this at home.]

ART--The Maple Festival Craft Show and Sale begins tomorrow, and continues Saturday and Sunday in the BFA gym.
      The All Arts Council Fine Art Exhibit and Sale is open all three days in St. Albans City Hall with a spotlight on artist Corliss Blakely and photographer April Henderson. We will also feature exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, illustrations, digital art, leather work, mixed media, wood cuts, and prints by Franklin County artists Jane Bower, Chepe Cuadra, Olga Cuadra, Mary Harper, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Rose St. Hilaire, Frank Tyrella, Valerie Ugro, and Jack Welch, and photographers Janet Bonneau, Bob Brodeur, Eugene Garron, Dick Harper, David Juaire, and Wayne Tarr, and more. The sale includes originals, fine art reproductions, and prints.
      St Luke's Episcopal Church and the All Arts Council will kick off the fourth annual St. Luke's Art Gala with a featured oil painting on exhibit at the Maple Festival. A Day at the Beach is a light, romantic oil by Louise Bellows Cuonos. It will be exhibited at AAC City Hall show this weekend and raffled at the St. Luke's Art Gala in June.
      Vermont's premier artist, Corliss Blakely of St. Albans, will exhibit new prints and giclees as well as photos of her successful 2005 teaching trip to Central America.
      Whimsical photographer April Henderson has Vermont scenes and vignettes, many from Franklin County.
      The Maple Festival and the Specialty Foods exhibit are also sponsoring face painting for children on the stage in City Hall. I have been told not to have my mug painted this year.

The Artists
Corliss Blakely
Janet Bonneau
Jane Bower
Bob Brodeur
Chepe Cuadra
Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard,
Olga Cuadra
Eugene Garron
Dick Harper
Mary Harper
April Henderson
David Juaire
Rose St. Hilaire
Wayne Tarr
Frank Tyrella
Valerie Ugro
Jack Welch woodcuts
The Music
Body in Motion Dance Studio
John Cassel
Citizens Concert Band
Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band
Electric Youth Dance Studio
Fiddlehead fiddlers
John Gibbons and Craig Anderson
   with special guest Karen McFeeters
Kids on the Block-Vermont
Machines at Rest
   with guest vocalist Mario Nardelli
Magasuwin Drums
Nothing Better to Do
Nobby Reed Project
Roxy Dance Studio
Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs
Meg Willey
WLFE Disk Jockey Ken Hayes
Vermont Maple Festival Talent Show award winners

MUSIC--The All Arts Council books all of the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival. The AAC Main Street Stage continues longer hours this year; it stays live until 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
      The shows on the All Arts Main Street stage will offer concert band, country, classic rock, dance, folk, blues, jazz, pop, fiddling around, and debut groups in this annual showcase of the finest Franklin County and Vermont performers. The continuous free entertainment starts at noon on Friday with Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band, the Body in Motion Dance Studio, Melinda Firkey, the Fiddlehead fiddlers, Kids on the Block-Vermont, Nothing Better to Do, and Meg Willey
      The kick off a Saturday filled with the Magasuwin Drums, Borderline, John Cassel, the Citizens Concert Band, Karen McFeeters, John Gibbons and Craig Anderson, the Nobby Reed Project, the Roxy Dance Studio, Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs, and award winners from the Vermont Maple Festival Talent Show. On Sunday, WLFE Disk Jockey Ken Hayes leads into the Parade. Electric Youth Dance Studio will dance in the street and the Machines at Rest with guest vocalist Mario Nardelli will finish up the day.
      Legendary local blues man Nobby Reed has always been about playing the guitar on stage. The seven original NRP CDs include Guitar On My Back,""Best of (at Middle Earth, and Moonlight Drivin'. Saturday, 3 p.m.
      Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band is a versatile four piece group with over twenty years in music. They play cover music of the Classic rock n roll era and classic as well as traditional country. And they throw a heck of a party. Friday, 4 p.m.
      The Magasuwin Drum will open the day on Saturday with drums, chants, and a blanket dance for the families of the troops in Iraq. The Native American ritual will open and bless the day by asking for good wishes and prayers, rather than money, for the families. Saturday, 10 a.m.
      The Maple Festival Sock Hop will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday morning and will feature the incredible voice and larger than life presence of Mark Shelton plus hula hoop contests, twist contests, a best 50's outfits contest, and awards for the "Coolest Chick and Coolest Cat." Saturday, 11 a.m.
      Country rock trio Borderline plays everything from old country to top-40 country and some classic rock dancing music with Howard Ring, guitar and vocals, Kevin Bockus, bass and vocals, and Stanley Ring, drums and vocals. Saturday, 5 p.m.
      Machines at Rest are four slaves to rock 'n' roll, with over half a century of collective live music experience. They play classic rock from the 60s to the present with high energy covers of Bad Company and the Rolling Stones, to crushing takes of Tragically Hip and Lynard Skynard and much more. Sunday 3 p.m.
      WLFE's Ken Hayes will be the official Maple Festival disk jockey on the Main Street stage. Ken will entertain the crowd with country music favorites and platter patter. Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

MORE EVENTS AROUND TOWN--The biggest event of the weekend is the 39th annual Maple Festival Parade. Starting from Houghton Street on Sunday at 1 p.m. sharp, the parade stretches out for miles with over 120 bands, unique floats, clowns, horses and tractors, and the ever-popular pooper scooper.
      "The parade has more entries but it will run faster," said parade chair Betty Rainville. "All parade participants will perform along the route instead of just stopping at the reviewing stand."
      The Fiddler's Variety Show is an annual sellout in BFA Auditorium with hours of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, and clogging. General admission is $7/person. Tickets are available at the information booth on Main Street and at the festival office.
      The Youth Talent Show takes over BFA Auditorium on Friday evening. This annual favorite brings together some of the most talented children in the County competing for scholarship prizes. General admission is $6/person or $4 for students. Tickets are available at the information booth on Main Street and at the festival office.
      The famed Foothill Fogies will provide music for the Pancake Breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday in the St. Albans City Elementary School. The Foothill Fogies are the "group of people who play informally at the Foothills Bakery," said Mark Sustic, of the group that includes Mr. Sustic, Ed Paquin, Jerry Faulkenberg and several other fiddlers young and old. They will play traditional old country Vermont music in the dining room. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 3-10, and free for the children 2 and under.


      The Fairfax Community Theater Company presents Noises Off, the play within a play by Michael Frayn, starting tonight at BFA-Fairfax. This West-End and Broadway hit is a farce about a farce. Noises Off recounts the misadventures of a third-rate British theater troupe as they tour a sex farce titled "Nothing On" through the hinterlands.
      The cast and crew stumble through "Nothing On" hampered by wayward plates of sardines, broken doors, a lost contact lens, their general lack of talent, and a caustic director. The inner plot brings together a daffy an English country maid, an illicit affair, a tax collector, a drunken burglar, and an Arab sheik.
      In Act One, we see a rehearsal. In Act Two, a month in to the production, the set revolves 180 degrees, exposing prop tables and technical equipment to the audience. By Act Three the actors are in open warfare, battling across the stage rewriting dialogue, sabotaging their fellow actors, and destroy props. ("Noises off" refers to offstage sound effects.) There will be backstage yelps and battle cries of the actors throughout the production.
      Playwright Michael Frayn is well-known in England for his farces and satirical comedies. Noises Off opened on Broadway in 2001. It played a total of 350 performances and 19 previews. The Peter Bogdanovich film starred Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, John Ritter, and Christopher Reeve.
      The FCTC will perform Noises Off at BFA-Fairfax tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students under 15. Call 229-0112 for info or tickets. Tickets may be ordered by mail; send a check or money order to FCTC, PO Box 253, Fairfax VT, 05454. Be sure to indicate what night(s), general admission or senior/student tickets. Please include your phone number and mailing address.

      The Piatigorsky Foundation, and the First Congregational Church presents Strings and Stories with Linda Rosenthal, violin, and actor Bill Blush on Tuesday evening evening at the Congregational Church.
      Strings and Stories is an imaginative, fast-paced, interactive blend of music and theater that appeals to audiences of all ages. The kaliedoscope of favorite children's stories, classical music, limericks and whimsical mime, is designed to be both fun and educational. The show includes Ferdinand the Bull, the Town Where Sleeping Was Not Allowed, the Emperor's New Clothes, How the Camel Got His Hump and other classics. There will be a reception following the performance, giving the chance for the public to meet the artists personally.
      Strings and Stories will be held Tuesday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in St. Albans. Admission is free. "One of the things this church tries to do is not charge admission to the sanctuary," Pastor Judy Kennedy said. Donations will be accepted to fund ongoing programs like this one. Call 802.524.4555 for info.


      The Vermont Maple Festival site has the complete entertainment schedule, full information about the fine art exhibit and the arts and crafts show, as well as the "art" of the advertising campaign.


      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.