ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * July 28, 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.


      We begin Franklin County's "August Bluegrass growing season" on the last day of July this year as the Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds series offers world class newgrass from Southern Vermont when Key Bank presents the Stockwell Brothers in Taylor Park. These All Arts Council concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free.
      Please note the concert is in Taylor Park this weekend.
      Bruce, Barry, and Alan Stockwell wield acoustic and electric guitars, 5-string banjo, mandolin, bass, and multi-flavored percussion to color the poetry of their music and to cast a spell over the audience.
      "Real biological style brothers," Bruce said. The brother acts in bluegrass harken back to old days of bluegrass. "There is a rich tradition."
      Bruce and Barry have been playing bluegrass together about 36 years. "Al is somewhat younger but he's been with us for about 20," Bruce said. Their background is in bluegrass but they have played in most other genres. "We've done stylishly a bunch of stuff from country-rock to funk and world-beat at one point. I guess that some way or another it all finds its way into the music but at the moment, we've gone back to playing the acoustic trio thing."
      "Three people, we have to keep up with all the quintets and sextets. We plug it in and make as big a racket as possible."
      Their material varies from an old time fiddle tune to a John Hyatt song. In between is straight ahead rock, fingerpicked folk, mandolin medleys, and, of course, a skoch of blue and a little grass riding funk, reggae, and Latin grooves. It's an eclectic way to make modern bluegrass.
      With their tasty arrangements, fraternal harmonies, and superb instrumentals, this trio has appeared with John McLaughlin, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Mary-Chapin Carpenter and John Gorka. Their current album is the critically acclaimed Leave My Dreams Alone which includes She's Dangerous When She's Bored and The Fashion And The Feeling. They have been busy this summer with concerts at Greenfield Classic Days, the Green Mountain Chew-Chew Festival, West River Bluegrass Festival, and the upcoming Stony Creek Folk Festival. They will also play the Franklin County Fair in September, but that is in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
      Bruce Stockwell placed first in the bluegrass banjo competition at the 18th annual Merlefest, a four day celebration of American roots music in North Carolina. He is profiled in the January, 2005, issue of The 5-String Banjo Magazine and his tune Turning Blue is "tab of the month" in the May issue.
      Please note the concert is in Taylor Park this weekend.
      Before and during the concert, the St Louis Church of Highgate will serve a tableful of goodies for your sweet tooth. Meet some old friends and make new ones as you picnic in the Taylor Park starting at 6:30.
      The Vermont Maple Festival presents the Summer Sounds concerts in Taylor Park to keep music and maple together all year round. The concerts are sponsored by the City of St. Albans, and the All Arts Council, and underwritten by the Handy Group of new car dealers, Key Bank, Merchant's Bank, Northwestern Medical Center, and St. Albans for the Future, the Downtown St. Albans group. The rain site is the Congregational Church. The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont.


     The Thirteenth Annual Jig in the Valley brings an eclectic day of outdoor music to a good cause in Fairfield on Sunday. This community event brings together musicians who are generous with their time, the community members and friends, and people from all over the state.
      Elizabeth von Trapp starts the music at noon. The performers also include John Cassel, Jim McGinnis, the Oleo Romeos, the Motown sounds of the Fabulous Spiders, and musical talent from the Fairfield Central School. Mark Sustic will call a contra dance.
      Bakersfield’s John Cassel has helped build the music scene in Vermont for over thirty years. He is a classically trained jazz pianist who can and does play country, folk, pop, rock, and dinner music. He calls the latter the "kind of music you should talk over."
      Mr. Cassel has appeared in large venues with Dave Brubeck, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, Pat Metheny, and Bonnie Raitt, and in small clubs by himself. His repertoire ranges from Jerry Lee Lewis to Cole Porter to Duke Ellington to Fats Waller to Frederic Chopin and Maurice Ravel to John Cassel.
      Poet, singer, and songwriter Jim McGinnis will play original and traditional old-time country and bluegrass music.
      The Oleo Romeos play a unique blend of country, blues, and rock, with original tunes by Tyrone Shaw. The group features Tyrone Shaw, guitar and vocals, Jerry Bowers, guitar, Will Patton, bass, and Eric Belrose, drums.
      The Spiders have been singing together for almost 25 years with a repertoire from Motown, jazz standards, and folk tunes, to a capella doo-wop. comprised of Pat LeBoeuf, Marcia Brewster and Debbie Patton, with Tommy Steele, sax, and Will Patton, strings.
      Singer/songwriter and Kennedy Center Millennium Artist Elisabeth von Trapp of Waitsfield is a third generation member of the Von Trapp family. Her music echoes her background in folk, classical and liturgical traditions, and the pop influence of Van Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. She has performed in concert across the United States as well as in Canada, Austria, Israel and Russia. She has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning, America on and BBC-TV. Her music has been featured on BBC-Radio, Vermont Public Radio, Japanese National Radio, and CNN Spanish Radio.
      The CHIP program at NMC will run a free health screening. Call the Fairfield Community Center to set up an appointment. There is also a great chicken BBQ, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, and vegetarian fare. It’s always good to have fair fare at a fair.
      The suggested donation is $10 and kids under 12 are free. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and plenty of kids.
      The Jig in the Valley runs from noon until dusk on Sunday. The proceeds benefit the many programs at the Fairfield Community Center including the after-school homework club, Early Essential Ed and Headstart, and a wide variety of educational, arts, and special programming. Call 802-827-3130 for info.


HIGHGATE FALLS--The Summer Ministry of the Arts presents the ladies barbershop quartet Long and the Short of It and the contemporary jazz vocal ensemble Maple Jam with old standards from Cole Porter to The Beatles at St. John's Episcopal Church on Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is by donation.

MORRISVILLE–Will Patton and a lot of Friends play The Fifth Annual Free Summer Festival tomorrow evening. The event also features the No Strings Puppets; Pete Sutherland, Patti Casey, Will Patton, Colin McCaffrey and Karen Sutherland; and the Dave Keller Band under the tent at the Noyes House Museum, plus Eric Gershman; Stolen Moments; and David Langevin and Friends in the Gazebo, as well as Take 3 and Gua Gua at Bees Knees. Call River Arts (802-888-1261) for info.


     The Catalyst Theater Company rehearsal and camp is now accepting applications
      "Wanna learn more about acting? Do you like making people laugh?" Catalyst Director Ronnie Lopez asked. "Do both!"
      This two week evening workshop for high school students is structured to make friends, learn the fundamentals of acting, and to develop and rehearse an original sketch comedy show that will be performed in the new Waterfront Theater in Burlington. The camp will focus on basic acting skills as well as comic timing, character building, script writing, and improv.
      Instructor Nathan Hartswick's one-act play, Cafe Murder, published Fall 2004, is the fastest-selling new play in Pioneer Drama Services history. He grew up in the Vermont Children's Theater. He later wrote plays, taught workshops, arranged music, coached acting, and directed at VCT. He has also taught private music lessons, jazz improv classes, drama workshops and camp programs for ages 8-18 in NYC.
      The Rehearsals/Camp will be held weekday evenings, August 8-19 at 6-9 pm. on Church Street in Burlington with the performances staged at the new Waterfront Theater. The cost is $150 per student; enrollment is limited. Call Catalyst Theater Company (862-2287) for info


     Heidi Whipple is a dairy farmer in Barton with a BA in Fine Arts from UMass. She now milks 100 Jerseys and Holsteins and helps Agnes, a registered Jersey cow, make art. Ms. Whipple built a ramp of hemlock boards and a paint tub from a wheelbarrow. She fastens heavy stock paper to the boards, and fills the trough with veterinarian-approved latex paint. I will leave the rest of the process to the reader to determine.


      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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