ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * August 11, 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.


      Bring your dancing shoes to Taylor Park for a band people rarely see in concert as St Albans for the Future presents a Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds extravaganza with the Phil Abair Band. These All Arts Council concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free.
      "We'll do a bunch of things people have heard before," Phil Abair said. "I'll teach the band on of the originals off the CD."
      This concert will span all the steps and twirls of dance music. "We'll play everything from the [rock pop of] Maroon Five off the radio to Dixie Chicks to Alicia Keys, all eclectic stuff," he said.
      The band includes Phil Abair, keyboards, guitar and vocals, has over twenty years playing with High Rollers, Shattered, The Showstoppers, Abair Brothers, Tammy Fletcher and more. He is a founding member of Pork Tornado with drummer Jon Fishman of Phish, they tour annually and have released their own first CD. Just Christine, vocals, is the newest member of the band. Her singing has dynamic range and power. Music veteran Kenny Gulfield, bass and vocals, is a multi-talented rhythm man. He plays drums with the Grippo Funk Band. Mark Lurvey, guitar and vocals, has toured the East Coast playing guitar in The Law and Jamie Lee & The Rattlers and other national groups and does some dates in The Logger. Jeff Stem, drums, has a style compared to Charlie Watts. The Philadelphia native has gained a solid New England reputation.
      "We hardly ever play public events," Mr. Abair said. They sold out the Cruise for Corm and the Coach.
      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 4th annual Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival this weekend features the Gibson Brothers and the Del McCoury Band, plus a major fiddler's contest, a craft fair, music workshops, a bonfire, barbeque, and jamming, all on a family farm in Alburg. The music starts tomorrow and continues through Sunday afternoon. Travelocity rated the festival "a top insider spot in the United States" for 2005. (As usual, there will be just enough time at the end of this Festival to hustle down to St. Albans for Summer Sounds.)
      Tomorrow afternoon Banjo Dan and The Midnight Plow Boys open the gates with performances at 3, 5, and 8 p.m. The Abrams Brothers play at 4 and 7 p.m., Atkinson Family Bluegrass at 6 p.m. and the Gibson Brothers take the stage from 9-midnight. There will be a bonfire and open pickin' from 12 midnight until Sunrise.
      The annual $3000 Fiddle & Banjo Contest starts off Saturday. It runs from 9 a.m- 2 p.m. The Abrams Brothers take the stage at 2 p.m. followed by Southern Rail at 3 and 8 p.m., White Mountain Bluegrass at 4 p.m., Martin Family Bluegrass at 5 p.m., Big Spike at 6 p.m., and Atkinson Family Bluegrass at 7 p.m. The Del McCoury Band will play from 9-Midnight and the bonfire and open pickin' continues from 12 midnight until Sunrise.
      On Sunday, White Mountain Bluegrass will play at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Big Spike at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Martin Family Bluegrass at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Southern Rail at noon, and Atkinson Family Bluegrass rounds out the day at 4 p.m.
      The Fiddle and Banjo Contest has six divisions. The Fiddle Champion Division and the Fiddle Open Division are open to any age. Contestants will play a waltz, tune of choice, and a hoedown. The new Fiddle Senior Division is was started for those 60 years and older who like fiddling around. The Fiddle Junior Division is for 14 and under. The Fiddle Trick & Fancy and the Banjo Divisions are also open to any age. Fiddlers will play just one tune in old time fiddle style. Fiddlers may enter the Trick & Fancy Division plus any one of the other three Fiddle Divisions. Banjo players will play two authentic, non-jazz banjo songs.
      The craft show now covers all three days with juried, handmade crafts.
      The 2004 Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival begins tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. about two miles north of Alburg Village on Route 2. Admission is still $35 for the weekend including camping if tickets are purchased today; single day tickets are available. Ticket prices are $45 starting tomorrow morning. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Tickets are available through the Flynn Regional Box Office. Call 802-482-8110 or click here for more info.


SHELDON--Village Harmony returns for its eighth year in the Summer Music at Grace series at Grace Church tomorrow evening. This popular youth ensemble will present an eclectic mixture of 16th century works from France and Spain, contemporary works by Vermont composers, ancient songs from Caucasus Georgia and Appalachian songs and hymns. Village Harmony's 25 young singers and instrumentalists range in age from 13-18, and are drawn from all the New England states as well as New York and Germany. They participate in an intensive eight day rehearsal retreat at Sky Meadow. They are directed by Amity Baker, Carl Linich, and Suzannah Park.
      Ms. Baker directs Social Band. Mr. Linich has lived for most of the past nine years in Caucasus, Georgia, working with performers of Georgian traditional music. Ms. Park began singing with Village Harmony at 12, and has been co-leading Village harmony sessions for the past four years.
      A community potluck dinner will precede the concert at 5:30 p.m. The suggested admission is $8 for adults or $5 for students and seniors. Village Harmony's recordings and songbooks will be available for sale. Call 802-326-4603 or click here for info. Grace Church is at 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon Creek.
      Village Harmony will also play this evening at the Quebec Lodge Camp in Hatley, in Vergennes Saturday, and at the Community Church in Middletown Springs on Monday.

VERGENNES--The Vergennes Opera House presents the Young Tradition Concert featuring Village Harmony, Anais Mitchell, Anthony Santoro, Les Queteux, the Pop Quiz Hot Shots (Caleb Elder and Ben Campbell), Maple Leaf Morris, Triskele, youth fiddlers, and others, all on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. The concert continues the Events for Tom Series.

FAIRFAX--The regular Music Session continues Saturday with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.

WATERVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents community dances on Saturdays at 7 p.m. in the Waterville Town Hall. The evening will feature contras, squares, circles, play parties and singing games and all dances will be taught. Bring a partner, the entire family, or come alone. Caller Mark Sustic offers dance instruction. Frank Heyburn and Michele Lajoie play. Guest musicians with acoustic instruments are welcome. Admission is $5 per person and $10 for families at the door.

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 here for more info.


     ARTOPP in Ascutney lists national and international opportunities for visual artists. The site includes competitions, scholarships, juried exhibitions, internships, call for entries, publishing opportunities, non-profit galleries reviewing proposals, museum exhibition opportunities, museum gift shops and other opportunities for artists, art educators, curators and art students worldwide.


      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.