ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * August 25, 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 ears to Taylor Park as Merchant's Bank presents the Diane Zeigler Trio in the final Vermont Maple Festival/Summer Sounds concert of 2005. The All Arts Council concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free.
      Vermont's Diane Zeigler is a skilled performer with a crystalline voice, distinctive open-tuning guitar work, and a quick laugh. She is also one of the most important voices in acoustic music today. She has appeared thrice before in Summer Sounds.
      Drawn to thoughtful lyrics and intelligent songwriting "not the sugar pop candy lyrics. People deserve to be challenged with what they listen to," she said. She will start recording her fifth album on August 30, and has targeted this winter for the release.
      Ms. Zeigler has won six national songwriting awards as well as Best New Folk Album of 2002 and 2004. Her songs capture a sense of place and community and the landscape of Vermont and her own experiences with death and loss. Her songwriting reflects her own focus on family, place, and community. She has a gift for penning reflective personal anthems that turn hard truths to life-affirming purpose. Sting of the Honeybee, her 1995 debut CD, was dedicated to her brother Jimmy who died of cancer in 1984.
      She has begun touring again. "My touring schedule is pretty extensive, more extensive than I've undertaken since having kids," she said. Her schedule includes Florida, Washington, the Southwest, Alaska, and more. "I'm performing more than I have since having children. It feels really good and odd. In some ways I'm a little nervous about how I'm going to pull it all off."
      The trio includes Ms. Zeigler, lead vocals and guitar, Adam Frehm, dobro, lap steel, and electric guitar, and Geoff Sather, bass and harmonies.
      "Geoff and I have long wanted to work with a melodic player," she said. "It's hard to come in to a situation where a husband and wife have been working together for 15 years. Adam fit right in. It's a thrill to play together."
      Adam Frehm is drawn to the sounds of the slide guitar. He has studied the dobro with Junior Barber who played Summer Sounds in June, Kevin Maul, and Roger Williams. He toured the U.S. with Smokin' Grass and has performed with Strangefolk, Sally Barris, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more. Invited to NYC by Mike Gordon of Phish, he participated on The Chieftans' latest release Further Down the Old Plank Road with Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Jerry Douglas. He has recorded on over 20 albums on his own.
      Bassist (and Zig's husband) Geoff Sather "is a consummate musician," she said, who "long been involved with bands." He played the bass with the Stockwell Brothers and toured with Jonathan Edwards. A very skilled guitar player, he performed as a singer songwriter in the Boston folk music scene. He was influenced by Michael Hedges and David Wilcox.
      "I write my songs," Ms. Zeigler said, "but he is such a part of the way I understand music and feel it now." They have a "psychological collaboration. He is always in my head.
      "Here's how I know whether or not I should write a song. This happens every time. I'll start playing a song in the house, just fooling around in the house, and I can tell whether or not it's worth pursuing if Geoff looks up. He's my meter."
      It is, perhaps, a wee bit early to be thinking about snowplowing but "December in Vermont," a Christmas album is Diane Zeigler's fourth CD. From the bluegrassy, upbeat "Good King Wenceslas," to the meditative "Joy to the World" to her original ballad and title song, this year-round Christmas collection offers her exquisite vocals and fresh arrangements. Her CD "These Are the Roots" was released in 2000 and "Paintbrush" in 2002.
      Ms. Zeigler's work has also been featured on compilation projects for both major and independent labels including Rounder Records, Sony Music, National Geographic Magazine, Yankee Magazine and more alongside John Gorka, Christine Lavin, Dougie MacLean, Richard Shindell, David Wilcox, Rory Block, and others.
      Before and during the concert, the Franklin County Humane Society will scoop ice cream and introduce furry people. 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 Fairfax Community Theater Company will hold auditions again on Sunday and Monday for Dancing at Lughnasa, a play by Brian Friel. Auditions will be held at BFA-Fairfax, starting at 7 p.m. The play has a cast of five women and three men.
      Auditions will consist of readings from the script, to be provided at that time. Dancing at Lughnasa is directed by Margie Cain and produced by Kevin Christopher. Call 849-6638 or email for info.


HIGHGATE FALLS--St John's Summer Music Series presents Just Jazz on Sunday at 3 p.m. Just Jazz has Rob Guerrina, keyboard, Will Patton. bass, and Larry McCrorey, horns. "We'll play a little seasonal music and standard jazz," Rob said. These guys are so good that it's anything but "standard."
      "We have gotten back into the twentieth century," Norm Lavallee said of the church. At one time the electricity was off to the building. "All the lights are functioning. It is beautiful at night to go by when the lights are on. Those Gothic windows just glow across the park. They have put lights in the stairwells and in the room upstairs so when all the lights are on even the windows in front shine."
      Admission is free by donation.

BURLINGTON--It's a busy week for the Will Patton Ensemble. They play tonight on the Northern Lights cruise ship and tomorrow in Middlebury.
      The Will Patton Ensemble performs the gypsy jazz popularized by Django Reinhardt of the 1930s Paris bistros. The sextet has a strong string jazz sound with Will Patton, mandolin, David Gusakov, violin, Steve Blair, guitar, Clyde Stats, bass, plus Tommy Steele, flute/clarinet, and Steve Wienert, drums. The group performs a repertoire that includes Brazilian sambas and choros and some bebop.
      The Northern Lights departs from the King Street dock at 7 p.m. and returns at 9:30 p.m. Call 864-9669 or click here for more info.

MIDDLEBURY--The Will Patton Ensemble performs again tomorrow evening at the Town Hall Theater at 7:30 p.m. Call 388-9222 or click here for more info.


     Kevin Laddison of St Albans is an evangelist for dance. Upcoming, he has begun the Ballet School and Dance Arts and is organizing the second annual Camp Ta-Kum-Ta Benefit Partner Dance Showcase.


      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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