ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * September 15, 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.


      I was born the day before Sterling Weed but nearly half a century later.
      That distance is simply mind boggling. Mr. Weed saw the change from the music he had to make in a movie house so there could be any kind of sound in the theater to music that beams down from satellites. Most Vermonters still rode horses when he was born but his birthday fell on the day man first set foot on the Moon.
      The only thing short about Sterling Weed was the distance his sax stood off the ground. He has cast a long shadow that will underscore Vermont music for years to come. He died on Sunday afternoon, America's day for Heroes, at about the same time the Vermont Youth Orchestra played Taps to open their concert of Heroes.
      The first bit of live music Anne and I heard when we moved to Vermont in 1978 was at a welcoming party in the Plattsburg Howard Johnsons hosted by Sterling Weed and his Imperial Orchestra. The first music St. Albans heard for the Third Millennium was Sterling Weed's last dance concert of the last century and his first in the year 2000 in St Albans City Hall.
      "I wanted to do a concert for everyone," Mr. Weed told me at the time.
      And that was Mr. Weed. He shared his music. He shared his stories.
      Any visit with Sterling Weed was a trip; his conversations offered an instant romp through Vermont history and I'm glad I had the chance to hear him tell those stories. Mr. Weed loved to share the details from his days playing the scores for silent movies at the Waugh Opera House to leading his own orchestra in the great pavilions, and his years as a school music teacher and leader of the Enosburg Town Band.
      He was the oldest orchestra leader in the United States; he directed the Imperial Orchestra for 77 years, a lifetime for most. He played for world leaders at the World's Fair and for anyone who liked music in Town Parks. He played every other Thursday at the Franklin Town Hall and spent the summer months at the Lake Carmi Pavilion. Daisy Glidden of Franklin started dancing to his music when she was 12 years old. "Back then he had a black piano player, Hobie Taylor on drums, Guy Burnell's son on trumpet, and Rodney Ledoux of Swanton on trombone," she said.
      On the occasion of his 100th birthday, I looked for some other historical firsts he had seen, and discovered that Mr. Weed had lent his birthday to some notable folks in the arts, many of whom he probably knew. The Arthur Murray Party premiered on television on his day in 1950. Jan & Dean's Surf City was the first surfing song to go #1 on his day in 1964. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first small step on the Moon, on his day in 1969. July 20 was also the birthday of Sir Edmund Hillary, actresses Sally Ann Howes, Diana Rigg, Jo Ann Campbell (Lawrence Welk's champagne lady), and Natalie Wood, of John Lodge of the Moody Blues, T.G. Sheppard, Kim Carnes, Carlos Santana, Michael Anthony of Van Halen, and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook.
      Mr. Weed experienced every truly American form of music and I think he played most of them. Except for Disco.
      But this is the end. Mr. Weed requested that the Imperial Orchestra die when he did. And so it has.
      We seem to have stopped going to the moon, too.

     Public Access TV (Channel 15) has several programs with Sterling Weed including one in which we chatted in 1999. Adelphia Channel 15 will begin airing a retrospective next week.


     The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents Jazzmosis on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. This six-piece ensemble plays the music of America's jazz icons, influenced by the funk, rock and blues idioms.
      The evening will feature tight ensemble work and the creative arrangements and improv that show the real jazz in the compositions of Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Frank Zappa, and more.
      The group includes former Enosburg High music man Marty McRae, trombone; Steven Bredice, sax, who has recorded and toured with Mr. Dooley, Lambsbread, and Blue Sky; Andy Smith, bass, who teaches general music at Williston Central School; Aron Garceau, guitar, a founding member of Whisky Before Breakfast; Caleb Bronz, percussion, who has played with Mighty Sam McClain, The Gordon Stone Band, Smokin' Grass, The Gregory Douglass Band, The Vermont Jazz Ensemble, and Voice; and Jack Phipps, trumpet, who has performed in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Nashville, and for three Presidents of the United States.
      Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for those under 12. Tickets are available at the Opera House box office and at the door. Call 802.933.6171 or e-mail for reservations and info.


     The second annual Camp Ta-Kum-Ta Benefit Partner Dance Showcase two-steps out tomorrow evening in the Elley Long Music Center at St. Michaels College. " Last year we raised $1,700," said organizer Kevin Laddison of First Step Dance in St Albans. He expects the 2005 show to be better and more successful.
      The dance will showcase members of the Vermont partner dancing community and will include performances by instructors, students and groups of students dancing Tango, Swing, Salsa, Rumba, Waltz, and other dances. Mr. Laddison will demonstrate the bolero, nightclub two-step, and waltz with three partners.
      "The doors will open at 6:30, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m.," Mr. Laddison said. "We’ve got twenty different dances/dance partnerships lined up. After the show we will do a half hour dance lesson, and then play music for open dancing until 10:30."
      The Elley Long Hall is "a really great place to have a dance event," he said. The large stage encourages dancing. They will place chairs for the performance and remove them to dance the rest of the evening. "It is elegant."
      Ginny McGehee of WJOY will MC. Mr. Laddison will introduce the people dancing and the dance itself because a lot of people might know a waltz or a cha cha but wouldn't know a balboa or mambo. There will be a half hour lesson and the floor will open for couples dancing.
      "It's a good way for the dancers to share their love of the cause and their dance." Scheduled to appear are Rachel Smith and Jason Kirkpatrick, Mambo and Cha Cha; Victoria Moore, Salsa and Group Salsa; Shirley McAdam and Chris Nickl, Balboa and Swing; Kevin Laddison and Katie O'Connor, Waltz; Kevin and Kate Laddison, Bolero; Kevin Laddison and Jenny Lynch, NightClub 2-step; First Step Dance Students, Foxtrot Group; Janet Dufrense and Michael Kiey, Argentine Tango; Doug and Noe Currier, Milonga; Carlos Rodriguez, Katie O'Connor and others, Merengue Group; Joe LaRose and Sarah LaMothe, Viennese Waltz and Quickstep; Bob and Carol Drawbaugh, Samba; Samir and Elani Elabd and students, American Tango, Rumba, West Coast Swing and Ballroom Line Dance.
      "I'm thinking of my own daughter," Mr. Laddison said. "She's happy and healthy and has no problems. She can do whatever she wants. She's not sick. And I thought back to a friend of mine in Connecticut" whose daughter had cancer. "The family had no money and it was a major struggle for her to do even just regular things with that child. My friend would have appreciated being able to have her daughter go to a caring place for a week where she could be a normal kid like all the other kids."
      Mr. Laddison wanted to do "something, but I'm just one guy. What can one guy do? Well, one guy can't do very much, but if one guy organizes a bunch of other guys--men and women, of course, since guys is a generic term--one guy can do a lot."
      Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a once-a-year-jam-packed-week-long magical happening. There are traditional program offerings in activities like swimming, athletics, ropes course, arts and crafts, and music, but Ta-Kum-Ta's true calling card is "special events": boat rides and lakeside cookouts with the Vermont State Police, dance parties, rock climbing expeditions, theme carnivals, ball games and an annual formal dinner/dance.
      Founded in 1984, Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is financed completely through private donations and fundraising. With an all-volunteer staff of 70, Ta-Kum-Ta accepts all of its children tuition-free. The children who have or have had cancer are between the ages of 7 and 17.
      All ticket sales will be donated to support the Camp Ta-Kum-Ta resident camp. The showcase begins at 7 p.m. with a free dance lesson at 8:30 and open dancing: 9 - 10 p.m., all in the Elley-Long Music Center. Admission is $20. Tickets are available now at, and will be available at the door. Call (802) 598-6757 for more info.


     Illustrator and cartoonist Alexandria Heather of Plainfield has over fifteen years experience in commercial art including original graphic design, set painting, and original fine art. Her past clients include Young & Rubicam, Dirt Rag, and Lollipop Magazine. The site includes her portfolio of painting, illustration, and digital art, music and CV. It loads well for a site with heavy graphics.


      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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