ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 29, 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.


BURLINGTON--The Events for Tom series displays one of northern Vermont’s more restless musical minds as roots musician and songwriter Pete Sutherland and a number of talented allies bring the fifth edition of ‘Petestock’ in the FlynnSpace on Last Night, Friday December 30, at 7:30 p.m.
      The Last Night show will feature his long-time singing partner Karen Sutherland, plus string wizards Colin McCaffrey and Will Patton, singer Deb Flanders, VSO members John Dunlop and Laura Markowitz on cello and violin, and The Men of Social Band.
Admission is $17.50 in advance and $20 the day of the show. A free pre-concert reception with the artists will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Burlington Violin Shop at 200 Main Street in Burlington. For more general information about the concert series and the Tom Sustic Fund, contact Mark Sustic at 802-849-6968 or
      The concert is the 40th presentation in the Events for Tom Series. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with cancer.
      Tickets are available through the Flynn Regional Box Office: on line at, by phone at 802-863-5966, or in person at 153 Main Street in Burlington.

ON CHANNEL 3--A guitar instrumental composition, "Christmas in Iraq,” written and performed by Vermont singer/songwriter, Jae C. Steele (also known as Gini Bowman Trim), will serve as background music for a portion of the WCAX-TV's final "Year in Review" segment to be aired during the 6 p.m. news broadcast on Friday.
      Ms. Steele, a former St. Albans Messenger classified ad manager and route driver, began her professional music career in the early 1980s in Montgomery Center, performing regularly at The Needle in a Haystack and The Belfry. She currently lives in Central Vermont and performs throughout Vermont as well as out-of-state.
      Christmas in Iraq will be released on her first CD, Re-Searching, this spring.

JEFFERSONVILLE--The Cambridge Coffeehouse presents singer-songwriter Patti Casey next Wednesday, January 4, 2006, upstairs at 158 Main Restaurant and Bakery at 7 p.m.
      The suggested donation is $5. Call Ron Carter (644-6632) for info.


     When the All Arts Council began presenting events more than 22 years ago, Franklin County was "rural and underserved" in the arts. As I assembled this year-end remembrance, I discovered that I would run out of space long before I ran out of events so this column has only the highlights of the year in the arts in Franklin County.


      The All Arts Council serves northwestern Vermont as a presenter, an event producer, and as a technical resource for artists and other organizations.

      The All Arts Council presented the forty-third season opener of the Vermont Youth Orchestra in a program of Jedi Knights, Cowboys, and other Heroes on September 11. The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association Pictures at an Exhibition art and music collaboration will host New York composer Daron Hagen on November 8 and 9

      Adelphia Channel 15 and the All Arts Council continued the Almost Live series of live concerts that aired weekly on Channel 15 through the Summer and Fall and will continue with live performances around the County. The series offered the Vermont Maple Festival and Summer Sounds concerts, the Music of Bay Day, and more. Videographers Christine Merges and Mike Montanye produced a "front row seat" show of every event.

      The AAC exhibit program fell short this year with the Vermont Maple Festival as our only major show.

      The AAC series presented the Green Mountain Wind Ensemble with a program covering 400 years of musical history. The concert was a benefit for the Franklin-Grand Isle Emergency Food Shelf. The Piatigorsky Foundation brought Strings and Stories to the Congregational Church.

      I spent a lot of "minutes" on the air with Ken Hayes and the rest of the Champlain Radio Group gang, Thursday mornings on WLFE 102.3 FM.

      The All Arts Council annual Summer Sounds concerts series began June 26 and continued every summer Sunday with concerts alternating between Highgate and St Albans. We spent July down at the Bay. The season featured the Phil Abair Band, Atlantic Crossing, Jenni & the Junketeers, singer/songwriter Roy Hurd and Friends, Jazzmosis, Krisis, Slab City playing into the fireworks, the Stockwell Brothers, the Upstate New Yorkers, and the Diane Ziegler Trio.
      The 2005 Summer Sounds concerts were presented by the Vermont Maple Festival and the All Arts Council with appropriations from the Town of Highgate, the City of St. Albans, and the Town of St. Albans and sponsored by area businesses. Each concert is hosted by a local non-profit group.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls offered an eclectic schedule in 2005 including Social Band and the debut of their Vermont Composers Project in Franklin County. The 2005 season also offered Jazzmosis, the popular annual Talent Search, the Will Patton Ensemble, and an afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus, all in Franklin County's historic theater.
      Opera House programming includes three performance series: the Emerging Talents Series for young artists drawn from all parts of Vermont, the Community Treasures Series with traditional Opera House events that have been the mainstay of the community, and the Mentors Series for well-established professional artists in all disciplines.


      Art appeared on many walls all year. The Northwestern Medical Center rotating exhibit featured twelve northern Vermont artists including several AAC members. The AAC Exhibit Gallery at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls showed oils, watercolors, photographs and digital art, and exceptional student art. Nearly 100,000 more people saw the work of six Franklin County artists at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center AAC Exhibit.
      35 St. Albans City School eighth graders created a grand mural for the Burlington International Airport.
      Art for all Ages, the statewide elder art program, taught Introduction to Chinese Brush Painting, Continuing Watercolor, and more. The St. Albans Multigenerational Art Show took over downtown St. Albans storefronts; the group held other exhibits in St Albans and Alburg. This St. Albans Recreation sponsored program ended a successful several year run this fall.
      Younger artists had several shows. The annual Franklin Central Supervisory Union District Art Show featured two and three dimensional work from City School, Town School, Fairfield. The Annual Franklin Northeast Supervisory District Exhibit filled the Opera House to overflowing.
      The Northern Vermont Artist Association has held the June Juried Show since 1930. Their 75th annual exhibit showed about 100 pieces of new artwork in all media. NVAA members include several All Arts Council artists.
      The Red Barn Studio and Gallery in Montgomery began its fifth season with George Lochtie, photographer, Janis Hess, pen & ink, Pam Fischer, mixed media and Karen Scheffler, stained glass artist on exhibit.
      The fourth annual St. Luke's Art Gala included well known, respected artists, as well as the first public show for some.
      The Doll-Anstadt Gallery presented the solo exhibition Convergence by Fairfield artist Gail Salzman. Ms. Salzman was also one of 15 national artists in a contemporary New Turf exhibition at the Fleming Museum.
      Vermont Hand Crafters held its 53rd annual Holiday Craft and Fine Art Show.
      Vermont's thirteenth annual Open Studio Weekend put Vermont artists and craftspeople "on exhibit" in their own studios. Area participants included Elizabeth Boudreau, David Derner, Josh Derner, Nancy Hayden, Lorraine C. Manley, Dennis Provencher, Rick Russell, Alan Stirt, Meta Strick, Ralph Tursini, and Valerie Ugro. More than two hundred and sixty-four sites were open with more than three hundred artists and artisans participating in 2005.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presented a deluge of Vermont bands playing music and raising money for Tsunami Relief. The FNESU Tobacco Free Coalition held a Community Contra Dance for the families of troops in Iraq. Jim McGinnis and Jim Daniels played hot music for Haiti. The second annual Benefit Partner Dance sent kids to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. The Events for Tom Series held a Musician-to-Musician Relief concert. An Enosburg Town Band benefit hurricane victims. Catalyst Theater Company staged benefit performances of The Guys for Vermont's Fire Departments around the state.

      The series presented Jerry Holland and Kevin Burke, the Young Tradition Concert, Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and more. Their 40th event comes tomorrow night with the fifth edition of ‘Petestock’ in the FlynnSpace. Proceeds from the concert series benefit the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with cancer.

      Grace Church in Sheldon won the calendar with the first of the summer performance season. The 2005 Summer Music at Grace series began with the third annual Farewell Reunion Tour benefit concert. The series included Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, Aurora Ancient Music, Erik Kenyon, Village Harmony, and Pamela Wyn Shannon.

      The 2005 Christmas Concert season began with the Citizens Concert Band and the Community Singers at the Congregational Church, and continued with Counterpoint's Holiday Concert at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and an afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus. Community choruses and Town bands played widely all year.
      Area studios celebrated National Dance Week in April with open houses, partner dances, an Evening of Student Choreography, and the EYDC American Dance Awards in Springfield. A new Ballet School and Dance Arts Building opened this fall. Maryellen and Ruth Vickery teach Ballet, Kevin Laddison teaches Ballroom and Meg Wiley teaches Salsa.
      The BFA-St. Albans Music Department presented a popular Pops Concert. Their choral Patriotic Concert supported U.S. troops and honored local Armed Forces members past, present, and future.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company presented Noises Off, the play within a play by Michael Frayn, plus Annie, one of the world's best-loved family musicals, and Dancing at Lughnasa, by Brian Friel.
      Festival Firefly Productions performed Fish Dancing in Brighton, England, in May, and The 4th annual Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival featured 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 Montgomery Historical Society presented the Green Mountain Chorus.
      Keeghan Nolan competed in the Regionals for the Colgate Country Showdown.
      Music Sessions continued at the Foothills Bakery most Saturday afternoons and at the Overtime Saloon on Wednesdays in the Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends program. The Overtime also offered regular performances including Patrick Fitzsimmons with Rob Meehan, Armand Messier, and Paul Douse.
      Will Patton's ensembles played the Black Door, the Bee's Knees, the Northern Lights cruise ship, the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury, The Fifth Annual Free Summer Festival in Morrisville
      Nobby Reed also played the Black Door, the Third Annual May Rain Blues Festival, and Middle Earth.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum hosted the Vintage and Contemporary Quilt Show.
      St. John's Summer Music Series presented Just Jazz, the ladies barbershop quartet Long and the Short of It, and the contemporary jazz vocal ensemble Maple Jam.
      Social Band's Vermont Composers Project premiered around the state including at the Opera House.
      Singer, performer, musician, caller Mark Sustichad a busy year with community dances, Yankee Chank performances, a Bay Day appearance, and Fiddlehead dos.
      Vermont Park Department offered the Fiddleheadsand a variety of other entertainers to bring more people out to the parks.


      Franklin County is graced with five volunteer-run festivals starting with the first major outdoor statewide event of each year and ending with a traditional Field Days.

      Bay Day 2005 was more than family fun and fireworks. The AAC offered live music all day, with the MadJones collection of the standards and substandards of rock plus Mark Sustic and Gary Dulabaum playing traditional American folk songs, the songs every child should know, songs from books, sing-alongs, and fun. Governor Jim Douglas dedicated the day to the CCC workers who built the park.

      The 30th annual Franklin County Field Days offered Vermont bands that were worth the price of admission alone: Yellow Fire, the Jim Daniels Band, Blue Bandana Band, Island Ramblers, singer Keeghan Nolan, the Conrad Samuels Band, Yankee Wild, Joey the Clown, Bear Tracks, and the killer blues of the Nobby Reed Project.

      Hundreds picnicked in Fairfield on the last July weekend at the Thirteenth Annual Jig in the Valley. The Jig brought an eclectic day of outdoor music to a good cause in Fairfield with Elizabeth von Trapp as well as John Cassel, Jim McGinnis, the Oleo Romeos, the Motown sounds of the Fabulous Spiders, and musical talent from the Fairfield Central School.

      The 49th Annual Vermont Dairy Festival celebrated "Vermont Troops Drink Milk" and was dedicated to the Vermont National Guard. The weekend is packed full of entertainment and family activities. The Dairy Festival Scholarship Pageant began the event with Small town U.S.A. WLFE Radio offered a medley of country singers in the Colgate Country Showdown. The stage also held Borderline, Dan the Puppetman, Emerald Dream (formerly Machines at Rest), the Enosburg High School Band, the Fiddler's Variety Show, the MadJones Family Band, the musical memories of Tom Sabo, and Yankee Wild.

      The Vermont Maple Festival and the All Arts Councilshowcased some of the best Franklin County artists and performers for about 50,000 visitors to St. Albans in April.
      The All Arts Council Fine Art Exhibit and Sale was open all three days in St. Albans City Hall with a spotlight on Corliss Blakely and photographer April Henderson. We featured the exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, illustrations, digital art, mixed media, and prints by 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, Wayne Tarr, and more.
      The All Arts Council booked the eclectic continuous free entertainment in this annual showcase of the finest Franklin County and Vermont performers. The Magasuwin Drum and a Maple Festival Sock Hop added to the enjoyment of Borderline, John Cassel, the Citizens Concert Band, Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band, the Body in Motion Dance Studio, the Electric Youth Dance Studio, Melinda Firkey, the Fiddlehead fiddlers, Kids on the Block-Vermont, the Machines at Rest, Karen McFeeters, John Gibbons and Craig Anderson, the Nobby Reed Project, Nothing Better to Do, the Roxy Dance Studio, Mark Shelton and the Swimming Frogs, award winners from the Vermont Maple Festival Talent Show, Meg Willey, and WLFE radio personalities.


      Sterling 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.
      Mr. Weed died in his home this year at age 104.

      The Kept Writer closed in January. It was good fun with fine art and great musicians and wonderful books and nice people.

      The St. Albans downtown designation effort succeeded this spring. St. Albans for the Future showed how every Franklin County town can promote and support the rehabilitation and use of historic buildings and structures for innovative and creative small businesses, affordable artist housing, or studio and performance space, or perhaps for cultural institutions, retail space, and services. S.A.F.F. offered a series of downtown events with arts and music and activities.
      St. Albans City has now joined five Vermont cities and towns as the first participants in the Creative Community Program. The Vermont Council of Rural Development program gives all five communities technical support and access to grants to harness the creativity of the business, cultural, and community groups to spur economic development. Project L.E.A.D. grew into Advancing the Creative Economy (A.C.E.). They have created a new inventory of artists, musicians, writers, sculptors, performers and other creative artists in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.


     Over the past year, this column has profiled another dozen interesting people in the arts, in music, and in the business of the arts. We investigated the creative economy, marketing ideas and some successful sales tools, and found more than 40 interesting or unusual calls for artists.


     First Night Burlington offers over 200 performances, a grand parade, and a double serving of fireworks on New Years Eve, all for the price of a button. The schedule and plenty of info is on line and the weather forecast may have the thermometer climb back to 40.


      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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