ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 5, 2006


      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.


      2006 will be a busy year in the arts with over 250 concerts, exhibits, recitals, and shows from more than 40 organizations.

      We begin 2006 in search of volunteers, an operating grant, a sponsorship finder, and a membership maven. The volunteers and a permanent base make up the "back room" a Local Arts Service Organization like this needs to offer marketing and technical help, have resources, store stuff, and to host meetings and exhibits, and concerts and workshops for artists, other groups, and local presenters.
      AAC will have juried exhibits for artists in all media and pays actual cash money for bands and solo performers. If you are one or know one, email the All Arts Council .

      The AAC will focus on four interests this year: staffing, continuing our popular programs, continuing our support of artists and other presenters, and creating partnerships.
      We will work with St. Albans for the Future and other organizations to grow the Creative Economy.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum and the AAC are creating a partnership to operate and maintain the Museum theater. The elevator will be finished this spring; we expect to hold a grand opening later this year.
      The AAC will maintain three permanent gallery exhibits: the AAC/Opera House Gallery in Enosburg Falls, the Swanton Library Gallery, and the Highgate Springs Welcome Center Gallery. We will also have several one-time shows and are looking for new venues. Email the All Arts Council if you would like to suggest or host a show.
      The Concerts for Grumpy Grownups series will continue with concerts and CD release celebrations from area artists.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, continues with a lineup of bluegrass, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, opera, and classic rock-n-roll. The concerts always alternate between the Highgate Municipal Park, Taylor Park in St. Albans and St. Albans Bay.
      The Grand Holiday Crafts and Fine Arts Tour of Franklin County will take Christmas shoppers to Enosburg, Fairfield, Franklin, St. Albans, Swanton, and more.
      The All Arts Council has one significant new arts event planned. We will host the Vermont Singer/Songwriter Festival, a juried art and music weekend that will bring a large audience to Franklin County in September.

      The Opera House also plans a mix of touring and community events with an aim of at least one major production each month. In conjunction with the AAC, they will host exhibits of artwork by Franklin County artists in the downstairs Gallery.
      The calendar this year includes pianist Michael Arnowitt in February, a Calcutta Night with good food, good fun, and a good cause in March, the Woods Tea Company in April, and Big Spike Bluegrass in May. The facility will also host District Art Shows and a number of other community events and is available for rental.

      The AAC helps promote many other Franklin County presenters and individual artists. Our regularly updated online calendar has moved to
      Bay Day will celebrate again this year with continuous entertainment and family activities all day plus a Summer Sounds concert and fireworks to cap this July Fourth blowout.
      The 2006 Events for Tom series has scheduled concerts by Huun Huur Tu, Patrick Street, Croabh Run, Gordon Bok and Margaret MacArthur, Doggie Maclean and Greg Brown. Organizer Mark Sustic has plans in the works for the second annual Young Tradition concert and the fourth annual Farewell Reunion in Sheldon. Mr. Sustic has planned about one event per month this year in a series that supports the Tom Fund to assist families with children with cancer.
      Community theater troupes including the Fairfax Community Theater Company need show proposals right now for plays to be produced this year. The FCTC board meets later this month.
      Franklin County Field Days swells Highgate with crafts, exhibits, agricultural exhibits, cattle judging, antique tractor pulls, rides, and more at the Franklin County Airport. This long running event fills a tent, the grounds, and the new stage with popular bands and solo performers from near and far.
      The 14th Annual Jig in the Valley will benefit the East Fairfield Community Center with a family day of music and picnicking on the last weekend in July. This concert helps raise funds and awareness for the NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs.
      County-wide, our public libraries have a slew of plans including readings, lunchtime concerts, art shows, and kids performers.
      The eclectic Music at Grace series at Grace Church in Sheldon will offer exceptional performers to Franklin County for several concerts each summer and fall.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum elevator project will be completed this Spring; look for a lineup of performances, exhibits, and educational programs in the newly accessible third-floor auditorium.
      St. Luke's Art Show will showcase area artists in a setting of wine and cheese this spring at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
      The Northern Vermont Artist Association enters its 76th year of providing venues for aspiring and established visual artists. They hold an annual June Juried show at the Bryan Memorial Gallery. Membership is open to all visual artists who live in the Northern half of Vermont; dues are $15 a year. Email Robert Waldo Brunelle for info.
      School art shows will include FNESU's annual Art Gala and the annual FCSU Art Show. The shows bring together hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces in schools and halls around the County.
      The Vermont Dairy Festival will spotlight Franklin County performers in a benefit weekend for the Lions Club. The festival may reprise the national Country Showdown.
      The Vermont Maple Festival will bring more than 50,000 people to St. Albans for three days of family education and entertainment in April. The Festival hosts a popular talent show, the sold out fiddler's variety show, a large craft show, embraces many other community events, and offers the biggest parade in Vermont.
      The Citizens Concert Band will celebrate its 58th year with outdoor concerts starting in June and alternating on Wednesdays between Swanton and St. Albans. Call Kevin Loomis (868-2684) for info.
      The Enosburg Town Band performs Tuesdays in the Lincoln Park Bandstand, starting in June. Call Alisa Martin (933-2062) for info.
      The Fairfield-Fletcher-Westford Band will start rehearsals Thursday nights in late April and will begin playing concerts around Franklin County in June. Call Bruce Webb (849-2295), Louise Minor (849-6760), or Frank Mehaffey (527-0289) for info.


FAIRFAX--The first regular Music Session of the New Year with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs will be held at the Foothills Bakery on Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Music Session continue most Saturdays. 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.

JERICHO--The Jericho Celtic Music Jam is held every Tuesday, 7-9:30 p.m., at the Calvary Episcopal Church. Call John Valance (899-2581) for info.

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.


      This column has often discussed the difficulty making a full time living in the arts in Franklin County. Area artists often juggle employment, families, school, and community, with their arts "job." The business end of the cultural economy, particularly marketing the resulting artwork, is often the forgotten part of the job.
      At least once each month, I will list some of those resources both near and far. In winter, I like to reach out with calls for artists from warmer, sunnier spaces, but there are always local opportunities. Each might represent an opportunity to grow a new audience and make sales. And often all it takes is a phone call, mouse click, or stamp.


     In keeping with our "look ahead," here's a preview of some festival sites for arts and music here this year. The Franklin County Field Days and Vermont Singer-Songwriter Festival do not (yet) have web sites:
     Summer Sounds
     Vermont Maple Festival
     Vermont Dairy Festival


      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 © 2006 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.