ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * July 20, 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.


      Got the "summer sunshine is just a-drippin' off me, brother, blues"? Summer Sounds returns an old favorite to Highgate on Sunday as Chevalier Drilling presents the Nobby Reed Project in concert.
      Vermont's most popular power-blues man, Nobby Reed has been about playing the guitar on stage for 41 years. The Project puts its a Vermont touch on the best original music in the soul-shakin'-electric Texas and Chicago blues styles.
      The band includes Eric Belrose, percussion, Ray Bushey, bass, and Mr. Reed on lead guitar and vocals. "Since Raymond has been in the band, everything has gone in the right direction," Mr. Reed said. "We're really a team now, the three of us. It could be because Ray and I played together for years in the 70s. I always felt that, as a band leader, I could get the best performance from my guys. Raymond has taken us up a bit more."
      Ray Bushey cut his teeth on the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but dabbled in country with Kevin Agosti. He played original rock and roll and joined Greafe in the 70s. "Nobby and I started a group called Pheelix. That was the first band that sax player Joe Moore played in here," he said. And he sat in with East Coast Muscle.
      "I've been lucky to rub shoulders with a lot of great musicians," he said. "The high points have been playing with Nobby and with Kevin Agosti. Nobby turned me inward and learn about feeling music instead of just playing the notes."
      The Project has headlined every Franklin County Festival, wowed the New Year at First Night St. J. and just returned from the original Soberstock in Pennsylvania and another in Massachusetts. In its 9th year, Soberstock celebrates substance-free living. A barbecue club in Raybrook, NY has booked them for 29 dates this summer. "The reason that works is that most of the [customers] are tourists from all over the world," Mr. Reed said. They have seen people from "Belgium as well as Florida, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Arizona and the like." The original NRP CDs include Guitar On My Back," "Best of (at Middle Earth), and Moonlight Drivin'. Their newest, Hold the Truth, is their sixth studio CD.
      "Things have been going good," Mr. Reed said. "I've had good luck licensing a lot of songs on cable TV and I'm finally getting [royalty] checks. It's building." He has also done some unexpected work. Howard Wooden of Woods Tea Company "invited me over to play on a couple tracks on his new solo album."
      Just before the concert, stop by for Meats and Treats in the Park at the Highgate Historical Society Summer Sounds social starting at 6:30 p.m. The social hour is a chance to visit with friends, enjoy tall tales of Highgate, and to eat finger foods and sweet delights.
      The concerts are sponsored by the Town of Highgate and the All Arts Council, and underwritten by Chevalier Drilling, O. C. McCuin Sons, Ray's Extrusion Dies Tubing, and the Tyler Place. The rain site is the Highgate United Methodist Church. The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont. These All Arts Council concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free.


GRAND ISLE--Vermont State Parks present Fiddleheads in concert at Grand Isle State Park on Saturday at 7 p.m. Fiddleheads are a group of young people learning and performing fiddle music. Their styles include Yankee, Irish, French, Bluegrass, Appalachian, Swing, Blues, jigs and rigs.

ST. ALBANS--Tim Zimmerman and The King's Brass perform a concert at St. Paul's Methodist Church on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. This popular brass ensemble presents hymn classics with a contemporary flair. The King's Brass blend three trumpets, three trombones, a tuba, percussion and keyboards to create an secular and sacred music for all generations. click here for more info.
      Admission is free but you must have a ticket. Free tickets are available in St. Albans from St. Paul's Methodist Church office, J&L Service Center, Bayberry Cottage, and Sweet Nothings. There will be a free will offering.

AROUND FRANKLIN COUNTY--The Business and Professional Women host a Summer Garden Tour this Sunday at 1-4 p.m.
     Why is this in an arts column? Gardens like these are the living sculpture of Franklin County and BPW is often a Summer Sounds host.
      "Andrea Forrest's garden at Rockledge alone is worth the price," Becky Richards said. Horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi will talk on summer pests at a tea party at the Knights of Columbus Hall following the tour. The raffle includes over 25 garden-related items.
      Advance sale tickets are $8 for the tour, $10 for the tea party, or $16 for both and are available at the Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hamlen's Garden Center, and Breezy Acres.


      Fiddleheads traveled to Cape Breton last week, accompanied by Mark Sustic. They returned Saturday. They played a lot of fiddle, learned more about the Cape Breton style and dances, spent time with instructor Jerry Holland, and had a lot of fun. Mr. Sustic wrote a daily log. Here are some of the high points of the trip from his reports.

MONDAY--The traveling days were long, long days of riding in the rental van with a few fits and starts of bathroom and other pit stops. They had some trouble finding a place for lunch, including a tent revival with Country and Western music false alarm. They crossed the Canadian border, lost an hour with the time change, and ended up getting to the motel in Saint John about 8:30 p.m. Atlantic Canada time. Dinner was sandwiches, talking, and sort of watching Italy beat France on penalty kicks in the World Cup.
      Itís a great group, every single traveler with things to contribute and a role to play.

TUESDAY--I'm sitting in the advance fiddle class at the moment, where Jerry Holland is teaching a minor tune to about 20 fiddlers ranging in age from about 10 to probably 40s. Meanwhile there are classes of approximately equal size for beginner and intermediate fiddlers. The other rooms have the doors closed, so I'm not sure how its going there, but none of the Vermonters have run out the door yet, so I assume things are going tolerably well.
      The three fiddle teachers, Jerry Holland, Howie MacDonald and Troy MacGillivray, each spend an hour with each of the groups: beginners, intermediates and advanced.
      We drove down to Mabou for a great dinner at the Red Shoe, owned by the Rankin family. Maire Rankin was the dinner time entertainment. really great music. After dinner we walked across the street to the Mabou Town Hall for the second half of the Tuesday night Ceilidh, listening to Karen and Joey Beaton and Robbie Foster. more great fiddling.

WEDNESDAY--There are step and square dancing sessions this afternoon (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. and we'll be gone by Friday).
      After the camp, we drove the hour or so up to Cheticamp for dinner, then over near Margaree Forks for a local 'ceiligh' and family dance. Nice to see most everyone having a grand time out on the dance floor with Howie MacDonald and a couple of other great fiddlers and a piano player not letting up on the intensity for even a moment. It was the first dance I'd been to in Cape Breton with a caller, but it wasn't like contra or square dance calling in that there were no walk-throughs (doing the dance without the music first), and everyone step-danced while doing the figures (or tried!).

THURSDAY--Everyone's a bit lower key this morning, settling in to the intensity and sheer volume of fiddle tunes to learn and remember.
      We had our own cottage number 10 ceiligh tonight. Everyone sat in the "hot seat" and played a tune they learned this week or something they were more comfortable with, including some guests who were camping nearby.

FRIDAY--Showering, packing, cleaning, gathering, organizing, loading, jogging or walking, last trips to the beach. our last morning in Cape Breton arrived clear, sunny and crisp, the kind of day you might dream about if you could cook up the ideal morning facing the ocean as I am now on the porch, a lobster boat out for its morning run, wild rose bushes in full bloom blanketing whatís not beach, the muffled sounds of campers packing up, and the smell of fresh coffee and bacon cooking over a campfire.


     The trip log (with pictures!) of the Fiddlehead Cape Breton workshop and journey is online here.


      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).
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