ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * July 27, 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.


      It is all music, all the time this weekend, from celestial Sheldon to jazzy St. Albans. Fill your car up now before the gas prices jump again and hit the road for the next four days.


       Jazz will mesmerize Taylor Park as the Main Street St Albans consortium presents Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers in the free Summer Sounds concert on Sunday evening. As the Crow Flies, Better Planet Books Toys & Hobbies, Betty's Flower Basket, Classie Exchange, The Dressing Room, Lorraine's and Sweet Nothings gathered together to sponsor this downtown concert as a drawing card to Taylor Park and downtown St. Albans. With Bob Gagnon, guitar; Dominique Gagne, keyboards and flute; Jeremy hill, acoustic and electric bass; Tony Pietricola, sax and clarinet; and Allen Bison, percussion and drums; Ms. Johnson is jazzy, bluesy, funky, and nearly perfect.
      "We'll definitely do the standards," Ms. Johnson said, "the Billie [Holiday], the Nat King Cole, the Ella [Fitzgerald]."
      Singing jazz, blues and funk has been a central part of Ms. Johnson's life since her teen days in New York City. In the 1980s she pursued musical projects in Houston, Texas and Boston including unique work she titled "The Billie Holiday Story." She launched Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers in 1989 to sing the jazz and blues standards by her favorite African-American artists. The active touring artist is a regular performer in Summer Sounds, Discover Jazz, First Night, and at Chow!Bella
      Her current CD Tour Down Memory Lane was recorded during her Vermont opera house tour. That CD is a combination of 40s, 50s, and 60s music focusing on girl groups.
      Just before the concert, stop by for a Summer Sounds Social in the Park starting at 6:30 p.m. The social hour is a chance to visit with friends and eat some delicious desserts.
      The Summer Sounds concerts are sponsored by the City of St. Albans and the All Arts Council, and underwritten by the St Albans area business community.
      The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont. The concerts are always on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m., always in a town park, and always free. Bring a blanket, newspaper, or a lawn chair as you settle in to enjoy outdoor family music and festivities.


     The Thirteenth Annual Jig in the Valley offers an eclectic day of outdoor music in a good cause in Fairfield on Sunday. This community event brings together musicians who are generous with their time, the community members and friends, people from all over the state, and "the usual hoopla," music organizer Tyrone Shaw said. Look for food concessions, chicken barbecue, and a guest appearance by the World's Largest Palette.
      The performers include John Cassel, Bruce Donovan, the Oleo Romeos, Estrela do Norte, and the Motown sounds of the Fabulous Spiders.
      Bakersfield’s John Cassel has helped build the music scene in Vermont for over thirty years. He is a classically trained jazz pianist who can and does play country, folk, pop, rock, and dinner music. He calls the latter the "kind of music you should talk over."
      Fifty-year old folkie and singer Bruce Donovan will play sets of Tom Paxton kids' music, Tom Paxton adult music, and some Leo Kottke, Steve Goodman and others. "Tom Paxton is second to none," he said.
      Mandolinist and composer Will Patton of Bakersfield brings his new choro project, Estrela do Norte to the Jig. Estrela Do Norte (North Star) is a group of accomplished musicians brought together by their love of Brazilian music. Featuring founder Will Patton on mandolin, composer, flutist, pianist and vocalist Dominique Gagne, Dono Schabner on the demanding seven-string guitar, the Brazilian percussion and vocals of Bonnie Anderson, and Skeeter Camera's drumming and percussion work, they focus on choro music, a spirited blend of Portuguese dance melodies, American jazz and Brazilian rhythms.
      The Oleo Romeos play a unique blend of country, blues, and rock, with original tunes by Tyrone Shaw. The group features Tyrone Shaw, guitar and vocals, Jerry Bowers, guitar, Will Patton, bass, Joe Moore, sax, and Roy Cutler, drums, and has Check Please a new CD of eclectic tunes, about to be released. Look for a review in this column soon.
      "It's quite outrageous," Mr. Shaw said.
      The Spiders have been singing together for almost 25 years with a repertoire from Motown, jazz standards, and folk tunes, to a capella doo-wop. comprised of Pat LeBoeuf, Marcia Brewster and Debbie Patton, with Will Patton, strings.
      The CHIP program at NMC will run a free health screening for an all day "health arts" program, Wes Smith said. Call the Fairfield Community Center to set up an appointment. There is also a great chicken BBQ, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, and vegetarian fare. It’s always good to have fair fare at a fair.
      The suggested donation is $10 and kids under 12 are free. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and plenty of kids.
      The Jig in the Valley runs from noon until dusk on Sunday. The proceeds benefit the many programs at the Fairfield Community Center including the after-school homework club, Early Essential Ed and Headstart, and a wide variety of educational, arts, and special programming. Call 802.827.3130 for info.


WATERVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents Yankee Chank in a free outdoor concert at the Waterville Gazebo this evening from 6-8 p.m.
      Yankee Chank plays traditional blending Cajun and Creole dance music. Rain site is Waterville Town Hall. Please bring a donation of non-perishable food for the local food shelf. Book sale & refreshments to benefit the Waterville Town Library. Call 802.644.2570 or click here for more info.

SHELDON--Summer Music at Grace presents the Celestial Sirens in a concert of sacred mariological music at Grace Church Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.
      The program is drawn from the more than 15,000 compositions from the 12th to 15th centuries directed to Mary. It includes Medieval music from England and Spain, with selections from the Huelgas Codex, St. Martial Codex, and Llibre Vermel and a Scottish Renaissance Mass by Robert Carver.
      Celestial Sirens are artistic director Marybeth McCaffrey, soprano, of Lincoln; Ann Regan, soprano, of Barre; and Lyn Lauffer, mezzo-soprano, of Berkshire. Ms. McCaffrey has studied voice with Ellen Hargis and Drew Minter and is a member of Counterpoint. Ms. Regan is a long-time member and frequent soloist with the Onion River Chorus. Ms. Lauffer sings with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Robert De Cormier.
      Summer at Grace is an ongoing series of inspired music in the sanctuary at 215 Pleasant Street in Sheldon Creek. The suggested donation for admission is $10/adults. Call 326-4603 or click here for more info.

MONTGOMERY--The Montgomery Historical Society returns the Green Mountain Chorus to the Concerts by the Common series on Saturday evening. Concerts are held in Pratt Hall, Montgomery Village at 8 p.m.
      Meld close harmony with hymn-singing music rings the chords of the traditional music of America. The Society for the Preservation and Propagation of Barber Shop Singing in America has chapters in all parts of the United States and Canada. The Green Mountain Chorus is the performing chorus of the Burlington chapter. About 35 men mount the risers to ring out the chords of barbershop harmony.
      Admission is $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Tickets are available at Lutz Automotive. Call Steve Hays (413.330.3446) for info.

ST. ALBANS--The St. Albans City Community Night Out Celebration will take place in Taylor Park on Tuesday evening from 6-9 p.m.
      "More people and couples are [using] the park," Sgt. Kevin Bushey said. "We'll have music, speakers, free ice cream and hot dogs, pop corn, a car show, fire trucks, police cars, and some Thunder Road racers. It's a chance to come to the park, listen to some music, and have a good time."
      The national America's Night out Against Crime "encourages people to turn on their outside lights, go outside, and be part of the community," Sgt. Bushey said. The event is sponsored by the downtown merchants and the St. Albans City Police Department.


     Writer Sybil Smith of Norwich has worked as a nurse in Mississippi, Alaska, North Carolina and Vermont. Her site includes a biography, writing samples, published work, and links to her current book. She is available for readings anywhere in Vermont and New Hampshire.


      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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