ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 22, 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.


      At Thanksgiving time each year, I like to round up some area artists to share what they are grateful for at this time of year.
      Jim Branca is grateful for successful surgery on his hand this year. "When so much of your identity is wrapped up in playing an instrument," he said, "it's good to have to ask yourself: 'What is my worth if all that was taken away?'" He found "some refreshingly good answers in my soul."
      His parents gave him the gift of music. He is grateful for the meaningful music that has nothing to do with fame. It is the music that happens when parents sing with kids in a car, or in church, or around a campfire. Songs sung at weddings, funerals, and anniversaries. Songs murmured to your sweet newborn. Songs whispered to your lover. Seniors having sing-a-longs with all those "great old songs. "That's what I'm grateful for; simply having the 'song in your heart' is so much more important that how famously it's expressed or who even hears it!"
      Beth Crane is "thankful for a grace-filled summer of music at Grace. It was a fine season, with excellent musicians and terrific audiences." She can hardly wait to do it again.
      Mike Curtis is "thankful for the great community support shown for the Creative Community Program this year, the work and creativity that went into Franklin County's Palettes of Vermont program this summer and the work that the All Arts Council of Franklin County, the St. Albans Artists' Guild and the Bishop Street Artists, as well as other community members are doing for the creation of an Arts Center in St. Albans."
      Jay Fleury said "the good lord has been very good to me. I have met so many wonderful and kind hearted people."
      "One of the most important projects on my list has been the Saint Albans Artists' Guild. We have had a steady growth since establishment this year." The Guild held its first Master Class and will host its second, conducted by Corliss Blakely, in January. "As well is the progress the steering committee for an arts center has done of which I am proud to be a part of. I give great thanks to my God and my country there is no better."
      Nobby Reed said that "this year was great for NRP. I haven't performed this much since I was 25." Good things have also happened with his music. He is grateful for having success licensing his music for TV. Axe To Grind was in a Jeff Foxworthy skit on CMT and ABC used Thick & Thin on an episode of Wife Swap.
      Mark Sustic wrote that "the Events for Tom Series and all the people who have attended one or more concerts this past year has helped raise the hopes of several families with children being treated for various forms of cancer."
      In the past month alone, the Fund helped the family of a child diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor perform $1,400 worth of car repairs to make the trips to Boston and Burlington for chemotherapy. The Fund helped the single father of a 10-year old boy with rhabdomyosarcoma who recently he had his arm amputated and began aggressive chemotherapy. And the Fund helped the mother of a 14-year old girl with Ewing's Sarcoma to avoid falling behind on the property taxes on their home.
      Reporter Leon Thompson is "thankful that Bob Dylan, The Who, and Yusuff Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) are proving to all those one-hit wonders on the Buzz that genius breeds longevity.
      "I am thankful a good friend introduced me to 'Wicked,' and that I have a signed copy ('Best witches: Gregory Maguire').
      "I am thankful for more Oscar buzz on Jack Nicholson. (Bless you, Martin Scorcese.)
      "I am thankful that, locally, my dream of a fine arts center for the area is in the conversation stage -- with enthusiasm, no less.
      "I am thankful my 3-year-old daughter, Sophie, is smitten with Johnny Cash (and knows all the words to 'Folsom Prison Blues').
      "I am thankful for Borat -- a side-splitting movie that pushes the envelope, and then lifts it off the table, tears it to shreds and throws it on the floor.
      "I am thankful that you will let me use this space to plug my second book, 'Dork,' a new collection of my 'Messenger' columns, slated for a holiday release." A real plug will appear in a later column.
      Lauren Young is "thankful for the fact I am able to speak my mind and live, to walk and enjoy the fresh air, and that I am surrounded with kind loving friends and family, most of the time."


     The First Congregational Church again presents the first Christmas Concert of the season on Sunday at 2 p.m. It will feature the Citizens Concert Band conducted by Kevin Loomis and the Community Singers conducted by Linda Smith. Soprano Miranda Bergmeirer and Jenny Roach will each solo with the Citizens Band and Doris Hughes will accompany the Community Singers on piano and organ. Donna Costes will be a special guest on one piece for four hands with the Chorus.
      The Community Singers have a varied program of the songs of Thanksgiving and Christmas under Choir director Linda Smith of the First Congregational Church. The program includes a selection of secular and Christmas music including Oh, Come All Ye Faithful and Hats, a visual number for the vocalists. Melody Thibault will solo on orchestral chimes in Ding Dong Merrily on High. David Duprat will solo on drums in Do Yoyu Feel the Rhythm. Kevin Loomis will solo on clarinet on Hanerot Halalu: We Kindle the Lights.
      The Citizens Concert Band will offer a program of seasonal pieces in the second half or the concert. Their program includes Pray to the Wooden Soldiers, March of the Toys, and Sleigh Ride. Soloist Jenny Roach will sing White Christmas. Miranda Bergmeirer will sing I'll be Home for Christmas.
      "It's going to be a nice program," Mr. Loomis said.
      Admission is free but a goodwill donation will gladly be accepted at the door.


      Bellows Free Academy and the All Arts Council of Franklin County will present Handel’s Messiah for the holiday season on On Sunday, December 10. The concert will feature 130 members of BFA’s chorus, BFA faculty members, plus the St. Albans Area Community Chorus. A professional orchestra of twenty-three, and four vocal soloists will compliment the combined choruses, all under the direction of Armand Messier.
      Performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. have been scheduled in response to the standing-room-only crowd in attendance at the 2002 concert. Both performances will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Albans.
      Admission for advance purchase gets a to dollar discount with tickets at $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Tickets at the door will cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students. Tickets are available at the All Arts ticket centers: Enosburg Pharmacy, Swanton Rexall, and Better Planet in St. Albans. Call 802.527.6538 or click here for more info.


     Julie Ruth of Montgomery is a painter, illustrator, and graphic designer with a working studio/gallery in Waterbury. Her work springs from old memories and dreams. She works in oil using wax and palette knives. Her site includes Biographical info, Paintings, Press and Contact info, and news.


      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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