ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 28, 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.


      The Events for Tom Series presents the latest edition of the Petestock tour starting this evening and continuing through Saturday night.
      Pete Sutherland and Friends will make three "Last Night" appearances this year. The short tour will have his evolving repertory-company flavor with long-time singing partner Karen Sutherland, the genre-hopping Colin McCaffrey and Will Patton, accordion and keyboardist Jeremiah McLane, and singer/flute player Patti Casey and will stop at Sanctuary: Hooker-Dunham Theater in Brattleboro tonight, the Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier tomorrow, and at the Vergennes Opera House on Saturday. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
      Champlain Valley-born and raised Pete Sutherland is a roots musician and songwriter and is well-known as a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist. He has entertained for 30 years or more at fairs, festivals, family dances and First Nights, toured and recorded nationally and internationally with Metamora, Rhythm In Shoes, the Clayfoot Strutters, the Arm and Hammer String Band, the Woodshed All-Stars, Ira Bernstein and many more.
      The concerts are the 54th, 55th and 56th presentations in the Events for Tom Series. Proceeds from the series benefits the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with cancer.
      Admission is $18 in advance and $20 the day of each show. click here or call 802.86FLYNN for tickets and show details. For info about the Events for Tom series, email.



      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 a few dozen interesting or unusual calls for artists.

      Palettes of Vermont was a statewide community arts project and the largest arts exhibition ever. The year long event distributed more than seven thousand blank Vermont maple artist palettes; more than 200 of them came to Franklin County through the All Arts Council, St. Albans for the Future, and others.
      The County had a world attraction this year as the All Arts Council and St Albans for the Future grabbed Franklin County's fifth Guinness record with the assembly and decoration of the World's Largest Artist's Palette.
      All Arts Council members, the Bishop Street artists, S.A.F.F. friends, area schools, and individual artists, photographers, writers, and community members created artwork for the Palettes of Franklin County, Vermont. in the earliest statewide exhibit at the Vermont Maple Festival. That was the first of a dozen Franklin County public "Palettes" events. The events and exhibits kicked off with the World's Largest Palette record attempt at the Maple Festival and included Bay Day, Celebrate St Albans, Franklin County Field Days, the Green Mountain Chew Chew, Open Studio Weekend, a Palette Popping Open Studio Tour, the statewide Palette Palooza, Railroad Days in St. Albans, the St Albans Park Sale, several Summer Sounds concerts, and culminated in an Art Gala and Auction at the St. Albans Historical Museum.

      Everybody wants one.
      It takes a lot of work
      Planning for an Arts and Cultural Center began at the Creative Economy forums last Spring. Several groups have lent volunteers to a steering committee that examined all the roles such an establishment can fill. The steering committee includes board members from the All Arts Council, the St Albans Artists' Guild, and St. Albans for the Future, as well as members of the Bishop Street Artists and other interested groups, a newspaper reporter, and other individuals.
      The committee will continue work over the next few weeks.

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

      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 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 opened with a major show at the Vermont Maple Festival.
      The AAC Art Exhibit at the Rail City Celebration featured Corliss Blakely as well as the oils and watercolors of Joan Bower, Mary Ellen Bushey, Barbara Hamm, Jill Jones, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Beth Maginn, Joan Ostiguy, and Karen Vath, plus the fine art photography of Janet Bonneau, Bob Brodeur, Dick Harper, April Henderson, Tim Stetson, and Wayne Tarr.

      This popular winter series began in December as Bellows Free Academy and the All Arts Council presented two performances of Handelís Messiah in St. Albans. The concerts featured the 130 member BFA chorus, the St. Albans Area Community Chorus, and a twenty-three piece baroque orchestra. The series continues with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Winter Concert in January.

      The All Arts Council annual Summer Sounds concerts series began June 25 and continued every summer Sunday with concerts alternating between Highgate and St Albans. Although 2006 was the third wettest year on record, Summer Sounds stayed 80% dry. The season featured the Atlantic Crossing, Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers, Krisis, the straight-ahead Zydeco sound of Mango Jam, the Nobby Reed Project, Slab City playing into the fireworks, the Stockwell Brothers, the Upstate New Yorkers, and Woods Tea Company.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls offered an eclectic schedule in 2006 including Michael Arnowitt playing Gershwin at the Keyboard, the Wood's Tea Company, the Miss Vermont's Outstanding Teen competition, MetaMURPHosis, the rapid uncontrolled extravaganza of physical comedian Tom Murphy, the fourteenth annual Talent Search over two evenings, Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder in Wolves! -- Tales of Our Best Friendís Wild Cousin,
      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 plus the Palettes of Franklin County, Vermont. 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 Franklin County artists at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center AAC Exhibit.
      The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant funded a new series of after-school programs in the arts.
      The Bishop Street Artists' fifth annual Fine Arts Exhibit and Sale began with a Meet the Artists reception. The show featured more than 25 local and regional artists including Norma Bard, Eric Bataille, Jane Bower, Pat Burton, Mary Ellen Bushey, Betty Casavant, Louise Counos, Kimberley Forney, Bonnie Gillespie, Barbara Hamm, April Henderson, Jill Jones, Ardyce Klete, Dorothy Lear, Beth Maginn, Gladys Nokes, Jud Pealer, Sandra Pealer, Byran Powers, Frank Tirella Jr., Stanley Triggs, Doug Underwood, Karen Vath, Deb Wilkenson, and Linda Wirts.
      Corliss Blakely returned to Weston, Vermont, for a new one-woman show this fall, appeared in a Holiday Art Show at Chow Bella, and completed another season of teaching art in Nicaragua.
      The students of the Community High School of Vermont Art Class at the Northwest State Correctional Facility held a Fundraiser and Silent Art Auction to benefit Voices Against Violence.
      Embellishing the Surface and Mud Pies for Adults, two workshops for working with fabric and color, were held in St. Albans.
      Expo 2006, the major Rotary Club of St. Albans fundraiser, displayed the work of four premier artists this year. They had a new Fred Swan original, two originals by Corliss Blakely, as well as works by Harald Aksdal and D.J. Pattullo.
      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.
      Heroes Welcome and FAUVE presented Blurring the Distinction, crossover paintings by Don Wilkinson in St. Albans.
      The Northern Vermont Artist Association has held its June Juried Show since 1930. Their exhibit this year featured about 100 pieces of new artwork in all media. NVAA members include many Franklin County artists.
      Open Doors Summer Program students painted a colorful, cheery, and comforting outdoor mural at NMC.
      The Rail City Celebration was the first of an annual Downtown-wide series of events to celebrate St. Albans' railroad heritage with train-related activities and the Palettes of Franklin County, Vermont throughout all of Downtown. The day included the Trains on Main treasure hunt, Jim Murphy's History of the Railroad in St. Albans, the World's Largest Palette in Taylor Park, an NECR locomotive for tours, the AAC Art Exhibit, and chalk trains on sidewalks.
      The newly-formed Saint Albans Artists' Guild held its first public gatherings in the Spring. hosted its first Master Class with artist Keith Gallup in the fall, and is preparing for another Master Class and a major show in 2007.
      St. Albans Historic Museum held its third annual exhibition of fine art in the museum's newly refurbished third-floor Grand Hall. The exhibit included. fine art in all media.
      Vermont Hand Crafters held its 54th annual Holiday Craft and Fine Art Show.
      Vermont's fourteenth annual Open Studio Weekend put Vermont artists and craftspeople "on exhibit" in their own studios. Area participants included Marie Baron's Cottonwood Quilts, David Derner, Josh Derner, Kevin Hankey, Lorraine C. Manley, Dennis Provencher, Alan Stirt, Meta Strick, Shanley Triggs, Ralph Tursini, Valerie M. Ugro, Anna Vreman, and Karen Winslow. The World's Largest Palette anchored the All Arts Council/St. Albans for the Future Open Studio exhibit in Taylor Park. More than two hundred sites were open with more than three hundred artists and artisans participating in 2006.


      The series presented Huun-Huur-Tu, the throat singers of Tuva; Gordon Bok and Margaret MacArthur; the second annual concert featuring 25-and-under musicians in the McCarthy Arts Center; Liz Carroll and John Doyle; Greg Brown with Bo Ramsey;. Proceeds from the concert series benefit the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with cancer.
      Their 54th-56th events start tonight with the fifth edition of Petestock.

      Grace Church in Sheldon won the calendar with the first of the summer performance season. The 2006 Summer Music at Grace series began with the fourth annual Farewell Reunion Tour benefit concert. The series also included the Celestial Sirens, Patrick Fitzsimmons, and Village Harmony.

      The fifth annual August weekend featured the Gibson Brothers and King Wilkie, plus a major fiddler's contest, a craft fair, music workshops, a bonfire, barbeque, and jamming, all on a family farm in Alburg. The lineup also included Atkinson Family Bluegrass, Free Wheelin', Gopher Broke Bluegrass, the New England Bluegrass Band, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Southern Rail, and Yonder Hill.

      The 2006 Christmas Concert season began with the Citizens Concert Band and the Community Singers at the Congregational Church, and continued with Counterpoint's Holiday Concert, 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.
      Vermontís National Ballroom Dance Week for 2006 opened with USAdance events and a Camp Ta-Kum-Ta benefit at the Elly Long Music Center.
      The BFA-St. Albans Music Department held a choral concert to support the Franklin Grand Isle Emergency Food Shelf. The Wind Ensemble perform by Vaughn Williams, Grainger, Mozart, Rossini, Byrd, and Lennon/McCartney in a Fall concert, and Handelís Messiah.
      Cardiac Capers 2006 brought an abundance of dance numbers and solos to the BFA-St. Albans stage and raised money for Northwestern Medical Center.
      Chow Bella offered jazz and improv on Monday evenings, virtuoso guitar on Wednesday evenings, and other music throughout the year.
      The Community Justice Center and Franklin County Court Diversion held a film festival in St. Albans.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company presented The Importance of Being Earnest, Witness for the Prosecution,
      Higher Ground held a Bash for Cash fundraiser with stars from Franklin County including a Hip Hop dance group, vocalist Megan Benay, comedian Kyle Gagnon, vocalist Sylvia LaPelletier, vocalist Jen Nicholson, Nothing Better to Do, the original "jam-pop" band of Jacques Boudreau, Tyler Smith, and Nicholas Roby; and vocalist Elyse Woodsworth. Nothing Better to Do won the Bash.
      The Montgomery Historical Society Concerts by the Common series presented the Green Mountain Chorus, the Stockwell Brothers, and the Will Patton Ensemble.
      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 St. Albans City Community Night Out Celebration took place in Taylor Park with free music, speakers, free ice cream and hot dogs, pop corn, a car show, fire trucks, police cars, and Thunder Road racers.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum hosted the Vintage and Contemporary Quilt Show.
      The St Albans Messenger presents the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus in a free concert in the Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center. The "Musical Ambassadors of the Army" are a 65 member concert band.
      Une Soiree du Printemps in St Albans City Hall featured Michele Choiniere accompanied by Rachel Aucoin, Sabin Jacques, Will Patton and Dono Schabner followed by a contra dance with caller Mark Sustic.
      The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra Spring Concert was held at St. Albans City School.
      The Vermont Performing Arts League sponsored a traditional Irish Dinner and Entertainment in Fairfax with the Blarney Bogtrotters, the FolKids Band of Tom MacKenzie, David Carpenter, Bones Blankinship and April Werner, and dancers from the McNeish School of Irish Dance.
      Vermont Park Department offered the Fiddleheads and a variety of other entertainers to bring more people out to the parks. Island Arts and the Vermont Shakespeare Company brought Twelfth Night to the Knight's Point State Park forest.

      The ever popular 8084, Vermont's own power pop band, had a mini Vermont tour with stops in Hyde Park and Randolph as well as appearances at Higher Ground and in St. Albans.
      Big Spike Bluegrass played the Lincoln Inn, the Rattling Brook Bluegrass Festival,
      Death, hand surgery, many dangers, toils, and snares couldn't keep Jim Branca and the Knights of the Mystic Mojo from performing at Nectar's, the Lincoln Inn,
      Counterpoint toured 12 Voices, 6 Strings and released a new CD, Let Me Fly, for Christmas.
      Crossroads Arts Council and the Festival of Women in the Arts presented Michele Choiniere with Will Patton, mandolin and bass, Dono Schabner, guitar, and David Gusakov, violin.
      Fiddleheads traveled to Cape Breton accompanied by Mark Sustic. They went to play the fiddle, learn more about the Cape Breton style and dances, spend some time with Jerry Holland (one of the teachers at the camp), get to know some of the other travelers, and to have some fun.
      Will Patton's ensembles played the Beeís Knees, the Friends of Big Joe Burrell series, Burlington Flatbread, Chow Bella, Django in June Festival, Discover Jazz Festival, a Queen City Contra dance, Cambridge Arts Council events. He was on the cover of the summer issue of the national Mandolin Magazine.
      Nobby Reed played around the country, including the Lincoln Inn, Middle Earth, Field Days, and Summer Sounds.
      Singer, performer, musician, caller Mark Sustic had a busy year with community dances, Northern Routes and Yankee Chank performances, a Bay Day appearance, and Fiddlehead dos.


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

      Bay Day 2006 was more than family fun and fireworks. The AAC offered live music all day, with the Shellhouse collection of original rock with an 'Americana rock & roll sound, 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 measured the World's Largest Palette.

      The 30th annual Franklin County Field Days offered Vermont bands that were worth the price of admission alone: the Adams Brothers Band, the Jim Daniels Band, Blue Bandana Band, the Ivory Band, Keeghan Nolan, the Classic Country Band, the Island Ramblers, Junior Barber and Bear Tracks, and the killer blues of the Nobby Reed Project. The World's Largest Palette wowed visitors on the grounds.

      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 John Cassel, Bruce Donovan, the Oleo Romeos, Estrela do Norte, and the Motown sounds of the Fabulous Spiders as well as a visit from the World's Largest Palette.

      The Vermont Dairy Festival celebrated 50 Mooooving Years with a weekend packed full of entertainment and family activities. The Dairy Festival Scholarship Pageant began the event with a two-day show. The bandstand rocked with torch singer/songwriter/keyboardist Meg Willey, Dan the Puppetman, the 35-piece Enosburgh Town Band, Jazzmosis, Keeghan Nolan, the Northeast Fiddlers Association Variety Show, Jesse Potts, the Ring Brothers, and Smokin' Gun.

      The All Arts Council Fine Art Exhibit and Sale was open all three days in St. Albans Historical Museum with a spotlight on the Palettes of Franklin County, Vermont. We featured the exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, illustrations, digital art, mixed media, and prints by artists Corliss Blakely, Janet Bonneau, Jane Bower, Bob Brodeur, Robert Brunelle, Alan DeMont, Gene Garron, Melissa Haberman, Dick Harper, Mary Harper, April Henderson, Shawn Hennesey, David Juaire, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, John Newton, Meredith Roberts, David R. Southwick, Tim Stetson, Wayne Tarr, Valerie Ugro, Karen Vath, Gustav Verderber, Lauren Young, and more.
      The Main Street stage held the Citizens Concert Band, Durango, Electric Youth Dance Company, Fractured, the German Oom Pah Brass Band, Jazzmosis, the Joe Levesque Big Band, Marko the Magician, the Milton Community Band, Keeghan Nolan, Nothing Better to Do, the St. Albans City School Senior Band, and Vic and Sticks. The Festival filled BFA auditorium with the Youth Talent Show and the Fiddler's Variety Show of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, and clogging.


     First Night Burlington brings "the community together with an accessible, substance-free New Year's Eve celebration, centered on the arts." The First Night site has a new look and a new website for the 24th annual event. The site includes info about First Night, a festival guide, the artists, button info and checkout, and sponsors.


      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.