ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 11 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 27, 2007


      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 various restaurants around Franklin County throughout the week, 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.

      Find links to these events and more in our Spotlight!


TV--The China Project featuring the Vermont Youth Orchestra will be broadcast on Vermont Public Television this evening at 8 p.m. Call 802.655.4800 or click here for more info.

AROUND THE STATE--The Events for Tom Series presents the latest edition of the Petestock tour starting tomorrow at the Norwich Congregational Church; Saturday at Bethany Church in Montpelier and Sunday at the Vergennes Opera House. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
      "It'll be a very nice relaxed (acoustic!) show, old songs from old CDs and old bands, plenty of fiddle music, and a few new pieces, all featuring my crack backup team. Just a little different show each night with special guests," Mr. Sutherland said.
      The ‘Last Night’ shows feature five members of his ever-evolving repertory company: long-time singing partner Karen Sutherland, string wizards Colin McCaffrey and Will Patton, and Jeremiah McLane on accordion and keyboard. A variety of special guests will join the cast at each location.
      Admission is $20 in advance and $22 the day of the show. Advance tickets available through the Flynn Box Office at 802.863.5966 or click here.
      Proceeds from the series benefits the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with cancer. Email for info about the Events for Tom series.

BURLINGTON--The longest distance traveled for a Radio Bean gig award goes to Ben Patton who flew in from Cebu, Philippines, for a show on tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. Mr. Patton has been scoring films and writing TV themes for a film and TV studio there. Click here for more info.


GROWTH--When I started writing this column more than 10 years ago, it was a struggle some weeks to find enough arts news to fill a few paragraphs.
      In those early days I instituted several fillers to make sure I would have something, anything, to write about. Regular readers know by now that I include art openings and exhibits on the first Thursday of the month, many of the weekly music gigs and some Creative Economy news on the second Thursday, calls for artists on the third, and the Franklin County Bookshelf whenever I am at a complete loss. Five week months are good only when they bring three or five paychecks.
      All that has changed. There is no almost no week that we don't have too many events to include or that I can condense the complete column to less than 1,000 words. The Franklin County Bookshelf section has not lent a volume for more than two years.
      In 1997, the Missisquoi Arts Council grew into the All Arts Council. We were at the time the only regular presenter of scheduled exhibits and performances throughout the year. Now we have galleries opening, an art center in the works, and an Artist's Guild blossoming. Smaller groups of artists host regular shows. Summer Sounds remains the most popular free concert series in the state. Other series like Summer at Grace bring in eclectic music and most years do not pass without a major symphony concert.
      The big news of the year is that two retail art galleries with exhibit space and "extras" have started operations in Franklin County this year. The Artists in Residence Gallery and the Staart Gallery offer the opportunity to look at (and buy) art as well as to partake of other services.


      The All Arts Council serves northwestern Vermont as a presenter, an event producer, and as a technical resource for artists and other organizations. As other organizations grow, we have produced less and supported more.
      The All Arts Council Concerts for Grumpy Grownups series brought back the Vermont Youth Orchestra winter concert, The Force of Destiny.
      The All Arts Council joined with Art's Alive for a Franklin County group show in Burlington in March and April. Art's Alive maintains a gallery at Union Station.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's popular, long running AAC series, returned to its roots for its 17th season with free concerts every summer Sunday evening in Highgate Center and plus one in St. Albans Bay. There were no Summer Sounds concerts in St Albans City this season.
      The 2007 series offered a lineup of bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, pop, and classic rock-n-roll with Rumble Doll, Ted Crosby and the Young Vermont All Stars, Jim Branca & Mystic Mojo Music, Shellhouse, the Sky Blue Boys, Mango Jam, Small Axe, and Tammy Fletcher. This series is unique in presenting often nationally known performers who are not seen elsewhere in Franklin County.
      Northwest Access TV and the All Arts Council produced Almost Live, a series of live concerts that aired each week on Comcast Channel 15 at 2 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and 9 a.m. Fridays. Most of the shows featured the Summer Sounds concerts.


      A steering committee of volunteers from four major groups (the All Arts Council, the Bishop Street Artists, the St Albans Artists' Guild, and St. Albans for the Future) as well as other interested groups, and other individuals has been planning a local Arts and Cultural Center.
      The first major Art Center project was the Bach Bus, a luxury coach trip to the Vermont Mozart Festival for The Virtuoso Violin Bach Concerti at Knight Point State Park. Vermont Public Radio President Mark Vogelzang and BFA Choral Music Director Armand Messier lead concert discussions.


      Events for Tom presented the April Verch Band, Anais Mitchell (twice), British folk group WatersonCarthy, the Boys of the Lough, Old School Freight Train and the Roche Sisters Reunion Tour (in the Lane Series), Lisa Ornstein and Andre Marchand, Craig Morgan Robson, Emerald Stream, Greg Brown with Bo Ramsey, Hadestown: A Folk Opera, Bluegrass Gospel Project, Petestock, plus the third annual Young Tradition concert and the fifth annual Farewell Reunion concert.
      The Opera House in Enosburg Falls presented the Will Patton Ensemble, Chris Kleeman, Chester, Vermont's "best-kept blues secret," the No Strings Marionette Company, the 15th Annual Talent Search, Woods Tea Company, Big Spike Bluegrass, and the popular Holiday Concert. The Opera House hosted the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union annual District Art Gala and houses a permanent art exhibit.
      Vermont's fourteenth annual Open Studio Weekend opened hundreds of sites around the state, including Diane David in Alburg. Pam Fischer in Montgomery Center, Marcia Hagwood in Georgia, Meta Strick in Sheldon, and Valerie M. Ugro in Fairfax.
      The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association added the VYO Chorus and Concert Chorale with their first public performances this month. The VYOA always has several Franklin County performers in the various groups.


      The A.A. Brown Library hosted watercolor classes for beginning and advanced artists.
      The Artists in Residence art cooperative of Enosburg Falls opened in May with 45 Franklin County and surrounding area artists including Corliss Blakely, Kitten Ellison, Henry Trask Reilly, and Andrew Wooten.
      The Bishop Street Artists annual Art Show at St. Luke's Parish Hall began with a Meet the Artists reception and continued with about 20 local and regional artists through the weekend.
      Artist Corliss Blakely of St. Albans opened a new one-woman show in Weston again this year.
      Celebrating Small Wonders Festival brought face painting, games, traditional American folk songs, songs every child should know, songs from books, sing-alongs, and fun to the Month of the Young Child.
      The Citizens Concert Band played Wednesday evenings in the E.A. Loomis Bandshell, beside the bathhouse in St. Albans Bay, and at the Church of the Nativity in Swanton. All concerts were free.
      Concerts by the Common held a Festival of Jazz this summer. with the MediterrAsian Jazz Ensemble, Jazzmosis, and Random Association.
      The Enosburg Town Band is the oldest in Vermont with volunteer musicians ranging in age from 11 to over 70. The band played Tuesdays in Lincoln Park as well as a series of ice cream socials and special concerts around Franklin County. All concerts were free.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company summer production was Cotton Patch Gospel by Tom Key and Russell Treyz with music by Harry Chapin. They wrapped up the year with An O. Henry Christmas this month.
      The Home and Recreation Exposition, the annual Rotary Club fundraiser, returned Fred Swan to sign his new painting, Blowin' in the Wind. Expo generally features a room full of art.
      The Lincoln Inn in Essex Junction hosted singer/songwriters, bluesfolk, Irish folkies, jazz players, and more from Franklin County. The Inn may have the most consistent (and most eclectic) live music program in the state.
      Chow!Bella and The Fabulous Spiders teamed up in a benefit for Franklin County Court Diversion. They will do it again in February.
      The NMC Art Wall is one of the three major public art displays at the hospital. Exhibits changed monthly.
      Students in the Open Doors summer program completed a mural on the wall of Mimmo’s Pizzeria.
      The Saint Albans Artists' Guild held Franklin County's Art Exhibit of the season in the Spring. Their Art in the Park was a major show for Celebrate St. Albans in Taylor Park.
      The new Staart Gallery (ST Albans ARTs) opened in September downtown. The gallery is a place to show, sell, teach, create, and enjoy art with "meet and greets," a coffee bar, couches, WiFi, and a dedicated marketing budget.
      St Albans had a local summer concert series in the Edric A. Loomis Memorial Band Shell on some summer Sundays. Groups included the Chevaliers, singer Keegan Nolan, and the Nobby Reed Project.
      The Saint Albans Historical Museum's annual Fine Art Exhibit spotlighted new works in all media as well as objects selected from the Museum’s collection of historic artifacts, textiles and paintings.
      St Paul's United Methodist Church presented A Knight with the Chevaliers.
      Gail Salzman opened an exhibit of new abstract oil paintings at the Furchgott-Sourdiffe Gallery.
      The State Parks Department brought Full Circle Recorder Consort to Burton Island State Park for a free concert.
      Vermont singer and AAC Treasurer Tim Stetson's debut CD, He'll Never Let Me Fall, arrived in time for Christmas.
      Summer Music at Grace started its season with the fifth annual Farewell Reunion concert (in conjunction with Events for Tom). They continued with Bread & Bones, Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, Boston singer-songwriter Thea Hopkins, and Village Harmony.
      Vermont Public Television Profiled Michele Choiniere. She also played the Vermont Legislature Farmer's Night series in the House Chamber.
      Tatiana E. Zelazo was on the walls at the Grannis Gallery with Just-a-Position, an exhibit of black-and-white photographs,


      The Fairfax Music Festival debuted this year with a benefit event for Fairfax organizations. The Hubcats, FM, Alzona Watson, Mzz Watson and the Puddle Jumpers, and PW and the Arrowhead Ramblersall performed.
      Franklin County Field Days had a lineup of music, arts and crafts, and of course cows. The musical lineup included Adams Brothers Band, Junior Barber and Bear Tracks, Blue Bandana Band, the Country Classic Band, the Jim Daniels Band, Ivory Band, Gary Lockery and the Island Ramblers, Keeghan Nolan, the Nobby Reed Project. the Electric Youth Dance Company performed and Joey the Clown wandered the grounds. Admission was just $6.
      Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival offered a full weekend with the Gibson Brothers, Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver, and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage plus the Cabin Fever Band, Bob Degree and the Bluegrass Storm, Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, James Reams and the Barnstormers, the Mad Mountain Scramblers, Southern Rail, and Yonderhill as well as a major fiddler's contest, a craft fair, music workshops, a bonfire, barbeque, and jamming, all on a family farm in Alburg.
      Vermont Dairy Festival offered almost unlimited entertainment and family activities including the Scholarship Pageant plus a marching band competition, a Brazilian band, Enosburg Town Band, the free Fiddler's Variety Show, Keeghan Nolan, Knucklehead, Nobby Reed Project, a Variety Hour Talent Show, as well as Marko the Magician and Dan the Puppetman.
      Vermont Maple Festival offered music from Banjo Dan and the Midnight Plowboys, the Citizens Concert Band, Fiddleheads. the Foothill Fogies, Fractured, Jazzmosis, the Joe Levesque Big Band, John Luc German Band, Keeghan Nolan, Bill Shontz, the St Albans City School Senior Band, as well as Marko the Magician and the Electric Youth Dance Company plus the Youth Talent Show and the Fiddler's Variety Show.


      Franklin County lost an artist, a friend to artists, and friend when Gwen Gallup was murdered in her Fairfax home. Ms. Gallup was a St. Albans fiber artist, member of the Artists' Guild and daughter of artist Keith Gallup.


      It was an interesting year in scheduling. Chow Bella and the Overtime Saloon dropped some regular music gigs but I didn't catch on for a while, so I kept on keeping on. The St. Albans Concert Series offered a few concerts on summer Sundays at 7 p.m. and I publicized them here. Unfortunately, one of the concerts started at 6 and the Keeghan Nolan fans got there late.


      The Eleva Chamber Players was founded in Waterbury last year with musicians "handpicked to create a distinctive sound that will inspire, stimulate and move anyone who listens." The site includes an events calendar, ticket purchasing, sponsoring opportunities, and contact info.


      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 © 2007 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.