ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 12 * * All Arts News On the Web * * March 27, 2008


      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!

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      The Heritage Dance Center of Vermont's new home will open on the Highgate Road on Tuesday with free performances and a black tie evening reception to meet the artists. Construction of the Center began as a fast track "design-build" project just 8 months ago on land donated by Brian Rowell of Highgate.
      "This is the first major project to come out of the Dance Heritage Corridor Act funding initiative," Alicia Carmoody said, speaking for the Vermont Congressional Delegation. Governor Jim Douglas and all three members of the delegation are expected at the Grand Opening.
      Enacted three years ago, The Northeast Dance Heritage Corridor Act created the Dance Heritage Corridor Committee in the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Committee, working with nine state Transportation Agencies, has determined the street and highway routes that qualify to be designated as Dance Heritage Corridors as well as specific locations that qualify to be identified within the designated heritage corridors.
      The sole Vermont location is the Highgate Road in Franklin County on a path trod by Civil War era dancers.
      "This is a little unusual," Brian Rowell said, "but I'm glad to work with it."
      Cirque du Soleil will perform two pieces from the high intensity, acrobatic Saltimbanco at the Grand Opening. They will also debut a new small-troupe work. Think "ballet shot from a cannon" for the debut work. Cirque performers will also teach at least one master class per quarter in the new facility.
Remember the Date!
     "This is where our youngest troupe can experiment with new techniques and present smaller works that do not fit the touring shows or our major fixed exhibitions," Cirque du Soleil spokesman Andre LeMoox-Mieux said. "It is very convenient to our home base." The company originated in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec and is based in Montreal.
      The Cirque national tour spent last night in the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita; that show continues through Sunday. Some members will travel from that show to the one-day only event in Highgate and then on to the April 2-6 show at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Their Vermont staging will be considerably smaller than the Wintuk theater show in New York, La Nouba at Disney World in Orlando, and their five stages in Las Vegas, Nevada.
      The Heritage Center has studios and classroom space both for the Cirque-led modern ballet classes and for five local dance programs ready to begin programs later in April. The performance space includes the main Rowell Theater with 1,120 seats, the intimate Cirque room with "seating in the round," and a ballroom that can do double duty as meeting space. The 24,000 square foot building is designed for national touring company as well as local productions. Construction funding was provided under the Dance Heritage Corridor Act with additional grants from the State of Vermont, the Grant W. Grant Foundation, and contributions from local businesses.
      The Kansas and Northeastern Arts Consortium for Knowledge is the advocate in Washington, D.C., for the state arts councils of the New England states, plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kansas as well as some Local Arts Service Organizations. The consortium monitors the more than 6,000 House and Senate bills, resolutions, and amendments introduced annually for their impact on the arts in this region. The consortium was the driving force behind this heritage corridor.
      Executive Director Clive Bartlesby was pleased by the announcement. "The Vermont delegation has a real knack for this kind of funding," he said.
      "The community wanted a ballet school with a twist," Mr. Rowell said. "We needed a way to pay for that so this worked out well."
Check the Date!
     Admission is free for all performances and for the evening reception on Tuesday. Remember to put Tuesday's date, April 1, in your calendar. All seats have, of course, been pre-sold.


COLCHESTER--Saint Michael's College hosts a Musical Evening with Karen McFeeters & Friends featuring Vermont singer/songwriters Carol Abair, Craig Anderson, John Gibbons, and Paul Webb all on Saturday in the McCarthy Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. 100% of the benefit concert proceeds will support Kids on the Block-Vermont, a nonprofit group which has appeared frequently in Franklin County. Kids on the Block uses life-sized puppets to teach children how to stay safe and healthy. The concert will include a mix of original and cover songs, contemporary folk tunes and slower ballads.
      St. Albans native Karen McFeeters began her folk career at the Songwriter's Showcase at Burlington's Contois Auditorium. She has appeared in Summer Sounds, First Night--Burlington, the St. Albans Concert in the Park Series, and the Independence Day Celebration on the State House lawn. Ms. McFeeters' solo debut album, Bachelor Girl, was chosen as one of the Top 10 Best releases by Vermont Artists and her rendition of My Only Son by Carol Abair was the Times Argus' Best Song of 2007.
      Known for her MomSongs, songwriter Carol Abair of Burlington is one of eight siblings in the music world. Her music has been recorded by Rachel Bissex, Karen McFeeters, Rebecca Padula, Robert Resnik and Marty Morrissey, and Paul Webb. Although she does not list performance first, she has performed in Summer Sounds and around the state.
      Guitar builder Craig Anderson's playing is the strong underpinning for this group. He builds some of the best known instruments in the state
      Classical musician and folk singer/songwriter John Gibbons plays old-time country flat picking and finger picking. He has played from Ripton to Saratoga to the Kept Writer to the Burlington Coffeehouse, the Maple Festival and Summer Sounds.
      Writer Paul Webb is the house pianist at the Inn at Shelburne Farms. He writes for radio commercials and educational videos and is a featured artist on the Cream of Vermont CD. His own albums include Stone Boat," "Green Mountain Spring, and Walk in the Woods.
      The artists have performed together on solo CDs and compilation albums. In Silver Light and The Cream of Vermont.
      Admission is $12.50 or 2 for $21 in advance with tickets available online at Tickets will also be available at the door. Call 802.860.3349 for more info.

MORRISVILLE--WLVB-FM presents the Roots Are Showing in the River Arts Grange Building tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. The anniversary concert features Big Spike Bluegrass, Fiddleheads, plus the Radio Rangers, Tammy Fletcher, Laslo Cameo, Knotty Pine, and Mark Legrand. The proceeds benefit River Arts and the Summit Music School scholarships.
      Call WLVB (802.888.4294) or email for more info.

ST. JOHNSBURY--Catamount Arts and the St. Johnsbury Academy present Woods Tea Company tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Morse Center. Featuring Howard Wooden of St. Albans, Mike Lussen, and Tom MacKenzie, Woods Tea is Vermont's best-known folk trio.
      The event is part of the Music at the Morse series. Click here for more info.

ESSEX JUNCTION--The Lincoln Inn offers some favorites this week. Tonight is WCLX Blues night; Bob Degree and the Bluegrass Storm returns Tuesday and Wednesday is a Celtic Party with Trinity and the Green Mountain Irish Step Dancers, all at 7 p.m.
      Call 802.878.3309 or click here for more info.


     Tuesday is also Anne's and my 30th wedding anniversary. And that's no April foolin'.


     The Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery in Brattleboro has a 100 seat house and exhibition space for local and visiting artists. Vermont Business Magazine called it "a driving force in downtown Brattleboro's revitalization." The site includes info about the building and organization, rental and volunteer info, a calendar of events, and details about gallery exhibits.


      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 © 2008 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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