ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 12 * * All Arts News On the Web * * June 19, 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 inaugural Franco-American Heritage Festival takes place tomorrow and Saturday in Taylor Park and the Knights of Columbus Hall. The Festival brings together cultural heritage and the natural history of the Lake Champlain region. The forecast is for sunshine and 80.
      Organizer Chris Rottler of St. Albans said the weekend activities will include music, food, French language groups, genealogy, traditional crafters, and a dinner/dance/concert. Did I mention the music and food?
      The Franco-American and Quebecois performers include Michele Choiniere et compagnie, Fiddleheads, plus Benoit Bourque, Les Gens d'Plaisir, and Don Roy.
      Dance is a vital part of French-Canadian music. Its defining trait is the rapid-fire foot percussion that drives the beat. The evening event will be a concert and a dance.
      Quebecois artist and St. Albans native Michele Choiniere will be joined by Benoit Bourque, Sabin Jacques on accordion, and Rachel Aucoin on piano. Her concert will include new traditionals from Quebec and her own compositions.
      Ms. Choiniere was born into a musical Franco-American family. Her lyrics and music focus on nature, romance and social issues connected to being Franco-American. 5:30 p.m. Friday.
      Don Roy, who also plays guitar, mandolin and banjo, has been called the dean of Franco-American fiddling in Maine. His latest CD is Too Many Tunes. 7:15 p.m. Friday.
      Step-dancer/accordionist Benoit Bourque will call dances and will add amazing life to the music with both Michele Choiniere and Don Roy on Friday.
      Fiddleheads is a mixed group of young fiddlers who performing traditional fiddle tunes. The tunes highlight the Yankee, French, Irish, Scots and other cultural influences found mostly in northern Vermont, New England and New York state. Mark Sustic leads the group. 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
      Tess LeBlanc, Paul Marchand, Daniel Lemieux, Louis-Simon Lemieux, Stephane Landry, and Normand Legault are Les Gens d'Plaisir. Originally from Moncton, singer Tess LeBlanc lives in Quebec. She inherited a family repertoire and the oral tradition of Acadia. She sings in french, English and Irish. Stephane Landry, accordion, is from Quebec. Daniel Lemieux is a violin player from the Gaspe. He is known for his membership in Manigance and the Dream of the devil. In 1999 he recorded an album of Quebec, Irish and Scots songs with his son, Louis-Simon Lemieux. They play the violin, guitar, harmonica and percussion. Paul Marchand on guitar and vocals plays the traditional milieu and taught Louis-Simon Lemieux. Master dancer and master caller Normand Legault plays a large role in the revival of traditional dance in Quebec. 2 p.m. Saturday.
      The Knights of Columbus will wrap up the Festival with a traditional Franco-American meal and dance Saturday evening from 6-11 p.m. in the Knights of Columbus Hall on South Main Street in St. Albans. Admission to the dinner is $20 per person.
      The Franco-American Festival is sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Handy Toyota, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Folklife Center, and the City of Saint Albans, with fund-raising support from the St. Albans Knights of Columbus.
      All events are free except the traditional dinner and dance on Saturday evening. The rain location is St. Paul's Methodist Church. Email or click here for more info.


     Mark your calendars. The All Arts Council Summer Sounds series will begin Sunday, July 6, at Bay Day with Rumbledoll playing into the fireworks.


ST. ALBANS--The Community Partners' Golf Classic on Friday at the Champlain Country Club will feature Jim Branca and The Mystic Mojo Trio with special guest Harmonica Bob McKenzie from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Mr. Branca will channel "the spirit of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to juice up [the music] and shoo away the blues..." The event is a benefit for Franklin-Grand Isle United Way, Northwestern Counseling, and the Northwestern Medical Center
      "Anyone who's ever seen me attempt golf," he said, "will be glad I have a guitar in my hand!"

SHELDON--Summer Music at Grace presents the Michele Fay Band from Ripton on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. The band brings rich female harmonies traditional, swing, and bluegrass music in its first appearance at Grace Church.
      Many of the numbers are Michele Fay originals written from her Vermont life. The band is Michele Fay, acoustic guitar and lead vocals; Tim Price, mandolin, acoustic guitar and electric guitar; Lausanne Allen, fiddle, whistle, and vocal harmony; and Henry Romp, upright bass.
      Grace Church is located at 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon. The suggested admission is a $10 donation for adults or $5 for children and old folks. Click here for more info about the Michele Fay Band. Call 802.326.4603 or click here for more info about Summer Music at Grace.

MORRISVILLE--Events for Tom and River Arts present the Northeast Heritage Music Festival Concert in the air conditioned River Arts Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. as Ken Perlman brings his faculty members for an evening of northern folk music. The performers will play solo and with multiple ensembles.
      The Festival Concert features ten time Irish Fiddle Champ Seamus Connolly, plus Alice Berube, Dwayne Cote, Donna Hebert, Sarah Hotchkiss, Alan Jabbour, Peter Langston, Grey Larsen, Cindy Kallet, David Kaynor, Jeremiah McLane, Ken Perlman, and Pete Sutherland.
      Admission is $12 adults, $8 students and seniors, and under 10 are free. Call 802.888.1261 to hold tickets or click here for more info.


     Sarah Frechette of Georgia creates art for galleries, universities, theater and film and is Artistic Director and founder of Puppetkabob. Ms. Frechette designs and develops puppet productions and workshops with ordinary objects. The site includes info about the puppets and marionettes, current and past productions, school programs, works in progress, and a contact link.


      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).
      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.