ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 13 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 29, 2009


      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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      Mark your calendars. That is "PO jazz," not "toe jazz" as Chow!Bella presents Tony Whedon with poetry and jazz entangled in the opener of a mini-tour of the musical cabaret PoJazz next Thursday, February 5. The tour continues to the Trout River Traders in Montgomery, on February 6, then to the Black Door on February 12.
      "It is so beatnik," Chow!Bella's Connie Warden said, "You want to just snap your fingers."
      The PoJazz ensemble showcases Northern New England jazz musicians Tony Whedon, trombone, Lars Duggan, piano, Clyde Statts, bass, and Barry Reis, trumpet and drums, plus poets from the Vermont Poetry Society including published poets David Cavanagh who directs the JSC External Degree program, Marina Back, and Neil Shepard. PoJazzers know that jazz tells stories and that lyrical poetry is music on the hoof. The PoJazz event brings poets reading their own work and musical riffs together on the rhythms and phrasing.
      Messrs. Whedon, Duggan, and Statts are "all buddies and have played together for years," Mr. Whedon said. "Newcomer" Barry Reis is a member of the Joe Lovano Nonet Band and played with Lionel Hampton and the Gerry Mulligan Band.
      This ensemble is in its fourth year. It offers some improv and some scripted performance.


     The Catamount Arts Center presents Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon at 4 p.m. in their new space in St. Johnsbury.
      Catamount Arts has created a new arts center in what Development Director Jerry Aldredge called "the largest and most impressive Masonic Temple in New England."
      Three years ago, the Northeast Kingdom's arts council was "bursting at the seems and outgrowing [their original] building." That is a success story in any area but particularly noteworthy in that part of Vermont.
      We wanted a better way to "bring the arts to people in a way that is culturally accessible and affordable," Mr. Aldredge said.
      Time for some community partnering.
      The Masonic fraternity, once 700 strong, was down to about 30 members. "They couldn't afford to keep up the heat on the building much less to run it in the way it had been over the years," he said. "They approached Catamount Arts to create a synergy where they gave us the building and in turn we gave them a lease to the top floor which is where they always had their meeting facilities." The dollar-per-year lease in perpetuity allows the fraternity to remain "as a functioning Masonic organization" and to be a "partner-tenant."
      The Temple itself, located in downtown St. Johnsbury, is part of the federally recognized historic district in this St. Albans-size community. The Temple has been designated as a contributing site of importance to the downtown historical district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
      Catamount called the project "Arts Building Community" to reflect the Masons, who have retained their headquarters in the building they created and Catamount Arts, who have gained a permanent home, as well as the economic stability and growth this cultural economy partnership has fostered. The building restoration had significant community input. A series of public creative forums forged the plans. The St. Johnsbury Academy Building Trades class did much of the rehabilitation work. The students gained real on-the-job training and Catamount saved a bundle.
      The new Catamount Art Center is fully operational. "We moved into the building in September and opened officially in October," Mr. Aldredge said.
      Next time, we will look at the movie theaters, art gallery, classroom space, the Catamount Cabaret performance space, and the $1.3 million renovation budget.
      Call 802.748.2600, 888.757.5559, email or click here for more info.


     The 40-year-old Frog Hollow Craft Center in Middlebury will close Saturday. The property will be sold. Frog Hollow is a national institution that represents about 300 Vermont artists and artisans including some from Franklin County.
      The store has averaged about $2 million in annual retail sales over the last ten years but the downturn has taken its toll on while overhead has grown. Classes will continue in other locations but on a reduced schedule. Frog Hollow hopes to reopen in Middlebury eventually.
      The Burlington store will stay open and online sales will continue.


BURLINGTON--The Starline Rhythm Boys play the Peace and Justice Center's 30th Anniversary Celebration tomorrow evening in Contois Auditorium at City Hall at 7 p.m. There is a rumor of cake for the early birds.

BURLINGTON--Kilimanjaro hosts a CD Release Concert for the long-awaited "Homecoming" CD on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. in Contois Auditorium at City Hall. 25-years in the making, the smooth jazz album includes nine pieces, six composed by Paul Asbell, three by Mr. Asbell and Chas Eller, permeated by Latin, World music and Funk influences. The players are Paul Asbell, guitars; Chas Eller, keyboards; Tony Markellis, bass; Lucas Adler, percussion; and Chris Peterman, tenor sax.
      Kilimanjaro never did play Taylor Park but the Unknown Blues Band did when Big Joe Burrell made his only appearance in Summer Sounds.
      General admission is $27. Tickets are available here or call 802.86.FLYNN.

NORWICH--A Hot Dance on a Cold Night/Contras and Squares for Experienced Dancers offers caller David Millstone with musicians Anna Patton, Mary Cay Brass, and Ethan Hazzard-Watkins at Tracy Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. Please bring a separate pair of clean, soft-soled shoes. Email for more info.


     Tuesday was "Vermont Writes Day." The Young Writers Project site has the results along with the winners of the Vermont Writing Challenge, a joint project between the Young Writers Project and the Council on Rural Development. The site also includes info about the project, other cash contests, 7-Word Stories, creation links, a learning center, publishing, blogs and podcasts, special projects, and of course, ways to donate.


      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 © 2009 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.