ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 13 * * All Arts News On the Web * * August 13, 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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      The Big Four Music Weeks of summer concludes this week. With three or more live concerts, fairs, or festivals each week, there is plenty to see and hear in Franklin County.


      Jazz will mesmerize Highgate Municipal Park as O. C. McCuin & Sons presents Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers in the free Summer Sounds concert on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. With Mark van Gulden, keys and vibes; Nick Warner, bass; Gus Ziesing, sax and clarinet; and Ian Koeller, percussion and drums; Ms. Johnson is jazzy, bluesy, funky, and nearly perfect.
      "We'll definitely do the standards," Ms. Johnson said, "the Billie [Holiday], the Nat King Cole, the Ella [Fitzgerald]."
      Singing jazz, blues and funk has been a central part of Ms. Johnson's life since her teen days in New York City. In the 1980s she pursued musical projects in Houston, Texas and Boston including unique work she titled "The Billie Holiday Story." She launched Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers in 1989 to sing the jazz and blues standards by her favorite African-American artists. The active touring artist is a regular performer in Summer Sounds, Discover Jazz, First Night, and at Chow!Bella
      Her CD Tour Down Memory Lane was recorded during her Vermont opera house tour. That album is a combination of 40s, 50s, and 60s music focusing on girl groups.
      Just before the concert, stop by for Foster Grandparents-Summer Sounds Social in the Park starting at 6:30 p.m. The social hour is a chance to visit with friends and eat some delicious desserts.
      The Summer Sounds concerts are sponsored by the Town of Highgate and the All Arts Council, and underwritten by Chevalier Drilling, Desorcie's Market, Drummac Septic Service, O. C. McCuin and Sons, Ray's Extrusion Dies and Tubing, and Scotty's Taxi.
      The community based All Arts Council brings the performing arts to northwestern Vermont. The concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in Highgate Municipal Park, and always free. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair as you settle in to enjoy outdoor family music and festivities. The rain site is the Highgate United Methodist Church.


     The Fairfax Community Theater Company needs actors from age 8 to 80 for the fall production of 2 Dragons and a Taste of Saki - An Evening for Children of All Ages. The five family-focused 1-Act plays will be performed over 2 weeks in October.
      Auditions will be held at the Westford Brick Meeting House on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, August 17 - 19 from 7-9 pm. Auditions will consist of readings from the plays and some improvisation. Call 802.849.6638 or click here for character and play info.


ESSEX JUNCTION--The Lincoln Inn has WCLX Blues Night with the Nobby Reed Project tonight. Tomorrow evening is a ticketed show with Randy Smith and 8-0-8-4 at 9 p.m.
      Randy Smith, formerly of St. Albans, is on the Bittersweet Tour, an ongoing CD release party for his new solo CD. The summer tour reunites Andre, Frank, Gary and New England drummer Hirsh Gardner. The show features special guests Crashgirl.
      Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets are available online at or at Alexander’s Pub at the Lincoln Inn. Call 802.878.3309 or click here for more info.
      The Bittersweet Tour concert reprises in White River Junction on Saturday.

BURLINGTON--Young Tradition Vermont and Events for Tom present Alash in FlynnSpace on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Winners of the 2007 Young Tradition Showcase Contest, Alash is a quartet of master throat singers from Tuva. The young men in Alash use the traditional throat singing developed among nomadic herdsmen and expand it with new world musical ideas.
      Admission is by a suggested donation of $15 at the door the day of the concert (no advance tickets). Reservations are available by email This concert has the support of Burlington Parks and Recreation, Champlain Valley Folk Festival, Dobra Tea, Green Mountain Power, Three Tomatoes, Vermont Folklife Center and the Asian Studies Outreach Program at the University of Vermont. Click here for more info about Events for Tom or Young Tradition Vermont.

MONTGOMERY--The Montgomery Historical Society Concerts by the Common series presents a return appearance of 35th Parallel in Pratt Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. with a program of music from 35° North latitude--the Middle East, North India, North Africa and the Mediterranean. The duo is Gabe Halberg, Indian tabla and percussion, and Mac Ritchey, Middle Eastern oud and strings.
      Admission is $12 or $10 for MHS members; purchase the entire series for $30 ($25 for members). Call Lutz Automotive (802.326.4528) for advance tickets. The concerts are underwritten in part by grants from the Vermont Arts Council, the Eastman Foundation, TD Bank, and area businesses and individuals. Click here for more info

FRANKLIN--Franklin United Church presents Village Harmony in concert on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. on the village green.
      The concert will feature traditional Quebecois music, American shape-note, gospel and Appalachian harmonies, traditional music from Caucasus Georgia and Bulgaria, South African songs and dances, and renaissance motets. The a cappella voices will be joined on many numbers by a band of fiddles, percussion and wind instruments. The Vermont-based Village Harmony sponsors ten ensembles each summer. Although unique, the ensembles share powerful vocals, varieties of ethnic and traditional music; and joy.
      The church will host a potluck supper before the concert with grilled hot dogs and burgers and even a few turkey burgers. Bring a dish to share.
      Suggested admission at the door is $10, $5 for students and seniors. Call the church office (802.285.6425) or
      Village Harmony will also hold a workshop of South African songs and dances for singers of any age on Saturday from 3-5 p.m. that afternoon. Additional $5 admission fee for the workshop if also coming to the concert.

JEFFERSONVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents the first of a planned annual Festival of the Arts on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event features a Main Street art show with Valerie Ugro and 40 other artists plus Jennings and Ponder, the Eames Brothers, and Professor Fairbanks on stage.
      Call 802.730.4033, email, or email for more info.

ALBURGH--Lake's End Cheese hosts a farm festival with Atlantic Crossing, storytellers Jennings and Ponder, and a local Gaelic group, all beginning on Sunday at 1 p.m. Part of the commemoration of the Champlain Quadricentennial.
      Click here for event details and here for directions.

ST. ALBANS--The St. Albans Historical Museum presents A Vermont Music Sampler with William Tortolano on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Bliss Memorial Auditorium.
      Dr. Tortolano has been a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge and has held a Fellowship at Yale University. Author of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Anglo-Black Composer, Original Music for Men's Voices, and The Mass and The Twentieth-Century Composer, he also researched Gregorian Chant at St. Pierre de Solesmes. He is Professor Emeritus of Music and Fine Arts at Saint Michael's College.

ST. ALBANS--Citizens Concert Band performs this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Taylor Park.

FAIRFAX--The regular Music Session continues Saturday with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.

ST. ALBANS--Chow Bella offers the jazz and improv of Vern Colburn on the Piano on Fridays at 5:30 and dynamite jazz duo of Ted Crosby and Fabian Rainville at 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Call 524.1405 or click here for more info.


     The Island Arts Quadricentennial Celebration begins Sunday and runs through August 23. The programs feature native peoples dancing, drumming, singing, storytelling and crafts, a celebration of Franco American culture, and an exploration of the night sky as Samuel de Champlain and his native guides might have experienced it.

MUSIC: Rachel Aucoin and Sabin Jacques will host a community wide Tunk featuring Michelle Choiniere and her band at the Grand Isle Lake House on Sunday from 1 - 3 p.m. The old-fashioned country dance will take place under a tent at the Grand Isle Lake House. Bring your own fiddles, washboards, guitars, spoons, and mandolins or just your hands for clapping and your toes for tapping as well as a traditional dessert to share.
      Admission is $20 advance; $25 at the door. Free to children 12 and under.

ART ON THE WALLS: The work of Jack Sabon, Lorraine Manley, and other native artists will be showcased at the Island Arts Gallery in North Hero. The Gallery is open daily 10 - 4 p.m. weekdays and 11 - 5 p.m. weekends.

     The Island Arts Celebration offers fun for the entire family. Kids are always free to all of the events. Call 802.796.3549 for more info.


     Inventing is one of Vermont's greatest pastimes and August is National Inventors Month. This month long event celebrating invention and creativity was dreamed up by the United Inventors Association of the USA, the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors' Digest magazine.
      Many libraries have invention displays and projects this month.
      The Smithsonian Institution celebrated with a two-day collaborative build of an 8-foot-tall light bulb made entirely of Legos at the National Museum of American History. The center will host Ralph Baer, father of the home video game, on Saturday as part of its Innovative Lives series. Click here and click here for more info.


     The Wassaic Project Summer Festival starts today and runs through Sunday in Wassaic, NY. More than 40 artists have placed site sensitive installations. 20 musicians and ensembles will play at Maxon Mills and the Luther Barn Stage. There are dances, poetry, a live video and sound piece, and more. The site has the programming and schedules, directions, year round programs, 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 © 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.