ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 13 * * All Arts News On the Web * * Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 6, 2010


      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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      Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!


      Public and private contributions to the arts dropped again this year. Popular programs like the Summer Sounds series depend on municipal appropriations. And school art programs are primarily funded by the increasingly strained property tax.
      Art is an economic engine but it is far more than a retail sale or a paycheck.
      Regular readers have looked at a boatload of cultural economy numbers. The data shows that the Arts are an economic engine Vermont cannot afford to lose. The Arts boost school test scores. The Arts improve our sense of community. And it doesn't hurt that a painting or photograph, an original song, a well-staged play, or a warm book on a cold winter day all bring light to our lives.
      More than that has happened this year. Artists have done more. Artists have shared more art and more resources this year, from donations to United Way to music at the Cap Cancer Blues Fest and much more. Artists have been generous with their time, their talent, their product. Artists are concerned about their community.
      The All Arts Council is the only all-volunteer Local Arts Service Organization in the state. Your year-end gift to the AAC is both tax-deductible and will go entirely to programming. Your planned 2010 sponsorship will help us continue the programs and our support for other arts groups. Please email theAll Arts Council for more information or to donate.


BURLINGTON--First Step Dance hosts the Fourth Annual New Years Eve Ball in the Emerald Ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center tonight. Doors open at 6:30pm for Buffet Dinner Ticket holders, with a buffet from 7 - 8 p.m. Dancing-only ticket holders may join the party at 8 p.m. The Ball will serve light hors d'oeuvres at 9 p.m.
      Dancing only tickets are $40/person December 28th and after. Tickets are available through, or in person at First Step Dance events. Call 802.598.6757 or click here for more info.

RICHMOND--A Celtic New Year features Fiddleheads and Ann Whiting, Gary Dulabaum, Woods Tea Company, Highland Weavers, and Mary Ann Samuels with Susan Reit de Salas and more. Click here for more info.

MIAMI--Vermont's Phish plays their first New Year’s Eve concert since 2003 in the American Airlines Arena in a four night stand that ends tonight. The New Year’s Eve show will be a three-set extravaganza. Phish will make a fully mixed/multitracked complete MP3 collection of each show available to concert goers immediately after the show.
      Click here for more info.

BURLINGTON--Eleven Pipers Piping is a benefit concert for the Tom Sustic Fund at the College Street Congregational Church on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The celebration of the "wild and rapturous music" of the bagpipes features eleven well known pipers performing on eight varieties of bagpipes: Elias Alexander, Matt Buckley, Tim Cummings, Hazen Metro, Dan Houghton, Peter Kent, Jackie Lewis, Iain MacHarg, Rik Palieri, Anthony Santoro, Richard Shuttleworth, all with special emcee Pete Sutherland.
      Admission is by recommended donation of $15. Call 802.453.4721 for more info.


     Tonight is First Night in several Vermont locations. Most have Franklin County performers or friends commuting between several locations. Pick your pleasure.

BURLINGTON--First Night! Burlington has more than 80 performers on 23 stages around the city as well as Jamie Lee Thurston at the Flynn plus the 12 Rising Star Search finalists including singer/soloist Alana Freeman of Highgate and singer Troy Millette on acoustic guitar from Fairfax at Memorial Auditorium. The lineup features Summer Sounds favorites Atlantic Crossing, Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys, Tammy Fletcher, Jon Gailmor, Kilimanjaro and the Unknown Blues Band, Mark LeGrand, Social Band, Woods Tea Company, and a Young Tradition Showcase, plus the Starline Rhythm Boys and more.
      Call 802.863.6005 or click here for more info.

MONTPELIER--First Night! Montpelier features Summer Sounds favorites Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder and the Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band, plus the Starline Rhythm Boys and more. Click here for more info.

ST. JOHNSBURY--First Night! St. Johnsbury features Summer Sounds favorites Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys and more. Click here for more info.


     The quality of concerts, events, exhibits, and productions staged this year in and by Franklin County artists is up yet again but the quantity did drop off a little. Nonetheless, the list is so extensive that, after I cut and trimmed and slashed and gouged, I again have a column more than twice as long as usual. This year, the annual roundup appears in two columns. This week, we will look at events around the county from the Artist In Residence cooperative to the West Swanton Methodist Church annual Lawn Supper.
      Next week, we will look at the All Arts Council Summer Sounds series, what Other Major Presenters have been doing, and the Five Festivals.


      The third annual Art in Bloom Festival brought a day of music, a gazillion art exhibits, and plenty of food to Swanson's Farm and Nursery in Fairfax. Festival music included Backside Grind, Hillbillies from Outer Space, the Hubcats, Alzona Watson, and Wilbur's Dog.
      The Artist In Residence cooperative and gallery in Enosburg Falls featured an eclectic collection of work by Franklin County and surrounding area artists with a reception on the first Thursday of each month. It is owned and operated by the artists and sponsors. The Village Frame Shoppe serves as resident framer and the Blue Crayon studio is available there for individual or small group lessons.
      The 30th annual Bay Day had continuous live music as well as the Great Race, lakefront games, sports, fair food, and fireworks, all to celebrate Independence Day. Keeghan Nolan, Gary Dulabaum and Josh Brooks, and Neon Spoon all performed in the afternoon: the evening offered Mr. French in an Independence Day tribute in the Summer Sounds kickoff.
      Better Planet hosted several book signings and Champlain Collection had regular artist receptions. Book signings and receptions give the community a chance to meet the artists.
      The fourth Celebrate Saint Albans held an Art in the Park Day in Taylor Park with fine art by area artists, Vermont writers, a DJ, craft tables, and improvising thespians. The St. Albans Artists Guild and the Bishop Street Artists joined forces to host one show.
      Chow!Bella hosted the third annual Mardi Gras Dinner and Dance with music by the Fabulous Spiders in a benefit for Franklin County Court Diversion as well as regular Wednesday and Friday evening jazz..
      The Christian Music on the Parks concert series took family-based gospel music to Franklin County Town Parks for three summer Saturday evenings.
      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 series in Pratt Hall had Atlantic Crossing, the Eleva Chamber Players, and 35th Parallel.
      The First Congregational Church in St. Albans hosted the Fairfax Community Theater Company, the first Holiday Concert of the season, and more.
      The Enosburg Town 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 spring production was Mrs. Sorken Presents Three Plays. Two Dragon Tales and a Taste of Saki: An Evening for Children of All Ages offered recipes and catching instructions.
      Fiddleheads had a busy year. They played for First Night, Chocolate by the Pound, Quadricentennial, the Shelburne Farms Harvest Festival, community dances, and more.
      The Franco-American Heritage Festival, a Quadricentennial Signature Event, brought together the Lois McClure, living history, craft shows, music, a soiree, and more. Performers included Michele Choiniere et compagnie, Fiddleheads, Will Patton, and Yankee Chank, plus Benoit Bourque and Don Roy.
      The eleventh annual Franklin County Quilt Show had over 100 quilts on display including the Purple Heart Quilts, Breast Cancer Quilts, and the 2009 Charity Quilt for the Franklin County Relay for Life.
      The Home and Recreation Exposition, Rotary Club of St. Albans' annual fund raiser, had a new Fred Swan poster, Gathering Apples, and several local artists on exhibit.
      The eclectic sixteenth annual Jig in the Valley had great local music, fabulous food, crafts, a farmer's market, and activities for kids with the Backyard Bluegrass Band, John Cassel, Brian Curry, Dale and Darcy, Farm, the Oleo Romeos, and the Fabulous Spiders..
      The 11th annual Montgomery Historic Society Art Show and Sale in historic Pratt Hall featured renowned local art, a raffle for a Michael Domina watercolor, and a Members Appreciation Reception.
      The NMC Art Wall is one of the three major public art displays at the hospital. Exhibits changed monthly.
      PoJazz held a Franklin County mini tour of jazz music and poetry.
      The Saint Albans Artists' Guild reprised the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge Project. Members exhibited at the Champlain Valley Fair and at the Farmer's Market. Meta Strick conducted a Master Class.
      The St. Albans and Franklin County Literary Guild hosted readings and signings and is readying the first issue of Route Seven, a literary magazine.
      The St. Albans Historical Museum and OSHER presented Mike Walsh in My Life as an Actor, a Bob Manning lecture on American painters From Whistler to Warhol, Michael Atkinson on Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Truth, Chris Abair on the Ballads of Vermont Poet George Albert Leddy. The Museum also presented Denny Partridge and Steve Friedman in the play Mildred Taken Crazy.
      St Albans hosted the TGIF Afternoon Series of local summer concert in the Edric A. Loomis Memorial Band Shell on some summer Fridays..
      West Swanton Methodist Church annual Lawn Supper featured the Backyard Bluegrass Band.
      25 different presenters in this list alone with dozens of venues and a mix of fine art, classical music, popular entertainment, and great theater. And that's only half the list. Wow! What a year!


      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 © 2010 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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