ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 14 * * All Arts News On the Web * * May 5, 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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GEORGIA--First Step Dance hosts a Community Dance to Benefit the Ellie Bilodeau Memorial Fund in the Georgia Elementary School "big gym" on Saturday at 7 p.m.
      Kevin Laddison will hold dance lessons in Waltz and Swing at 7:30 p.m.; open dancing begins at 8:30 p.m. No partner or experience is needed and children are welcome.
      Admission is by donation. Any amount is helpful and welcome, Mr. Laddison said. The fund was established in memory of Reading Paraprofessional Ellie Bilodeau. Each year it purchases books that are awarded to deserving readers in grades K through 4 with copies of the titles added to the school library collection. The effort help support the school, encourage literacy, recognize children and remember Ms. Bilodeau.
     The Ballroom Wednesdays dance lessons continue at the St. Albans Museum every Wednesday through May 26. The lessons include Rhythm I, covering Rumba, Cha Cha and Merengue, at 6-7 p.m.; Smooth I, covering Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango, 7-8 p.m.; and Smooth II, continuing with Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango, 8-9 p.m.
      The cost is $50 per person for each four week session. No experience and no partner required. Call Kevin Laddison (802.598.6757) or click here for more info or to register for either event.


     The Art of Action Online Auction closes tomorrow at 5 p.m. The proceeds from the sale of these original works will fund a future round of the project.
      Art of Action, Shaping Vermont's Future through Art, commissioned 10 visual artists to create suites of artwork that address issues identified by Vermonters as essential to our state's future. The statewide touring fine art exhibit, appeared in St. Albans in February.
      Click hereto register, browse, and bid.

ENOSBURG FALLS--The Artist In Residence Gallery features different artists each month. This month, the spotlight is on photographer and painter Robin Massey, painter Leesa Mossey, printmaker Lyna Lou Nordstrom, jeweler Holly Spier, and wood turner Nick Rosato.
      The A.I.R. gallery hosts a free meet-the-artists reception with refreshments tonight from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The exhibit continues through the end of May.
      The Artist in Residence art cooperative features paintings, fiber arts, stained glass, sculpture, lamps, pottery, folk art boxes, scarves, hats and more by 45 Franklin County and surrounding area artists. It is owned and operated by the artists and sponsors. The Village Frame Shoppe is located within the coop as a resident framer. The Blue Crayon, a small private studio, is available there for individual or small group lessons. The gallery, located at 349 Main Street, is open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.


RICHMOND--On the Rise Bakery presents an Evening of Music with Jim Branca & Friends on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Mr. Branca is a singer-songwriter and guitar player at home in American roots music and whose music embraces and builds on that tradition. He was a staple of the club circuit with Bloozotomy and now as the Master of the Mystic Mojo.
      Admission is $8. On the Rise encourages reservations or advance ticket purchases as seating is limited.

VERGENNES--The Vergennes Opera House presents the Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra Iain MacHarg on Highland pipes tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The program includes nine "amazing, inspiring, intense, comical, light, heavy works," each under 10 minutes. The program also includes the Hungarian March, the Sunken Cathedral by Debussy arranged by Vermonter Jack Hanna, and the popular first symphony of Brahms. Paul Gambill conducts.
      The Champlain Philharmonic was founded in 2004 by David Gusakov and Dieuwke Davydov.
      General admission is $12, or $10 for seniors and students. Call 802.877.8737 or click here for more info.

LENNOXVILLE, P.Q.--The Church Street Concert Series presents Will Patton Ensemble with Dono Schabner, David Gusakov and Anna Patton at 8 p.m. at Gertrude Scott Hall in the Lennoxville United Church. The concerts are part of first Friday series from October through May.
      Email for more info.

SOUTH BURLINGTON--Higher Ground and Young Tradition Vermont present John Doyle with Finlay Morton on Saturday at Higher Ground at 7:30 p.m.
      The Asheville, NC, singer, guitar master, producer, songsmith, arranger is a founder of the band Solas, guitarist and musical director for Joan Baez with whom he does three 6 week tours each year, and performing and recording partner with Liz Carroll. He and Ms. Carroll were nominated for a 2010 Grammy. His most recent CD is Exiles Return.
      Admission is $16. Proceeds benefit the Tom Sustic Fund. Call 888.512.SHOW, 802.652.0777, or click here for more info.
      Mr. Doyle will also hold guitar workshops for intermediate to advanced players in South Burlington on Saturday 4 - 5:30 p.m. and in Braintree 2 - 4 p.m. Advance registration is necessary for both workshops. Email for the Saturday workshop or call 802.728.6351 for Sunday.

HINESBURG--The Good Times Café presents Larry Baione with Ann Patton on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
      Call 802.482.4444 for more info.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS--The B.F.A.-St. Albans Music Department will present Vivaldi's Gloria at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Sunday, May 23rd. The concert includes a professional orchestra, two vocal soloists, and the 100-plus member Academy Chorus. B.F.A. Choral Director Armand Messier conducts.
      Admission is $8 for adults or $5 for students and seniors. Tickets will be available starting Monday at Better Planet in St. Albans, Swanton Rexall in Swanton, and also by calling B.F.A. (802.527.6556).


     The annual Vermont Maple Festival took over Downtown St. Albans this weekend with pancake breakfasts, a maple buffet dinner, dancing, arts and crafts, performances by some of Vermont's best bands, Vermont specialty foods, carnival rides, the "best maple syrup on the planet" and the biggest parade in Vermont.
      Meanwhile, the Tempe, Arizona, Town Lake Beach Park hosted the annual St. Katherine "Taste of Greece" Festival this weekend with Greek dancing, music, specialty, and import booths, performances by costumed Greek dancers, Greek wine tasting, carnival rides, and the "best Greek food in Phoenix!"
      And, until last year, the Burlington Waterfront hosted the final Green Mountain Chew Chew ("Vermont's Favorite Family Feeding Frenzy") with grilled Cajun chicken bites, Lion's Club pork backribs with cannonball sauce, Lovemaker crepes, and more. The Chew Chew filled two tents with performers so music flowed almost constantly throughout the event.
      Like most outdoor festivals, all three events have similar planning committees, hosts of volunteers, and cultural goodies to attract (and keep) the crowd. And like most outdoor festivals, all three events have similar problems: high costs for food, sinking budgets for entertainment, and weather worries.
      The weatherman has frozen, snowed, baked, sleeted, and rained sunshine on the Maple Festival over the years. 13 inches of snow fell on St. Albans two days before the 2010 event. A perfect storm of increased production costs and torrential rain delivered a crippling 2008 loss to the Chew Chew. Only Phoenix seems immune to snow and rain although the winds practically blew visitors out of the park this year.
      The food was good -- visitors stood in line -- but too expensive at the Maple and Greek festivals and the music stage stood silent too much of the time.
      Tempe and St. Albans have just one stage each, so keeping the music going is a challenge but a challenge worth meeting. Festival-goers come for the food. The music aids digestion and keeps them on the grounds longer so they can eat more.
      The Main Street Stage at the Maple Festival does try to avoid dead air. A single stage can be divided into two performance areas so one band can set up while another plays. The sound company (I used Tim-Kath Enterprises) makes sure they get good fidelity around most of downtown. And we tried never to have more than 5 minutes of my chatter about the food between sets. People could find the food on their own.
      It's a good model as we enter the outdoor festival season, and it makes the Fair food taste better.


     Vermont artist Corliss Blakely of St. Albans returns with a new site. Ms. Blakely has received rave reviews for her iPhone paintings. Now she has the bigger canvas of the iPad.
      "With the iPhone, the painting comes to life without days of oils drying. It’s all magical to me," she said. "Now with the iPad it has just gotten better."
      Her site has a slide show gallery, tutorials, an artist statement, an upcoming blog, 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 © 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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