ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 14 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 30, 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, everyone!


      Public and private contributions to the arts remain in jeopardy. 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 here have looked at a ton 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 Special Olympics 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 2011 sponsorship will help us continue the programs and our support for other arts groups. Please Email the All Arts Council for more information or to donate.


BURLINGTON--First Night Burlington has a citywide, substance-free party of stage shows, musical acts, and arts activities to kick off the new year. Downtown Friday from noon on.
      A huge number of performers are either from Franklin County or are favorites starting with Atlantic Crossing, Banjo Dan and the Mid-nite Plowboys, Blue Gardenias, Burlington Taiko, Michele Choiniere, Constitution Brass Quintet, Electric Youth Dance Company, Gary Dulabaum, Green Mountain Chorus, Mango Jam, Prydein, Social Band, Tammy Fletcher as Mountain Girl, the Woods Tea Co., Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder, Vermont Youth Orchestra, and continuing through a Young Tradition Showcase.
      Some events are free; buttons are $5-18 at Price Chopper and Vermont Federal Credit Union in St. Albans. Most Flynn MainStage and Memorial Auditorium shows require $3 tickets in addition to the button. Click here for a complete schedule.

STOWE--Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center presents An Evening With James Taylor on Friday at 8 p.m. The new, year round cultural center at Stowe Mountain Resort opened its doors to the public on Sunday.
      Tickets are ... pricey. click here for more info.

JEFFERSONVILLE--The Brewski presents Canyonero on Friday at 9 p.m. Outdoor seating is available, maybe, for the very very brave.
      Call 802.644.6366 for more info.

SOUTH BURLINGTON--On Friday Higher Ground presents Grace Potter & the Nocturnals in the Ballroom at 9 p.m and Grippo Funk Band in the Showcase Lounge at 9:30 p.m.
      Click here for more info.


BARRE--Studio Place Arts presents Celebrate!, the annual holiday members' show with fine art and functional crafts by 90 area artists. There are hundreds of one-of-a-kind gifts made by local artists at accessible prices.
      Click here for more info.


      Franklin County artists and presenters outdid themselves in 2010. Although the quantity of concerts, events, exhibits, and productions staged this year was down slightly again, the quality was definitely up. Last week we will looked at events around the county. This week, we finish with a wrap up of the All Arts Council events, what Other Major Presenters pulled off, and the Five Franklin County Festivals.

      The All Arts Council serves northwestern Vermont as a presenter, an event producer, and as a technical resource for artists and other groups. Other Franklin County organizations continue to grow, which means we support more events.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's popular, long running, outdoor series, celebrated its 20th season with free concerts every summer Sunday evening in Highgate Center plus one in St. Albans Bay. There were no Summer Sounds concerts in St Albans City this season. click here for more info.
      The 2010 series offered a lineup of bluegrass, country, folk, pop, and classic rock-n-roll with Carol Ann Jones and her Superchargers and friends playing into the July 4th fireworks in St. Albans Bay; the Fizz (formerly Flood in the Fizzy Factory); Tammy Fletcher as Mountain Girl, national singer/songwriter Roy Hurd; Jenni Johnson, the Jazz Junketeers, and the Junkettes; Mark LeGrand and the Lovesick Band with Sarah Munro; and Possum Haw. This series is unique in presenting often nationally known performers who are not seen elsewhere in Franklin County.
      Did you miss any of the concerts? Fortunately, Northwest Access TV and the All Arts Council produce Almost Live, a series of live concerts that airs each week on Comcast Channel 15. The volunteer videography crew produced a "front row seat" show of all the Summer Sounds concerts and many more besides. Click here for more info.

      The fourth 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, all as a benefit for Fairfax community organizations. The artists and artisans included Shelly's Tie Dye, It's Arthurs Fault, Amanda Bates, Janet Bonneau, Tracy Brown and Stacy Sweet, Julie Burnor, Jessie Cronin, Joanne Delaney, Dave and Gayle Derner, Barbara and Josh Derner, Jen Drury, Diane Dubuque, Kelly Duprat, Yvonne Eastman, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Marje Ellsworth, Chris Hungerford, Linsey Mucia, Barbara O’Bryan, Donna Underwood Owens, Eva Paquin, Silvio Paschal, Ellen Powell, Tia Rooney, Trevor and Kellie Russell, Kathy Shedd, Mary Hill Studio, Debra Travers, and Sally Ziegler. The all day music Festival showcased Atomic Railroad, Backside Grind, Garrett Brown, and the Fairfax-Fletcher-Westford Band.
      Franklin County Field Days had a lineup of music, arts and crafts, antique tractors, and of course cows. The ten band stage lineup was worth the price of admission alone: comedian Joey Allen, Junior Barber and Bear Tracks, the Country Classic Band, Jim Daniels Band, Green Mountain Cloggers, Ivory Band, Maple Creek, Keeghan Nolan, Jessica Prouty Band, and the Nobby Reed Project. "One-price" admission was still just $8.
      The eighth annual Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival featured three days with Acoustic Blue, Banjo Dan & The Midnight Plow Boys, Big Spike Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel Project, Cherryholmes, Fairview Avenue, Mad Mountain Scramblers, The Spinney Brothers, and Steel Rail Bluegrass plus country music with Keeghan Nolan, Phill N the Blanks, Starline Rhythm Boys, Jimmy T & the Sleepy Hollow Boys, and Jamie Lee Thurston, plus a craft fair, music workshops, a bonfire, barbeque, and jamming, all on a family farm in Alburg.
      The popular Scholarship Pageant opened the Vermont Dairy Festival which followed up with almost unlimited entertainment and family activities with a weekend lineup that included Blackbird, Big Spike Bluegrass, Chasing 440, Cowboys Paris, Fire in the Kitchen Cloggers, Gold Rush, Green Mountain Cloggers, storyteller Steven Richard Lindholm, Marko The Magician, Movin' On, the Nobby Reed Project, Todd Wellington, the King of Silly, and the 35-piece Enosburgh Town Band. The Northeast Fiddlers Association promoted old-time fiddling.
      The 44th annual Vermont Maple Festival was the first major outdoor event of the year; it offered Big Bands, country bands, magicians, instrumentalists, classic ensembles, rock bands, storytellers, choruses, dancers, puppeteers, and more. The free Main Street stage presented the Citizens Concert Band, Electric Youth Dance Company, Fiddleheads with Ann Whiting, Foothills Fogies, Franklin County's own Keeghan Nolan, the Joe Levesque Big Band, Marko the Magician, Redhouse, St. Albans City School Senior Band, storyteller and family musician Bill Shontz, and the Youth Talent Show winners. BFA filled to overflowing with the Youth Talent Show, the premiere Fiddler's Variety Show, and the annual Crafts and Specialty Foods Show with artwork and fine photographs, glittery bling, classy clothing, wooden things, and fine Vermont specialty foods.

      The Artist In Residence Gallery in Enosburg Falls featured dozens of northern Vermont fine artists with a focus on four different artists each month.
      The 30th celebration Cardiac Capers -- A Collage of Capers -- was written, produced, directed, and performed entirely by local talent. The biennial hospital auxiliary fund-raising variety show offered singing, dancing, and other performances by docs, medical staff, community volunteers, and a special performance by Tessie Bushey.
      The Champlain Valley Fair emphasized Vermont music talent with top local performers daily. Those free concerts included Keeghan Nolan of Fairfield backed up by guitarist Andre Maquera and vocalist Wendy Maquera.
      Events for Tom is a statewide presenter with more than a dozen major events each year. The Sixth Annual Young Tradition concerts headlined the 15th annual Vermont Irish Heritage Festival and continued with events around the state including Franklin County.
      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls hosted a collaboration with Artists in Residence and presented the Green Mountain Chorus and Chicken BBQ; John Cassel's Green Mountain Lucky; Heather McKowan's Highbrow to Hoedown; Hello Dolly; Carol Ann Jones and the Superchargers; Mellow Yellow; and Karen McFeeters; plus the 3rd annual Craft Show, a Community Night at the Opera House, and the 18th annual Talent Search. The Opera House hosted the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union annual District Art Gala and houses a permanent art exhibit.
      Rotary Home and Recreation Expo continued a program of art for the home. The Rotary Club of St. Albans exhibited a new Fred Swan poster, a summer piece, Wagon Wheel, plus works by Harald Aksdal, Corliss Blakely, Barbara Parfume, and Sean Dye's popular downtown St. Albans prints.
      Summer Music at Grace opened the season before Memorial Day with the eighth annual Farewell Reunion concert (in conjunction with Events for Tom). They continued with Aurora Ancient Music, Melissa Ewell and Gianna Izzo Messier -- Shamrocks and Thistles, Full Circle, and finished up with Tom Akstens and Neil Rossi -- A Journey into American Roots Music.
      Vermont Youth Orchestra appeared on NPR's program From the Top live from the Flynn, held concerts around the state and at the Elley Long, a Fall Concert at Saint Mary's Church, and brought Orchestrapalooza to the Flynn Mainstage. The annual concert extravaganza highlights four VYOA orchestras and culminates in a side-by-side finale with over 140 musicians. The VYOA always has several Franklin County performers in the various groups.


      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).
      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.