ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 14 * * All Arts News On the Web * * September 8, 2011


      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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      This is not a remembrance of five kids from New York with a rock and roll band but it started there for a sometimes-gruff man who loved music.
      Brooke Ostrander, music teacher, band director, and theater manager at Missisquoi Valley Union High School until he retired in 2007, passed away on Saturday after battling cancer.
      "He dedicated his life to the kids," Harold Mitchell said. "He loved his music but it was all about giving the music to the kids." Mr. Mitchell, who will deliver the eulogy, and Mr. O brought some of the best musicals in the state to the stage at MVU.
      He brought a background of fun and knowledge and professional skill -- after all, 41 years ago, he and an unknown bass player named Gene Klein recruited three other kids with guitars and drums and built a band called Wicked Lester which went on to fame under another name -- but he left the rock world to rock the world of thousands of kids, mine among them. Mr. Klein and rhythm guitarist Stanley Eisen changed their names (to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley) but Mr. O never changed his. He taught in New Jersey, developed a band program in Montana, and then came to MVU. He spent his life with the kids. And the music.
      The Original Wicked Lester Sessions album has Mr. O's keyboard riffs. Although never released, there are undoubtedly bootleg cuts online.
      I had a chance to work with him at MVU. One of our biggest projects was to fit the state's largest symphony, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, on the stage there. He made it happen and made the kids know how great they were. It was grand.


ENOSBURG--The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents the Woods Tea Company tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m.
      The world-renowned Vermont acoustic trio celebrates 30 years of performing with just three musicians. They give a lusty performance of Celtic tunes, sea shanties, French-Canadian and American folk and novelty songs, blended with stories and funnies. Their nationwide tours have taken them to all the lower 48 states with stops at Lincoln Center (Nebraska, once) and Lincoln Center (New York, twice), Summer Sounds, as well as PBS and National Public Radio.
      Howard Wooden of St Albans, Tom MacKenzie, and Patti Casey make the music now. After 27 years with the band, Mike Lussen retired in June; he's fine and will show up at some shows to make them again the "world's largest trio."
      Admission is $10. Tickets are available in advance at Merchants Bank, Enosburg Pharmacy, and Precious Things Jewelry in Enosburg Falls and at Better Planet Bookstore and Franklin County Chamber of Commerce in St. Albans. Tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the performance.

SHELDON--Full Circle returns to Summer Music at Grace with recorders, voices, hammered dulcimer, harp, guitar, whistles, and percussion in a program of Music Through the Ages, a mixed bag of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and traditional music, all tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m.
      The group of five friends make music together a professional quintet that specializes in medieval and Renaissance music as well as baroque, folk, Celtic, Appalachian, and 20th Century songs. The members of Full Circle are Maeve Kim, Beth London, Susan Reit, Linda Rodd and Mary Ann Samuels. Full Circle has appeared at First Night Burlington, the Lane Series, Summer Music at Grace and more.
      Grace Church is located at 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon. The suggested donation of $10 benefits the performers. Call 802.658.0832 for more info about the performers. Call 802.326.4603 or click here for the music at Grace Church.

ST. ALBANS--JW Ryan's will host a musical memorial gathering for Brooke Ostrander tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. There will be a set up for bands, so it's an opening and a jam session.

MONTGOMERY CENTER--The Montgomery Historical Society Concerts By The Common series presents Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys in Pratt Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m.
      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. Click here for more info.

GREENSBORO--The Greensboro United Church of Christ at the southern tip of Caspian Lake hosts the Karen McFeeters Benefit Concert on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
      "In my work as a medical speech-language pathologist, I provide voice therapy to individuals with Parkinson's Disease," Ms. McFeeters said. All the proceeds from this concert will go toward Parkinson's research.
      The St. Albans native began her folk career at the Burlington Songwriter's Showcase. She has performed in Summer Sounds, First Night--Burlington, the Mad River Valley Festival of the Arts, the St. Albans Concert in the Park Series, and the Independence Day Celebration on the State House lawn in Montpelier.
      The suggested donation is $10.

ESSEX JUNCTION--Phish will play a special benefit concert at Champlain Valley Expo on Wednesday evening. Proceeds will benefit flood recovery in Vermont through the WaterWheel Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation.
      Admission is $75 and will include a free download of a recording of the entire concert. $250 premium tickets will include preferred parking, reserved box seating, and the Vermont craft beer tent.
      A block of tickets has been reserved for Vermonters. Those tickets will be sold in-person and cash only. The box office location will be announced tomorrow at


     The 21st season of Summer Sounds came to an end with the first ever celebration of Bay Day on Labor Day. The Champlain Valley Fair may have closed down early but we had sunshine and fireworks. The good news is that the thermometer is already back in the 70s at least through Columbus Day. Summer continues at least for a little while.
      The popular series enters its 22nd season in the 2012 election year. The All Arts Council will need your help to host Summer Sounds concerts in several Franklin County towns. I am taking suggestions for the performer list right now. You can help us arrange an appropriation in your Town to host concerts in your own local parks. And we need a major sponsor to help underwrite and advertise the series. Email the All Arts Council to volunteer or for more info.
      The 2011 Summer Sounds free concert series drowned one night, dodged rain drops one night and used the rain site as well. Vermont's favorite singer, songwriter, teacher, performer, and optimist Jon Gailmor sang in the dirt. Citizens Concert Band gave us an evening of program of patriotic and summery pieces with vocalist Claire Hungerford as a special treat. Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys spun the tall tales of their Vermont bluegrass.
      We took the weekend of July 31 off. The Big Music Weeks of Summer had four other summer series concerts, four festivals, a musical, and more.
      The Summer Sounds Surprise was the Texas blues of Greg Izor and the Box Kickers. Dark Horse was all set to make a triumphant return to Highgate but as much as an inch of rain came to the park in less than 40 minutes. We tried for an alternate date but Irene shut us down again. The Constitution Brass played a lighthearted 'Summer in the Park' brass band program. The season wrapped with Carol Ann Jones and the Superchargers playing into the Fireworks at Bay Day.
      The free concerts in this series have been sponsored by the supporting Towns and the All Arts Council, and underwritten by Chevalier Drilling, Drummac Septic Service, O. C. McCuin and Sons, and Ray's Extrusion Dies and Tubing.
      The community based All Arts Council brings the performing and visual arts to northwestern Vermont. The Summer Sounds concerts are always on Sunday evenings, always at 7 p.m., always in a Town Park, always in the summer, and always free.


     The ARTproject is a virtual gallery for art created in response to the events and aftermath of 9/11/01.


      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 © 2011 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.