ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 19 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 31, 2015


      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.

     Franklin County's arts and music gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. There are also booked and acoustic Open Mic Nights that feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.

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      2015 was all-in-all a busy year in the arts. We've had so many events every month that it has taken two weeks to summarize them. First, the look at what's happening now.


ENOSBURG FALLS--The Artist In Residence Gallery has closed.
      The A.I.R. Gallery has featured different artists with meet-the-artists reception and refreshments each month. New artworks are, of course, still available from the individual artists. Next month, we will have news about what could come next.
      Owned and operated by the artists and sponsors for nearly ten years, the art cooperative featured paintings, fiber arts, stained glass, sculpture, lamps, pottery, folk art boxes, scarves, hats and more by 45 Franklin County and surrounding area artists. Click here for more info.


ST. ALBANS--The Knights of Columbus early New Year's Eve Dinner & Dance begins this evening at 5 p.m. and wraps up at 9 p.m. as "An early evening for those who want to enjoy a midnight celebration."
      The evening includes cocktails, dinner created by Dee's Catering, and dancing to The Ringtunes.
      Tickets are $35 per person with reservations suggested.

ST. ALBANS--The Twiggs New Years Eve begins at 8 p.m. with Coon Hill John. They're aiming for an early-ish evening but if plenty of people stay to party, they won't close.
      Call 802.524.1405 or click here for more info.

ESSEX JUNCTION--The Backstage Rockin' New Years Eve party gets Justice starting at 9 p.m.
      Limited tickets are available at $20 per person. There will be hors d'oeuvres, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight.
      Call 802.878.5494 for more info.

Saturday ENOSBURG--The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents Silver & Gold on Saturday at 7 p.m.
      The annual Cabaret-style event is a night of song and spirits with Music Across the Decades to celebrate a new year and the end of the 2015 season.
      Admission is $14 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and includes hors d'oeuvres. Tickets are available online and at the door. Call 802.933.6171, email or click here for tickets and info.


BURLINGTON--First Night Burlington celebrates its 33rd year of the citywide, substance-free party of nearly 100 stage shows, musical acts, and arts activities in 18 venues to kick off the new year. Downtown today from noon on.
      A huge number of performers are either from Franklin County or are local favorites including Michele Choiniere, the Constitution Brass Quintet, Cooie Sings, Counterpoint, Deja-Nous, Electric Youth Dance Company, Jon Gailmor, Jenni Johnson & the Jazz Junketeers, the Will Patton Ensemble, Prydein, Rick Norcross, the Starline Rhythm Boys, and the Young Tradition Vermont Instrument Petting Zoo.
      The Electric Youth Dance Company takes over the Edmunds School Gym at 2 p.m.
      Michele Choiniere plays the Unitarian Universalist Church, top of Church Street, with Will, Dono, David, and Nic at 5 p.m. The Will Patton Quartet continues at 6 p.m.
      Jon Gailmor will get the College Street Congregational Church dirty at 4 and 7 p.m.
      Prydein brings its bagpipe rock to Contois Auditorium at 10:30 p.m.
      The Young Tradition Vermont Instrument Petting Zoo collection of instruments will be on hand at the Fletcher Library so anyone can play them.
      Some events are free; buttons available at 65 button outlets including Hannaford, Price Chopper, and Vermont Federal Credit Union in St. Albans. (Buy your buttons early; Adult Buttons jump to $20 today. Of course, they are far more expensive on December 32.) Most Flynn MainStage require $5 tickets in addition to the button. Click here for a complete schedule.
      Let's be careful out there.

ST. JOHNSBURY--First Night St. Johnsbury celebrates 23 years of music with 56 different shows by over 200 artists in 111 performances at 20 venues all taking place in just eight hours today. First Night St. J starts at 4 p.m. and continues right through midnight.
      A number of performers here are from Franklin County or are local favorites, too, including Summer Sounds performers Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing, Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band, and the Nobby Reed Project, plus the Fyre and Lightning Consort, Marko the Magician, the Starline Rhythm Boys
      The First Night St. J shuttle bus will run counterclockwise and will service every venue.


     Franklin County artists and presenters had a busy 2015. This week, we wrap up with what All Arts Council and the Other Major Presenters did and a quick summary of arts funding on the national stage.

      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, offered free concerts on summer Sunday evenings. 2015 marked the 25th season of the popular free concert series so we brought back groups that had played with us in the first decade. The season began at Bay Day with Mango Jam playing right into the Bay Day fireworks. Anderson Gram, Lisa Brande and Easy Street on the Bayou, the Constitution Brass Quintet, Dr. Jazz and the Dixie Six, Mark LeGrand and the Lovesick Band with Sarah Munro, and NoCoLocal who appeared for a final show as Branded (they will play future shows as incaHOOTS).
      The Grand Finale was our 25th Anniversary Summer Sounds benefit concert that brought the community together during Childhood Cancer awareness month to support Camp Ta-Kum-Ta's year-round programs and to help Highgate build its first real bandshell. We had continuous music on two stages on the Franklin County Field Days grounds. The featured acts include Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers, Jon Gailmor, incaHOOTs, the Sky Blue Boys, the Summer Sounds singers, and more.
      The concerts in this 25th season have been sponsored by the supporting Towns and the All Arts Council. The Summer Sounds Benefit Music Festival had support from TimKath Productions, NMC, McKenzie, Green Mountain Coffee, the UPS Store in St. Albans, and Harper Company. The series was underwritten by Chevalier Drilling Co. Inc, Desorcie's Market, Drummac Septic Service, O. C. McCuin & Sons, and Ray's Extrusion Dies 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.
      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 about Almost Live on Channel 15.

      Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge held Art on the Refuge, the annual Friends of the Refuge exhibit of Vermont artists working in oil, acrylics, watercolor, pen and ink, pastels, photographs and fabric of the over 200 species birds that live on or stop at the Refuge.
      The Northwestern Medical Center Gallery hosted a monthly solo show of the work of area artists.
      The Village Frame Shoppe in St. Albans featured artists from across Vermont and New England. They hosted the Vermont Peace Corps Art Show, the Vermont Maple theme Maple Festival photo showcase, as well as promotions and shows for individual artists.

      The BFA Performing Arts Center hosted the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Maple Festival concerts, the Fall musical, a one act play, and the Junior Jamboree, a cabaret, the Citizens Concert Band Christmas Concert, as well as many student performances and concerts.
      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls had a busy year with concerts with Prydein in their first appearance at the House and The Mountain Says No with Black Rabbit, and Rock Camp with the concert Rock Out the House, the theatrical productions of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along, The Nerd, and A Seussified Christmas Carol. In their spare time, they held the Enosburg Town Band and Town Chorus Community Christmas Concert, the Dairy Pageant, a Fall Fling, the annual Fundraiser Gala, the first major Craft Fair of the season, a Contra Dance, plus Summer Theater Camp, and a Community Night at the Opera House.
      Summer Evenings with Vermont Treasures, the Meeting House on the Green music series, gave us six months of exceptional performers: starting with Will Patton and Carol Ann Jones, and including Paul Asbell, Michael Hurley, Mary McGinniss and The Selkies, Rush Run Philharmonic, the Sky Blue Boys, and Woods Tea Company. Proceeds from the series help in the next restoration phase of the building.
      Summer Music at Grace opened the season before Memorial Day with "the umpteenth annual" Farewell Reunion benefit concert. They continued with Chasing 440, Anima, Frevo, and the Missisquoi River Band.
      Twiggs offered more music and art than any other Franklin County presenter. They have three stages with live piano, violin, or light guitar in the dining room, the Window, or the main stage.

      Congress pushed through several arts initiatives in 2015. The new federal K-12 education law, the National Endowment for the Arts, to federal charitable tax provisions, and more.
      The "Every Student Succeeds Act" will leave children behind in many, many ways but its "Assistance for Arts Education" program authorizes a distinct arts education grant program. Funding for the current program also increased by $2 million in the year-end appropriations agreement.
      The $1 billion "21st Century Community Learning Centers" program continues. That supports afterschool, out-of-school, and expanded learning time in schools, programming time in which arts organizations can partner with schools to support student learning in the arts.
      ESSA also integrates the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).
      The "Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act" in most respects did anything but its title (that's another name for H.R.2029, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016), but it did make three incentives for charitable giving permanent. The IRA Charitable Rollover allows donors to give to charities like your favorite arts council up to $100,000 tax-free annually from their IRAs. There are enhanced deductions for gifts of excess food inventories and conservation easements.
      Finally, aviation rules changes now enable passengers to stow musical instruments in carry-on luggage. The Department of Transportation estimated that 127,000 professional musicians benefit from the rule, along with some of the more than 5.8 million school-age children who perform.


     Two organizations are worth considering as part of seasonal and end-of-year giving.

COUNTY WIDE ARTS--All Arts fell quite short of our goal with the 25th Anniversary Summer Sounds benefit concert (we think it was because it was too cold for the dunking booth) but it is still possible to support Camp Ta-Kum-Ta's year-round programs and to help Highgate build its first real bandshell.
      You can help by visiting Click on the "Summer Sounds Donation" button.

TRADITIONS--Young Tradition-Vermont is a statewide presenter with more than a dozen major events each year including several Events for Tom. The organization has added an Executive Director position, expanded its public school partnerships to include residencies, performances, workshops and fiddle clubs, and committed to a long list of projects and programming.
      You can support our next generation of traditional musicians by visiting Click the "Donate" button.


CITIZENS BAND--Edric Loomis founded the Citizens Concert Band in 1949 to continue the "concerts under the stars," a Town Band tradition in St. Albans that began in the 1880s. His son, Kevin Loomis, took over the baton in 2003.
      On November 28, 2004, Kevin conducted his first the Citizens Concert Band Christmas Concert as director, joined by Linda Smith and The Community Singers at a packed house at the First Congregational Church.
      On November 29, 2015, Kevin conducted his final concert as the Citizens Concert Band director. He plans to induct two new directors for next season.

ALL ARTS--I'm not (quite) ready to pass the microphone yet, but we are looking for project-oriented people to support the arts and for a fresh face for my job.
      Out on stage, we introduced a number of new performers to the professional footlights this year and expect to do that even more with Summer Sounds, with the Franklin County Festivals, and at other venues around the county. Email the All Arts Council for more 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 © 2015 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.