ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 25 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 30, 2021-January 5, 2022


      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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      We all expected '21 to be better than '20.
      Many refused vaccination and the virus got stronger. We shed our masks and infection rates soared. We traveled and gathered in groups and our friends sickened. 460 Vermonters have died as of Christmas Day.


ST. ALBANS--The City of Saint Albans is "going out with a bang on the last night of 2021" with Fireworks in Taylor Park on Friday evening at about 7 p.m. winds permitting. St Albans' Last Night Celebrations also include the Traveling Storyteller, a "pre-party" with Eleven, and Nighthawk playing into the new year.


     10,000 rapid LAMP tests and 60,000 at-home rapid antigen test kits have been distributed through community organizations and the sixteen state testing sites since last Thursday. Each at-home test kit contains two tests. The public testing site at 27 Fisher Pond will be available today, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
      Vermont's pandemic-strained hospitals and schools are braced for another surge driven by holiday gatherings and the extreme transmissibility of the Omicron variant. With the New Year here, Vermont health officials expect the state to see as many as 600 to 1,000 new daily cases, up from a current average of about 450 per day. They don't expect the virus to recede for at least several more weeks. About 14% of Vermonters age 5 and over--roughly 85,000 people--have received no vaccine at all and only 55%--some 236,000--have been fully vaccinated and boosted to date. Unvaccinated people accounted for 72% of hospitalizations and 77% of intensive care unit patients. Data collected over the past six weeks shows that unvaccinated people were 30 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 34 times more likely to die than people who had been vaccinated and boosted.
      Vermont reported 2,926 new COVID-19 cases last week. Franklin County reported 564 cases in the 14 days ending last Thursday.
      Here's my own advice for dealing with COVID-19. Whether you have contracted and recovered from this coronavirus or haven't yet received a booster or both, immunity has waned for many of us. That lowered resistance leads to infections and increased transmission of the virus. Get the COVID and Flu shot(s), get the booster, and take precautions. No vaccine is 100% foolproof. Wash your hands. Wear a mask where you can't control the airflow around you until we reach the same herd immunity we have for smallpox and once had but lost for measles. Bonus: it will also help protect you from pollen, summer colds, and the winter flu.
      Vaccination clinics for booster shots and for the first or second dose of vaccine are open across Vermont for anyone age 12 or older. Call 855.722.7878 or Click here to make an appointment or for more info. You can also walk-in at Costco, CVS, Hannaford, Price Chopper/Market 32, Rite Aid, Shaw's, Walgreens, or Walmart, or get an appointment with CVS, Kinney Drugs, Walgreens, or UVMMC Outpatient Pharmacies.


JEFFERSONVILLE--Bryan Memorial Gallery concludes Let's Find Out, the online series that explores the 17 artists on display in their 2021 Legacy Collection. Artist Barbara Lussier is featured this week. This will be the last week for the segment since the Legacy 2021 collection will be taken down for the upcoming Legacy 2022 exhibit. Call the gallery (802.644.5100) or find them on Facebook for more info.


SWANTON--First meeting of the new year: the Swanton Arts Council will hold a Board Meeting and Updates in person at the Swanton Free Public Library on Monday at 6 p.m.
      Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month. Find the SAC on Facebook for the agenda and more info.


     Here's my own advice for dealing with COVID-19. Whether you have contracted and recovered from this coronavirus or haven't yet received a booster or both, immunity has waned for many of us. That lowered resistance leads to infections and increased transmission of the virus. Get the COVID and Flu shot(s), get the booster, and take precautions. No vaccine is 100% foolproof. Wash your hands. Wear a mask where you can't control the airflow around you until we reach the same herd immunity we have for smallpox and once had but lost for measles. Bonus: it will also help protect you from pollen, summer colds, and the winter flu.

Thursday, December 30
SOUTH HERO--The Blue Paddle Bistro hosts singer-songwriter the Shane Murley Duet this evening at 5:30 p.m. to kick-off the NYE festivities. S'mores party outside, weather-permitting No Cover but limited seating on first floor. Call (802.372.4814) for a reservation; be sure to request "downstairs for Shane."
      The Paddle will be encouraging take-out and delivery beginning Sunday.

New Year's Eve, Friday, December 31
BURLINGTON--Highlight offers hundreds of Vermont-grown performers for three types of events: in-person outdoors in downtown Burlington, streaming online, and hybrid which combines virtual with in-person action, all on Friday from 11 a.m. - midnight. The day will include live concerts, a bonfire, dancing with a big band, immersive digital art, livestreaming the circus, and fireworks at the waterfront. Click here for tickets and more info.

ST. ALBANS--14th Star presents Eleven for an early night of live music in The Room on Friday starting at 6:30 p.m. "Come get your pre-game on for the big night with us at 14th Star. There will be beer and mixed drinks available. There is no cover charge, but donations are welcome and all proceeds will be donated to a local charity. Let's Rock It Right and kick 2021 to the curb."
      Find them on Facebook for more info.

ST. ALBANS--Rock New Year's Eve at the Depot with Cozy O'Donnell on Friday night at 9 p.m. to ring in the New Year. Admission is $10. Tickets are available at the Depot.

Friday-Saturday, December 31-January 1
ESSEX JUNCTION--On Tap celebrates New Year's Eve with Sticks and Stones on Friday night at midnight, plus the Fabulous Wrecks live on Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. Call 802.878.3309 or email for more info. Click here to reserve a table.


     Virtual music and events continue this week.

      Summer Sounds favorite John Bartus' Perpetual Island Tour played Boondocks, and the Key Colony Inn twice. He's at Sparky's Landing tonight and will start New Year's Eve at the Courtyard Marriott Marathon on Friday evening at 9 p.m. Find him on Facebook for the first watch party of the new year.

      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls Virtual Holiday Spectacular featuring Wesley Kempton, Uncle John's Band, Rusty Bucket, the Stragglers, Troy Millette, and Andre Villeneuve is on YouTube .

      Summer Sounds favorite Mark Shelton sang Memories in Music on Facebook on Tuesday. Follow him on Facebook for a link to this week's offerings.


The Vermont Humanities Council presents several First Wednesdays programs on the Vermont Humanities Digital Channels on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
      Natalie Neuert, director of UVM's Lane Series, discusses From German Expressionism to Film Noir: How the Extraordinary Weimar Directors Forever Changed Hollywood from the Brownell Library. Click here for more info.
      Artist Carol Berry describes From Rembrandt to Vincent Van Gogh and Beyond from the Ilsley Public Library. Click here for more info.
      Scholar Barry Deitz looks at Sherlock Holmes: The Game's Afoot from the Norwich Public Library. Click here for more info.
      The VHC's First Wednesdays talks will be offered online at VHC Digital, on Facebook or on their YouTube channel. Advance registration is required for these events; registration is free. about the Digital First Wednesdays programs.


ST. ALBANS--The Eloquent Page hosts a special Last Night Story Hour with the Traveling Storyteller, Ernie Hemingway, on Friday at 11 a.m.

      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at library events in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site at We also take an occasional peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. Those reviews can be found on the ArtBits Bookshelf.


      The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines received emergency use authorization and NMC delivered the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine just over a year ago on December 16, 2020, along with the first vaccinations administered in Franklin County. Emergency Department Dr. Marc Kutler was among the first to be vaccinated. "I feel blessed," he said at the time. "I feel very fortunate about getting the vaccine. I've been waiting for this day to come. It's the beginning of turning things around."
      Twiggs and other restaurants are offering some live music while other artists and venues are doing more online. The Vermont Humanities Council has ongoing arts and literary digital events and programs including First Wednesdays and Vermont Reads. Although the activities may take place at a distance from Franklin County, they are available safely and locally online.
      The year that was. The coronavirus was the biggest news in the state and in this column. 2020 changed the face of arts and entertainment and 2021 embedded many of the changes. There was good news. We Zoomed. We spaced. We masked. We continued with many of the regular online concerts from Summer Sounds favorites John Bartus, Mark Shelton, and others. Artistic workshops picked up with a mix of live and virtual events. Hundreds of live exhibits and performances returned to our venues.
      Franklin County artists and presenters managed under the "new normal." We'll start with the Arts Councils, check in on the Franklin County Festivals and Libraries, then wrap up with the Other Major Presenters. And some of the most active arts impresarios retired this year, including Mark Sustic and yours truly.

      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 30 years of free concerts at home in Highgate on summer Sunday evenings, sponsored by the Town of Highgate and the All Arts Council. Mark Shelton, the Davis Boys, Andy Hoadley standing in for John Bartus, the Oleo Romeos, and Anderson Gram took over the new stage on the Highgate Arena lawn. We ended the season with a Summer Sounds Blowout Bash featuring Jon Gailmor, Carol Ann Jones, and Mark Shelton with sound by Dave Stetson at Tim-Kath. Mr. Bartus was on the boarding ramp in Florida when his flight was cancelled.
      The Summer Sounds Bash was my final event as a concert producer. In 30 years of concerts we have produced free, live shows on Summer Sundays in most Franklin County Towns; that tradition continues with the regular schedule of Meeting House on the Green Concerts in East Fairfield, Concerts on the Green in Georgia, music in St. Albans Town at the Farmers Market and more, and the St. Albans City Summer Concert Series in the E.A. Loomis Bandshell. I ceremonially "passed my hat" and the baton to Highgate Rec Director Lee Barrett to carry on the series in Highgate for the next 30 years.
      The community based All Arts Council brings the performing and visual arts to northwestern Vermont.

      Island Arts had a busy summer including the inauguration of the Sylvia Barry Art Contest for Youth. Their summer concerts on North Hero included 8 Cuerdas, pianist Jorge Garcia Herranz, A Capella Lollapalooza, Chordination, a Green Mountain Chorus high voltage quartet, the Citizens Concert Band, the Dixie Six, and the musicals As You Like It and Oliver, Jr. They held a silent auction and book sale, workshops including guitar and singing lessons with the 8 Cuerdas principals, and the Wings of a Bird / Words of a Poet Zoom class, a 1910 Wizard of Oz drive-in movie, and Tai Chi every Wednesday.

      The Morrisville community art center, presenter, and gallery sought has ways to keep making art safely. River Arts at Home, Music and Movement, the Clay Studio Chat and other classes continued online as needed. In person events including Wednesday Night Live at Oxbow Park plus the Tapestry, Musical Sculptures, and Slurry workshops continued carefully. Click here to explore these art experiences for the community.

      St. Albans Community Arts is a City presenter and promoter of arts events in St. Albans. Their Art Walk returned. They held Make Music Day, Downtown Art and Sidewalk Sales, and the Festival of Trees. The 4th annual Mayor's Photo Competition displayed "Buildings and Barns" images in Taylor Park and online.

      Swanton Arts Council works to build an artistic presence and develop the artistic community in Swanton. This year, they created a community-generated Zine, held an Art Smash, compiled original poetry, held an Art Social and a Holiday Craft Show in person. They painted barn quilts, t-shirts, and even built concrete planters and more online. The Emerging Artist Award did select one local senior. And they continue to work at a safe social distance.

      The 54th Vermont Maple Festival had a reduced schedule (the 2022 Maple Festival is planned for April 22-24, 2022). We also lost the 64th Vermont Dairy Festival.
      The 45th annual Franklin County Field Days restarted with a lineup of the best music, arts and crafts (and weeds, of course) that Franklin County has to offer with woodworking, knitting, chair weaving, felting, and more. Jamie Lee Thurston, the Old Man Garage Band, Rebecca Padulla, the B&B Music Factory, Keeghan Nolan, Interstate Express, Friction, Darcy Cahill, and the George Richard/Johnny Cash Tribute Show all lit up the stage.

      The generous appropriations for our Town Libraries do not cover all expenses. A donation will help your community library continue offering not only popular reading but also a wide range of the arts. Visit your library virtually or stop by to pick up a donation form or just hand them moolah. click here for more info.
      The Vermont Humanities Council chose Canadian writer Sarah Henstra's We Contain Multitudes as the Vermont Reads title this year. The novel in letters tells the paired stories of two very different teenage boys to mark the nineteenth year of the statewide, one-book community reading program accomplished "at home." (VHC extended last year's Vermont Reads 2020: The Hate U Give until June 2021.)
      Franklin County libraries also struggled with all their public activities. Collectively, the libraries hold and have lent tens of thousands of physical and electronic books this year. There's some good news. Patrons were able to check out books and movies all year, thanks to phone and email requests for materials. The libraries also have a wide selection of electronic books and audiobooks available online. click here for more info about all the libraries.
      Josh Ellerbrock started a Weekly Writer's Club "after meeting so many creative people here in Vermont."

      The Artist In Residence Gallery in St. Albans featured dozens of northern Vermont fine artists with a virtual focus on up to four different artists each month. The art cooperative features paintings, fiber arts, stained glass, sculpture, lamps, pottery, folk art boxes, scarves, hats, and more, and is owned and operated by the artists and sponsors. They have carefully reopened but many activities including the popular monthly featured artist socials have gone online.
      The Milton Artists Guild online shop complemented the "bricks and mortar" gallery and began socially distanced artist pop-ups. They hosted online classes, seminars, and workshops.
      The Montgomery Center for the Arts held regular yoga and t'ai chi chih. Their shows included virtually Live from the MCA and the MES Art Show, the Front Porch "Art" Forum, pop up art shows, current works by Drew LaLonde, and the Cultural Heritage of the Abenaki. They offered workshops in art and henna design, pottery making and pit firing, plein air painting, and figure drawing. They showcases the VIPs online, Pandora and Her Filthy Box, and a Concert with Emma Back and Lyn Rye
      The Northwestern Medical Center Gallery implemented COVID precautions and put all exhibits on hold.
      The Saint Albans Museum held a SAM Open House to celebrate 50 years in operation. They offered the Suffragist Reenactment Society as a community event. Their online programming included An Evening of Bird Tales, the Clueless Virtual Murder Mystery Fundraiser, Bearing Witness and the Endurance of Voice, and A History of Beekeeping on Zoom. A series of "pop-up" museum exhibitions were outdoor and socially-distanced. SAM is "hanging by a thread." The reduction in programming and visibility driven by the pandemic means the museum needs your help.

      Celebration of Expressive Arts published a playlist of musicians featured over the past 10 years. They operated through the summer at The Inn. Matt Crowley and Katlin Parenteau; "Doodle Chick" Mimi Magyar and Joel "Veena" Eisenkramer; Jane A. Peters and Cooie DeFrancesco; Roxanne Brault and PoJazz; and Kenny Greco; all performed. They also had two dinner concerts with Myra Flynn.
      The Church Street Sounds of the Season concert series resumed with Music-COMP featuring the young composers of Franklin County; an Organ Recital on the Hook & Hosting organ; and From the Parlour to the Polls with Linda Radtke and David Gibson.
      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls canceled the entire 2021 performance schedule but hosted a virtual concert this month.
      The popular Jig in the Valley returned for the 29th year. Eight hours of music included the Dale and Darcy Band, Christine Malcolm and the Beautiful People, Missisquoi River Band, the Oleo Romeos' Big-Ass Variety Show, and the Nobby Reed Project plus Joe Moore, George Lewis, Al Zanzler, and Phil Rolleston, all to support the Fairfield Community Center programs
      The Meeting House on the Green Music Series had a full schedule of 10 live, socially distanced, outdoor concerts with the Beg, Steal or Borrow; Rusty Bucket; Jenni Johnson and the Jazz Junketeers; the VT Bluegrass Pioneers; Bob and Sarah Amos; Annie & the Hedonists; the Will Patton Ensemble; and the Oleo Romeos. Proceeds from the series help fund the restoration of the building.
      Summer Music at Grace canceled their concert season.
      Most Young Tradition-Vermont events have gone online or been postponed when they couldn't be done live and in-person or the artists and youth couldn't travel into or out of state.
      Mark Sustic worked more than 20 years in early childhood education in Franklin County but he has been an organizer, founder, director, and jack-of-all trades in roots music for far longer. From Yankee Chank to the Champlain Valley Folk Festival to Young Tradition-Vermont and the Fiddleheads, he has kept a steady hand on traditional music and has created a path for thousands of young musicians.
      He turned over the reins of Young Tradition-Vermont to the next generation this year.
      The Enosburg Town Band resumed live Summer Concerts on the Lincoln Park Bandstand on Tuesday nights. The Citizens Concert Band played an abbreviated schedule including two shows in Taylor Park, one on the Town Green in Bakersfield, and one at the Homer Knight Barn in North Hero.
      Restaurants and bars in Franklin County returned to live music schedules. We enjoyed several Abbey Music Series, Friday Night Live Music and Buffet at Arrowhead Golf Course, the Blue Paddle Bistro and Paddle on the Bay, Country Boy Classics in Enosburg Falls, music in The Room at 14th Star, music in the Biergarten at Mill River Brewing, a variety of shows at Nelly's and the new Depot next door, North Hero House evenings, foot stomping at Shooters Saloon, the Snow Farm Summer Concert Series, and pop-up performances at Twiggs and the Clothier next door.
      There were several other pop-up shows but most happened too quickly to catch our deadline. Check with your favorite places every day or so to find out if anything is going on.


     May 2022 be filled with friends and family and joy and the arts. And, as Duke Ellington reminded us last year, "I've found the best way to keep a band together is to pay them."

Good News!

There are so many events around the region that we miss some of them.
Be sure to check these calendars for what's happening near you ...
All Arts Council of Franklin County
Cambridge Arts Council
Franklin County Regional
Chamber of Commerce
Island Arts
St Albans Community Arts
Swanton Arts Council
Young Tradition Vermont


Links to the Summer Music series in Franklin County
Summer Sounds
Summer Music at Grace
Downtown Summer Concert Series
Music at the Meeting House
Citizens Band
Wednesday Night Live
Enosburg Town Band


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All Arts Council of Franklin County

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