ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 26 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 13, 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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SWANTON--The Swanton Arts Council wants to PAY artists, crafters, musicians, performers, and more to host a free event. They need an application explaining the event. Once approved, "offer the artistic opportunity, enrich the lives of the community, and have fun." Find them on Facebook for more info


      Despite the good news I report about the arts and entertainment every week, the pandemic has hit the creative community particularly hard. Our writers, painters, musicians, fabric artists, dancers, chefs, theater companies, and museums got very quiet. The Arts drive tourism, support businesses in every Town, and create vibrant communities. Franklin County has been a very different place since so much of the arts went dark.
      "We had an overwhelming response to the Say Yes! COVID Test offering," the Vermont Department of Health reported late Wednesday. "There are no more test kits available today." Click here for info about other testing opportunities.
      Vermont's COVID cases have surged past all previous records. The record for cases was broken three times two weeks ago and another four times last week. Hospitalizations tied the one-day record set December 8 but hospitalizations and ICU visits have not surged even as cases more than doubled in the last couple of weeks.
      Still, Gov. Phil Scott highlighted workforce and affordability challenges--not COVID-19--in his State of the State address last Wednesday. The state has aging demographics, a shrinking workforce, and a high cost of living but while Vermont's hospitals are indeed rationing care as COVID-19 case counts shatter records, he contends that the virus ought not distract the state from addressing these needs.
      "Five years ago, I said, `When you are in a hole, stop digging.' My friends, today I am happy to report: We are out of that hole, and we are sitting on a pile of bricks, mortar, lumber and steel," Gov. Scott said.
      "We have to learn to manage life with this virus." Vermont reported 7,245 new COVID-19 cases last week. Franklin County reported 900 cases in the 14 days ending Friday.
      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. Statewide, about 256,900 Vermonters or 59% of the eligible population has completed vaccination and gotten a booster. In Franklin County, about 54% of the people have the complete vaccine and the additional dose.
      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.


SWANTON--The Swanton Arts Council hosts a Painting Social with instructor Janet Dimick Soavi at the Swanton Public Library on Sunday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. The group will paint Winter's Red, cardinals amongst the trees painted with acrylics on locally salvaged slate. The cost is $25 per person in advance with an extra slate available for $5 each. Sign up at the library. Masks are required.


MORRISVILLE--River Arts has three in-person events beginning this week.
      Pottery instructors Jude Prashaw and "kiln god" Lisa Wolfgang hosts the in-person, January "Sip n' Slurry: Butter Dishes" as the pottery twist on a Paint n' Sip on Friday at 6 p.m. BYOB. Craft functional and sculptural vessels while learning hand building techniques. The cost is $45. Click here to enroll and for more info.
      Winter Create with Clay at the Jenna's House is a free, six-class partnership with the Recovery Center and instructor Jude Prashaw beginning Monday at 5:30 p.m. and continuing on Mondays through February 21. All completed work will be fired off-site at River Arts. Click here to enroll and for more info.
      Inspired by Nature: Intro to Drawing is a six-class workshop at River Arts with instructor Gabe Tempesta beginning Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and continuing on Wednesdays through March 2. Geared for "beginners and masters alike," the class will offer tips and techniques and hands on drawing to create paintings and drawings based on photos and observations of the natural world. The cost is $110. Click here to enroll and for more info.

MILTON--The Milton Artists' Guild will host Adult Ukelele Level 1 with Clare Innes as a four-week, online event starting Wednesday at 1 - 2 p.m.
      Find your inner musician on one of the easiest instruments to learn. This light-hearted class teaches how to hold the uke, strum it, form chords, and play songs. A limited number of ukuleles are available for rent or purchase through MAG. Ms. Innes' main band is the unconventional Americana string band and Bay Day favorite Leadfoot Louise, featuring Rebecca Padula and Dan Wyman.
      The cost is $40 for members or $45 for non-members. Click here to register and for more info.


SOUTH HERO--The Vermont Humanities Council presents historian Howard Coffin with Vermont, 1800 and Froze to Death: The Cold Year of 1816 at the Worthen Library on Wednesday at 6 p.m. 1816 was the year without summer, a year of frosts every month, dark skies, and mysterious lights that drove the belief that the gods were angry. Click here for 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, January 13, 2022
ESSEX--The Double E has postponed the Amy Helm concert scheduled for this evening.

Friday, January 14
ST. ALBANS--The Blue Rock Boys bring their "Vintage Eclectic" style to 14th Star Taproom Stage on Friday at 6 p.m. The Boys will rock the Room with old mountain string tunes to the Beatles and beyond. Find them on Facebook for more info.

SHELDON--The Abbey Live Music Series begins the Winter Season with Laura Rasco in the Pub on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Find them on Facebook for more info.

Friday-Saturday, January 14-15
ESSEX JUNCTION--On Tap starts the weekend with She Was Right (the former Hubcats) on Friday at 5 p.m., plus two shows live on Saturday night with the Duncan MacLeod Trio at 5 p.m., then Eleven playing way past their bed time for a mid-winter break at 9 p.m. Call 802.878.3309 or email for more info. And to confirm. Click here to reserve a table.

ST. ALBANS--Twiggs hosts the acoustic guitar and vocal with a touch of Vermont humor of Phil Graziano on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and then English Blues guitarist Tom Caswell with bassman Ben Weber for a night of blues on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Call 802.524.1405, find them on Facebook, or click here for more info.

Saturday, January 15
BURLINGTON--Nectar's presents the Appalachian, folk, and country sounds of Beg, Steal or Borrow on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Doors at 8.
      Meeting House on the Green Music Series favorites, Jeremy Sicely, Roland Clark, Fran Forim, Luke Auriemmo, and Geoff Goodhue have toured from Maine to Bermuda. Admission is $10. Click here for tickets and more info.


     Virtual music and events continue this week.

      8084's first release featured the songs Deadline and Breakaway; big hair with Randy Smith, Andre Maquera, Frank Barnes, Gary Spaulding, and keyboard player Charlie Hawthorne is on Facebook. The live footage was shot at the Flynn Theater and the scenes with the leopard in Albany, NY.

      After an unplanned week off, Summer Sounds favorite John Bartus' Perpetual Island Tour resumed Monday but he did play Social Distancing Concert #82 from the living room on Facebook on Friday evening. Find him on Facebook for the next watch party.

      Summer Sounds favorite Mark Shelton sang Songs of Yesteryear on Facebook on Tuesday. Follow him on Facebook for a link to this week's offerings.


ST. ALBANS--Donna Howard of the Eloquent Page was chosen for a James Patterson Holiday Bonus this year.
      The best selling, popular writer seeks out the best of local bookstore owners or employees for their dedication to keeping words in a row (and more) in our hands. Mr. Patterson has distributed grants to booksellers from ABA member bookstores.

      ArtBits features weekly links to library events in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf on the AAC site at


      What a long, strange [year] it's been. As we look forward into 2022, I round up the arts and books and dance and music and theatrical hopes and guesses for the year. We all know how hard it is to plan these days but I had hopes that there would be a socially distanced modern dance recital involving catamounts but maybe not that. (Catamounts are endangered and dangerous. Social distancing is strongly recommended. Don't try this at home!) In past years, we've had hundreds of concerts, exhibits, recitals, and shows.
      This year's "looking forward columns" are spread over two weeks. We can hope to return to 300 concerts, exhibits, recitals, and shows from more than 40 organizations but, again, there are so many uncertainties that many of the plans we list may change. Last week, we showcased upcoming Arts Council and Opera House events. This week we look at the Four Franklin County Festivals and our Town Bands plus Other Major Presenter plans.


      Taken together, the four major Franklin County area Festivals attract around 100,000 people to extravaganzas of outdoor arts and entertainment here. The schedules may very well change in the coming months.
      Tap into Vermont Maple! The 55th Vermont Maple Festival is on the calendar for April 22-24; it is the first major outdoor festival of the year. The on-going pandemic means the festival will not have the same offerings as usual, but they will "bring back some of the events to enjoy" as St. Albans City and Town host three days of family education and entertainment including the Sappy Art Show at the Village Frame Shoppe. The parade will wind through Downtown. The Main Street stage will offer entertainment. Lots of contests including the Talent Show, Photo, Art, Maple Products, Maple Cooking, Ambassador, and Window Displays. Rides, Main Street concession stands, and Taylor Park Entertainment with clowns, balloon making, and face painting. The annual Pancake breakfast will return and there will be Nellie’s Donuts, Maple Candy, and Maple Cotton Candy. Click here as we get closer to the event for up-to-date changes to the schedule.
      The Vermont Dairy Festival spotlights Franklin County performers in a benefit weekend for the Lions Club traditionally held on the first weekend of June (on June 2-5 this year). The Lions cancelled the 2020 and 2021 Dairy Days to avoid putting the public at risk. "A crowd the size that we draw could cause the virus to re spread. Also the majority of our club members are over the age of sixty, which makes them a high risk." The Lions are always looking for dedicated women and men to join because it is the people who serve who make the real difference. They will determine this year's plans within the next few weeks. Click here as we get closer to the event for up-to-date changes to the schedule.
      The Jig in the Valley benefits the East Fairfield Community Center with a family day of music and picnicking on the last weekend in July. This concert helps raise funds and awareness for the NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs. They will determine this year's plans for the 30th Jig within the next few weeks. Click here as we get closer to the event for up-to-date changes to the schedule.
      Franklin County Field Days swells Highgate with crafts, exhibits, agricultural exhibits, cattle judging, antique tractor pulls, rides, and more at the Franklin County Airport over August 4-7. They will determine this year's plans for the 47th Field Days within the next few weeks with hopes of filling the tents, the grounds, the buildings, and the stage with popular bands and solo performers from near and far. Click here as we get closer to the event for up-to-date changes to the schedule.


      St. Albans' Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has ten programs planned for this Spring. All will be held on Wednesdays--the first five at 14th Star and the remainder at Hard'ack. All attendees must pre-register on-line in advance. find them on Facebook for more info.
      The Vermont Humanities Council engages Vermonters in ideas, fosters a thoughtful culture, and inspires a lifelong love of reading and learning. They will offer a combination of wide-ranging in-person and online programming this year including the arts, book discussions, film, history, Vermont Reads, and more. The VHC 1st Wednesdays recordings from this season, as well as earlier seasons are also online for anyone who missed a talk. Click here for more info.


      Carol Ann Jones has a regular schedule with Jon Sochin at the Blue Paddle starting this Wednesday. She and Will Patton will play First Republic and Sheldon Old Home Day.
      Will Patton reports that the Vermont Mandolin Trio (all four of them) played South Pomfret and Putney this past weekend. "Beyond that," he said, "it looks like another funny year so far for my group - - some late winter and early spring gigs have been cancelled, but we're picking up some nice festivals in the summer." Masks on.

      Bay Day, the BFA Performing Arts Center, Church Street Sounds of the Season, and the eclectic Music at Grace schedules are all still uncertain at press time.
      Celebration of Expressive Arts is beginning to plan CEA 2022 at the INN. They've asked that anyone with specific artists or broad ideas and requests to comment or message them on Facebook .
      The Meeting House on the Green very carefully held outdoor events in East Fairfield last summer and is well into planning the Summer 2022 Music Series. Nance Shaw reported happily that they've "got some fabulous bands already committed ~ some audience favorites as well as exciting new-to-the-area musicians" for the May to October lineup.
      The series was launched as a way to raise money for restoration projects. The Meeting House is a coveted venue; players and audiences alike have discovered the magic of the small and intimate setting for some of the best music in northern Vermont. They are entering year nine of their 10-year preservation project and are seeking businesses or individuals to sponsor the Meeting House Series. $250 gives you two tickets to every show this summer, "plus the warm and cozy feeling of being part of a worthy historic preservation effort!" Click here to learn more and donate online or send a contribution to MHG, Box 16, East Fairfield, VT 05448.
      The Northwest Access TV Media Barn still offers room for classes, more studio shows, and new equipment for community use. They hope to return to courses, movies in the parks, as well as concerts and arts programming. And, of course, they have local shows and events such as Almost Live on NWA, and more.
      Some Paint-and-Sip nights happened last year while Yaymaker and other presenters continued to host long-distance "paint-and-sip-at-home" events virtually. We can expect a return to in person events at Twiggs, 14th Star, MCA, libraries, and more.
      Restaurants in and beyond Franklin County had some art on the walls and music in the halls last year. We expect Twiggs and the Clothier, 14th Star, the Abbey, Arrowhead Country Club, Bayside, the Blue Paddle, the new Depot, the Double E, the INN, Mill River Brewing, Moog's, Nelly's, North Hero House, On Tap, and more to feature artists and exceptional music with a regular roster of Franklin County musicians several nights each week.
      The Saint Albans Museum will have a lineup of performances, exhibits, and educational programs. Their digital exhibit Signs of the Times responds to COVID-19 and History from Home is a free online portal with community history videos, articles, and activities for all ages. Click here for more info.
      School art shows should include FNESU's annual Art Gala and the annual Maple Run Art Show. The shows bring together hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces in schools and halls around the County.
      The Sunset Park Concerts in Key Colony Beach begin on Valentine's Day. Summer Sounds favorite John Bartus will kick off the new season.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, enters its 31st season on the new stage on the lawn of the Highgate Arena and under the leadership of Highgate Rec Director Lee Barrett. This summer will offer the full lineup of bluegrass, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, opera, and classic rock-n-roll, all supported by the best public-private partnership in the state, and all with the new normal safety requirements in place. The concerts are always on a Sunday night, always in a Town Park, always at 7 p.m. and always free.
      The Vermont Youth Orchestra season including the Something Suite, Presto Spring Concert, the Da Capo Spring Concert, Philharmonia Spring Concert, and more, will be live at the Flynn or at the Elley-Long Music Center. There will be virtual master classes, lesson programs, and endangered instruments. This season, over 300 musicians in grades 1 - 12 from 60 elementary, middle, and high schools in 41 towns from across Vermont and neighboring states including several from Franklin County. Programs are based at the Elley-Long Music Center at St. Michael's College. The VYOA has a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all musicians. Click here for more info.

      The Citizens Concert Band season of outdoor concerts on alternating summer Wednesdays was shortened last year but they "look forward to playing music in the parks again." Click here for more info.
      The Enosburg Town Band should begin rehearsals for the 2022 season this spring. Everyone above the beginner level is welcome to participate. Email with questions or to join the band or click here for more info.
      New members (high school age through adult) are always welcome at both bands.

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 Concert Band
Enosburg Town Band


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All Arts Council of Franklin County

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