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Peter Miller’s “Lifetime of Vermont People” recieves third gold medal

in Arts and Entertainment/Vermont

Photographer Peter Miller sat down with Newport Dispatch last month while visiting the Haskell Library. He was interviewed by Tanya Mueller. He just recently received his third gold medal for his book “Lifetime of Vermont People.” Below is a video from the interview. The story follows.


A Lifetime of Vermont People, written and photographed by Peter Miller of Colbyville, Vermont, has been awarded another honor. The Independent Publisher Association gave an IPPY gold medal to the collection as the best non-fiction book of 2013 written by an author living in the northeast.

The 208 page book has 60 profiles and black and white photo portraits of rural Vermonters. Lifetime of Vermont People may be viewed at

“It is a much deserved award, said Jim Barnes, Editor and Awards Director of the Independent Publisher association. “A Lifetime of Vermont People is one of my favorites of the year. Of course, the photography is amazing but the life stories of the Vermonters are what brings it all home.”

The New England Book Festival, held in Boston in January, awarded A Lifetime of Vermont People a gold medal as the best art/photograph book by a New England author.

This is the first time one of Mr. Miller’s books, best known for elegant black and white photography, has been recognized for the writing content.

Over 5,500 books were submitted for the IPPY awards. The award ceremony will be held in New York City on May 28th.

Peter Miller is the author of six documentary books of photographs and text. Four of them are collections of Vermont photographs and profiles. He also authored books on the Great Plains and Paris, France.

Austin Giroux, third place male overall and winner in the 12 and under category on the 10K course. All photos courtesy of Phil White.

Runners gather for the 6th annual Dandelion Run

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/News
Austin Giroux, third place male overall and winner in the 12 and under category on the 10K course. All photos courtesy of Phil White.
Austin Giroux, third place male overall and winner in the 12 and under category on the 10K course. All photos courtesy of Phil White.

DERBY — With a tornado warning passing the night before, and rains letting up just one hour prior to the start, nothing was going to get in the way of another successful Dandelion Run. This year marked the 6th time the annual event has taken place.

On Saturday, runners from age 6 to 70 took to the back roads of Derby, Holland, and Morgan. This year the youth let their feet do the talking as they laid down some strong times. The two person Falcon relay team of Andrew Franklin, 17, of Newport, and Travers Parsons-Grayson, 17, of Lowell, set the fastest time of the day, finishing the half marathon course in a time of 1:22:56. 

Dandelion run derby vermont 1

This year’s solo winner was Chip Pierce, 53, of Newport. Pierce posted a winning time of 1:27:13.

The overall female winner was Janelle Ralph, 32 of Gold Hill, OR, with a time of 1:39:13. Vermont is the 43rd state in which she and her husband, Benjamin Ralph, have run a half marathon. She even wore bib number 43 as she posted her winning time.

Four youth took on the half marathon distance as solo runners, led by Sophia Webb, 16, of Hinesburg, with a time of 1:49:40. Sophia has been running the half marathon as a solo each year since she was 12. She says the Dandelion Run is her favorite course.  

dandelion run derby vermont 2

Leading the boys was Andreya Zvonar, 15, of Boston, MA, with a time of 1:50:58.  Andreya and his 23 year old brother, Ivan, ran solo as their parents teamed up for a two person relay.

Elena Doty, 16, of Westford, came in second among the girls and third among the youth with a time of 1:58:43. Rounding out the youth, Daniel Bevacqui, 14, of Fayston, posted a very respectable time of 2:09:06. 

The 10 K course was flooded with youth relay teams from Troy, Newport, Brighton, and Derby Elementary School, as well as relay teams posted by North Country Union Junior High, and Turning Points. 

All in all, there were 22 youth relay teams competing in the 10K course, with just about 100 youth running either solo, in relays, on both courses.


Music at each of the relay stations and throughout the weekend was made possible by the support of Newport City Renaissance Corporation.

Over $1,000 was raised to support Umbrella and $94 was raised for the Christian Vachon Foundation from Canadian registrations. 

Runners travelled from California, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and all over Vermont. International runners came down from Quebec City, Montreal, and the Eastern Townships.

Field Marshall Kristian Pearson and a core staff of Peter Channell, Faith Landry, Howie Lockamy, worked the event with the help of over 30 volunteers and 15 youth chaperones, who made this year’s Dandelion Run possible. 

dandelion run derby vermont 3

Fasten Your Seat Belts with QNEK’s Boeing Boeing

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

All photos by Tanya Mueller

DERBY LINE — QNEK Productions, the International Theatre Company in Residence at the Haskell Opera House, kicked off the start of their 21st season on Friday, May 2. The first show, Boeing Boeing, ran through the weekend, and will finish up with shows this coming Friday and Saturday.

I’m no critic, so I don’t write reviews pretending to be one. I attended the Sunday performance of Boeing Boeing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
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Da Birder Briefs by Paul Lake

in Arts and Entertainment

This Dispatch sent in from Paul Lake. Lake, aka Da Bird Man, is a native of Chicago. Don’t let his “dees, dems, and doos,” fool you. He might talk–and write–like he’s got the Windy City blowing through his ears–even though he’s been living in Vermont for more than six years–but in the world of bird watching literature, he’s da Hemingway of his generation. Follow Lake on Twitter @daddyoooooo

Picture 11

Well folks it’s a great time for us backyard birders. It’s not only mud season, it’s migratory bird time.

As we all know, mud is da glue that holds the robin’s nest together…remember to empty out your shredders near some likely home building location, preferably by some bushes or trees. It’s kinda like having a home depot–oops–Pick-n-Shovel across da street.

Where ya gonna go for materials if you are a migratory bird coming back up north for the sole purpose of making babies? To da nearest, closest joint…da last thing you want to do is make umpteenth trips to the twig store for supplies….does anybody ever make only one trip to the hardware lumber store only once?

I look out my window and see I have plenty of mud, a ton of black sunflower seed shells–what do you do with dat stuff?

Well keep lookin’ for that red red robin to come bop bop boppin’ along…..I’m still waiting ….happy garden birding!

Da Bird Man

New Season at Shelburne Museum Starts in May

in Arts and Entertainment

SHELBURNE — Director Thomas Denenberg of Shelburne Museum announced that French Impressionism and American paintings highlight the new exhibitions opening in the upcoming season. Throughout May and June, four new exhibitions will open, including a solo exhibition of contemporary textile art and a collection of 19th century star quilts.

“The new season’s exhibitions at Shelburne Museum celebrate the best of the museum’s collections,” Denenberg said. “Works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, will come to life in a way that will captivate viewers anew.”

In a New Light: French Impressionism Arrives in America highlights Impressionist paintings from Shelburne’s collection. In a New Light pays homage to Monet’s Le Pont, Amsterdam (The Drawbridge, Amsterdam) (1874), a work collected by museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s parents that was the first painting by Monet to become part of an American collection.

The exhibition includes works on loan from private collectors and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In a New Light is guest curated by scholar Margaret Burgess and opens on June 14.

Painting a Nation: American Art at Shelburne Museum showcases the best of the museum’s 19th century American paintings. The exhibition represents a renewed emphasis on American art at Shelburne and will focus on themes of the collection’s strengths, particularly the New England landscape, genre painting and portraiture.

Featured artists include John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Winslow Homer, William Mathew Prior, Martin Johnson Heade, Albert Bierstadt, Fitz Henry Lane, Eastman Johnson, Mary Cassatt, Grandma Moses and Andrew Wyeth. The exhibition opens on May 25.

An exhibition of contemporary quilts opens on May 11, which is also the season opening day for the museum’s main campus.

Nancy Crow, Seeking Beauty: Riffs on Repetition highlights recent works by the acclaimed contemporary textile artist who incorporates printmaking in her quilt making.

All Star Quilts: The John Wilmerding Collection
features more than 30 unique star-themed quilts, including Amish and Mennonite examples from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana will be on view starting June 27.

For more information visit ShelburneMuseum.Org for more information.

Most Iconic Dinosaur That Ever Lived to Visit Vermont

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

NORWICH — The most iconic dinosaur that ever lived is on its way to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. The exhibit, “A T. rex Named Sue,” scheduled to open May 17, features a cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

At 42-feet long, 3,500 pounds, and 12 feet tall at the hips, this fully articulated cast skeleton is the keystone piece of this traveling exhibition which also includes replicated dinosaur fossils, video footage, free-standing interactive exhibits and colorful graphics.

Sue is the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed, and is one of the most significant fossil finds to date. Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson found the specimen in 1990 in the Hell Creek Formation near Faith, South Dakota. In 1997, the Field Museum in Chicago purchased the 67-million-year-old fossil at auction for $8.4 million, setting the world record for the highest price ever paid for a fossil.

Only four T. rex specimens containing more than 60 percent of their original skeleton have been found. Sue is at least 90 percent complete. Only a foot, one arm, and a few ribs and vertebrae are missing. Because of its near completeness, the specimen has presented the scientific community with a variety of new evidence, and with it Field Museum scientists made important new discoveries about the biology and evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Sue will be assembled in Montshire’s Main gallery and offers visitors the chance to discover what these professionals have learned. The discovery of Sue ranks as one of the most important fossil finds ever, with tremendous educational value for scientists and the general public.

Tyrannosaurus rex is the most widely recognized dinosaur in the world. Although it was first named almost a century ago, much remains to be understood about this remarkable animal. Carnivorous dinosaurs recently described from the Southern Hemisphere are of similar, or perhaps slightly larger size, but T. rex remains one of the largest flesh-eaters to have ever inhabited the Earth. With its extraordinarily powerful jaws and massive serrated steak-knife teeth, T. rex still dominates popular perceptions of the Age of Dinosaurs.

The exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” runs from May 17 through September 7, 2014 at the Montshire Museum of Science. It will be the first time the exhibition has been to northern new England.

This exhibit was created by the Field Museum, Chicago, and made possible through the generosity of McDonald’s Corporation. Local sponsorship is provided by Geokon, as well as Lake Sunapee Bank, and King Arthur Flour. Media sponsorship provided by WCAX and NHPR.

Admission to “A T. rex Named Sue” is free with Museum admission. $16 for adults, $14 for children 2-17, and free for Montshire members and children under 2 years of age.

The Montshire Museum will be closed May 12-14 during the installation of “A T. rex Named Sue.”

The Montshire Museum of Science is a hands-on science center located on 110 acres in Norwich, Vermont. Visitors will enjoy more than 100 interactive exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, technology, and more. The Montshire is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jed’s Maple Hosts Sugar-On-Snow Party for 15th Year

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

DERBY — Over the weekend sugarhouses across the state opened their doors for the 13th annual Vermont Maple Open House. For 15 years Jed’s Maple in Derby has been hosting a sugar-on-snow party to celebrate the statewide event. Saturday, visitors to Jed’s Maple were treated to sugar-on-snow, wood fired maple pizza, as well as other specialty maple treats.

All photos by Tanya Mueller.
All photos by Tanya Mueller.

It was a family event, with Steve Wheeler holding a storytime in the morning, and a junior sugarmaker class in the afternoon.

“When we started our business, we decided that we wanted to put something on for friends and family,” Steve Wheeler, who runs Jed’s Maple Products, said. “This event just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and now we use it also as a way to just say thank you to the community for supporting us. We want to show our appreciation to the community for their support of what we do.”


Maple is a Wheeler family tradition which goes back at least five generations. Now, Steve and Amy Wheeler run Jed’s Maple, producing quality food products.

“This is our whole life and our career. We make food, and maple is just one of the foods we make. But maple is special because traditionally this is where we started.”


Although the maple season this year has not really started yet, Wheeler is optimistic about the upcoming weeks.

“Looking at the forecast for next week, it looks like we’ll be starting early sugar season,” Wheeler said. “It might be a little too cold, but it warms up by day. We’ll probably get some sap, but not a ton next week. From then on it gets better and better each day.”


Wheeler explained how maple season always fluctuates, and is a season closely tied to Easter. With the timing of Easter following a lunar cycle, Wheeler sees that this year they are right on schedule.
“Most of the time our biggest week is the week before Easter, and then finishing up just after the holiday. With Easter four weeks away, we’re just about ready to roll.”

For more information on Jed’s Maple, visit them online at

Home Composting Workshop at the Haskell a Success

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

DERBY LINE — According to Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, by July 2016, leaf, yard, and clean wood debris will be banned from landfills. By 2020, food scraps will be banned from the landfill.

On Saturday, The Haskell Free Library hosted “Rot On! An Extreme Home Composting Workshop.”

The workshop was led by Maia Hansen, who works with Highfields Center for Composting. Highfields, based out of Hardwick, has been touring the state giving this lecture as part of a USDA grant the group received. Saturday’s stop at the Haskell was the last in the series, however, there is still one more free webinar on March 27.

A group of around 30 attendees from both sides of the border learned the ins and outs of developing a home composting system. Home composting is not only a great way to get ready for the Universal Recycling Laws that are coming, it will benefit your garden and your overall well being.

According to Hansen, the improvement to the soil that composting provides is only one of the reasons to take part in the practice.

“Composting is a great way to incorporate natural processes into our daily lives,” Hansen said.

Maia Hansen posing with a smaller version of a traditional multi-bin composting system. All photos courtesy of Vchem Pierce.
Maia Hansen posing with a smaller version of a traditional multi-bin composting system. All photos courtesy of Vchem Pierce.
Although not excessively strenuous, composting does require some physical effort, depending on the type of system you develop. This physical effort, combined with just being outside and working in unison with the natural processes of decomposition, has been shown in studies to be good for your physical and mental health. There is even one study that shows that there are chemicals in compost that have medicinal effects.

M. vaccae, a living creature that resides in your backyard compost pile, acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood.

The lecture on Saturday focused on the different methods of composting, from traditional backyard bins, to more advanced rotating drums. Worm composting systems, or vermiculture, was also discussed.

The message from Hansen was to find a system that works for you. This may include collecting your food scraps and taking them to a processing center, or giving them to your neighbor who composts. The key point is to keep as much as possible from ending up in the landfill.

“We need to get our food scraps out of the landfill,” Hansen said. “We can use those nutrients and harvest them to grow more food.”

Highfields Center for Composting has a wealth of information on the subject at their website. The information they provide will get anyone who is interested up and running in no time.

Below is a video that the group put out.

Newport Area Community Orchestra Adds 9 New Members

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

NEWPORT — The Newport Area Community Orchestra is growing. Just this year, they have added nine new members to the orchestra.

The newest members of the orchestra are (left to right in photo) Momoko Takaoka, Bob Chen, Akimasa Takeda, Pengyi Huang, Morgan Ireland, Paul Teng, (not pictured) Sue Ireland, Judy Hurd, and Laura Barr.

The group is continuing to work toward two spring concerts to be held on May 3, at the Goodrich Memorial Library, and on May 11, at the Haskell Opera House. The program for the concerts include:

Spring Concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library – May 3, 2014

Concerto for Alto Saxophone by Binge (2nd Movement – Peter Storrings, Soloist)
Colorscape for Orchestra, Op. 3 by Ken Michelli (Julia Whitney, Solo, Howie Arzt, Solo)
Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Stage Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich
Rhapsody in Blue for Orchestra arranged by Bob Cerulli (Paul Gavin, Solo)
Clarinet Concerto No. 1 by Carl Maria Von Weber (Howie Arzt, Soloist)

Quintessential Classical’s Concert at the Haskell Opera House – May 11, 2014

Concerto for Alto Saxophone by Binge (2nd Movement – Peter Storrings, Soloist)
Colorscape for Orchestra, Op. 3 by Ken Michelli (Julia Whitney, Solo, Howie Arzt, Solo)
Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Stage Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich
Rhapsody in Blue for Orchestra arranged by Bob Cerulli (Paul Gavin, Solo)
Clarinet Concerto No. 1 by Carl Maria Von Weber (Howie Arzt, Soloist)

Be sure to mark your calendars for these upcoming performances.

QNEK Productions Ready for 21st Season

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

DERBY LINE — Casting is complete for the 21st season at QNEK Productions. This year QNEK, the international theatre company in residence at the Haskell Opera House, will stage four shows, starting May 2 with the production of Boeing, Boeing. The season will conclude October 18 with Wait Until Dark, directed by Susan-Lynn Johns.

QNEK hosted their first ever Meet and Greet the Press Reception on Saturday evening at the United Universalist Church Hall in Derby Line. The event offered those in attendance the chance to meet the cast and crew who will be working to make the 2014 season its best yet.

This season will see some new faces, as well as some returning to the stage after taking a break for a few years. Kim Prangley, who will play Judith in Boeing, Boeing, is returning after a ten year hiatus. Ross Murray will be seen in his first acting role in 25 years, when he plays Roat, in Wait Until Dark.

The season will also consist of Oliver, starting July 25, and Suds, starting September 12.

QNEK Productions treated everyone on Saturday to a musical medley from Suds, the rocking 60’s musical soap opera. To hear the performance from Saturday, press play in the audio player below.

“The whole cast is awesome, and we’re really excited to have Kim Prangley back this year,” Jenny Dunne, director of Boeing, Boeing, said. “Boeing, Boeing, is a really funny and a really physical comedy, so it’s going to be great working with everyone.”

“The play is a farce, so there’s a lot of general mayhem, which is a role I’ve performed many times with QNEK as well as others,” Kim Prangley said. “It’s a very popular form of theatre.”

Prangley auditioned for the role over SKYPE while she was traveling in Vancouver.

Making his acting debut in May playing Robert in Boeing, Boeing, is Chris Planetta, a teacher at the Stanstead College.

“I’m a little nervous, but I keep telling myself, I’m not an idiot,” Planetta said. “I’m a fan of theatre, and I’ve gone to everything QNEK has put on for the last twelve years, so I’m excited.”

For a full 2014 show synopsis and character breakdown, click here.

Photos by Tanya Mueller

Cast of
Cast of Boeing, Boeing which starts May 2, 2014
Cast of "Oliver," starting July 25, 2014.
Cast of “Oliver,” starting July 25, 2014.
Cast of "Suds," starting September 12, 2014.
Cast of “Suds,” starting September 12, 2014.
Cast of "Wait Until Dark," starting October 10, 2014.
Cast of “Wait Until Dark,” starting October 10, 2014.

[AUDIO] Discovering the Beauty of Sacred Harp Singing in Derby Line

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of sacred choral music. It is part of the larger tradition of shape note music. Sacred Harp music is performed a cappella (voice only, without instruments) and originated as Protestant Christian music.

A group of shape note singers gathered at the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, Sunday afternoon for their annual “Decadent Dessert Shape Note Sing.” Newport Dispatch came out to capture the beauty of the music, and to talk with group members to discover more about this form of music.

To listen to the story, press play in the media player below.

All photos by Tanya Mueller.











Sound Bites: Newport’s Third Thursday Open Mic Night at Montgomery Cafe [AUDIO]

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature/Newport

Newport Dispatch visited the Third Thursday Open Mic Series at Montgomery Cafe in Newport. Thursday’s event brought together local poets and musicians. Started by Beth Barnes three months ago, word of Newport’s open mic has quickly spread, with musicians coming out from Lyndonville just to participate.

Please press play below to hear some of the music, and to be introduced to some of the musicians who are coming to Newport once a month for the event.







[AUDIO STORY] Discovering Mary Cofran with the Derby Historical Society Museum

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/Feature

Newport Dispatch came out to the old-fashioned Christmas celebration at the Derby Historical Society Museum, and put together this audio story, where we learn about a resident of Derby who in 1940 drew a series of prints on muslin cloth of local buildings. It was like stepping back into 1940. To listen, press play below.

Please enjoy the photography below while you listen. All photos by Tanya Mueller.











Les Terrasses Dufferin: Fine Dining at a Reasonable Price, Just Across the Border

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Feature/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — You can sometimes tolerate mediocre food if a restaurant has other things going for it. You can even tolerate a wonderful meal, if the dining room is less than spectacular. In both cases, you may find a restaurant you will visit from time to time, but it will never make your personal favorites list. It will never be the kind of place that you rave to your friends and family about.

However, when an exciting chef works in a location that is just as exciting, you have the type of restaurant that not only makes the list, but climbs to the top. Such is the case with Les Terrasses Dufferin, located in Stanstead, Quebec.

There are many reason to be excited about Les Terrasses Dufferin. First of all, there are few places anywhere that have such an interesting location. Located inside the old Stanstead customs building, it is literally just across the border from Derby Line on Route 5. The building is as beautiful as it is historic. The dining room mixes modern and classical styles, creating a comfortable and elegant ambience.

Chef Roland Troadec and Line Vallieres Thériault enjoy a quiet moment after a busy lunch hour Wednesday afternoon. All photos by Tanya Mueller.
Chef Roland Troadec and Line Vallieres Thériault enjoy a quiet moment after a busy lunch hour Wednesday afternoon. All photos by Tanya Mueller.

The co-owner and chef of Les Terrasses Dufferin is Roland Troadec. Originally from France, he comes to Stanstead with 35 years of experience, having worked the last ten in Montreal and Quebec City. He brings with him not only the experience and reputation of a world-class chef, but also a respect for keeping dining prices within reason.

This brings us to another key reason to be excited about Les Terrasses Dufferin. They offer an elegant menu at a price that matches what most people are willing to pay. It is fine dining in every sense, but for a price matching the economic situation of the area. The menu has something for everyone.

“Because the chef is French, we have a little bit of a French flavor, but, we have adapted our menu to please everyone,” co-owner Line Vallieres Thériault said. “We want to give our customers a variety.”

Originally from Sherbrook, Line lived most of her life in Montreal. She came to the Eastern Townships five years ago. When she found out that the old customs building, which used to be a restaurant called La Vieille Douane, had closed at the end of August, she approached the owners and asked if it would be possible to rent the space to start her own restaurant.

When they agreed, she contacted Roland to see if he was interested in becoming a partner in the business. He came down from Quebec City, and they did some minor renovations over the next two months. Les Terrasses Dufferin opened last Thursday, a completely different restaurant than La Vieille Douane.

Les Terrasses Dufferin is named after the beautiful terrace along Rue Dufferin that sits out front of the restaurant. During the warmer months, visitors can eat outside on the terrace. There is also a terrace located in the back of the building, facing the Tomifobia River, where tables will be set as well.

Fondue, steak, and pasta are some of the staples of the menu, with daily lunch specials also offered. They are equipped to handle groups, rent the space out for parties and events, and offer a catering service if needed. There is even a café set up separately from the dining room, which offers wifi.


When I asked Ms. Thériault what she feels customers will remember most after a visit, she paused for a moment, and then smiled.

“That we have the best food,” she said, breaking out in laughter.

Although only half -joking, it is a claim Les Terrasses Dufferin is certainly working to back up.

Having tasted the spaghetti, as well as an amazing couscous salad, Les Terrasses Dufferin will be a place I will frequent when the terraces are open.

They have a brunch on Sunday, which starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. It is all you can eat, and would make the perfect start to a day spent on the other side of the border, visiting the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec.

For more information, call Les Terrasses Dufferin at: 819-704-3330

United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir at the Goodrich Memorial Library (with audio)

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

All photos by Tanya Mueller

The only way to experience the elegance of the United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir is to hear them for yourself. Newport Dispatch is proud to have captured some of the sounds of Saturday’s concert, and uploaded them here for our readers. Click play wherever you see the audio player throughout this article to hear audio clips taken from Saturday’s concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library.

NEWPORT — The Goodrich Memorial Library hosted their 9th Annual Tree Lighting and Open House event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a concert by the United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir and Chorus.


Christmas tree lights and decorations were turned on throughout the building. Each room in the library features its own tree, complete with unique decorations that have been passed down throughout the years.

newport vermont news

The sounds of the season rang out from the Assembly Room upstairs as the handbell choir started the show. Ruth Marquette, the director of the choir, introduced some of the techniques used by the musicians between songs.

Newport Vermont news 1

A reception was held after the concert.

Divas Use Laughter to Raise Money for NEKCA at Jay Peak’s Foeger Ballroom

in Arts and Entertainment/Jay

All photos by Tanya Mueller

JAY — The Vermont Comedy Divas kept the Foeger Ballroom at Jay Peak filled with laughter Friday night. The one night only benefit was organized to raise money for Northeast Kingdom Community Action.

Started in 2006, the Vermont Comedy Divas are the only all-female touring standup comedy troupe in the country. The Divas include Josie Leavitt, Sue Schmidt, Carmen Legala, Autumn Spencer, and Tracie Spencer. The show Friday night was part of their Divas Do Good charity series, where the group seeks to give back to the community by raising money for organizations with a social mission.


“There is only one guy in here not an open target to be used as material during the show, and that’s the guy serving my drinks,” Sue Schmidt said during the opening of the show.

Although the men in the room were warned beforehand that they might be used as a punchline for the Divas, it was a group from the Memphremagog Press, who came out Friday night for their Christmas party, that took most of the ribbing.

“Sir…are you okay,” Josie Leavitt asked one of the men from Memphremagog Press after a particularly shocking set of jokes.


Autumn Spencer started the night off, setting the stage for the acts that followed. Each Diva had their own style, making for an interesting mix of delivery, as well as material.

“The Divas are starting to drink…that’s always a bad sign,” Ms. Schmidt said halfway through the night.

The crowd seemed equally entertained by each comedian, which is part of the reason that the Divas work so well together as a group. They function as a whole, without any one comedian feeling like an opening act for the other. This balance leaves the group able to switch lineups each night.

“We usually pick the lineup just before the show,” Autumn Spencer said after the show. “It can be tough to go first because right from the start people are expecting to laugh. They are expecting you to be funny, and they want to see what you’ve got.”


“We’ve really been trying to raise money for the community because we’ve had so many federal and state cuts,” Joe Patrissi, the Executive Director of NEKCA said. “We’ve had to do some significant fundraising.”

NEKCA is preparing for another fundraising event coming up on January 18, again at Jay Peak, with a show by the Dave Keller Blues Band. Proceeds for that event will go toward the Head Start program.

“The Divas were really great tonight, and we were thrilled that they agreed to do this for us,” Mr. Patrissi said.

For more information about the Vermont Comedy Divas visit them online at

For more information about NEKCA visit them online at


Music Series Returns to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — After a five year hiatus, music will again fill the historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Second Street, Newport, with “Now Playing Newport – A Vermont Music Series.” It will be the only year-round music series in the Newport area, taking place on a monthly basis.

Jim McKimm, who for five years directed the former “Music For A Sunday Afternoon Series,” is returning to his musical roots after being a founding member of the MAC Center for the Arts, and serving as its president for five years. Mr. McKimm, who moved to Vermont in 1997, has served as Director of Music at St. Mark’s for the last twelve years, having served several churches in both New York City and New Jersey throughout his career.

Lynn Perry, member of the Newport Area Community Orchestra, and Jim McKimm, Series Director, look over the poster for the first concert in the “Now Playing Newport” music series which will begin on December 15th, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
Lynn Perry, member of the Newport Area Community Orchestra, and Jim McKimm, Series Director, look over the poster for the first concert in the “Now Playing Newport” music series which will begin on December 15th, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Joining as local music partners in the series will be Dr. Sara Doncaster, the Music Department Head at Lake Region High School, and Ken Michelli, founder and director of the Newport Area Community Orchestra.

New to the program will be a series of free youth concerts, starting with the Lake Region High School Select Chorus, who will present their holiday program on Sunday, December 15, at 4 p.m., under the direction of Dr. Doncaster. Their repertoire will include sacred music of various types.

The series will be reaching out to the other schools and youth groups in the area for the 2014 season.

The series is administered separately from the church and will be administered strictly by grants, sponsors, donations, and ticket sales. Receptions will follow most programs in the church’s Parish House.

St. Mark’s, completed in 1883, has changed little since it was built. The building’s vaulted wooden ceiling makes for wonderful room acoustics. The small venue will allow for an intimate experience for both the audience, as well as the musicians.

For complete details on the series and programs, visit them at

If you know of anyone who may be interested in taking part in the series, please contact

“Surreal,” A Surrealist Art Exhibition in Newport Starts December 7

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

Surreal art opening Newport Vermont

NEWPORT — On Saturday, December 7, there will be a wine and cheese reception for the opening of “Surreal,” an exhibit of surrealist and otherwise weird paintings, photographs, sculpture, and video. On display will be the works of Vermont artists Bradleigh Stockwell, Mary Brenner, Diana Mara Henry, Chris Hudson, Sam Thurston, Mandee Roberts, Phyllis Hammond, and others. Also on display will be the gallery’s collection of surrealist works by the late Seattle artist Donald Peel.

The event will take place at The 99 Gallery and Center, behind 316 Main Street, and across from the Family Dollar in downtown Newport.

The opening starts at 6 p.m. and will run until 8 p.m.

Come out for this relaxing and entertaining evening of unusual art. The exhibition runs through January 31, 2014.

Recital of Soloists from the Newport Area Community Orchestra to Play December 7 in Derby Line

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line
Photo by Lisa C. Erwin
Photo by Lisa C. Erwin

The Newport Area Community Orchestra is sponsoring a recital of soloists from the orchestra on Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm at the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line.

The performers are from left to right: Ken Michelli, Vivian Spates, Linda Aiken, Howie Arzt, Chris Maginniss, Paula Hansen-Graveline, and Lynn Perry (not in photo).

The performers have worked very hard preparing their solos and would love to have you join them for this special musical performance.

Four Stars as QNEK Presented “A Christmas Carol Radio Play,” Sunday Afternoon in Derby Line

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/News

DERBY LINE — QNEK Productions finished off their third performance of “A Christmas Carol Radio Play,” Sunday afternoon at the Parish Hall of the First Universalist Church in Derby Line. The shows, which started Friday night, were performed as a benefit for the First Universalist Church.

QNEK a Christmas Carol Radio Play

Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” has captured the imagination, as well as the spirit of Christmas since its release in 1843. The name “Scrooge,” and the exclamation, “Bah! Humbug!” have entered the English language through the story.

It is a tale of overcoming the shallowness of our greedy attitudes, with the kind, thoughtful, and generous sides of our character that make our lives, and those around us, more enjoyable. Scrooge has the opportunity to change his ways, only because he is made aware of the consequences of his actions. The Christmas season itself is supposed to be the time of year when the spirit of good, spotlights our shortcomings throughout the year. It is a classic tale, and one that has been done many different ways.

“A Christmas Carol has been arranged and produced in a few different formats, from something right off the page, to something of a more goofy spectrum,” Phil Gosselin, Associate Producing Director of QNEK said before Sunday’s show. “This production is somewhere in between, with the dialogue being Dickensian, right off the book, but done in a radio play style.”

QNEK a Christmas Carol Radio Play 1

The QNEK cast of 18, which included sound effects and technicians, as well as the voice actors, put on a show Sunday afternoon that was much more than just a radio play. The hall was decorated with wreaths, and the tables were stocked with candy canes. As the audience arrived for the performance, members of the cast were circled around a piano singing Christmas carols. It was a perfect Christmas scene for “A Christmas Carol.”

Throughout the show, the actors used their voices to perfectly portray the action and suspense of the story. The radio play style naturally has a way to draw an audience inside the story, and the live sound effects made for an even more memorable experience. There was even a bit of comedy thrown in, thanks in part to the playfulness between the cast members themselves.

“It’s a story about rich and the poor, good and bad,” Josh Rediker, who played Bucky Maxwell, said after the show. “As a character, Scrooge changes because people gave him a chance, which warms his heart. It’s a great story for the Christmas season, and I loved working with all the people here. They’re fantastic.”


“The performance changes all the time,” Brian McCrae, who has been with QNEK for four years, said. “Every night there is something different, and that’s what makes live theater great. You never know what’s going to happen.

Sunday afternoon, QNEK did a superb job of recreating the traditional radio play style of old. Although we have yet to have finished the Thanksgiving dinner that officially starts the holiday season, QNEK’s performance of A Christmas Carol left those who attended any of the shows over the weekend feeling that not only is Christmas just around the corner, but perhaps the days leading up to the actual holiday are more important than the day itself.

If you missed the shows in Derby Line, QNEK will present “A Christmas Carol Radio Play” on December 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the MAC Center in Newport. Visit them on the web at, and, for a short video of the cast warming up the audience on Sunday, visit DISPATCH TV.

QNEK a Christmas Carol Radio Play 2

MAC Center for the Arts Holiday Opening Reception Brings Art Lovers to Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

It was seasons greetings from the MAC Center for the Arts to the people of the area Friday night, as the gallery hosted their Holiday Opening Reception. The event, which took place from 5-7 p.m., showcased all new artwork from gallery members.

Visitors were treated to the sounds of the newly formed Newport Area Piano Sextet, who were set up in the back of the gallery. The group played a variety of music, including traditional Christmas carols.

MAC Center for the Arts Newport Vermont 1
With a reception held every quarter, Friday marked the sixth time the MAC Center has hosted one during the Christmas season. Visitors circled the gallery viewing all the new artwork that filled the walls, a large selection of which was done specifically for the holidays.

Members of the collaborative wore name tags identifying themselves as artists, which allowed visitors the opportunity to discuss the artwork with the artists themselves.


“This is my first time at the Holiday Reception, and I’m so impressed with how many people showed up tonight,” Elinor Osborn, a photographer from Craftsbury said.


Regular business hours at the MAC Center are Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The newest selection of artwork makes for great holiday shopping. You can also visit the MAC Center online at

Check out DISPATCH TV for a short video from Friday night’s reception at the MAC Center.

Vermont Filmmaker Nora Jacobson on “Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie”

in Arts and Entertainment

nora jacobsonBorn in Norwich, Vermont, Nora Jacobson’s life has taken her many places. When she was eight years old she moved to Paris with her family, where they remained until she was fifteen. She will soon head off to South Korea to shoot a feature film. In her recent project, “Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie,” Ms. Jacobson set out to discover the identity of her native Vermont. Newport Dispatch recently caught up with Ms. Jacobson while she was in Newport for a screening of the film.

“I wanted to understand what state identity means,” Ms. Jacobson said. “Does a state have an identity? Does a state have a DNA like a person has a DNA?”

Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie, seems to prove that a state, at least Vermont, does. The film is a six-part collaborative documentary that explores Vermont’s history and culture. The story is told thematically, rather than chronologically, giving viewers the feeling of being on a ride that quickly moves from one point to another.

The characters that appear throughout the series seem to represent the complexities of the state character itself. In making the film, Ms. Jacobson wanted to understand where these characters originated.

“Vermont is an interesting place. There’s this interesting mix of stereotypes surrounding us as progressive, radical left wing types, or the rural republican type. I thought, where did this come from? Is there a historical precedent?”

The film being a collaboration between three dozen Vermont filmmakers, Ms. Jacobson had to decide what footage to use, and how to use it.

“I couldn’t use all the footage,” she said. “It was difficult to keep a filmmaker from feeling betrayed that I had edited the footage in a way that they didn’t always agree with.”

With the project now complete, it was a learning experience for everyone involved.

“I hope I’ve learned the art of diplomacy,” she said. “I’ve had many sleepless nights after being a little too blunt with some of the filmmakers about their work. I had to learn how to deal with people who are as passionate about their work as I am. We all have sensitive egos.”

Ms. Jacobson also learned many new things about Vermont as well.

“I didn’t know much about the African American settlers who came to Vermont in the 1770’s. We did a whole section on this community of free African Americans at the time, and I found it interesting that there was a higher percentage of African Americans in the state at the time, than there is now.”

Although still traveling the state for screenings of The Vermont Movie, Ms. Jacobson has many projects in the works.

“I’m working on a feature film to be made in South Korea, that deals with international adoption. It’s a fictionalized story based on a memoir. I’m also working on a film about Vermont’s poet laureate Ruth Stone. I also skate, and have been documenting this one pond for the last ten years, so I’m doing a film about pond hockey.”

derby Vermont arts and Crafts fair

Dailey Memorial Library’s Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair a Success

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/News

DERBY — “Looking to the future while preserving the past.” These are the words guiding the capital campaign for the expansion project of the Dailey Memorial Library. With some of the proceeds from this years Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair going toward the expansion project, Saturday’s event both looked toward the future of the library, while preserving the past, marking the 22nd time that the annual event has taken place.

1 derby Vermont arts and Crafts fairInside the gymnasiums of North Country Junior High, visitors were treated to an eclectic mix of products that showcased the rich tradition of arts and crafts throughout the region. There were 33 vendors involved this year, selling a range of products.

Riley Brooks, of B3 Balsam, brought out a line of products made from ground up balsam firs. The pleasing smell of the soft, fir stuffed pillows, were a popular seller Saturday morning. According to Mr. Brooks, the fir scent of the pillows will last for many years.

“We were at a craft expo when we found Maine Balsam Fir Company, the supplier who we buy our dried firs from,” Mr. Brooks said. “We bought a pound that night, and since we had a fir pillow that was 16 years old and still smelled nice, we decided to try and make our own. B3 Balsam started that night using a 1940 Singer Straight Stitch machine.”

Mr. Wambach, from Nic & Wambach Creative Arts based out of Red Hook New York, said he visits his sister once a month in Vermont, and enjoys drawing the state’s picturesque scenes. His display showcased some of these works.

derby Vermont arts and Crafts fair 1“I enjoy the beauty of Vermont, and it’s a place with a phenomenal amount of history,” he said.

One of his favorite Vermont scenes to draw are covered bridges.

I plan to do as many of the covered bridges as I can. There are 138 in the Northeast Kingdom, and I’d like to draw all of them,” he said.

His work can be found at the East Side gift shop, or visit them online.

Richard and Vera Long, of Long Branch Wooden Bowls, brought out their entire inventory of wood turned bowels.

To make the bowls, the couple haul the logs in from their property in Holland. It takes about ten to twelve months for each piece to be finished. Mr. Long starts with a rough cut, then shelves and dates each piece. Once dry, they are put back on the lathe for a final shaping. The bowls are finished in walnut oil and beeswax.

IMG_9293“I hand sign each piece with a wood burning tool,” Vera Long said. “Because they are heirloom gifts, many customers want them for a wedding present. I put the name of the couple with the date they were married on the back.”

Jim Hutchins, of Hutch and Ricka Custom Leather Carving, displayed an assortment of handcrafted leather and hardwood items made in Newport Center. A sign which read, “little hands welcome to touch,” was posted above the display, encouraging the curiosity of the many children who came out Saturday. Their work is part of the Wooden Horse Arts Guild, and can be viewed online.

Kimberly Covert, from Covert Essentials of Enosburg Falls, was busy selling personal care products. She started her own line of products after working for an all natural skin care company in New York. Covert Essentials started making soap, but has evolved into much more.

Her biggest seller has been her deodorant products.

IMG_9265 (2)“I wanted a natural deodorant that actually works,” she said. “Using a combination of organic coconut oil and beeswax forms a nice barrier, and combined with some powder, keep you dry for a really long time.”

Her products can be found in Stowe, but should soon be available in the Newport area.

Saturday’s craft fair lasted until 2 p.m. Although the event draws many people every year, this year was especially steady. The money raised will go to the operating fund of the Daily Memorial Library, as well as the capital campaign for the expansion project.

To see a video of what the new library will look like, please watch the video below.

Newly Formed Piano Sextet Will Play Friday Nov. 22 at MAC

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

photPiano Sextet Newport Area Community Orchestra

NEWPORT – The newly formed Newport Area Community Orchestra Piano Sextet will be performing at the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative on Friday, November 22nd from 5-7 p.m. for their annual Holiday Reception.

The group will be playing a variety of music including traditional Christmas carols.

The members are from left to right: Ken Michelli, Mark Violette, Linda Aiken, Lynn Perry, Howie Arzt, and Chris Maginniss.

The Vermont Movie: Exploring the Identity of Vermont

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — Part three of Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie, a six-part collaborative documentary exploring Vermont’s history and culture, was screened Wednesday night at the Gateway Center in Newport. The episode, titled Refuge, Reinvention, and Revolution, explored the back-to-the-land and activist communities that sprung up in the state during the sixties and seventies. A discussion took place afterward, led by Dorothy Tod and Kate Cone, two of the filmmakers who worked on the film.

The Vermont Movie is much more than a historical documentary. For one thing, it is thematic, rather than chronological. History is used to measure and organize the story, but, history is only one of many tools the film uses to explore the identity and character of Vermont.

The film looks at identity as a process of change, always in a state of flux and trying to work itself out. It also demonstrates how the collective consciousness of the present is only the latest in a series of changes taking place over time.

Episode three focused on how the social turmoil that the country experienced during the sixties, paved the way for a counter-culture migration into the state. Many communal living experiments were established, with the state’s natural serenity providing the perfect opportunity for the refuge, reinvention, and revolution, the episode takes its title from.

The characters appearing in part three are as much individuals, as they are representatives of the collective identity of the state. As the episode follows these “hippie” communes, emotionally, the viewer is drawn into the universal search for home, and what it takes to secure that place once it is found. The idealism that might bring one to a place like Vermont is quickly countered with the reality of what it takes to adapt to its unique environment.

“The film is as much about emotional history, and cultural history, than anything else,” Phil White said following Wednesday’s screening. “

The film also makes one ponder what it is about Vermont that makes it so special.

“It’s also just fun to reflect on why we love Vermont. For so many people Vermont is a home of choice. What is it about Vermont that is so appealing? If you were born here, or moved here, it feels like home,” Mr. White went on to say.

“It’s important to have another view of the identity of Vermont,” filmmaker Kate Cone, said. “We know what we think Vermont is, but the film offers a wide range of new ideas, connections, and links about events in history that people might not know about.”

For filmmaker Dorothy Tod, episode three allowed her to reflect on the theory behind the filmmaking process that brought about The Vermont Movie.

“Freedom and Unity, which is part of the name of the film, became a way to describe how we as filmmakers worked,” she said. “I didn’t grow up on a commune, but I grew up on the edge of one, and had neighbors and friends who had been part of one. It always made me a little nervous to have that degree of freedom.”

Episode four will be screened next Wednesday at the Emory Hebard State Office Building in Newport. The episode title is “Doers & Shapers.”

The film is an important study of the history and identity of Vermont, and should not be missed. For more information, visit the film on the web at TheVermontMovie.Com or watch the trailer below:

Senior Living in Straw Bale Home: Holland, Vermont

in Arts and Entertainment/Holland

Photos by Tanya Mueller

HOLLAND — With straw bale walls, enclosed in a lime, clay, straw plaster that was mixed on site, it’s not exactly what comes to mind when you think of a senior living facility.

As interest in alternative building methods increases, and the stereotypes that surround Earth-based construction break down, the straw bale structure sitting in Holland, Vermont, is pioneering its way into the future. It is the only straw bale senior living home in the United States.

IMG_9128A little over two months after welcoming in its first residents, the building is gearing up for its first heating season. With heavy winds common at the location, and freezing temperatures on the horizon across the area, the 1900 square foot structure is well equipped to face whatever challenges winter has in store.

The building is a fortress of thermal insulation. The wall structure of the post and beam frame consists of 18 inch wide straw bales. The bales, which sit on a two-foot-high pony wall that forms a base to keep them off the foundation, have an R-value insulation rating of 28. The pony wall is stuffed with super insulated cellulose, with an R-value of 55. The roof also incorporates super insulated cellulose material, and the frost-protected concrete slab that the structure sits on is insulated from underneath, as well as along the sides.

Radiant heat lines run throughout the concrete slab and heat the building. An extremely efficient propane-fired condensing broiler provides a continuous loop of hot water through the lines, allowing a consistent temperature to be easily maintained.

IMG_9120The building consists of two 600 square foot single bedroom senior housing units, with a communal space between them. There is an entry porch, as well as two south-facing porches for each unit. Since it is an independent living facility, the communal space houses an energy efficient washer and drier, which residents share.

Energy efficiency is a theme throughout the house. Currently, the home is set to become the first straw bale building to be awarded certification from Efficiency Vermont as a Vermont Energy Star Home.

The project, managed by Rural Edge, along with general contractor Lee Cooper of Back 2 Basics Builders, began last spring. The frame and roof were up by fall, then wrapped for the winter to keep it dry. The straw bale walls went up in the spring of this year, with everything finished by September.

Evelyn Page, who is now deceased, was one of the oldest living residents in the area. When her husband passed away, she wanted to leave a legacy, so she donated 7 acres, and funded the project. Her only request was that it provide housing for local residents of Holland. Unfortunately, she did not survive to see the finished home, but she did get to see the walls going up.

So, what are the drawbacks to building with straw bales? Uncontrolled moisture is the biggest challenge straw bale structures face. The architects who worked on the project had to reduce exposure to wind-driven rain and snow. The problem was addressed with extensive roof overhangs designed to move water away from the plaster and stucco walls.

This winter will be the ultimate test of the building. So far residents are comfortable and enjoying the opportunity to be a part of such a unique project.


Newport Area Community Orchestra Tuning Up For Fall Concert

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport

DERBY LINE — Inside the social hall of the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, the atonal sounds of violinists and cello players warming up, echos off the walls. String bass player Jessica Griffen staggers in under the weight of her instrument. Once the orchestra has set up, music director Ken Michelli stands facing the musicians, ready to lead them into their first score.

NACO 1“Remember to be real secure with the entrances,” Michelli advises.

Over the next hour and a half, the Newport Area Community Orchestra, or NACO, as they are known, will rehearse for their upcoming concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport.

With Mr. Michelli conducting, the orchestra ran through its repertoire. Although only a rehearsal, members of the orchestra played with intensity, and as the night progressed, Mr. Michelli had a lot to be excited about.

“This might be our best concert yet,” Mr. Michelli said to the group following rehearsal Tuesday night. “It happens every year at about this time, that things really start to click. Each year we continue to improve.”

Not only does the orchestra continue to improve, but they continue to grow as well. In their third season as an ensemble, the number of musicians involved has grown rapidly.

“We started with five members, but now we’re up to about thirty,” Michelli said.

NACO 2As members of the orchestra packed up their instruments, they were noticeably pleased with the way they are playing together. There was a sense of excitement in the room, with members realizing that NACO is maturing into a fine orchestra.

“I’ve been with this orchestra since its inception, and each year it just keeps getting better,” flute player Sue Brassett said.

Marc Semprebon, a horn player from Beebe Plain, expressed his appreciation of having a space like the hall of the First Universalist Parish to rehearse in.

“It’s nice to rehearse in this building because it’s big, and usually much louder than the places we will actually play,” he said. “It’s just a great building.”

Besides performing at various local venues throughout the year, the Newport Area Community Orchestra presents three annual concerts. They play once in the spring, and twice in the fall, with one fall concert done to raise money for the Haskell Opera House.

NACO4NACO’s fall concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library is Saturday, November 9, at 1 p.m. Admission will be free, however, to help support the orchestra’s efforts of bringing classical music to the Northeast Kingdom, a $5 donation at the door is asked.

The group serves the student communities of North Country Union High School, Lake Region Union High School, United Christian Academy, and Stanstead Academy. Students are encouraged to join.

Dancing in the Aisles at Derby Line Village Hall

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

DERBY LINE — Over 80 people filled the Derby Line Village Hall for a night of old-timey music and dancing. The 4th Friday Music Jam is an ongoing event which has been taking place in Derby Line for 11 years now.

Jimmy Edwards kept the room thumping with his electric bass throughout the night. He later sang Willie Nelson’s, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” As many as five acoustic guitars strummed along throughout the night as the band of musicians entertained those in attendance.Derby Line Village Hall Music

The jam is more about the camaraderie of everyone involved, than showcasing anyone in particular, or the musical ability they possess. With so many different musicians on hand, each calling out a new tune to play, sometimes it can take a whole song before the group finds the groove.

“Well, we figured it out by that last note,” one guitar picker said jokingly to the other players behind Mr. Edwards on lead vocal.

Besides bringing people in the community together for a night of fun and music, the event is also run for charity. Each year, the group raises money to provide music and auto tech scholarships to students from Lake Region Union High School and North Country Union High School.

On a sad note, Pauline Marsden, 63, of Island Pond, who was recently killed in a car accident in Morgan on Wednesday, was a regular at the event. A sympathy card was organized as a way for people who knew Ms. Marsden to offer their condolences to her family.

“We’re passing around a card for people to sign for her family because Pauline and her three sisters used to love coming out to the jam,” Kitty McIntyre said.

Kitty and her husband Jim have been organizing the event for the past six years.

Vermont musician Seth Yacovone played Thursday night at Parker Pie.

An Amazing Night of Music at Parker Pie with Seth Yacovone

in Arts and Entertainment/Glover

WEST GLOVER — A dusting of snow sits on the cars parked outside Parker Pie. It’s cold, and everyone is reminded of winter. Inside, it’s warm, and people sit around sipping beer or wine, feasting on what is arguably the best pizza around. A soulful voice fittingly sings Bob Dylan’s, “Girl from the North Country.” The chatter has quieted, and everyone in the room hangs on to every note of the acoustic guitar, and every word of the song.

“If you go when the snowflakes storm, when the rivers freeze and summer ends,” the musician sings.

Seth Yacavone held the crowd's attention at Parker Pie on Thursday night.
Seth Yacavone held the crowd’s attention at Parker Pie on Thursday night. Photos by Tanya Mueller.
On the television, the Boston Red Sox are loosing to the Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series, but people in the room are more interested in the musician as he continues his set. A bearded man walks around collecting tips for the musician inside an empty plastic beer pitcher.

The musician is Seth Yacovone, and to say that he is talented is an understatement. Mr. Yacovone has talent, but he has more than that. Gifted is a better way to describe him, and it’s a gift he shared with everyone at Parker Pie on Thursday night.

“My music varies a lot, depending on if I’m playing electric or acoustic. What I play is essentially a mixture of American music, from over the last fifty, sixty, or seventy years,” Yacovone said.

After already experiencing national recognition and success, Yacovone, who lives in Morrisville, is starting a new phase in his career.

At age 34, he has already accomplished things other musicians would envy.

When only 19 years old, he was invited to play with Vermont jam band Phish, in front of a crowd of 18,000 at the Worcester Centrum, in Massachusetts. Afterward, his band, the Seth Yacovone Band (SYB), opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Johnny Winter, Trey Anastasio Band, and BB King.

When asked how his sit in with Phish came about, he modestly recalled the experience.

“It came about very spur of the moment. They called me two days before it happened, so it wasn’t like I knew ahead of time or anything. It was crazy.”

After the success of the SYB, not to mention a grueling touring schedule, Yacovone decided to end the band in order to regroup, and push himself creatively into new territory. It was a decision that was good for him as a musician, and good for the people of Vermont.

1SYB4He used his time of hiatus from the SYB to tour his home state, playing solo acoustic shows. Although he has now put together a few new electric trios, he still plays solo acoustic shows like the one yesterday at Parker Pie.

“When I’m playing solo, I tend to do about every other song as one that someone else wrote.”

With Yacovone’s originals as good as they are, nobody would have minded hearing an entire set of his own music. Except, for his version of “Girl from the North Country,” which, Thursday night at Parker Pie, was perfect.

For more information and tour dates for Seth Yacovone and the SYB, visit his website at: SethYacovone.Com

As most people in Orleans County know, Parker Pie has a great menu, and wonderfully fresh pizza. Thursday is music night, and there is no cover charge.

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