2020 INTENTIONS GENERATOR
142 Eastern Ave. 4 p.m. to Midnight
The Pop-up Northeast Kingdom 2020 Intentions Generator is a new immersive interactive art installation created with Geoff Spence. Stop by across the street from 142 Eastern Ave. to push the activation button and send a New Year’s intention on its way in a grand display of light and motion. Be a part of it now! Add your intention for the New Year through Twitter @nekintentions2020, Instagram #nekintentions2020, or Google nekintentions2020. Check out the 142 Eastern Facebook page for more information. Intentions can empower us to create positive change for ourselves and others.
ARTS CONNECT JURIED SHOW
Catamount Arts Fried Gallery 11 a.m. to Midnight
Juried by Katie Wood Kirchhoff, associate curator at the Shelburne Museum, this exhibition of work by artist members of Catamount Arts opens on Saturday, November 23, and you can see it all day long on New Year’s Eve. A feast for the eyes and the soul!
South Church Hall - 4 p.m.
St. Johnsbury Academy’s select mixed a cappella vocal group sings a delightfully eclectic program ranging from the sacred to contemporary. Having shared the stage with Vermont’s premier professional vocal ensemble Counterpoint, the Boston Children’s Chorus, and the North Country Chorus, plus an annual appearance at the Vermont Madrigal Festival in Burlington, director Alan Rowe refers to the Hilltones as the “Academy’s vocal ambassadors.”
ACADEMY JAZZ BAND
South Church Hall - 5 p.m.
Another highly accomplished student group from St. Johnsbury Academy, the Jazz Band offers a concert of audience-friendly improvisations from their recent fall concert. Under the capable leadership of director Alan Rowe, the group regularly represents the Academy at appearances throughout the state and has gained a well-deserved reputation for its tight riffs and enthusiastic renditions of jazz classics.
ALIVE AND WELL
Universalist Unitarian Church - 6 p.m.
Tim Berry and Suzan Shute both grew up in musical households where any genre could be found, from blues to country, big band to southern rock. Their inherited love of music and well-developed talents make for a winning combination. Their voices blend beautifully, whether it’s a slow love song or a driving solid number. Accompanied by two guitars and an occasional bass, Alive and Well promises a good ol’ boy foot stomper followed by a sweet melodious tune, and everything in between.
BOB & SARAH AMOS
United Community Church - 8 p.m.
This popular father-daughter musical duo presents a wide variety of songs in an intimate style, with mesmerizing vocal harmonies accompanied by Bob’s formidable guitar talents. Bob has written and recorded over 100 songs on 12 CDs over the past 30 years. His songs reflect many influences and styles including folk, bluegrass, blues, Celtic, pop, and rock-a-billy. Vocalist Sarah Amos has been singing professionally for over a decade now. In their duo show Bob and Sarah step outside of their regular Catamount Crossing bluegrass setting, performing a wider selection of songs from Bob’s diverse musical catalog, plus a few of their favorite traditional and more modern covers.
BOB AMOS & CATAMOUNT CROSSING
United Community Church - 9 p.m.
Vermont’s premier bluegrass band returns to First Night North with their entertaining mix of stellar harmony vocals, top shelf original and traditional material and rock solid instrumentation. The band’s two most recent CDs have each been awarded “best CD of the year” in the country/bluegrass category by the Vermont Times Argus, and Singout! magazine has called Bob, “one of the most consistently interesting and intelligent songwriters in American music.” Catamount Crossing includes Bob on banjo and vocals, daughter Sarah Amos on vocals, Freeman Corey on fiddle, Gary Darling on mandolin and vocals, Steve Wright on guitar and vocals, and Chris Cruger on bass.
ANNIE & THE HEDONISTS
South Church Hall - 7 and 9 p.m.
Take a little bit of folk music and mix it with acoustic blues, Western swing, and vintage jazz from the 1920s and ‘30s, and you end up with Annie and the Hedonists. Annie Rosen is a dynamic and captivating singer. She delivers a lyric like it was a cherished bedtime story; as comfortable as your favorite sweater; as truthful as…well, maybe there’s nothing that honest. With the tight harmonies and superb musicianship of Jonny Rosen on guitar, Colin McCaffrey on guitar, mandolin and fiddle, and Gary Lottspeich on bass, the Hedonists bring back the songs of the great female blues artists of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, including Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald.
United Community Church - 11 p.m.
As authentic as their namesake – the Vermont military road constructed during the Revolutionary War – historical stories and yarns about musicians (famous or not) provide the background to the music of the Bayley-Hazen Boys. With Gary Darling on mandolin, Steve Wright on guitar, and Chris Cruger on bass, they take you on a rollicking ride from the hills of northern Vermont down through Americana to the southern Appalachians. Combining their fresh interpretation of time-tested traditional material with a wealth of original songs, they blend soulful ballads, tight vocal harmonies, and hard-driving instrumental work into a sound evoking the spirit of the early Stanley Brothers and Bill and Charlie Monroe.
JASON BERGMAN & THE PRIMAL BOYS
South Church Hall - 8 and 10 p.m.
After performing on five continents as half the New York duo Jason ‘n’ Grayson, fiddler Jason Bergman is now best known to hometown crowds in front of the American roots music, blues and bluegrass, performances of The Primal Boys. Joining the Primal Boys this year is Kevin Conroy, a hot young picker who moved from acid-metal rock to Bluegrass. Conroy first mastered all of the bluegrass standards on the guitar before taking up the mandolin. Conroy’s speed and agility on both instruments and his excellent singing voice soon came to the attention of Bergman. When Conroy joined him on the summer stage at PAMfest, the Northeast Kingdom paid attention, too! Bassist Jim Whitney and guitarist and vocalist Colin McCaffrey are also performing as Primal Boys.
BOBBIE AND ME
Universalist Unitarian Church - 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Bobbie Strich and Marvin (“Me”) Drake have been performing in the North Country for three decades, presenting many of their acoustic classics long before they were classics. Their unique guitar styles and vocal harmonies bring these vintage songs to life with an original twist that’s sure to appeal to almost any taste in music. Strich and Drake love interacting with their audiences and especially enjoy taking requests.
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 6 p.m.
Autumn, 20, with her 17-year-old twin sisters Lauren and Sadie sing harmonies that are as close as their family relationship. With guitar and keyboard and Autumn’s gift of perfect pitch, the Chamberlain Sisters sing their pop classics and original songs right in tune.
Universalist Unitarian Church - 8 p.m.
Four good friends who have been making music all their lives got together and Comfort Country is what came of it! Lee Baker, Tim Berry, Joanne Gilman, and Suzan Shute each play multiple instruments – often passing them around – and sing exquisite harmonies on timeless country classics. You’ll hear everything from Merle Haggard to Patsy Cline with a few gospels thrown in for good measure. This North Country band has been wowing local audiences; and now with their second CD under their belt, these well-seasoned musicians are branching out to a wider region. Just like comfort food, Comfort Country is good for the soul.
BARBARA & PAUL CONNELLY
United Community Church - 5 p.m.
With over 40 distinct sounds capable of mimicking an entire orchestra, the United Community Church’s, 2,000-pipe, three-manual organ earns the nickname “King of Instruments.” The year 2020 will mark Barbara Connelly’s fourth decade at the console from which she offers parishioners a rich variety of music at weekly worship services. Her son, Paul Connelly, was part of the church’s music program since he could talk (and sing). He joins his mother in a mostly classical program for organ and piano, which also includes some seasonal songs.
COOIE AND SKIP
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 8 p.m.
Vermont songbird Cooie DeFrancesco lends a unique and heartfelt depth to a lyric, using guitar to complement her roots blues, country and western, jazz, and folk vocal interpretations. Skip Gray is a singer-songwriter who plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar, as well as upright electric bass. Together their collaboration thrills and inspires their audiences every time!
Catamount Arts Theater One - 6 and 8 p.m.
A self-taught musician, Ana D’Leon started playing guitar at 13 and composing songs long before that. She feels that her music is created in cooperation with a force much larger than herself. She draws from her life experiences and a diverse musical background to create “soul expression, emotional exchange, connection, rhythm and harmony.” She lives to create and connect with others through her music.
Masonic Hall - 5 and 7 p.m.
The didgeridoo, that magical instrument from aboriginal Australia, has taken Vermonter Pitz Quattrone from the Arctic Circle to the Equator performing and passing on what he has learned about the “didge.” This master player, builder, and teacher of the didge, joins fellow Vermonter and slide guitar ace Chris Robertson. Add in their voices and percussion and DidgeriGroove creates grooves that move! Pitz writes songs from tragic to comic, and everything in between. Whether manic and hilarious, or serious as a heart attack, Pitz is as unique as the didgeridoo itself.
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 5 p.m.
These dedicated drum enthusiasts come to Linda Warnaar’s percussion class from many walks of life to understand and share the universal appeal of the traditional beat of a wide variety of drums. The Drumatics are sure to get hearts pounding and spirits soaring when they draw you into their circle of rhythm this New Year’s Eve.
FAMILY FUN FAIR
St. Johnsbury School - 4 to 8 p.m.
There will be games and crafts and all kinds of fun in a safe, fully supervised, music-filled environment. A supper of pancakes and sausage is served by Parent-Teacher Organization of the St. Johnsbury School. No charge, but tips are encouraged!
BOBBY FARLICE SOUND SYSTEM
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 5 p.m.
With a long history of music in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, Bobby Farlice was a member of Nobuko Miyamoto’s band Warriors of the Rainbow and the Change Band with Flip Nunez and Michael Howell. He was also a contributor to music for the progressive social scene at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church. His set is jazz, blues and Latin, all with a touch of soul, and all for your listening pleasure. Having played the nightclub scene for many years, he prefers playing community gigs like First Night, which he generously supports. The sound system in the Bobby Farlice Sound System is his Roland FP2 keyboard with Session Partner, which turns Bobby into a one-man band.
Masonic Hall - 4 and 8 p.m.
Presenting an eclectic repertoire featuring English pub songs and ballads, fiddle tunes, and contemporary works as well, with a preference for songs about rural living, Fifth Business has been blending traditions for over a dozen years. Known for their rich vocal performances at farmers markets and other local venues, the band includes vocalists Heather Alger and Kate Davie, who also add light percussion. Classically trained Nick Anzalone easily turned his fiddling to the dark side to join with Stuart Corso on button accordion, Hannah Davie on mandolin, and Steve Davie on guitar and octave mandolin. While their traditional songs aren’t always politically correct, their personal habits are unimpeachable. And they’re fun at parties.
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 9 and 11 p.m.
Inspired by the high-energy Gaelic music of Nova Scotia, Footworks is a dynamic, Vermont-based instrumental band whose goal is to bring to audiences the powerful rhythm and beautiful melodies of Cape Breton music. Members have played nationally at such venues as the Boston Celtic Music Festival and The National Old Time Music Festival, as well as at local venues.
Fuller Hall - 5 p.m.
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 7 p.m.
A First Night performance with Jon Gailmor is a celebration of people, places, events and moments that have shaped who he is. His music is fraught with emotion, poignancy, rampant childishness, and incessant audience involvement. It is geared toward humans – prenatal through prehistoric – and ranges from the outrageously relevant to the criminally, meaninglessly absurd. The songs are gluten-free, low in cholesterol, and guaranteed to uplift. Folks should be prepared to laugh, sing, grunt, scream and maybe just listen, from time to time, feeling quite hopeful, indeed, for 2020 and beyond.
MICHAEL HAHN BAND
Streeter Hall - 9 to 10:45 p.m.
Now with his new eponymous group, Michael Hahn has made music for decades with popular bands like Hornbeam, Don’t Call Betty, Hooch Lombardo, Whetstone, and Ten Mile Shuffle. Performing a wide variety of rock, country, blues, and reggae, the Michael Hahn Band features John Pheiffer on cello, Dr. Bob Primeau on drums, Sid Gulick on guitar, Dan Keenan on bass, and Donna Delmoora on backing vocals. Michael sings, plays guitar, and writes some of the songs.
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 10 p.m.
A musical mainstay with the St Johnsbury Players, Barry Hayes has been working with local theater groups in varied capacities for over 25 years. He has sung the lead role in musicals such as Camelot, Kiss Me Kate, and Carousel. He wrote, directed, and performed in “The Musical Mystery Tour,” an original revue featuring the music of the Beatles. He has played guitar and bass for productions of Tommy, Wizard of Oz, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Tonight he brings the music of classic favorites like Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, the Eagles, and of course, the Beatles.
ISLAY MIST CEILIDH
South Church Hall - 6 p.m.
A ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”) is a Gaelic word usually referring to an informal evening of Scottish traditional music. Islay Mist Ceilidh is an engaging group from northern New Hampshire that is fast gaining a following as the freshest, most enjoyable collection of enthusiasts of traditional Celtic music in New England. The music is toe-tapping, hand-clapping friendly and celebrates not only the Celtic heritage of our area, but the positive, community-minded spirit as well.
JOKERS ~ VERMONT STAND-UPS
Masonic Hall - 6 and 9 p.m.
First Night is pleased to again present three award-winning, family-friendly comics from the Vermont Comedy Club, where the best of the fast-growing Vermont stand-up comedy scene hone their craft. All of this year’s comics have been finalists in the annual Vermont’s Funniest Comedian Contest, where 60 comics compete through three rounds of performance being judged by comedy agents, club owners and TV producers.
Joe Gingras, crowned this year as Vermont’s Funniest Comedian, has been a feature comic at the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington for national headliners from Emo Phillips to DeAnne Smith and Pete Lee. He has performed in New York City and all over Vermont and New England.
Kathleen Kanz is the first woman to win the Vermont’s Funniest Comedian contest. She’s performed in Winooski’s Waking Windows festival and the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Oregon and appears regularly at the Vermont Comedy Club. She hosts/produces the Kathleen Kanz Comedy Hour, a monthly comedy showcase at Espresso Bueno in Barre.
Liam Welsh is an up-and-coming stand-up and sketch comedian who made a name for himself this year by placing second in the 2019 Vermont’s Funniest Comedian Contest debut. He has opened for national headliner Janelle James, landed a spot as a member of the first ever Summer Comedy Revue at the Vermont Comedy Club, and performed in Sketchfest in New York City.
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 9 p.m.
A classic acoustic rock duo who are, can you guess? cousins! Rich Mayhew and Eric Pierce focus on the music of America, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, The Eagles, Bob Seger, and many others, plus a few original songs. These cousins come together to produce mesmerizing vocal harmonies that have captured the attention of many audiences in the Northeast Kingdom.
KINGDOM ALL STARS
St. Johnsbury School Auditorium - 6 and 7 p.m.
The Kingdom All Stars are a 15-member band featuring some of the best young musicians from public and private schools in northeastern Vermont. Special guest artists join the Kingdom All Stars during the band’s annual First Night North concerts including violinists from the acclaimed EPIC Music program and Caledonian-Record Rising Star Search fan favorite Rory Higgs. The group released their first studio album of original music this year and have performed live at NEMBAFest in Lyndon, Levitt AMP Music Series at Dog Mountain, Caledonia County Fair, Danville Fair and the Red Barn in Danville. The band has been featured on Vermont Public Radio programs “Morning Edition” and “All the Traditions.”
THE KOWAL FAMILY
United Community Church - 7 p.m.
A young bluegrass band, The Kowal Family is mentored by bluegrass masters Bob Amos and Patrick Ross. In chronological order from age 10 to 16, the Kowal siblings are Ted on mandolin, Mae on fiddle, Finn on banjo, and Max on guitar and vocals. The family recently moved to Vermont from Maine and are quickly gaining in local popularity.
SOPHIE & JAMES LAMAR
St. Johnsbury House - 9 p.m.
This father-daughter duo play a blend of originals and covers. After her high school graduation, Sophie moved to California to pursue her musical interests. James is a songwriter and local teacher who has previously played for young audiences during First Night. His original songs will include a few from his recent musicals. Together, Sophie and James will share an uplifting mix of songs that will make you feel good.
St. Andrew’s Church - 5 and 6 p.m.
“One of the most beloved storytellers in northern New England.” That sounds like an opinion, but long-time listeners to Vermont Public Radio would attest that it’s simply a fact. Willem Lange’s stories draw from a vast assortment of life experience working his way through college as a ranch hand, Adirondack guide, preacher, construction laborer, bobsled run announcer, assembly line worker, cab driver, bookkeeper, and bartender during nine years of scattered semesters. Then there followed stints as a high school English teacher, an Outward Bound instructor and director, and a career as a building and remodeling contractor. All these jobs have fed his storytelling. Willem has published nine books. His audio recordings have received four Emmy nominations, and won one!
MARKO THE MAGICIAN
Fuller Hall - 7 p.m.
What makes Marko’s performances so special is his ability to mystify, entertain, and make everyone laugh on different levels at the same time. There’s nothing better than seeing grandparents, parents, and children all having a wonderful time together at the same show. Marko’s magic show truly transcends all age and social barriers to bring people together in a common state of amazement. See children’s faces as they watch Marko perform tricks, hear them laugh with sheer delight at his jokes, see their eyes sparkle, then you have seen the real magic.
MARKO THE HYPNOTIST
Fuller Hall - 10:15 p.m.
As a certified Master Hypnotist and member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, Marko believes the participants in his shows are the stars, and he makes them shine. His hypnosis show starts a little past the hour and runs to around 11:30 p.m. to allow Marko enough time to wring every drop of comedy from his audience volunteers. Marko’s shows are designed for fun; no one is ever really embarrassed or compromised, even as they willingly obey his hilarious commands.
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 6 p.m.
Vermont songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer, Colin McCaffrey lends his smooth voice and string wizardry to the best original and traditional swing, blues, country and folk music coming out of these hills. The Burlington Free Press calls McCaffrey “a Green Mountain treasure worth unearthing.”
Catamount Arts Theater Two - 7 p.m.
Country singer Ashley Miles has been described as “a talented songwriter as well as a fantastic singer with tremendous guitar skills.” Her songs have that timeless feel, yet also fit in well with the current world of roots country/Americana. Twice-named a North American Country Music Association International Future Star of Tomorrow and winner of several state and national country music awards, she has appeared on stage with Jo Dee Messina. Ashley is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Northern Vermont Songwriters.
MODERN TIMES THEATER
St. Johnsbury School Auditorium - 5 p.m.
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 8 p.m.
“The Perils of Mr. Punch” follows the troubles and travails of puppetry’s favorite loudmouth, Mr. Punch. Nothing ever goes right— his dog looks suspiciously like a skunk, his baby doesn’t behave, and crocodiles appear around every corner. The skillfully operated hand puppets are chock full of surprises and tricks, as is the elaborate stage. The show is rounded out with live music played on a variety of instruments, from the ukulele to the bicycle pump. It’s a low-tech old-time spectacle, quality entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. Modern Times Theater co-founders Rose Friedman and Justin Lander are producers for Vermont Vaudeville and alumni of Bread and Puppet Theater.
NEWARK BALKAN CHORUS
St. Andrew’s Church - 7 and 9 p.m.
Based out of the Northeast Kingdom’s Newark Street School’s after school program, the Newark Balkan Chorus is lead by Elly Barksdale and Erin (Barksdale) McKinnon and helped by Jericho Bicknell, who were all original chorus members during their school days in the late 1990’s. The a cappella chorus sings traditional songs in the Macedonian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Russian languages in two, three, and four-part harmonies that range from sweet to dissonant. The unique quality of this style of music, often very robust, allows these young voices to soar and find themselves at a precious young age.
NIMBLE ARTS CIRCUS
Fuller Hall - 8 and 9 p.m.
Juggling, aerials, and acrobatics transform the world into a playground where you can wonder, dream and be dazzled! Join this award winning company for a celebration of circus spectacle. Nimble Arts was founded by identical twin aerialists Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion to create inventive works of theatrical circus. Their own performing résumés include awards at international circus competitions as well as contracts with such notable companies as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey, the Pickle Family Circus, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Their Nimble Arts ensemble includes other award winning performers and circus artists who call Vermont home.
NISHT GEFERLACH KLEZMER BAND
Streeter Hall - 5 to 6:45 p.m.
The soulful and stirring music of the Jews of Eastern Europe and, more recently, of New York’s Lower East Side has found a home in Vermont! The Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band has been playing klezmer music in New England for almost 35 years. “Nisht Geferlach,” translated literally from the Yiddish, means “not dangerous.” More colloquially, it means “Relax, it won’t kill you.” The band plays songs from the golden age of New York’s Yiddish Theater as well as freilachs, bulgars, and other lively instrumentals that display the Tin Pan Alley and New Orleans jazz influence on Jewish immigrant musicians. And in true Klezmer tradition, dancing is encouraged!
NO STRINGS MARIONETTE CO.
St. Johnsbury School Auditorium - 4 p.m.
Welcome to the mysterious and magical world of marionettes. Creating one-of-a-kind puppets sparkling with spirit, Barbara Paulson and Dan Baginski masterfully animate these figures, channeling thought into gesture, transforming wood into being. In this year’s show, “Treasure Hunt,” we ship out with Jim on a swashbuckling hunt for treasure on the high seas. A wild ocean storm throws Jim overboard, where his underwater odyssey begins. With an enchanted kiss from Jewel, a young mermaid, Jim is able to breathe under water, but other problems ensue: a giant clam, a fish that swallows him whole, an electric eel, and an angry octopus guarding his treasure. Jewel and Jim then encounter King Neptune and discover perils that threaten sea and land creatures alike.
NORTHERN VERMONT SONGWRITERS
St. Johnsbury House - 5, 6, and 7 p.m.
They come from many walks of life with a common love of writing songs and performing them. The Northern Vermont Songwriters share a common stage for nearly two hours, taking turns singing and playing short sets of their wide variety of songs for each other and their First Night audience. In alphabetical order, this year’s artists are:
Carl Beverly has been writing and perfecting his finger-picking guitar style for the past ten years. He and his wife Carolyn host the monthly Brook House Songwriters’ Circle in Warner, NH. Whether he’s singing a catchy tune about never growing up or a moving song of a forgotten soldier, Carl’s songs reflect his distinctive style, that wraps around the audience, carrying you wherever he wants to take you.
Jane E. Cline began her singing career at the age of seven, performing in rock bands. Two of her songs have been highlighted in an Indie film titled Mustang Stallion- Outlaw’s Tail. Her style is country folk with a little hint of spirituality, blues, bluegrass, funk, and jazz. She finds inspiration with songs that tell a story or have an emotional impact.
Charlie Doherty is an earnest young man of advanced years who relocated to the Northeast Kingdom half a dozen years ago. Once described as “Tom Waits interpreted by Tom Petty,” he has been a member of any number of inexplicably obscure rock and blues bands and rubbed shoulders with some artists you have actually heard of. Nothing rubbed off, but odds are you still find pleasure in his performance even as you forget his name.
Art Edelstein released his first singer/songwriter album, Vermont Roads, in 1989. His most recent is News, Blues and a Dog Tale. In between these albums he released four albums of Celtic music as a solo guitarist, with the duo Borealis, and as a member of the band Poteen. When not writing songs, and playing guitar, Edelstein is a music critic for the Times Argus/Rutland Herald. Scott Graner was raised in a musical family amidst a vast array of musical styles: everything from classical, jazz and show tunes to country, folk and R&B. However, it was his introduction to the alternative rock music of the 90’s that sparked his creative songwriting juices. Today, Scott has come full circle, writing music as varied as his musical experiences, while looking forward to releasing several new singles.
Michael Hahn attended Berklee College of Music and has entertained New England audiences for decades with such popular bands as Hornbeam, Don’t Call Betty, Hoochi Lombardo, Whetstone, and The Ten Mile Shuffle Band. Michael was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition for his original song, “Chick Magnet.”
Carol Hausner’s pure, heartfelt singing, compelling harmonies, and expressive, award-winning songwriting playing traditional, contemporary and original bluegrass, country, and folk music with various bands in the Mid-Atlantic States and New England. In 2009 she placed first in the bluegrass category with co-writer Colin McCaffrey at the legendary MerleFest Chris Austin songwriting contest for “Love Gone By.”
Jim Karns is a past winner of the Baltimore/Washington Songwriters’ Association songwriting contest. He is proud to have shared the stage with members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, Molly Hatchet, and the Rossington Collins Band and has had the great pleasure of opening for the Charlie Daniels Band. Jim is currently concentrating heavily on songwriting, including co-writing new material with Bob Amos. He’s recently signed a publishing contract with Sherrill Blackman, one of Nashville’s top independent music publishers.
Sara Lewis lived in New York City for seven years before she moved to Vermont. There she performed regularly in a variety of Manhattan venues. Listeners compare the sound of this songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music teacher to the likes of Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, and Ingrid Michaelson.
Victor Tremblay considers himself lucky to be living in beautiful rural northern Vermont and loves the outdoors. Now retired, he has been a singer-songwriter since his early teens. Trevor Robinson is new to the singer-songwriter line-up this year. Let’s just let him surprise us with his music. And there could be yet another artist or two who will want to offer a few songs.
NOT QUITE DEAD
Catamount Arts Cabaret - 4 and 10 p.m.
This acoustic trio brings together three seasoned and accomplished musicians who capture the essence of the traditional and roots music that inspired the Grateful Dead. Their repertoire also includes original and Grateful Dead music. Featuring Carol Hausner on guitar and mandolin, Donovan Delabruere on guitar, and founder Jonathan “Doc” Kaplan on piano, Not Quite Dead’s strong and enduring vocals and harmonies combined with great musicianship blend together to create their full, unique sound.
Catamount Arts Theater One - 9 p.m.
Vermont singer, songwriter, and record producer Ben Patton’s diverse tastes and talents span the breadth of pop music. The Vermont music website County Tracks named his 2018 solo album, Meaning What, the year’s best. In this collection of original songs Patton careens through doo-wop, garage-rock, Tin Pan Alley, jazz, show tunes, and beyond. Yet, against all odds, this unwieldy genre-mash holds together. Fully in command of his many disparate influences, Patton works multiple earworm hooks and memorable melodies into each song.
Main St. & Eastern Ave. - 6:40, 7:40, 8:40 & 9:40 p.m.
From the far eastern realm of New Hampshire, all the way out to the western borderland of Burlington, Phoenix Bazaar has delighted young and old with their fiery antics. This fire arts performing troupe is an odd assortment of fire performers dedicated to exploring the balance of movement and flame. From poi, to fire staff, to fire fans, they bring a variety of fiery delights. Where? Where else but next to the St. Johnsbury Fire Department?
Fairbanks Museum Planetarium - 6 to 9 p.m.
The stars in this show are perfectly aligned with First Night 2020, the Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum presents “Our View is 20/20.” Join the Fairbanks’ expert astronomers at the only public planetarium in Vermont as they give you a tour of the winter skies, and show you highlights for 2020. These sights include fantastic views of Venus, and a marvelous meeting of Jupiter and Saturn late in the year. Audiences are welcomed and seated for each show every 30 minutes on a first-come, first-served basis.
United Community Church - 6 p.m.
Patti Casey and Tom MacKenzie come together as Shady Rill to perform everything from French Canadian dance tunes, to Tin Pan Alley, to Old Time Country, to their own impressive originals. Great harmonies and wonderful instrumentation are the hallmark of these two much-traveled, and much-loved, Vermont musicians.
Universalist Unitarian Church - 9 p.m.
Here’s something different: a one-man-band featuring bass and foot operated snare drum, guitar, harmonica, and vocals, playing an eclectic mix of classic rock, blues, Americana, and country tunes. Glenn McElwain, aka “Shrimp,” is a performing musician from the Northeast Kingdom. With decades of experience both on stage and in the studio, he performs regularly at resorts and music venues throughout New England. Be prepared to sing along!
Morse Center - 8 to 9:45 p.m.
Northeast Kingdom super-group, Star Rats, features some of the regions top rockers from bands such as Subject to Change, Tritium Well, Electric Sorcery, The Atlantic Effect, Beardos and more. Their hard rocking bluesy jams, instrumental acrobatics, and sweet vocal harmonies are sure to move your body, mind, and soul.
SWING NORTH BIG BAND
Streeter Hall - 7 to 8:45 pm
Swing North Big Band plays classic swing and dance music with an 18-piece Big Band featuring Vermont and New Hampshire’s finest jazz musicians. Under the direction of Phil Brown, their program includes seasonal music and Big Band favorites for dancing and listening.
BRENDAN TAAFFE & MARK ROBERTS
Catamount Arts Theater One - 7 and 10 p.m.
Blending old-time traditions with African influences, Brendan Taaffe and Mark Roberts captivate the audience with ballads rendered on Taaffe’s mbira and gourd banjo, and Roberts’ deep groove old-time fiddle and banjo. Taaffe also brings the magic of a “crankie”—an illustrated scroll in a wooden puppet theater that enchants like nothing else. Deeply rooted in the music of the “old, weird America,” Taaffe has researched this music in both Kentucky and Zimbabwe, blending them together for a unique voice. He has toured with the Bright Wings Chorus, Magic Foot, and his band The New Line. Roberts is one of New England’s leading banjo players, and is in demand for his compelling rhythmic sense. He has performed off-Broadway with the Red Clay Ramblers, was a founding member of both the seminal Irish-American band Touchstone and the contra dance groove band The Sevens.
Morse Center - 6 to 7:45 p.m.
Sharing a passion for genuine rock ‘n roll, blues and outlaw country, Third Shift has been playing music together all their lives.. Third Shift’s many influences include Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Levon Helm, and The Band. Hailing from the Northeast Kingdom, their sound embodies the mountains and the lifestyle of northern Vermont. With Ethan Sawyer on guitar, and brothers Matt and Kyle Goodell on bass and drums, Third Shift is “roots music with volume.”
St. Johnsbury House - 8 p.m.
Harpist Bill Tobin Is an outdoor enthusiast whose original compositions are often inspired by the peace and joy that is found in nature. Bill is the harp chairperson at the New Hampshire Highland Games where he has won numerous awards including the New England Scottish Harp Championship. In addition to his highly regarded contemporary tunes, Tobin is also playing lively jigs and his arrangements of well-known classical and sacred music. His program includes works on his Celtic harp, electronic harp, and the grand concert harp.
Morse Center - 10 to 11:45 p.m.
With their irradiating mix of originals, traditional American, Cuban, reggae, rock, funk, blues, Tritium Well produces ecstatic musical experiences that feel like sonic excursions around the Earth! Hot guitarist Bobby Farlice-Rubio leads this “radioactive” four-member ensemble with wicked violinist Nick Anzalone, world-class drummer Linda Warnaar, and brilliant bassist Kevin Colosa. When people ask what kind of music they play, the standard answer is always “roots, rock, and reggae!” just to satisfy the need for brevity. Their varied and uncommon repertoire includes songs made famous by Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams, Buena Vista Social Club, Leadbelly, Willie Nelson, Grateful Dead, Old Crow Medicine Show, among others. Whatever beat they play, feel free to get up and boogie!
UNITED COMMUNITY HANDBELL ENSEMBLE
St. Johnsbury House - 4 p.m.
First Night occurs right in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas. The United Community Handbell Ensemble celebrates the season with a “Carol-Ring.” Under the direction of Phil Brown, their program features seasonal carols from various traditions, plus opportunities for the audience to sing along.
Universalist Unitarian Church - 5 and 7 p.m.
With backgrounds rich in French cultures and language, through lifelong experiences living and traveling in French-speaking lands, Va-et-vient (“Come & Go”) creates beautiful harmonies. Celebrating the many colors found in music from several French cultures, Carol Reed, Suzanne Germain, and Lausanne Allen take you from 16th century France to New Orleans with lively dance numbers, touching love songs, kickin’ Cajun tunes, and rollicking Créole favorites. From neighbors to the north, these musiciennes bring back new old tunes learned from Québecois elders (and youngsters!) and re-weave them into their own arrangements. The Addison county trio accompanies their vocal harmonies on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, flute, and percussion.
VILLAGE HARMONY ALUMNI ENSEMBLE
St. Andrew’s Church - 8 and 10 p.m.
Led by Village Harmony founder Larry Gordon and veteran director Carl Linich, the young adults of the Village Harmony Alumni Ensemble gather during the holidays to enhance their fluency in traditional songs from around the world. With clear command of radically-varied singing styles and infectiously joyous stage presence, Village Harmony performances create a sound that is guaranteed to be dynamic, unpredictable, and absolutely exciting.
Fuller Hall - 6 p.m.
United Community Church - 10 p.m.
Stunningly powerful vocal harmony floods the room as the four Windborne singers have collected and studied polyphonic vocal music for over 15 years from traditional singing masters from cultures around the world. Windborne shifts fluidly from radically different genres like no band you have ever heard, as comfortable with an improvised Corsican couplet song as an English ballad. Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon share a vibrant energy onstage – their connection to each other and to the music clearly evident. They educate as they entertain, telling stories about the music and explaining the characteristics and stylistic elements of the traditions in which they sing.
St. Johnsbury Academy Gym Parking Lot - Midnight
First Night revelers gather to welcome the New Year as Classen’s 100-foot crane raises our big lighted ball. Created by The Foundry of Lyndonville, our ball – 13 feet in diameter! – is bigger than the one that is dropped in Times Square in New York City with new electronic tricks to entertain. When the ball reaches the top at the stroke of midnight a spectacular show by North Star Fireworks starts the year off with a boom and fills the sky with bright color and joyous oohs and aahs. Everyone is invited to come on out to welcome the New Year at this town-wide celebration. (No admission button required.)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020
SACRED CIRCLE DANCE
Universalist Unitarian Church - 2 to 4 p.m.
Dance to sacred music from various cultures, while holding a safe space of mutual support for community and global healing and abundant blessings for all. All dances are taught, and no experience or partners are necessary to join in the simple, rhythmic movements. First Night buttons honored; or a $10 donation is suggested.