BOB & SARAH AMOS
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.
MODERN TIMES THEATER
“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.
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.
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.
MARKO THE MAGICIAN
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
ANNIE & THE HEDONISTS
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.
KINGDOM ALL STARS
HOPE, LOVE & 2020 – The Kingdom All Stars will premiere three new original songs on New Year’s Eve written and recorded live by the band at Dreamery Productions in West Barnet during the pandemic. Band members Aden Marcotte, Liza Morse, Zane Mawhinney, Siri Jolliffe, Macey Mawhinney, Jazmine Bogie and JD Miller were separated into five different rooms and filmed by eight remote cameras as they performed their new songs about hope, love and 2020. Lyrics and credits will be available at www.KingdomAllStars.com. Kingdom All Stars original music is now heard online in 23 countries and 31 states in the USA on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and YouTube.
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!
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.”
DANA & SUSAN ROBINSON
Americana roots and folk duo Dana and Susan Robinson combine vivid songwriting and storytelling with fiddle tunes, banjo grooves, elegant melodies, and rich harmony singing. Drawing upon experiences of more than twenty years of touring, The Robinsons craft a performance that conveys the mystery and wonders of their journey. Their unique blend of original songwriting and traditional Appalachian music a deep understanding of America’s rich musical heritage.
Led by Village Harmony founder Larry Gordon, the five brilliant young singers of Northern Harmony present a sampling of songs from diverse world harmony traditions. All the singers in the present ensemble are veterans of many years of Village Harmony and Northern Harmony programs and have toured widely in Western Europe, Caucasus Georgia, and South Africa. There is an absolute guarantee that their performances are always exciting and dynamic.
A former international performer with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Troy Wunderle is the founder of Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures and the Artistic Director of Circus Smirkus. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of art, and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he has toured throughout the United States for the past 24 years as a freelance performer. His antics have been featured on the Disney channel, The Today Show, Martha Stewart, Chronicle, Fetch, Fox and Friends, and America’s Funniest Home Videos.
RACHEL CLEMENTE & DAN HOUGHTON
Vermont based duo, Rachel Clemente and Dan Houghton bring together an unlikely pairing of bagpipes and harp. While firmly rooted in the fertile ground of Scottish traditional music, their avant-garde interpretations and arrangements put them at the forefront of Celtic folkers in New England. Clemente is a member of Two Shores and is a US National Scottish Harp champion. Houghton is a member of Cantrip, Pipers’ Den, and former member of Salsa Celtica.
Born in the Netherlands, pianist Annemieke Mclane has performed here and abroad in Europe, including France, Switzerland, Poland, and the UK. She has earned a master’s degree in classical piano performance as well as a degree in Music Pedagogy. McLane performs collaborative piano, and her classical set is sure to amaze and entrance the audience.
This renowned trio of Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon, and Tristan Henderson brings a bright and amazing set of dual fiddles and guitar, among other instruments like a clawhammer banjo, keyboards, foot percussion, and more! Their vocals and harmonies are sure to awe any crowd. Pete and his Posse have toured extensively at many festivals bringing their “Neo-Traditional Folk” to venues across North America and Europe and. With five albums under their belts, they never lack for traditional and original material.
BECKY TRACY AND KEITH MURPHY
Dynamic performers of traditional music from Newfoundland, Quebec, Ireland, France and beyond, Becky Tracy and Keith Murphy produce a range and richness of sound. Tracy’s fiddling pulses through tasteful arrangements of dance tunes and resonates with beauty on traditional slow airs. Murphy’s gentle and expressive singing in English and French is balanced by the drive and power of his guitar playing and foot percussion. Combined, their playing is seamless, the result of years of touring across the U.S., Canada and in Europe. Their repertoire also includes Keith’s original compositions. This music is elegantly represented in their duo recording, Golden, released in early 2020.
Broadway veteran Ray Walker, accompanied on the piano by Mark Violette, brings his one-man show of some of his favorite holiday and Broadway songs to First Night’s virtual stage. Walker’s Broadway credits include Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, and Falsettos. After 20 years performing on Broadway and around the world, Ray founded the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh where he was Artistic Director for 15 years. Walker recently returned to St. Johnsbury, where he grew up performing in local community productions and summer theaters. All experiences he still credits for changing his life. Ray is now an instructor in Performing Arts and Director of Academy Theatre at St. Johnsbury Academy, from which he graduated.
LYNDON INSTITUTE DANCE PROGRAM
Under the direction of Rebecca McGregor, about fifty Lyndon Institute dance students came together in the fall to create work in response to issues they face in society today. Their movement depicts their reactions to experiences facing the pandemic, problems with bullying and race, as well as their wishes as they grow and move forward one day at a time as individuals and as an ensemble. The comprehensive Dance Program at LI takes a holistic approach to dance education and is geared towards dancers of all levels and abilities. McGregor is on the National Dance Education Organization’s mentoring committee and mentors new dance educators across the country.
NORTH COUNTRY HIGH SCHOOL DANCE COMPANY
Directed by Taryn Colby, the North Country Union High School dancers interpret in movement the theme of “a change in connection.” Each piece represents the ups/downs/zigzags of life we are all currently experiencing with this pandemic. The dancers specifically wanted to show how we can still come together, in any environment to dance and connect with one another. Filmed outside, “Better When I’m Dancing” focuses on site-specific choreography with phrases that fit in different locations. “Imagine” (choreographed by sophomore Josie Pearson) and “I’d Love to Change the World” are each performed by half of the company, respectively. Focused on creating movement for individual dancers while also showing the troupe coming together in unison, they symbolize that, despite their differences, connecting with others, and embracing our differences can make us stronger together.
ST. JOHNSBURY BALLET STUDIO
Under the direction of Liliana Cubero Fernandez, the St. Johnsbury Ballet Studio performs a veritable rainbow of colorful dances to a full spectrum of music ranging from Latin to classical composers. For First Night, Cubero has choreographed pieces set to “Trato-Dos” by Astor Piazzolla and “Carmen” by George Bizet. The dancers are Marissa Currier Cubero, Theodora Montague, Mairead O’Connor-Genereaux, Wendy Koponen-Robotham, and Phoebe Weisenfeld.
The St. Johnsbury Ballet Studio is proud to be in their 26th year of teaching dance within the community, and this their 15th year participating in First Night. The ballet studio participates in both local and international dance festivals; her groups have performed in schools in Vermont as well in Cubero’s native Costa Rica, where she had taught ballet at a university level. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of her students’ talents with the First Night audience as we look forward to a New Year hopeful of what it can bring.