Elsie Lynn Parini


THE ALMENDROS
Sure it’s time for jingle bells and carols, but sometimes we need to mix in a few fresh tunes. Addison County band The Almendros released an album of all-original songs just before Thanksgiving. Check out “All Over the Place” on Spotify, Apple Music or at their website almendrosband.com. The songs are written by Pete Ryan, the bassist and an earth-science prof at Middlebury College. “Pete is a terrific, very intelligent and interesting songwriter,” said Doug Wilhelm, a local author and musician. “A couple of years ago Pete left two local bands to work on developing his own stuff the way he...

BRISTOL ARTIST SUSANNE Peck is making portraiture with pencils her main gig these days.
Sometimes life gives us a great, big shove in a direction we never anticipated. For Susanne Peck, like many of us, the pandemic precipitated an epic change in her career.  “I lost both my main gigs: teaching singing at Middlebury College and as the St. Stephen’s Church choir director,” Peck said in a FaceTime interview last week.  So, what next?  Well, Peck saw this shift as the opportunity she’d been waiting for to launch her business as a portrait artist. She works out of her home in Bristol and primarily uses pencils for her drawings.   “I’m in love with that medium,” she said. “I think...

LOCAL ARTIST DOUG Lazarus completed his most recent project “Middlebury’s Own,” which celebrates seven remarkable individuals, and installed the 4- by 6-foot banners in the new park in front of Twilight Hall in mid-November. The exhibit will be on view through December. Independent photo/Steve James
These days it’s all too easy to get a little depressed when you think about the trajectory of the pandemic. We’re missing friends and family. We’re yearning to get out of the house and mingle, to be free of restrictions, to enjoy the theater and the arts.  We’re all going through a lot of pressure. It’s enough to make you wish some hero or heroine would take center stage and give us some reprieve. Doug Lazarus, a longtime Middlebury resident and artist who recently relocated to Forest Dale, may not be a knight on a white horse, but he has put up a portrait installation in downtown Middlebury...

PEDIATRICIAN/POET JACK Mayer recently won the Proverse Prize 2019 for his new book of poems “Poems From the Wilderness.” Join him on a live Zoom reading and discussion on Thursday, Dec. 3 hosted by The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
Living here in Addison County, it’s a fair guess that most of us like nature; many of us might even say we “love it.” Whatever it is, we’re all certainly thankful for it. And during this time of year, it seems fitting to recognize the things we cherish — even amid a pandemic. Local pediatrician and poet Jack Mayer has spent more than a moment contemplating his thanks for the natural world. In fact, his most recent book of poems, “Poems from the Wilderness,” is a collection about his “love of the backcountry, trail-walking, camping and the ‘wilderness effect’ — a unique sensation of aliveness...

REBECCA STRUM WILL lead the first session of Middlebury Acting Company’s six-part play-reading series, “The American Dream Project.” The project begins Dec. 13. INDEPENDENT PHOTO / STEVE JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — When the days get short, the sticks are bare and, oh yeah, COVID is still lurking dangerously close, it’s easy to slide into your slippers, grab a blanket (and maybe a glass of wine), and stay safely tucked in your comfort zone. But before you settle in to a pleasant stupor, consider this alternative: What if instead you remembered the passion and outrage that filled this country after the killing of George Floyd on May 25? What if we continue that conversation? Middlebury Acting Company (MACo) is doing just that with a new six-part series called The American Dream Project that...

JANET FREDERICKS AND Tom Verner perform in an orphanage in South India. Since the pandemic hit, the duo’s travel plans have all been canceled. While at home in Lincoln, they have created a 13 session video series on “Becoming a Magician.” This virtual course is available through local libraries and the Town Hall Theater.
Have you ever watched the audience at a magic show? Everyone’s eyes are glued to the performers, their eyebrows are slightly furrowed, mouths agape and their bodies motionless as they try desperately to spot the “trick.” Then — poof! How did she do that? The audience sits back, laughs and relaxes into what we can only assume is magic. Tom Verner and Janet Fredericks of Lincoln bring this kind of happiness all over the world. They are the founders of Magicians Without Borders and have traveled to over 45 countries bringing love, laughter, magic and hope to hundreds of thousands of refugee and...

MOIRA SMILEY Alexandria DeFurio Photography
Election Day is gone, but fear is not. As we wait for the unfolding of our new political landscape, we remember that no matter the outcome, the world is still gripped by COVID, racial divides and increasing unrest. It’s a pretty bleak way to enter winter. Local singer, composer and song-collector Moira Smiley has a gift for us all with her freshly released folk single “Days of War.” Originally written with guitarist Seamus Egan soon after the horrific events at the Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, the song “asks how we go on... singing, making things,...

A COUPLE OF Lauren Ringey's dolls
Being stuck at home all day has probably inspired more than a few of us to revisit our passion projects and hobbies that have just been collecting dust in the basement for months. For Lauren Ringey of Cornwall the isolation of COVID-19 has reignited a creative flame for her handmade doll company.  “I’m home all day with my machine,” said the 30-year-old Middlebury Union High School grad who started sewing just four short years ago for her son. “I’ve been making a lot. Recently I advertised some stock that I had on Instagram and sold it really quickly. Then, because everyone is stuck at home...

NEW YORK GALLERIST and artist Martine Bisagni has a passion for building bridges between the creators of art and the broader community. She brings that passion to her new role at an art gallery in downtown Bristol. Photo by Amani Ansari
While most everyone has felt the strong effects of COVID-19 on day-to-day business, Art on Main (Bristol’s Main Street art gallery) recently had a leadership change too. Annie Perkins handed her role of gallery manager over to Martine Bisagni in mid-April.  “We had a perfect plan in place for a month of overlap and training between us and high hopes for a very smooth transition,” Perkins wrote in her farewell newsletter. “Well — such is the way of plans… It has been an immense pleasure working with and getting to know all of you Art on Main folks: artists, customers, teachers, students,...

ANDREA CHESMAN AND Richard Ruane hosted one heck of a house-warming/jam session dinner party back in 1994, which spurred the idea to start up the Ripton Community Coffee House on the first Saturday in May 1995. RCCH celebrates 25 years this May, but because of the coronavirus has had to pause any performances until the fall. Photo by Beth Duquette
RIPTON — This May, the beloved Ripon Community Coffee House was set to celebrate its 25th year hosting musical gatherings at the historic Ripton Community House, a block up from the General Store on Route 125. But like so many other events, this celebration has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, too.  A special concert of local all-stars — Matt Flinner (mandolin), Brett Hughes (guitar), Caleb Elder (fiddle) and Pat Melvin (bass) — was scheduled for the first Saturday in May; now RCCH is looking at opening their 25th season in the fall — probably in October.  Instead of...

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Addison County Independent