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Jeff Holmes Big Band to Perform April 24 at Canton High School  

Submitted Release 

CANTON — Canton Parents for Music and the Canton Public Schools Music Department are proud to host Jeff Holmes Big Band on Sunday, April 24, 2016 as the final concertin their 2016 benefit concert series to support the Canton Public Schools music program.

The Jeff Holmes Big Band featuring vocalist Dawning Holmes will be playing jazz, blues and soul. Band leader/trumpeter/pianist Jeff Holmes is responsible for the ensemble’s book of arrangements and original compositions and has contributed works to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Ernie Watts, the Big Apple Circus, John Abercrombie and Sheila Jordan among others. … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: More than $2,500 Raised at Fundraiser for Scott Lindsay

A Saturday night fundraiser for local resident Scott Lindsay netted more than $2,500, organizers said.

The event, held at Wilson’s Pub, was to help Lindsay make it through as he deals with medical bills. In January, he was rushed to the hospital and later diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Lindsay is getting stronger daily but still has many diet and other restrictions.

Saturday’s event included a silent auction on numerous items donated by local businesses and residents, live music by Steve Jones and friends and a book signing by “American St. Nick” author Peter Lion.

“I‘m just overwhelmed by the kindness everybody’s shown,” said Lindsay, who was able to attend for a short time Saturday. “I feel like Tom Sawyer at his own wake.”

Lindsay, a New Jersey native, has lived in Collinsville for the past several years. He is an avid baseball player, hiker and kayaker. He also volunteers time reading to kids at Bakerville Library in New Hartford and also volunteers at Mary’s Kitty Korner in Granby.

On Sunday, Lindsay’s friend Kristen Stevens, the primary organizer of the event, said more than $2,500 had been raised. The total was a bit of a moving target as some additional items were up for bid Sunday and other amounts were being tallied.

It was a packed house Saturday and Stevens said she was just “amazed” at the generosity of local residents.

“That’s really all I can say – wow,” she said.

To access a full-screen gallery of the above photos, visit https://johnfitts.smugmug.com/Scott-Lindsay-Fundraiser/ 

John Fitts

Images of Canton: ‘Forbidden Broadway’

Photos by John Fitts 

Since attending a performance more than 30 years ago, Doreen Cohn has always wanted to produce ‘Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits.”

Now, as executive director of Farmington Valley Stage Company, Cohn is doing just that. She said the timing was right for the production, the company’s first musical. The talent just came together, Cohn said.

“It all came together – the perfect storm I call it,” she said.  … Continue Reading

Untold Stories Project Seeks to Help People Heal, Build a Sense of Community

12744084_10153779441661005_5413239021744984770_nBy John Fitts 

Through a multi-faceted approach of storytelling, visual and performing art, and ascetic disciplines Kristen Larson hopes that the Untold Stories Project can help people heal and build a sense of community.

Featuring many local residents, the second annual Untold Stories Project is set to take place over the next four days in Hartford. Larson, of East Granby, organized a similar 9-day event last January.

“We’re hoping to have it every year and hopefully bring people out to connect,” Larson said.

The events this year, set for Friday, Feb. 25-28, 2016, will include a combination of live music, vocal workshops, storytelling, open mics, drumming circles, yoga, meditation and more.

In addition to the live events, Larson is working with people to record stories for a podcast, documentary and book. Based on the stories, she also plans to create themed community projects around issues such as physical abuse, addiction and mental illness. … Continue Reading

Musicians Band Together to Benefit Original Tirebiter Member

Gary Gidman

Gary Gidman

By John Fitts 

When Gary Gidman suffered some medical setbacks in the early 2000s, his fellow musicians in The Tirebiter Band continued to play – figuring their talented vocalist, composer, arranger and guitarist would return eventually.

“We were hoping that whatever was happening would get fixed and he would come back,” said Tom Moran, Canton resident and drummer for the rock n’ roll group. “We played as a four piece waiting for him to come back but he never did.”

On Feb. 27 (Feb. 28 snow date), The Tirebiter Band and a host of other well-known area musicians, including The Fountainhead Band, Eight To The Bar, Beatles Forever and  “Ozone” Pete Willett, will play a benefit show for Gidman at The Parrott Delaney Tavern in New Hartford.  … Continue Reading

Fundraiser for Scott Lindsay Rescheduled for March 5

Scott Lindsay with Christine Torre Lincoln. Submitted Photo

Scott Lindsay with Christine Torre Lincoln.
Submitted Photo

By John Fitts 

COLLINSVILLE – A fundraiser to benefit Collinsville resident Scott Lindsay, originally set to take place later this month, has been rescheduled for March 5 at Wilson’s Pub.

A primary reason for the change is due to the fact that Steve Jones, former resident and renowned jazz guitarist, has offered his talents to the effort and give all band tips to Lindsay.

In January, Lindsay was rushed to the hospital with flu-like symptoms but was later diagnosed as having congestive heart failure. He has ongoing medical care issues, diet restrictions and more but is now back home and resting. Lindsay has not yet been able to work, although he hopes to soon.

“I am getting a little better every day, building up strength,” Lindsay stated in a message to Canton Compass. “I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity the community has shown me.” … Continue Reading

True North in Collinsville Offers Educational Alternative for Teens

Finn Begley, 15, of Canton and Robert Siegel, co-director of True North Teen Learning Alternative, check out the inner working of vintage camera equipment. Photo by John Fitts

Alternative Education Forum Set for Sunday

By John Fitts

COLLINSVILLE — For more than three years, Darrell Cookman and Robert Siegel talked about starting a teen education alternative.

Last fall, that dream became reality as Cookman, of Canton, and Siegel, a resident of New Hartford, opened the doors to “True North Teen Learning Alternative,” a “Montessori-Inspired, self-directed learning community” that currently has three teen “members.”

Here students are encouraged to pursue their own patterns rather than a specific number of requirements and classroom times.  There are focused guilds such as Artisan and Tech, classes and tutorials but also a flexible structure, four-day school week and no grades. Students and parents, teens and instructors work together in setting individualized curriculum in those areas or others. Additionally, True North can help teens explore potential interests, the two said. … Continue Reading

Bidding for Winter Festival Online Auction Starts Thursday Morning

By John Fitts 

CANTON – Whether you’re looking for a family getaway, a night of fine dining, summer music lessons for the kids, a Patriots pre-season game, student-created art or a myriad of other items, the 2016 Winter Festival Online Auction is just the place. Your children could even have the chance to ride in an antique bus on the first day of school or a fire engine at the Memorial Day parade.

OriginalThe bidding starts at 10 a.m. Thursday and proceeds, which are often close to $30,000, are split between Parent Teacher Organizations at Cherry Brook Primary and Canton Intermediate Schools.

“It’s a great way to support the local schools,” Anne Marie Pelletier, co-president of the Cherry Brook PTO, said, adding that bidding for most items starts well below retail value.

“The best part of this fundraiser is it provides families with things they can use and they need, while the proceeds go to benefit the schools,” said Jen Rottkamp, president of the Canton Intermediate School PTO. … Continue Reading

FV Stage to Present ‘Forbidden Broadway’

Tracy Funke as Liza Minnelli. Submitted Photo

Tracy Funke as Liza Minnelli.
Submitted Photo

Submitted Release 

The Farmington Valley Stage Company in Collinsville, CT, presents the brilliantly wicked “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits”  for six performances only, March 4, 5, 10, 11, 12 at 8 pm and  a 2 pm matinee on Sunday March 6.

A hit Off-Broadway musical revue, “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” is a hilarious, loving, and endlessly-entertaining tribute to many of Broadway’s greatest shows and musical legends. Laugh out loud as the cast parodies show tunes, characters, and plots of classic and current Broadway musicals from Annie, Wicked, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, and many more. Imagine Annie, a 30 year old, hoping that “Tomorrow” there will be a Broadway role for her, or Ethel Merman teaching Michael Crawford (The Phantom of the Opera) how to belt a song, or Chita Rivera arguing with Rita Moreno over who was the best “Anita” in West Side Story.

New York’s longest running musical comedy revue, “Forbidden Broadway” was conceived and written by Gerard Alessandrini and is a three-time winner of the prestigious Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue. The show, in its various editions, has been performed over 9,000 times in more than 200 U.S. cities as well as playing in London, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney. The New York Times calls this show “Continuously riotous!” and The New York Post calls it “Gut-bustingly funny.” … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: ‘Gritty Ditties from River City’

Kate McAllister with one of her “Gritty Ditties from River City.” Blurring added in Photoshop. Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

COLLINSVILLE – Multi, multi-media artist Kate McAllister is always seeking inspiration. This winter that’s come via the fine art of cussing.

It’s often in winter that McAllister, who has operated River City Art Center since 2010, creates a themed body of work. The latest is “Gritty Ditties from River City,” a series of beautiful, eye-catching work that happens to contain a rude sentiment or a vulgarity or two.

“I’m always re-inventing myself, always,” said McAllister. “This is just hysterical and there’s just so much material . . . In this day and age, we need something to laugh at.”

In the past few weeks, McAllister has created more than two dozen original pieces, mostly watercolors, to use as templates for posters, cards, magnets and a bevy of other products.

While she keeps the body of work hidden from her students, many friends and colleagues have seen the material, provided positive feedback and wanted to purchase items.

“The response has been utterly ridiculous,” McAllister said.

McAllister said the idea builds on some commercially available adult coloring books that feature profanity. For inspiration, she’s drawn ideas from friends, area residents and online dictionaries that feature obscure profanity and combinations.

A friend helped come up with the Gritty Ditties name.

McAllister has started posting the work at http://www.rivercityartcenter.com in a subset under the galleries section. (Please do not visit if you are a minor or easily offended). … Continue Reading


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