:-)   :-(

“This Sunday’s 25th anniversary Summer Sounds Benefit Music Festival [was] a fun way to bring the community together during Childhood Cancer awareness month and to support Camp Ta-Kum-Ta’s year-round programs” said the camp’s Executive Director, Hattie Johnson.

Summer Sounds Concert SignThe Benefit Music Festival took over the Franklin County Field Days grounds yesterday with continuous music on two stages. The proceeds will benefit Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and help the Town of Highgate build a band stand.

Summer Sounds got its start 25 years ago when then-Town Manager Ray Tanguay came to me with $200 in his hand and said “Let’s have some concerts!”


You can’t put on a major concert series for 200 bucks, so I conned, er, invited most of the local businesses to kick in and it started a plan and a series. The plan was for the municipalities to underwrite the series and for local businesses to sponsor each concert. We encourage local nonprofits to “host” each concert with a social to show the flag and earn a few bucks for their own causes.

Over the years, more than half of the Franklin County towns have welcomed Summer Sounds. The concerts are always on Sunday night, always in a Town Park, always at 7 o’clock, and always free.

Yesterday we capped a quarter century of Sundays with just the best benefit concert: continuous music on two stages from 2 p.m. right through about 9; admission was by donation.

This has been a transition year for Summer Sounds. We’ve had stars from the first years of the series as well as some younger performers who will grow the concerts for the next 25 so we booked the same yesterday. All the bands and everyone else working volunteered their time.

Volunteering is the key. The bands jumped aboard right away. Our hosts had more than 30 “helpers” flipping burgers and serving up popcorn and snacks and coffee and desserts, with even more behind the scenes baking and helping. Half a dozen MVU High School seniors and a couple more BFA seniors helped SWMBO and our son, Karl, dip ice cream, serve sodas, and sell tickets. My friends at TimKath Productions did the sound magnificently and kept us on track despite the monkey wrenches I kept dropping in the schedule. The Highgate Highway Department turned out in force today to put the Field Days site back in order.

We all had one disappointment. We had room for thousands in the audience. We wanted hundreds in the audience. We didn’t get either.

My own daughter dropped in Saturday evening. “What ya doing tomorrow,” she asked.

“Going to the concert,” I said.

“Oh? What concert?”


We were all over our email list, the posters, the newspapers, the event calendars, the television, the radio, the Facebook.

“Oh? What concert?”

It was the Patriots v. Bills that everybody stayed in for (the Pats won). That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I just wish I had a magic wand that let me add my event to everyone’s calendar. Especially yours.

Bunch of people I need to introduce.

Starting in 1994, Jenni Johnson has played more Summer Sounds concerts than anyone else. She is the Billie Holiday of Vermont, except she was once a Supervisor of Physics and Counselor at MIT. Singing jazz, blues and funk has been the center of her life since she was a teen in New York City. Best jazz singer I know bar none and wonderful with kids.
incaHOOTs has exploded in popularity across Northwestern Vermont this year. The Plattsburgh-based band first played Summer Sounds in 2003 and have brought their country-rock-jazz-pop music to venues from Highgate twice this year to Nashville last weekend.
Jon Gailmor is about the most eclectic, emotional, exhilarating, optimistic, and provocative rock star I know and he’s done it in front of the flagpole in Highgate Municipal park and fronting the Vermont Symphony in the Flynn. His low in cholesterol original music, ballads, and ditties will make up for the ice cream and cake. He first played for me in 1997. OK, he’s actually a solo performer who is kind of folkie, kind of rocky, and sometimes a little dirty.
Jennifer McConnell is gifted and inspirational singer and a music teacher in Franklin/Sheldon. She will be one of the two new leaders for the St Albans Community Band.

The Sky Blue Boys are “just” a couple of fellows with a mandolin and guitar, but what a couple of fellows. Banjo Dan and Willy Lindner are actual brothers for this “brothers duet” that was the predominant format in this country in country music of the 1930s and 40s. They first appeared in Summer Sounds in 1994.

We introduced Summer Sounds, Gen II, (we called them the Summer Sounds Singers, musicians still in high school just getting their performance chops). There are a lot of these kids singing at open mics, in talent shows and school musicals, and in some cases in Fenway Park.

Drew Briggs went to school for French and linguistics and learning languages is his passion. He’s a standup comedian who really enjoys running improv games (think Who’s Line Is it Anyway?).
Savannah Burns is 15, lives in Swanton, and attends MVU. She has been in two musicals, Annie and Shrek the Musical. She had a leading role as Cinderella in the one act play, Into The Woods, at Johnson State College.
Soukaina Jamil is 13-year old seventh grader from St. Albans Town has been singing since she was in the third grade. She also plays the trombone and is teaching herself how to play the ukulele.
Mingo Maquera is 17 and a senior at BFA-St. Albans where he is the male lead in the production of Footloose November 12-14th. He’s also an extremely accomplished vocalist and plays keyboard, all manner of guitar and the drums. As Andre and Wendy Maquera’s son, he has music in his blood.
Rosie Newton is 14 and a freshman at BFA-St Albans. She’s frequently on stage in both school and local theater productions and is a member of the Contois School of Music band. Oh, yeah. And she sang the Star Spangled Banner at Fenway last year and for the Lake Monsters this year.
Jaylin Seaman is 14 and a freshman at BFA-Fairfax. She plays Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical at BFA-Fairfax November 12, 13, and is a member of the Vermont Musical Theater Academy at Spotlight on Dance.

It was a day of the best music around by everyone and wonderful memories for all of us. Here are some of mine:

Wednesday morning on the phone with Russell Crowe. Really. Green Mountain Coffee had promised us a donation but a technical glitch kept us from completing the order. Russell was the calm island in a sea of chaos, something you might not expect from the silver screen. “I wouldn’t mind getting just one of his paychecks,” he said. He also moved heaven and earth and the coffee arrived on time. It was c-o-l-d yesterday and people were glad to have it.

Friday, Hannafords manager Sara helping us load up my truck with a “pallet of pop.”

Sunday morning, early early, the geese in our little cove talking about how cold it was and planning to leave right away for Pennsylvania.

Jenni singing Happy Birthday to Soukaina Jamil who had just turned 13. We surprised and wowed Soukaina.

Chuck (the Junketeer’s pianist) accompanying Savannah.

Rosie singing Hallelujah. In the last decade or so, Leonard Cohen has finally grown into this song and is old enough to sing it. Rosie hit it out of the park. Her voice is right for the song and she brought the gravitas it deserves. That just blew me away.

Jon and I realizing we had spent some of our early childhood (where we never grew up) in Quaker country, 20 or 25 miles apart in Pennsylvania (he likes to say he was born in New York State and failed to grow up in Philadelphia, up by Overbrook when my grandfather was there for Temple). He’s a Penn grad.

I sure do wish more people had been there.



I never got to the 1969 Music & Art Fair everybody still talks about. I was in school in beautiful, downtown Hoboken and we were all too serious to drive a couple of hours north to stand around in a muddy field in the rain for a long weekend to listen to rock-n-roll music. Heck, we could get that for free (or for the price of a couple of beers) right across the river.

I got a sort of second chance.

The Trout River pummeled Montgomery, a small town halfway up the mountain on the eastern border of my County. Our friends and neighbors there lost houses, clothing, furniture, food, cars … The lasting image I have is the same as Marathon, Florida, after Hurricane Wilma or New Orleans after Katrina.

Fortunately, no lives were lost.

Local water supplies were destroyed, flooded septic systems polluted lawns and wells, and the residents had to dig themselves out by hand.

One of my musician friends said, “Hey, why don’t we have a concert to raise a few bucks to help out.”

This is the story of why we had no phones at the show, but I have to tip a rary to get you there:

Floodstock took about 23 days to organize, probably a record for a concert with two stages, a world class headliner in April Wine, and 17 other exceptional entertainers. We applied for and received an Act 250 permit, AOT permissions, and created a plan to shut down the airport in the event of problems. There were no problems. And it didn’t rain even a single drop.

Franklin County Field Days donated the site that had housed the Grateful Dead two years before. We had a great fence but had to build new stages.

Floodstock was a family event, so a kids’ store set up a corral with toys, activities, and volunteers to keep the kids happy. We also had a splendid hospitality area for the handicapped and for folks who needed a place to sit down and relax in the shade, thanks to the Town Manager and his merry band.

More people have asked how we got nearly 700 custom tee shirts so quickly; here’s that story.

Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard designed the Floodstock logo and e-mailed it to me for the website, for posters, and for other publicity. A Northfield shop owner offered as many shirts as we wanted for the cause. The shirts were stored in bins in his converted mill building in Northfield; all we had to do was come down, count them, and truck them home. Two peeps volunteered. They drove to Montpelier Thursday afternoon to deliver the AOT contract and to pick up the shirts. They didn’t know about counting them, so they retaliated by picking an extra extra EXTRA large florescent orange shirt for me. Unfortunate, a traffic incident delayed them as they approached home with the load. Our printer finally received the shirts late Thursday evening and printed them Friday morning. We gave away shirts to almost 400 volunteers, community groups and band members, and sold the rest on Sunday.

Frank Barnes of 8084 and I co-chaired the effort.

Most of the back stage folks signed the orange shirt while I wore it all day Sunday.

The biggest concert I’ve ever presented left my brain toast, my feet mush, and I couldn’t stop smiling. In 78 hours the Field Days/Grateful Dead site went from a bare field to a dual-stage major concert site, to a bare field again. All with volunteer help. Everyone who helped out took home a host of wonderful images; in no particular order, here are some of mine.

The National Guard lashed 4 flatbed trailers together for the main stage, leveled them with blocks and jacks, then built an extension out of Field Days’ bleachers.

The Friday afternoon phone call from Grover: “We can power the sound or the lights, not both.” While we searched frantically for a 120 KVA generator (rarely available at the local home center) and tried redesigning the sound, the Swanton Village Electric team quietly found us enough juice.

A pediatrician lopped the ends of the staging with his chain saw.

We ran short of volunteers around 5 p.m., so a whole gang simply stayed over and worked a double shift.

April Wine’s Myles Goodwyn hit the first chord and the lights in the production trailer browned out. The lights danced with the beat for the rest of the show.

Tech guys slept in hammocks strung under the trailer-stage through some of the loudest sets.

Jesse Potts bragged to me that he had never sounded so good. Jesse, I was in the crowd. The tech guys for each stage had a little friendly competition going and everybody sounded great!

Rebuilding the Field Days fence Monday afternoon with Highgate Town officials and friends.

The April Wine setup on stage included a canvas enclosure to hide the drum set until their show started. I was backstage for the 8084 set, watching April Wine drummer Jerry Mercer in his private tent play beat-for-beat with 8084 drummer Scott Belisle.

Cell phones were not widespread in Vermont in 1997. There may have been a cell tower. Somewhere. We needed a phone line but NYNEX/Bell Atlantic was dragging its collective feet about installing a temporary phone line to the Field Days site (the wire was already there — all they had to do was flip a switch back in the office).

At 4:59 p.m. Friday, I was in the Town Clerk’s office, on the phone pleading with the NYNEX supervisor who had his hand on the switch.

At 5 p.m. Friday, NYNEX turns off its phone lines. Bang. Static. Dead air.

I sat down. I hung up the phone gently. And I had an epiphany.

100 years from now no one would remember we couldn’t make any calls.

All the bands played for free.

Vermont received about $7.5 million in Federal aid. That takes care of roads and bridges. It didn’t help the individual homeowners and renters who lost everything.

All Floodstock ticket revenues went to the Montgomery Flood Fund.

The Bands
April Wine

Blues for Breakfast
Cobalt Blue
Jesse Metcalf & Good Knight Moon
Jessie Potts
Joey the Clown
John Cassel and Friends including Will Patton
The Johnny Devil Band
Land of Yo Variety Show
Mark Twang
Mary Ellen Missett (Frannie the Clown)
The Nobby Reed Project
Nocturnal Emissions
No Prophets
Patrice & Kathi
South Bound

Yankee Pot Roast



I hate to reinvent the wheel.

(As an aside, that probably explains why I don’t like to drive the same road back that I take to the store, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.)

Roller ChainLiz Arden and I were discussing using off-the-shelf widgets in product design. We mostly do that all the time. A conveyor builder, for example, would no more design a proprietary chain or sprocket for the electric motor than build a fiberglass cow to straddle the conveyor belt in a book factory. See, someone else has already invented the roller chain and you can buy as much as you want at any industrial hardware store.

This story is about websites.

I mentioned this preference for off-the-shelf stuff because I’ve been jinkering with the North Puffin Gallery. That’s my site over here that acts as a portal to my mom’s paintings and scratchboards, my own portfolio of interesting work that may be for exhibit only, and the emporium where I try to separate art afficionados from their moolah.

Lazy I am. I like slideshow gallery presentations but I hadn’t bothered changing from my static display, mostly because I really didn’t feel like reinventing the wheel. Or writing the code.

There are 29,763 freely downloadable slideshows available online.

Lazy I am. I like slideshow gallery presentations but I hadn’t bothered changing from my static display, mostly because I really didn’t feel like wading through all that code.

OK, I started wading.

First things first. The design parameters.

Any slideshow must “fit” the other pages on the site.
The “slides” had to be easy to update as the exhibit changes.
Slides should link to descriptive (or sales) pages.
The show should have navigation buttons.
The page cannot use Flash™.
The code had to be open source and easy to change.

The original source code of “open source software” is freely available and the owner allows all users to use, redistribute, and modify it.

Flash™ is common on sites but (fortunately) many designers are moving away from it in applications like this. It is sloooooooooooooow loading. The back buttons are difficult (or impossible) to make work. Basic text functions like copy-and-paste don’t work. Adobe doesn’t even use it on their own site. And it doesn’t scale well to mobile devices. I decided right from the start to use standard HTML and Java coding.

I found a bunch that fit my list.

Sample Page No. 1This is Ger Versluis’ Carousel, a page that has that displays multiple images in a 3D, carousel style. It has a number of lovely tricks for code that was written a decade ago. The slides slide in from either right to left, or left to right. I can set it to have pretty much as many images in view as I want (I chose three for this sample). Each image can have its own associated link. The carousel pauses on mouseover. And the script works in all browsers introduced since about 2001. Cool.

But it doesn’t have a way to title the images and there are no navigation buttons.


Sample Page No. 2Patrick Fitzgerald developed this script about the same time Mr. Versluis released the carousel. It doesn’t have the multiple images sliding around that we see on other pages but I made my own custom Start and Pause buttons, and moved the other links to match my page layout. The best part for me is the dropbox that lets you go to any slide in the show and then restart the flow from there.


Sample Page No. 3Book Flip is another image slideshow from Mr. Versluis. This time he simulates a page being turned to reveal two new slides at once. It is indeed an impressive display. I set it to flip horizontally because our browsers and monitors mostly display in landscape but it can work vertically. Each image can have its own associated link. The carousel pauses on mouseover. And the script works in all browsers introduced since about 2001. Cool.

But it still doesn’t have a way to title the images and there are no navigation buttons.

I like the carousel in number 1 and the book feel of number three but I love the controls and added text in number two.

Blog Contest:
OK, OK, it’s really a survey. I really want to know which of the three slide shows you like better. Click one of these links to drop me a quick email to let me know or leave a comment below.

Sample #1         Sample #2        Sample #3
Something Else
A winner (chosen from among all the entries) will receive a free lifetime subscription to the No Puffin Perspective™1!

And if you want to look at the code to tell me how to add the buttons to Number 1 or Number 3, that’d be great!

Next up, why the remote control for your TV doesn’t speak to your BluRay player.

1“Lifetime” in this case means the life of the world, the Internet, or this online column, whichever ends first.