Ruane and Duquette
Richard Ruane and Beth Duquette are a Vermont-based acoustic duo performing original music with a clear traditional-roots influence that is steeped in tradition, but of its own time. They are known for their strong, imaginative vocals and harmonies, often compared to classic sibling harmony duos. Some of their original songs harken back to traditional ballads and jazz tunes from the ‘30s, but also remain firmly planted in life’s current challenges and joy. Ruane sings and provides inventive instrumental backing on guitar, tenor guitar, mandolin and ukulele, while Duquette contributes lead and harmony vocals.
Ruane and Duquette perform with a comfortable ease and audience rapport that comes from many years of collaboration and love of creating music together, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Brandon Music.
Their songwriting has won awards from the Songwriter’s Association of Washington’s Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and the SolarFest Songwriting Showcase, and they have been finalists at Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition in Kerrville, Texas, the Great Waters Music Festival Songwriter Contest and the Plowshares Coffeehouse Singer-Songwriter Competition.
Terry Lickona, producer of Austin City Limits, describes Ruane as “adept at the fine art of storytelling put to song. His originals speak to different shades of love, joy, mystery and real life.” And Robert Resnick wrote in Seven Days, “ Duquette has a lovely voice, and her soulfulness shines through.”
Tickets are $20 (pre-concert dinner is available for $25; reservations are required); call 802-247-4295, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road.
Christian Sands Trio
Five-time Grammy Award nominee and Steinway artist Christian Sands brings his jazz trio to Middlebury College’s Mahaney Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
Not yet 30, Sands is an emerging jazz force to be reckoned with. Whether he’s playing stride, swing, bebop, progressive, fusion, Brazilian, or Afro-Cuban, his abundant piano technique perfectly matches his conception, accomplishing a much deeper musical goal: a fresh look at the entire language of jazz. For the performance at Middlebury, Sands will play alongside bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Jerome Jennings.
Performing Arts Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll first heard Sands perform in 2014 when he was a finalist for the American Pianists Association’s Jazz Fellowship Award. “I was struck by his performance — at only 24, he was already a two-time Grammy-nominated artist, and his dynamic and vibrant performance left an indelible impression on me. I’m thrilled we are finally able to bring Christian to Middlebury.”
Tickets are $28, $10 for youth; call 802-443-MIDD (6433), or go online to www.middlebury.edu/arts/tickets. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road, just off Route 30 South/S. Main Street.
BRATTLEBORO – The Brattleboro Music Center’s 2018-19 Chamber Series continues at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the BMC, with the Escher Quartet, an American string quartet based in New York City, where members serve as Artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
The Escher String Quartet takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, inspired by Escher’s method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole. This foursome — Adam Barnett-Hart and Danbi Um, violins; Pierre Lapointe, viola; Brook Speltz, cello — have performed at the BBC and are regular guests at Wigmore Hall in London.
Tickets are $20, $40 for preferred seating; call 802-257-4523, or go online to https://bmcvt.org. The BMC is located at 72 Blanche Moyse Way.
‘What They Had’
MIDDLEBURY – The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival will present the drama “What They Had” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, as its featured February film for the MNFF 2018-19 Winter-Spring Screening Series at Town Hall Theater. The series retains its exclusive focus on prominent work by first- and second-time filmmakers.
A first feature film from director Elizabeth Chomko, who additionally wrote the script, “What They Had” tells the story of Bridget, a middle-aged woman who returns home at her brother Nick’s urging to deal with her ailing mother’s deepening dementia and her father’s stubborn reluctance to let go of their life together. With memorable performances from Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner and Robert Forster, the work displays a new filmmaker’s firm command of her craft.
As Peter Travers of Rolling Stone noted, “At first glance, you might mistake ‘What They Had’ for one of those well-meaning family dramas about what to do when your mom is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But that would discount the exceptional accomplishment achieved by debuting director Elizabeth Chomko, enlivening her scrappy script with a cast of actors who truly are as good as it gets. You laugh as much as you cry, which means you believe in the movie’s truth.”
Tickets are $13; call 802-382-9222, or go online to www.townhalltheater.org.
PUTNEY – Yellow Barn welcomes eight newcomers for an exploration of the personal relationship between British composer Benjamin Britten and poet W.H. Auden. String quartet musicians Mari Lee, Brandon Garbot, Ayane Kozasa and Mihai Marica, and pianist Julia Hamos are joined by actor Philip Stoddard, scholar Simon Lee, and Scandinavian film director Mikael Söderston.
Together, they have created “Salon Séance,” an immersive and interdisciplinary experience. Their artist residency will culminate with a semi-staged performance at Next Stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. The event lasts approximately 70 minutes, and concludes with an open discussion between musicians and audience members.
Tickets are $20, $17 for seniors, $10 for students; call 802-387-6637, or go online to www.yellowbarn.org.
ASCUTNEY – World Under Wonder will present a staged reading of Eve Ensler’s work of feminine empowerment, “The Vagina Monologues,” as a V-Day benefit event at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Performances are at the World Under Wonder Playhouse in the old Weathersfield Grange Hall that the group is renovating at 5755 Route 5 in Ascutney. Proceeds benefit the local women’s resource group and Planned Parenthood.
Based on V-Day founder/playwright Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women, this play and the liberation of this one word, “Vagina,” countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives. Now, in light of the current “Me Too” movement Ensler’s play is being revived by World Under Wonder. This performance will be directed by Sam Maskell, who previously directed a performance at the Bellows Falls Opera House in 2006.
For tickets or information, call 603-381-3344.
BELLOWS FALLS – Pick up a copy of “Camino Island” by John Grisham at the Rockingham Library anytime and get ready for the book discussion at 3 p.m. Monday, March 4 at 3 p.m. Anyone may borrow a library copy of this book during regular library hours; a library card is not a pre-requisite.
In this book, a gang of thieves stages a daring heist from a vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, impossible to resist. Meanwhile, Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in unsavory ventures. A generous monetary offer convinces Mercer Mann, a young novelist, to go undercover and infiltrate Cable’s circle of literary friends, to get close to the ringleader, to discover his secrets. But soon Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise.
Ray Boas, bookseller on the Green in Walpole, N.H., will be joining the book discussion to give his own insights on the book-selling business. He’ll also share some true-crime stories about book dealer David Holt.