Scottish music, heritage, and poetry will be celebrated at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia later this month with a tribute to the Scottish poet Robert Burns. People are invited to attend this afternoon event dedicated to this longtime cultural icon and his legacy in word and song, as shared by local performers. Gerry Tobin of Lancaster, and formerly of Scotland, will be bringing a selection of works of Robert Burns’ poetry. “I just thought I’d have fun–I’ll read a few lines, and say to the audience, ‘what do you think it means?’” she said. “‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!’” she recited, from Burns’ famed 1785 poem “To a Mouse.” Robert Burns is regarded as “The Ploughman’s Poet,” due to the humility and the nature of his works, which see him lauded as the national poet of Scotland. “He was a man who was not impressed by lords, royalty, anything like that,” said Gerry. “And his poems reflect that. ‘A man’s a man, for all that,’” she said, quoting another of his works. Gerry’s son Bill, an established harpist in the area, will be performing a selection of harp numbers during the event. Other performers include Gerry herself, along with members of the Islay Mist Ceilidh Celtic group, which has been performing Celtic concerts in the area for decades under Gerry’s leadership–most recently appearing in their annual performance at First Night North in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Of the music performed, attendees may be interested to learn a version of the New Year’s Eve staple “Auld Lang Syne,” which was written by Burns, performed to a melody that was more in line with his original intention for the song. The inspiration for the event is the annual Burns supper, celebrated on the poet’s birthdate of Jan. 25. Gerry laughed that this upcoming event will not go as all-out as a typical Burns supper does. “It’s so formal–they have the piping-in of the haggis, a toast to the ladies, it’s all humor and banter, bagpipers come in…” she laughed. “Maybe next year!” The tribute to Robert Burns event will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22, at the theater space of the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia. Admission is $20. Snacks and tea are planned to be served. For more information about this and other events at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts, visit www.gnwca.org or call 603-246-8998.
A Maritimes Christmas Concert returns to the North Country on Sunday, Dec. 4, with the Cape Breton band Coig, featuring the music, stories and traditions of the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia during the holiday season. This popular annual concert will again be hosted by the Great North Woods Center for the Arts at the Art Center in Columbia, starting at 7 p.m. “We are excited to see the return of one of our favorite Canadian group of musicians returning to our facility,” said GNWCA President Charlie Jordan, adding, “And this year, they will be joined by Margie Beaton, one of east coast Canada’s greatest fiddlers.” Coig has appeared in several concerts in northern New Hampshire over the past several years. The band includes Darren McMullen on guitar, mandolin, mandola, banjo, bouzouki, whistles, flute, vocals; Rachel Davis on fiddle, viola, vocals; and Chrissy Crowley on fiddle. The band is also accompanied by guitarist Thierry Clouette of Montreal. This year, Beaton will replace Crowley, who was not able to fit the tour into her busy schedule. Clouette joins the band again this year with his guitar and foot percussion. Beaton, who comes from a long line of Celtic musicians, started her musical career at the age of four, and learned step dance from her grandmother. By the time she was five years old, she were playing the Celtic violin along with her sister, Dawn. Coming from a family of fiddlers, dancers, and singers, learning step dancing and the violin at a young age was a logical development. Fans will notice some changes in the playlist. “We’re singing a lot more on stage, and Rachel and I are a lot more comfortable behind the vocal mic,” confirms Darren McMullen, the group’s multi-instrumentalist in charge of guitars, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, whistles and pretty much everything else. Coig’s music is a unique combination of influences that could only come from these players. It's traditional, but performed in a lot of non-traditional ways. “We all come from sort of a traditional background, but then we have different influences that we're interested in,” explains fiddler and singer Rachel Davis. “Chrissy likes to dive into a lot of world music, Darren comes from a kind of Irish theme from playing around. More of the traditional Cape Breton music is really what I love, plus all the folk songs, so it's an interesting mix.” The Cape Breton Christmas concert also promises to be a memorable night. Plan to hear some holiday classics that will set you in a Christmas mood. The Christmas tour this year heads to Ontario, the Eastern United States and wraps up with some shows on the home front. “Very excited for another year of spreading Christmas cheer far and wide,” notes the band. “We have only about 100 seats available, so if you want to be sure to be there, it is best to get your ticket early,” Jordan said. Tickets are $20 each and can be secured online at www.gnwca.org or at the door on the night of the show. The band also asks for donations for the local food pantry during the night of the concert—a box will be placed near the concessions stand for food or cash donations, which will be provided to the Colebrook area food pantry, managed by the North American Martyrs Parish in Colebrook. For more information on this and other GNWCA offerings, call 603-246-8998 or visit www.gnwca.org.
On Nov. 5, the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia will host Director/Producer Jay Craven from the Northeast Kingdom and his new film, Jack London’s “Martin Eden,” starting at 7 p.m. Craven will be on hand to introduce the film and to talk about what went into making the movie, and will answer audience questions as well. “We are excited to bring Jay Craven and one of his films back to our area,” said GNWCA President Charlie Jordan. “We’ve hosted Jay on numerous occasions over the years and he and his films always make for a fascinating experience.” Jack London’s “Martin Eden” was directed by Craven and produced by Cinema Sarah Lawrence. The picture has won Best Film and Best Director awards at the Boston Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at the Arlington International Film Festival. Other festival dates include The Woods Hole Film Festival St. Louis International Film Festival, Sonoma International Film Festival, Berkshire International Film Festival and a special screening at the biennial symposium for Jack London scholars. Times-Argus arts critic Jim Lowe calls the film “Gorgeous and irresistible” and, in her Provincetown Magazine review, critic Lee Roscoe calls the film “a gem that should be counted amongst the classics of American cinema.” Based on London’s autobiographical novel and set in 1909, “Martin Eden” tells the story of a poor, rough-hewn and unschooled sailor (Martin Eden), who unexpectedly meets Ruth Morse, a magnetic young woman of means and education. Their unconventional attraction upends both lives and propels timely themes of impossible love, the confines of class, aspiration to the American Dream, and the quest for a comfortable place in an inconstant world. The film stars Andrew Richardson (“Liberte: A Call to Spy”), Hayley Griffith (“The Mysteries of Laura”), Annet Mahendru (“The Americans,” “The Romanoffs”), Jeff Adler (“Hightown”), Grainger Hines (“Lincoln,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”), Missy Yager (“Manchester by the Sea” and “Mad Men”), Michael Benz (“Downton Abbey” and “Joker, The Wife”), Rebecca Faulkenberry (“The Irishman” and “Madame Secretary”), Jo Armeniox (“Boardwalk Empire”), Ken Wulf Clark (“The Irishman,” “Gotham” and “House of Cards”). The film’s trailer can be seen at https://vimeo.com/730366505. Craven is an award-winning director, writer, and producer, whose narrative films—many filmed locally--include “High Water” (1989); “Where the Rivers Flow North” (1993); “A Stranger in the Kingdom” (1997); “In Jest” (1999); “The Year that Trembled” (2003); “Disappearances” (2006); “Northern Borders” (2012); “Wetware” (2018); and “Blood Brothers” (2021). Craven also directed, produced, and co-wrote the 2005 Emmy Award-winning public television comedy series, “Windy Acres.” He directs the biennial Semester Cinema program where 28 professionals mentor and collaborate with 40 students from multiple colleges to make an ambitious narrative feature film for national release. Craven founded and directed Catamount Arts (1975-91) in St. Johnsbury, Vt., and in 1987 he co-founded (with Rob Mermin) Circus Smirkus, America’s only touring youth circus. Craven continues to curate and produce performing arts events through the KCP Presents series in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He also curates the Middlebury (VT) New Filmmakers Festival and the Woodstock (VT) Film Series, and produces the annual the Nantucket Young Playwrights residency Program for teen writers. He is currently preparing, “Lost Nation,” a new film set during the turbulent period of the American Revolution in Vermont and the New Hampshire Grants. Craven writes regular arts and public issue commentaries and is also writing a memoir to be completed in 2022. Tickets to see the movie and film talk with Craven are $20 per person and available at the door or online at gnwca.org.
The Harp Twins are coming back: the talented twin sisters playing harps who have fans worldwide who have become a fan favorite with the GNWCA audiences. And this year there are two opportunities to see them. “Tickets sold so fast last year when we had Camille and Kennerly at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts that we immediately booked them for two shows this year,” said GNWCA President Charlie Jordan. “This means more people in the North Country will be able to attend.” The Harp Twins will be appearing on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Rialto Theatre in Lancaster and the next night, Friday, Oct. 7 at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia. Both shows start at 7 p.m. and are $20 each. Tickets while they last can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.gnwca.org. Both concerts are made possible through the support of Brown Lab Technologies. Identical twin harpists Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known as the Harp Twins, return to the GNWCA sponsored by Brown Lab Technologies. The Kitts have achieved extraordinary success by taking electric harps and concert grand harps to unprecedented levels and smashing boundaries between different genres of music. The twins’ ability to reinvent the harp has given them the opportunity to represent the United States at four different World Harp Festivals. The duo has amassed over 2.5 million fans across their social media sites and over 130 million views on their YouTube music videos, making them the most followed and recognizable harp duo in the world. As the world’s only identical twin professional harpists, Camille and Kennerly were trained classically (with University degrees in Harp Performance) but have a passion and flair for arranging and performing rock, metal, Celtic, Nordic-folk, and soundtrack music for Harp Duet. Camille and Kennerly perform on statuesque Acoustic and Electro-Acoustic Concert Grand Harps as well as Electric Harps. In addition to their Nordic-inspired original songs and stories, Camille and Kennerly are recognized for their remarkable duet harp arrangements of some of rock and metal’s most iconic hits by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, Blue Oyster Cult, Scorpions, Eagles, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd, U2, Journey, Evanescence, Billy Idol, Deep Purple, and many more. Showing the breadth of their arranging talents, the twins also arrange and perform TV and movie soundtrack, Anime, and video game hits. Some fan favorites include their renditions of music from “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Elder Scrolls,” “Final Fantasy,” “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Doctor Who,” “Mario,” “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Most recently, the twins self-funded, recorded, and produced an album of Celtic, classical, Sacred, and original music titled “Harp Reflections.” The album was fan-funded on Kickstarter in just 90 seconds. The sisters have released eight self-produced full-length albums. The twins have performed numerous times in the region under the helm of the GNWCA and always pull in a large audience. Advance tickets have been selling quickly, and are in fact encouraged to ensure a seat at these spectacular shows. Tickets and further information on these and other upcoming shows can be found at www.gnwca.org, the GNWCA’s Facebook page or by calling 603-246-8998.
Two fall arts and crafts fairs will be held at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia: on Sept. 24 and another on Oct. 15. Both fairs will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; admission and parking is free on site. Come in and enjoy all of the wonderful locally made crafts as you plan your holiday gift ideas. Several activities are planned for the Arts and Crafts Fairs, including two cooking contests: “Your Favorite Pumpkin or Squash Recipe” is the Sept. 24 contest, and “Your Favorite Soup, Chowder or Chili Recipe” is the October contest. “This is a fun chance to win a first, second or third place award, either from the judges’ award or the People’s Choice awards,” said coordinator Donna Jordan. “Last year, the October soup and chowder contest was pretty popular, and so this year we decided to include a cooking contest at all three of the fairs.” The first fair was held in July with a summer berry dessert contest that included many entries. Jordan said that fair-goers can consider having lunch at the fair, with hot dogs and beans from the concessions, and include the pumpkin/squash in September or soup, chowder or chili in October. The cooking contests feature the best that local cooks have to offer on a cool fall day. A single serving of each entry is sold at the concessions for $3 each, or purchase three items for $5. Each purchase will include a ticket for voting in the People’s Choice contest. All vendors spots, indoors and on the patio, are now sold out, said Jordan, but there is plenty of space outdoors if anyone is interested in setting up on the grassy areas. “We start with the spots closest to the building for the outdoor vendor spaces, and then will move on to the bigger fields if we need to,” she said. If you think you have the perfect recipe for pumpkin or squash for the September fair, or for soup, chowder or chili for the October fair, bring you’re your entry to the concession stand by 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 and Oct. 15 to be entered. Judges’ will determine awards at 11:30 a.m., and the People’s Choice voting will be counted at 1 p.m. (unless all entries sell out before that time. For the Judges’ Award, your entry will be judged by three judges for first, second or third place; you just might win a blue ribbon; first and second place winners also receive certificates of participation. Winners announced by noon. Sales of your contribution will begin as soon as they arrive. You do not have to be present to win, as long as your contact information is included with your entry. For more on the Fall Arts and Crafts Fair, or the soup and chowder contest, please contact organizer Donna Jordan at 603- 246-8998.
Get ready for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Beach Boys, the Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the British Invasion, Motown, the Summer of Love—the music of the 1960s–it’s a night of music and dancing at the Great North Center for the Arts in Columbia. Dress accordingly (love beads, tie-dyed, fringe jackets, or come as you are). Only $10 admission will help fund help the GNWCA renovations. They’ll be spinning the hits on Saturday, Sept. 17, starting at 8 p.m., at the Center in Columbia. This is a follow-up to a successful 1980s dance night was held last month with colorful lights, posters of the decade, and a non-stop dance floor. Watch for more decade dance parties coming during the winter months. “We’ll have concessions selling our usual assortment of soft drinks, water and snacks, and one room will be dedicated as a place for sitting and relaxing between dance tunes, if someone wants to,” said Charlie Jordan, President of the GNWCA. “The dance floor will be inside the larger theater room.” Admission to the ’60s Dance Night is $10 per person, and all proceeds will go to the GNWCA, which is a multi-arts center at the former Shrine of Our Lady of Grace property in Columbia. For more information about this and other GNWCA shows, or to purchase tickets online, visit gnwca.org, or call 603-246-8998.
Remember Madonna’s “Material Girl,” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself?” Can you name hits by The Eurythmics, Van Halen, The Police and Tears for Fears? If you can, you remember the 1980s. The Great North Woods Center for the Arts is bringing back the decade of music and dance on Saturday, Aug. 20, starting at 8 p.m., at the Center in Columbia. A similar dance was held in January 2020 and it was so well received the organization decided to return to that fun night as a fundraiser event. “We’ll have concessions selling our usual assortment of soft drinks, water and snacks, and one room will be dedicated to a place for sitting and relaxing between dance tunes,” said Charlie Jordan, President of the GNWCA. “The dancers will be inside the larger theater room, with doors and windows open, keeping them cool as the night heats up.” Everyone is encouraged to dress in their 1980s finery and come in to the open-air summer night of dance and music. “We’re excited to host this fun night of music from the era of MTV and Big Hair,” said Jordan. “We’ll be decorated throughout the building with music posters and lighting, and dancers will have plenty of room to dance the night away as we spin the discs.”
Bareknuckle pipes and drums returns this year when the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia hosts the Scottish tribal drumming band, Albannach. Direct from Scotland, the GNWCA has booked one of the world’s most popular bands for an outdoor show on Saturday, June 11, at 2 p.m. “We had originally hosted Albannach in 2019, and attempted to bring them back in 2020 and 2021, but unfortunately the pandemic didn’t allow for them to travel out of Scotland. We’re excited for their return this year, and tickets have already sold very quickly for this show,” said GNWCA President Charlie Jordan. The show is co-sponsored by Richard and Deborah Sargent of Pittsburg, who are big fans of the group. The band Albannach has taken the United States by storm over recent years. Their unique style, charismatic stage performance and love for all things Scottish has drawn crowds from coast to coast. These musicians are a must-see and are not just another Scottish pipes and drums band. Albannach’s primal drumming and precise piping stirs the soul of anyone who hears them—both young and old. These folks are Highlanders–calling themselves “Scottish Warriors to the Core.” Bass drums, bagpipes and didgeridoo–-they wow their thousands of fans everywhere they perform. You may have seen them at the N.H. Highland Games in Lincoln every September–where the concert tent is swarming with swaying bodies as they perform. The GNWCA is also working with Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, Vt., by securing their large portable stage for this show, which will be held, rain or shine. Tickets for this show have already been selling quickly and are available, at $20 per person, online at www.gnwca.org. For more information about the band, visit http://www.alban nachmusic.com. For any questions about the show, call 603-246-8998.
Author Donna Hoffmeyer and her illustrator daughter, Bianca.
A Schertz, Texas, and native New Hampshire woman who used humor and Facebook to document her family’s daily life during the COVID-19 outbreak has released a book to provide a lighthearted look at the pandemic. This is the second book by author Donna Hoffmeyer, the daughter of Ron and Linda Beloin of Columbia and a 1990 graduate of Colebrook Academy. The book, “Pandemic Parodies,” was released on Feb. 22, and her 10-year-old daughter has become a published illustrator as a result, contributing the drawings for the book. Upon release, the book was a “#1 New Release” on Amazon. “Pandemic Parodies” comically follows the Hoffmeyer family over a two-and-a-half-month period during the height of COVID-19. Dad Brian, mom (and author) Donna, 14-year-old son Brady (14) and 10-year-old daughter Bianca (and illustrator) are laid out there, completely vulnerable to make people laugh when they felt like crying because, as the author says, “writing humor helps me relieve stress,” adding that she felt people could all use a little stress relief as the pandemic drags on. Many readers will likely relate to the difficulties of home schooling during a quarantine and find nuggets of their own struggle in this book that reads like a journal. Grandparents and parents are going to love this writer’s reports, designed to resonate with anyone who has had children in their life. Donna Hoffmeyer is a former nurse in the United States Air Force, who retired in 2020, after 21 years. Her first publication, “Warrior to Patriot Citizen,” is a helpful guide to assist soldiers in all branches who are ready to transition out of the service and into civilian life. Hoffmeyer wrote it after seeing so many soldiers struggling to transition out of the service. The youngest Hoffmeyer, Bianca, was nine when her mom was urged by friends and family to put the collection into a book. Bianca has always loved to draw and do artwork that is proudly displayed all over the Hoffmeyer home. She says, “I did the illustrations because I wanted to do something really cool at a very young age. I mean, who gets to illustrate a book at 9 years old?” The family was happy to share a daughter and mother working together on something and see it come to print. Since she was old enough to hold a brush, Bianca has loved to draw and do anything art-related. To learn more about “Pandemic Parodies” or to order a signed copy, go online to www.rebel-llc.com/shop. Paperback and Ebook copies are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and distributors for schools, bookstores and libraries. People can meet Donna during a book talk and signing that is scheduled to take place at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia on Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m.