Bluegrass music in Chester; author Halpern and her therapy pup-partner at Misty Valley; TARPS announces photo contest winners; music in Rutland, Brattleboro; & ‘Mockingbird’ documentary in Ludlow

Chester Family Medicine, part of Springfield Medical Care Systems, brings bluesgrass band Big Spike to Chester from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, on the lawn of the Academy Building across from the Green on Main Street.

Big Spike will be bringing its bluegrass sounds to Chester on Thursday, July 25.

Big Spike will be bringing its bluegrass sounds to Chester on Thursday, July 25.

With impeccable vocal harmonies, a powerful stage presence, a sense of humor and mastery of their instruments, members of Big Spike bring back a sense of the golden age of bluegrass.  Big Spike, based in northern Vermont, features twin fiddles and solid original material in the traditional style. Band members include banjo player Bill Gaston, Mike Santosusso who plays upright bass along with guitarist and mandolin player Matt Schrag. Fiddle player Freeman Corey and songwriter, fiddle and mandolin player Neil Rossi complete the group.

Bring your blankets and lawn chairs.

In case of rain the Big Spike concert will be held at The Stone Hearth Inn, Route 11 West in Chester. For more information call 875-3400.

Author Sue Halpern with her dog Pransky.

Author Sue Halpern with her dog Pransky.

July 28: Author offers life lessons from her dog

Author Sue Halpern and her labradoodle Pransky visit Misty Valley Books on the Green in Chester 4 p.m. Sunday, July 28 to discuss Halpern’s latest book, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow Halpern and Pransky’s presentation.

At loose ends with her daughter leaving home and her husband (activist and author Bill McKibben) on the road, Sue Halpern and Pransky become certified as a therapy dog team. Pransky turns out to be a terrific therapist and unerring moral compass.

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is the story of how one faithful, charitable, loving and sometimes prudent mutt taught a well-meaning woman the true nature and pleasures of the good life. Contact the bookstore for more information by calling 875-3400 or visit

TARPS announces photo contest winners

The Animal Rescue and Protection Society has announced the winners of its first Shelter Cats Calendar’s photo contest. This year’s theme was “My Cat has Character.”

  • The First Place photo was of Toasty, submitted by Christine DeMar of Springfield. DeMar will be awarded a $35 PETCO gift card and TARPS merchandise.
  • Second Place went to Harley submitted by Barbara Rodgers, also of Springfield, who will receive a $15 PETCO gift card.
  • The Third Place photo was of Chester Kiwi Pepper-Pot submitted by Clara and Simone Martorano of Chester. She will receive a $10 PETCO gift card.

All three winners will be featured in the soon-to-be printed 2014 TARPS Shelter Cats calendar. All contest entrants receive a free calendar for participating.

Betsy Perry, president of the board of directors of TARPS, said, “The judges had a tough job choosing winners from the entries. We were happily surprised to see some of TARPS’ adopted animals were represented in the submissions.”

The 2014 TARPS Shelter Cats calendar is due to be released in late August. Cost of the calendars will be around $10. They can be purchased in Chester at the following shops: R B Erskine Grain Store and Lisai’s Chester Market both located at Chester Depot, Misty Valley Books on the Commons or at the shelter, 1758 Route 103 S. in Chester.

They will also be available in shops in other area towns and online at

TARPS is a 501c3 non-profit located in Chester. It is run by unpaid volunteers and is supported by donations. All profits from the sale of the calendars goes toward the care and feeding of the animals, utilities, rent, vet bills, facility maintenance and fundraising. To find out more, to adopt an animal or to make a donation call 802-875-7777, email or visit www. or its Facebook page.

July 26: Music fills streets of Rutland

The Downtown Rutland Partnership announced its line-up for Friday Night Unplugged for Friday, July 26. The list features local musicians Steve Audsley and Friends, Chris Cornelius and Kevin Wortman.  Each musician will perform on Center Street during the downtown Friday evening event.  Street closure will take place at 4 p.m. with music starting at 6 p.m. The event ends at 10 p.m.

Downtown businesses will expand their space out onto the street in a celebration of local music.

On Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, downtown Rutland will host SummerFest n which downtown businesses will again expand out onto the streets for two days of shopping, food and fun. Downtown Rutland has also invited Vermont artisans to join in the festivities.

On Friday evening, music by Dwight & Nicole features ‘The Voice’ contestant Nicole Nelson from Burlington. Local band Dank and the Funksticks will also perform.  SummerFest will take place on Merchants Row and Center Street from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3.

Aug. 4: Early Italian musician comes home to Brattleboro

Nathaniel Cox of Brattleboro will be performing with his new ensemble, In Stile Moderno at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4 at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 16 Bradley Ave. in Brattleboro.

In Stile Moderno was founded in Switzerland by Cox and Massachusetts native soprano Agnes Coakley in 2012 to explore the music of the “new style” that originated in late 16th century Florence. Principally focused on Italian music, the group also performs works from England, France and Germany. The group also include harpsichordist Benjamin Katz.

Cox plays two period instruments: a cornetto, a wooden horn wrapped in leather, with finger holes like those of a recorder; and a theorbo, a kind of lute with an extended neck, making it ideal for bass accompaniment.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is handicapped accessible. Admission is by donation, with $15 suggested. For more information, contact Doug Cox at 257-1024 or

Aug. 8: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ documentary at FOLA

Mary McDonagh Murphy, documentary filmmaker.

Mary McDonagh Murphy, documentary filmmaker.

In anticipation of its upcoming production of To Kill a Mockingbird, the Weston Playhouse has joined with Friends of Ludlow Auditorium and the Book Nook in presenting a documentary by Mary McDonagh Murphy that reveals the story behind the writing of the American classic, its author Harper Lee, and the influence it has had on a variety of writers, journalists and entertainers.

The documentary, Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird, will be presented for free on at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8. Murphy will be on hand to answer questions after the screening. The evening will kick off with a welcome from Weston’s Malcolm Ewen, who will be directing the Playhouse production. The book Scout, Atticus & Boo, also written by Murphy, will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

A free raffle will be held for two tickets to Weston’s production, a copy of the book To Kill a Mockingbird, a signed copy of Murphy’s book Scout, Atticus & Boo, and a DVD of the Oscar-winning movie version of the book with Gregory Peck.

After more than half a century, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a beloved bestseller and quite possibly the most influential American novel of the 20th century. Nearly 1 million copies are sold each year and the novel has been translated into more than 40 languages. Behind it all was a young Southern girl named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said that all she wanted to be is the Jane Austen of South Alabama.

Containing never-before-seen photos and letters and a rare interview with Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee, Murphy’s film brings to light the context and history of the novel’s setting in the Deep South and the social changes it inspired.

This event is free and is open to everyone.  For information, call 802-228-7239 or  Information on the staged production at the Weston Playhouse (Aug. 29 – Sept. 11) is available at or by calling 802-824-5288.

— Compiled by Susan Lampe-Wilson

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