Vermont Crankie Fest celebrates the magic

BRATTLEBORO — Celebrate the magic and diversity of "crankies" at NEYT on Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m., with a vibrant collection of artists presenting their work. Sweeping the nation, crankies are illustrated scrolls that are hand-cranked within a small wooden theater, accompanying songs and stories. This show will bring together artists from far and wide, with crankies that accompany Scottish stories, original poems, Appalachian ballads, and even a barn quilt trail.

There will be a community crankie making workshop at 3 p.m. where everyone will have a chance to work on one giant crankie for Si Kahn's classic song, "Here is My Home." reflecting on what we value about our community. At the end of the evening performance, local legend Tony Barrand will lead the audience in the song while the group crankie is performed. Suggested donation for the community workshop is $5 to $20.

Mary Lauren Fraser and Kiah Raymond are two young artists from western Massachusetts and Maine who make crankies together, with a particular interest in the stories and music of the Scottish Islands and Highlands.

Ellen Gozion from Pittsburgh, Penn. is a well-regarded singer of traditional American and British Isles ballads with an "expressive and haunting voice," according to the Pittsburgh Magazine. She performs as a soloist, with folk and old-time musicians, and over the years has appeared with the period ensemble Chatham Baroque. Gozion began making crankies in 2011, and is the founder and producer of the Pittsburgh Crankie Fest. Her paper mosaic crankie Pretty Fair Miss was part of the 2017 exhibit Banners and Cranks at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, Conn.. In addition to her work as a pianist for classical dance, Gozion is a member of the award-winning folk trio The Early Mays, who were first place winners at the 2016 Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, W.V., and who debuted this past summer on NPR's Mountain Stage.

Brendan Taaffe is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and visual artist who lives in Brattleboro. He performs and teaches throughout the United States and Europe as a solo artist and with ensembles including The Waxwing Four, The New Line, and the Bright Wings Chorus. His paper-cut crankie Man of Double Deed was part of the 2017 exhibit Banners and Cranks at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, Conn.

Sue Truman is a fiddler, guitarist and crankie artist from Seattle, Wash. She's been creating crankies since 2011 and works primarily with fabric, felt and lace but also creates crankie scrolls from "paper cut" images.

Passionate about the history of moving panoramas, she created the web site The Crankie Factory to connect moving panorama historians to current day crankie artists. A member of the International Panorama Council (IPC), she has traveled to Europe to present at conferences. She contributed the article Crankies: Recreating the Moving Panorama as Contemporary Folk Art, to an IPC book of articles that will be published in 2018.

The Fourth Annual Vermont Crankie Fest will take place at the New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St. Tickets are $18 advance at, or $20 at the door.


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