In the News!
Thunder Ridge Records announces “River of Light”,
the powerful new album from Kristina Stykos
February 20, 2019
CHELSEA, Vermont – February 20, 2019
Thunder Ridge Records today announced the official release of the new album of original Americana music from award-winning Vermont songwriter Kristina Stykos. Entitled “River of Light”, the new album – her 8th – showcases Stykos’ musical virtuosity and her unique ability to weave soulful stories about life in rural Vermont.
Backed by an outstanding cast of musicians including Val McCallum (Jackson Browne), Steve Mayone (Kate Taylor), Patrick Ross, Jeff Berlin (Bow Thayer), and Abby Jenne (Calamity Janes), “River of Light” is composed of thirteen heart-wrought tracks that celebrate themes of love, aging, peace, and solitude - and always the communion that Stykos shares with her home state. The strong and intuitive interplay between the players, especially through evocative solos by McCallum and Ross and strong backing vocals from Jenne, reinforce a sense of musical unity that pervades the album.
“Working with these musicians, most of whom I’ve known for years, was such a privilege,” says Stykos. “Immensely talented, they really understood what I was striving to create.”
But the real magic comes from Stykos herself. Bestowed with a Vermont Community Foundation grant to publish a book of poetry later this year, Stykos’ lyrics explore the most beautiful and brutal elements of nature in the rural Northeast, including her own off-grid existence powered mostly by renewable energy.
And critics have taken notice. In addition to being hailed by Vermont Public Radio host Robert Resnick as a ‘genius songwriter’, longtime Seven Days music editor Dan Bolles says: “In addition to her considerable gifts as a guitarist, arranger and composer, Stykos is a brilliant poet…who weaves a tattered tapestry of small towns and small lives but does so with compassion and understanding.”
In addition to offering copies of “River of Light” at local music stores throughout the Northeast, the album can be also be found on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and www.thunderridgerecords.com, Stykos’ own record label.
For more information, please contact Music Mountain Productions at 802-318-7799.
Music Mountain announces release of “Georgetown Boor”, in honor of Election Day 2018
November 5, 2018
STOCKBRIDGE, Vermont – November 5, 2018
Music Mountain today announced the release of the newest single from Jamie Gage, “Georgetown Boor” - a political folk song about the events surrounding the Supreme Court nomination hearings this fall. Released in time for Election Day 2018, the single is the first tune from Gage since his debut CD “Earth Turns”, which landed in the Top 50 Americana charts at Airplay Direct in January and then again in July, 2018.
“The confirmation of the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this fall amidst the allegations of assault against him from several women over many years was, for me, a really telling moment in our history,” says Gage. “Especially in the context of the #MeToo movement, the unnecessary rush to confirm the nominee didn’t seem to make sense, and resulted in the new song.”
The single, described by producer-songwriter Bow Thayer as a kind of ‘whirling funeral dirge’, blends a strong march-like cadence with a brooding carnival atmosphere that reinforces the vocals perfectly. Contrasted against the context of our historical landscape as a nation, the song's lyrics give a sense that though middle class Americans may feel vulnerable to the power of the elites in DC and the 1%, there is still hope for positive change in the U.S.
To get a copy of the new single, or for more information, please visit or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 6, 2018
Baruch Zeichner, Host, Paradigms
In the last 2 years Jamie Gage has published a book of poetry called True if Destroyed and recorded a CD Earth Turns. Jamie’s voice, in poem and in song, reminds us that life is not simple, nor is it all rough. The imagery of his poems is personal and universal. His songs, like his poems, strike familiar chords as Jamie’s personal perspective shines through. The CD was produced by the brilliant Kristina Stykos at Pepperbox Studio in Chelsea, VT. The musicians on the recording are among Vermont’s many great talents. Tune in for a hit of Vermonty goodness, and humanity at its realest.
by M. Dickey Drysdale, The Herald of Randolph, February, 2018
This January in Central Vermont: The thermometer hovers near zero degrees for days at a time; and then snow disguised as rain finds its way into your core.
What to do? If you’re Jamie Gage, you turn to music and poetry. You find that Central Vermont is a magical place, where a good musician turns up around every corner, where appreciation of the finer parts of life is widespread and continually shared, where you’re free to make your own contributions to this rich culture. You sing. You write music, you write poetry. You find yourself immersed in the midst of like-minded friends.
READ MORE here >>
by James Gage, VTDigger - Editorial, September, 2014
In recent years in Vermont, the theme of collaboration has begun to reverberate in all areas of our culture, including in the private, public and nonprofit arenas. It seems that every successful project impacting a community or population these days has behind it a core group of committed individuals who have come together from different walks of life to create lasting change.
READ MORE here >>
by Jamie Gage, Snelling Center Newsletter, April 2016
From March 16-18, 2016, the Best Class Ever (also known as VLI Class of 2016) came together for three days in Grafton to learn about human-centered systems in Vermont.
Headquartered at the historic Grafton Inn, one of the oldest continually operating hotels in the U.S., the session was a fascinating look at how we approach criminal justice, economics & poverty, corrections, and the emerging opiate issues in our state. Co-led by Director Jane Arthur and former AHS Secretary Doug Racine, the class enjoyed presentations from several prominent leaders in the field of human services, including Paul Cillo of the Public Assets Institute, Sue Maguire from the full-service Molly Stark School in Bennington, and Mayor Chris Louras of Rutland whose Project Vision is now being widely recognized for its success in pulling together different communities in our 2nd largest city. MORE
by James Gage, , circa 2000 (https://www.vtliving.com/fredpabst/)
Fred Pabst. His name and accomplishments stand on the mantle with only a few others whose contributions to the ski industry rivaled his own. The grandson to Captain Frederick Pabst who began the Pabst brewing empire (Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer). Fred was a pioneer in skiing: a ski jumper in the 1920’s, Fred started ski clubs throughout the Midwest, invented the modern J-bar lift, and at one time in the early 40’s operated as many as 17 separate ski areas from Wisconsin and Quebec to New Hampshire and Vermont. Eventually he consolidated his resources at Bromley Mountain near Manchester, Vermont, establishing that area as one of Vermont’s early giants of skiing.
A scion of the famed Milwaukee beer family, Fred’s childhood was a privileged, and adventurous, one. From a young age, Fred delighted in skiing–first by being towed behind a horse and sleigh, a sport which came to be known as skijioring, and then as a jumper in college at the University of Wisconsin. After college and graduate school at Harvard, Fred began a ten-year commitment to the family business, but still made time for skiing, even traveling to Europe in 1926 to ski with the father of modern skiing, Hannes Schneider, and King Olaf of Norway.
In 1933, Fred left the family business for good to, as Mark Twain once said, “light out for the territory”, and like everything else in his life (he was 6’4” after all) he did it in a big way. For the next two years Fred spent much of his time traveling, skiing and big game hunting throughout the western United States and Canada, always searching for areas where he could grow the sport he loved. Ultimately he determined the best region to launch his skiing enterprise would be the Northeast-primarily because more people lived here than in the West. In 1936 he built the first modern J-bar and placed it on St. Sauveur, Quebec, and moved to Manchester, Vermont to headquarter his Ski Tows, Inc. operation which quickly grew to include 17 areas in six states and Quebec. For several years he collected revenues from these areas (New Hampshire areas included Intervale and Plymouth; Vermont had Aeolus and Bromley), but with the entry of the U.S. in World War Two he decided to centralize his assets and began pulling his J-bars and tows from other areas to install at Bromley.
Pabst decided on this southern Vermont mountain for several key reasons, not least of which were accessibility and community. On a fairly well-traveled route just a few miles from the vibrant village of Manchester (the town had built a very popular winter sports club), Bromley became immediately popular due to its sunny, southern exposure as well. Throughout the ’40’s and ’50’s Bromley became a skiing mecca with seven lifts, short liftlines, and a wide diversity of trails bearing names like Blue Ribbon and Pabst Peril. Always ahead of the curve in all facets of the ski industry, Pabst was a pioneer in advanced trail grooming, childcare, and slopeside accommodations, and in the late’60’s embarked on the industry’s first million-dollar snowmaking campaign.
For over forty years Fred Pabst shared his love of skiing with everyone around him, and in 1969 was awarded a prestigious place in the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame. Although he died in 1977, Fred was able to see Bromley achieve another pioneering milestone with the advent of the first Alpine Slide in North America in 1976. Today this summer sledding activity is the main attraction at Bromley’s Mountain Thrill Zone and–in keeping with the Pabst tradition–is the largest of its kind anywhere in the United States.
~ James Gage for vtliving.com
Vermont People Review, 1998
Words on a Changing Landscape (Vermont Review): Peter Miller's Vermont People
In December 1990, I was a 21 year-old human geography major at the University of Vermont and a new father. In a month, Vermont would host its Bicentennial, a year-long celebration of our Green Mountains and all that they stood for--community, beauty, the Holstein, wood heat. License plates were made, and I thought about buying one.
My own interests at this time took as their focus my Vermont environment; although I could see the value in learning the agricultural field patterns of Cebu Island in the Phillipines, it didn’t seem to me at the time essential since I knew that I wanted to spend the balance of my life here in my native state. And so my studies centered on the human landscape of Vermont--its population, its place-names, the impact of the ski industry and the changes taking place statewide. I only mention these facts to emphasize that these themes were just becoming real to me and that I was impressionable, so that when a photographic book entitled Vermont People first appeared in bookstores in December 1990, I was fairly blown away.
Of course I wasn’t the only one. In the first six weeks, the book sold out 3,000 copies and went to a second printing of 5,000, which sold out in 1994. A third printing sold out last summer. And now, the fourth printing is available---Vermont People: Millenium Edition includes 10 new portraits and 20 new photographs, and it too will probably sell out before too long.
The irony of it all, as author Peter Miller is apt to point out, is that virtually no one believed that it would sell. Although it celebrated Yankee imagery to a depth that few other published books had done before it, thirteen publishers turned it down--eleven of them in Vermont. For various reasons, none of them wanted to publish a black and white photography book about ordinary Vermonters and so, as the story goes, Miller re-mortgaged his house and published it himself.
Miller’s idea had been to document the lives of many Vermonters whom he had met and photographed over the span of some thirty years. The stories of their lives would show their relationship to the land which provided, for many of them, their livelihood and their lifestyles. But in the years between 1960 and 1990, Vermont was witnessing the decline of its agricultural economy and with it its ways of life, and this became the main objective of Miller’s work--to document the evanescence of the “old Vermont” and to show that its traditions were in danger of being lost forever. Consider the portrait of the late Alfred Amadon from Waterbury Center: the story of a man who ran a small engine repair shop out of his garage until he was sixty-nine; when he wanted to retire, his customers (unable to repair their lawnmowers) wouldn’t let him. Or take Floyd (now late) and Gene Bagley, father and son. Although their farm had been in the family for over forty years, Gene worked with the Vermont Land Trust to keep it in agriculture because they realized that no one would be able to make a living there in the future. Perhaps publishers thought these themes were too bleak, or believed that readers who loved Vermont might not want to think about the possible loss of its character, but in any case they didn’t want it, and Vermont People, self-published, went on to become one of the most influential documentary books about the state in the last half-century.
Miller’s commitment not only wonderfully parallels the commitment so often portrayed in the book, but it also serves as inspiration for many younger artists. Having heard the naysayers forever tell them that they can’t achieve their dreams, younger artists can learn from Miller’s struggle to convert other people’s negativity into personal strength: I will succeed, and when I do I might just remind you about all those doubts you had. Certainly Miller has.
By its very presence, the book also provides inspiration for those of us who want to retain some of the traditions set forth; in almost every portrait, his photographs and words capture the inherent value of human lives lived close to the land. And Miller never distracts us with authorial intrusions but smartly lets his subjects speak for themselves with a clarity and candor that we understand as truth, or at least as their truth (concerning the interview, he has but one rule: shut up and listen). People in the book are treated with a high degree of dignity and respect, regarded as teachers all: Miller knows, like most true scholars, that the past and the present are linked to the future, and that we have much to learn from our history. (Curiously, most of the photographs of older people in the book portray an ebullience and a youthfulness which transcends their years.) In all of the photographs, the imagery is of such subject and style and light that the viewer must look again, and then again: there is mystery here, and a great deal of forethought by the artist about his subject.
Andrew Wyeth, the realist painter, once described in an interview how he worked, and I think it fits Miller’s work as well: “You see, I don’t just sit there and paint at something, placidly dabbling at the thing once removed. I get involved.” In the same interview, Wyeth said that his work held an abstract quality most people didn’t see at first glance: “I couldn’t get any of this feeling without a very strong connection for a place...I think one’s art goes only as far and as deep as your love goes.”
With Vermont People: Millenium Edition (as well as the editions before it), Miller goes further.