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Highlights: Brother and Sister Duo Branches Out From the Family Band

  • Siblings Ben and Rory Munkres will perform for a contradance Saturday night in Barrett Hall in South Strafford. The teens play in a traditional and folk band with their parents and have recently started playing gigs as a duo. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The No Strings Marionette Company performs Saturday morning at Randolph's Chandler Music Hall, an event that also includes visits from Santa, and from the Arts Bus. See 'Best Bets' for more information. (Courtesy photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, November 22, 2018

Under the name of their family quartet of folk musicians — Honey in the Hive — Romy and Ben Munkres will play their next contra dance as a duo on Saturday night at South Strafford’s Barrett Hall.

With no offense to their parents, the multi-instrumental siblings hope their audiences are calling them something completely different before their subsequent performance.

“We’re trying to come up with our own band name,” Romy Munkres, a 16-year-old junior at Middlebury Union High School who plays fiddle and flute, said on Monday. “It’s kind of hard. People recognize us from our family band, so we’re going with that for now. But if we keep going for a while, we’ll want to go by something else.”

Whatever you call them, the junior Munkreses — who help their father and Hive bandmate Andrew run the Lemon Fair Honeyworks apiary in Cornwall, Vt. — are sounding sweet to folk-music listeners and dancers alike. After winning the Young Vermont Tradition program’s talent contest as a duo in May, they were invited to play a 30-minute set at the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival in July, and then to open the New World Festival in Randolph with a 45-minute show in September.

In Randolph, Romy recalls, “we played kind of early in the day, and the people who showed up at the start were mostly people who had heard of us before.

“But when people started arriving for the next act, it seemed like they liked it.”

Count Thetford resident and former Northern Spy mandolinist Rick Barrows among them.

“I was impressed,” said Barrows, who organizes dances in the Upper Valley for Muskeg Music. “I already knew that Romy and her parents play in the band Red Dog Riley, which played a dance at Tracy Hall last spring.”

Ron Blechner, a dance caller from western Massachusetts who will call the Barrett Hall dance, recommended the Munkres siblings. Ben Munkres, a 14-year-old freshman at Middlebury Union who plays keyboards and, in other ensembles, French horn, said on Monday that as a duo, he and Romy “have probably played a few more dances than concert gigs so far. We’ve been all over Vermont and eastern New York and we’ve played in New Hampshire.”

They are juggling their performances not only with school but with Romy’s step-dancing — she competed in a regional event last weekend — and with chores on the farm.

“I mostly work away from the hives, extracting the honey from the combs and bottling it,” Ben said. “Our bees have a strange tendency to sting me more than anybody else.”

Considering the perils of sibling rivalry, his elder sister is treating him more collegially than the bees do.

“It’s been a process,” Romy said. “There’s been a couple of moments where we can’t agree on what to play, or when, and I think, ‘Why do I go through this with my brother?’ But the longer we go, the better it gets.

“We’ve definitely gotten closer.”

The junior members of Honey in the Hive set the rhythm for Muskeg Music’s contra dance on Saturday night at Barrett Hall in South Strafford. The dancing begins at 8, after a 15-minute walk-through for new and rusty dancers. Dancers should bring clean, smooth-soled shoes and snacks for the potluck break. Admission is $8 to $12. To learn more about community contradances in the area, visit uvdm.org.

Best Bets

Singer-songwriter Jason Cann, guitarist Ted Mortimer, bassist Jeff Davis and drummer Jeff Yurek play danceable, country-inflected rock at the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 9.

■The No Strings Marionette Company stages Handsome and Gretel, its twist on the classic fairy tale of a brother and sister running afoul of a witch, on Saturday morning at 11 at the Chandler Music Hall. General admission tickets cost $8. After the performance, Santa Claus visits the Chandler’s Upper Gallery to join the Arts Bus in leading a session of crafts. To learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

■Amplified Arts presents one additional performance of founding director Shelly Hudson’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on Saturday evening at 5, at the company’s theater in downtown Claremont. To reserve tickets ($10 to $12) and learn more, visit amplifiedartsnh.com.

Looking Ahead

On the theme of “Home for the Holidays: A Very Barnie Christmas,” alumni and alumnae of the New London Barn’s summer musicals will perform two shows, cabaret-style, on Dec. 1 at Colby-Sawyer College. The inaugural celebration, proceeds from which will go toward improvements to the Barn’s sound system, includes receptions with the performers after the 4 p.m. show and the 7:30 performance at the college’s Center for Art and Design. To reserve tickets ($75) and to learn about the lineup of musicals for the 2019 season, visit nlbarn.org or call 603-526-6710.

■Veteran folk singer-songwriter Bill Staines will play a benefit concert at the Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 to $20 in advance (mail check made out to the center to SSAC, P.O. Box 216, Sharon, Vt. 05065, with “Bill Staines” in the credit line) and $12 to $25 at the door. To learn more, call 802-763-2334.

■The BarnArts Center for the Arts will hold auditions on Dec. 2 and 4 at the Grange Theatre in South Pomfret, for its February staging of Sarah Ruhl’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama The Clean House. The play calls for one woman between the ages of 20 and 45 to play the lead character, and for three women and one man between the ages of 45 and 65. Auditions are scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 and 7 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 4. To learn more, visit barnarts.org or call 802-234-1645 or email info@barnarts.org.

Theater/Performance Art

Amplified Arts holds auditions on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 6 at its Pleasant Street studio in Claremont, to fill 15 roles for the company’s February production of The Country Wife. The 1675 satire by William Wycherley features adult themes and situations, so actors ages 16 and 17 will need parental permission to audition and perform. To secure an audition time, email amplifiedartsnh@gmail.com.

Music

Grammy-nominated rock singer-songwriter KT Tunstall performs between giant-slalom runs during the World Cup alpine ski races for women on Saturday afternoon at Killington Mountain Resort. To learn more about the entertainment scheduled during the competition, visit killington.com/worldcup.

Holiday Hollers

Monday night rehearsals are underway at Barnard’s First Universalist Church, for the recital of winter carols that the BarnArts Center for the Arts will stage there during the holiday season. Through Dec. 13, Michael Zsoldos directs the weekly rehearsals for BarnArts’ youth chorale from 5 to 5:45 p.m., and the session for the adult chorale from 6 to 7:30. The concert at the church is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. To join one of the chorales and learn more, email info@barnarts.org or call 802-234-1645.

Bar and Club Circuit

Singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner plays the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville on Friday night at 7.

■Rock singer-songwriter Chris Powers performs at Salt hill Pub in downtown Lebanon on Friday night at 9, and singer-songwriter Ben Fuller performs Saturday night at 9.

■Plush Foot plays funky rock at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9. At the same hour on Saturday night, Ruby Street performs a set of rock.

■The Conniption Fits rock Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Friday night at 9, and saxophonist Katie Runde and guitarist Ted Mortimer perform on Saturday night at 9.

■Flew-Z frontman Alec Currier plays a set of acoustic rock at Newport’s Salt hill Pub on Friday night at 9, as will Turner Round’s Chad Gibbs on Saturday night at 9.

■ Diamond Special pulls into Windsor Station on Friday night at 9:30, to play rock hits from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Funkwagon performs on Saturday night at 10, and on Tuesday night at 6, the Bubsies share what they describe on their Facebook page as “quality originals and tasty covers with the proper amount of shred.”

■Sonny Saul plays jazz at the On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

■Saxophonist Michael Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe play jazz at the Peyton Place Restaurant in Orford next Thursday night at 6.

■Maine-based roots singer David Mallett performs next Thursday night at 8 at the Flying Goose Brewpub and Grille in New London. For tickets ($25) and more information about the Flying Goose’s music series, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

Open Mics

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

■Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

■Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads an acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson hosts an open mic at Colatina Exit in Bradford, Vt., on Tuesday nights at 8.

■Woodstock musician Jim Yeager hosts an open mic on Wednesday night at 8 at the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment news also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.