THE "VIRUS" YOU CAN'T SHAKEThere are two Pat Austins in town. They get each other's phone calls and mail, but they do not share recipes. Pat Austin the singer lives here and works in the Franklin County Court Diversion program.
Pat started singing folk and blues with Larry Austin after she was graduated from college. From that they formed a folk trio which grew into a folky/blue grass quartet, then there were five. That became the rock band Elephant Gerald in the late 70s. She moved on to be lead singer for the New Leaf Band in the Northeast Kingdom. They had three repertoires: Jazz, Country, and Top 40. They needed that kind of diversity to play gigs 6 nights a week for 2-1/2 years in an area with limited audiences.
"It was the most fun I've ever had," she said, "and the hardest work." The band was based in a commune called Frog Run Farm, a place the kids could come. "They had a ball on the farm while I worked." Pat's daughters obviously survived growing up in the music scene, because they now have a band called Zola Turn.
After New Leaf, Debbie Patton, Marsha Brewster, and Pat started the Spyders. Their 5 piece backup band included at one time or another some of the best jazz players in Vermont: Bill Patton, Big Joe Burrell, Lar Dugan, Dave Grippo, Rob Guerrina, and Joe Moore. "It was a real mix of jazz and swing standards, Motown and R&B," Pat said. "Just good danceable stuff."
The Zephyrs are 10 women who range in age from 16 to 51. Marsha Brewster and Debbie Patton have daughters in the group. "It's a virus you can't shake and wouldn't want to," she said. "Zephyrs is a gift. Not just musically, but a wonderful instant family of sisters. We get together weekly and just catch up. The group sings away any negatives we accumulate throught the week." Pat mentions that the Zephyrs are available to do events; email us for booking info.
Pat has been Executive Director of Court Diversion for 17 years. "Other than music the only thing I've done for more than 6 months without getting bored mainly because I really believe in it," she said. It's an unusual job because there is so little obvious feedback, "because most of the time that we're successful, we never see our clients again. If anyone wants to feel like they're really making a difference in the community we'd like to add them to our review board."
Her dog Dusty doesn't sing but he's a joy in the office.
Many of the AAC profiles first appeared in the County Courier, the St Albans Messenger, and online in ArtBits on this site, in the Arts and Entertainment section of VermontNOW magazine, and on Themestream.com
All Arts Council of Franklin CountyDick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
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