Monthly Archives: September 2010

RedHouse and the Long Trail

Chris Doncaster, Travis LeBlanc and Mark Fortin are RedHouse. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

by Bethany M. Dunbar, September 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to Mark Fortin of RedHouse, a band I just wrote about for the Chronicle. I will post the article here and just want to add that this is a young band with lots of potential.  They don’t play their own original music as much as they should — at least it didn’t seem that way at the Barton fair where I heard them recently.  These guys are loaded with talent.

Through the magic of facebook I realized today’s is Mark’s birthday and a good day to post this article.

I also wanted to mention today that I just rejoined the Green Mountain Club.  I’m not a joiner.  In most cases I stay out of things because I might need to write about these subjects and should at least try to remain neutral.

But there are a few subjects where I have given up all semblance of objectivity — mostly Vermont’s cows and mountains.  I love them too much to pretend I don’t.

I used to be a member of the Green Mountain Club and as it happens I had let that membership slip.  But hiking the Long Trail is just one of the purest joys that exists on the planet and I am always supportive in my heart even if some years my purse has been a bit empty to maintain the membership.

Recently we wrote about the fact that the Green Mountain Club has applied for party status in the Public Service Board’s case for wind towers on the Lowell Mountains.  I grew up underneath those mountains in Craftsbury and hiked around them when I went for a three-week short course at Sterling College back when I was in high school.  It’s a favorite part of the Long Trail for me just across from the Lowell Mountains simply because it’s so close by.

We all want better sources for electricity, but our options are just not this limited.  The fall quarterly publication of the Green Mountain Club has an article that puts the whole thing in perspective quite well.  You can check it out at

Yes, I know.  It’s Tuesday, time to go make another Chronicle.  Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  The header shot of fall leaves this week is one I took on August 31.  Enjoy.  We all know what’s coming.

RedHouse rocks the fairgrounds

by Bethany M. Dunbar, the Chronicle, September 1, 2010

BARTON — For those who wish to rock, try RedHouse.

The band is young but plays music from their parents’ time as if it was their own.  In fact it is.  They grew up with it, play it well, and have created their own songs with the passion and energy of the bands created by people their age in decades long gone by.

RedHouse has produced a CD of original music called Midnight Train which features classic rock style songs, along with jazz and blues.

RedHouse rocked the Orleans County Fair this year.  The band played after the extreme tractor pulls on Saturday night, August 21, in the beer tent.  A well-known cover band at area bars, RedHouse is a dance band.  People started dancing in the damp grass under the tent about as soon as the band started and kept going well into the night.

Mark Fortin is the guitar player, Chris Doncaster plays bass, and Travis LeBlanc is the drummer.  Mr. Fortin and Mr. LeBlanc both sing.

The band started out with Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business” and went on to play Led Zeppelin, “Mustang Sally,” and “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger, among many others.

RedHouse plays often at Jasper’s in Newport and has played at Higher Ground and Nectar’s in the Burlington area, Malarkey’s in Morrisville, private parties, and other venues.

In a telephone interview Monday morning Mark Fortin said the band has been together about a year and a half and gets about two or three gigs a week.

Chris Doncaster is the best bass player Mr. Fortin has ever played with, he said, including time he spent in Nashville when he was playing guitar for Wayne Warner’s band.  Mr. Doncaster has a degree from Johnson State College in jazz performance.

The band got its name from the little red house on Mr. Doncaster’s family farm where they started jamming together.  Mr. Doncaster is a dairy farmer when he’s not a bass player.

Mr. Fortin went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston  for two years.  He is a carpenter with his father when he’s not making music.  He drove trains for a time but that work took him away from home nights and weekends.  It was a job he liked and had great benefits.  He said he expects he will get back to it eventually for that reason.  But for now he has some flexibility to make music and is taking advantage of that.

Mr. Fortin had written most of the original songs when he got together with Mr. Doncaster and Mr. LeBlanc, who has also studied music at Johnson State College.  The three of them put the songs together and made them into what they are now.

The original music seems to go over well when they play it at bars and other events, Mr. Fortin said.  People keep dancing just as they do with cover songs.  The songs have also got some air time on Burlington radio stations WBKM and WIZN.

Mr. Fortin clearly loves playing the guitar and is good at it.  He started singing more recently and discovered that he enjoys that aspect of performing as well.

Travis LeBlanc does some of the singing for RedHouse, and sometimes the two sing in harmony.

RedHouse plays the songs they play because the band members find much of today’s popular music boring.

“It’s just all a mass-marketed flavor of the month,” said Mr. Fortin.  He said it has no spunk and no originality.

The rock musicians of the past were thinking less about marketing and more about the message, their passion and their music.

“They put a little more of their soul into it,” he said.

“Music is a gift.  We try to do some positive things with it.  Try to give back where you can,” he said.