Judge Fullerton’s brick, Italianate home has quietly presided over the northern end of Grand Street in Newburgh, New York, since 1868, but the once-famous trial lawyer has long since been forgotten. Visitors sometimes inquire about ghosts or secret passageways or buried caches of coins. I tell them all the same thing: the real treasure is in the history. In this respect, I have been richly rewarded.
Hidden away beneath the visible architecture was a cornucopia of stories. Some took place on the historical stage; others on theatrical stages; some were once known to the world at large, at a time when telegraph wires strung along railroad lines turned locally-printed newspapers into “mass media”; others are deeply personal, private stories of success, failure and loss.
But above all, I found Willie. Continue reading
The Kurpil Family Fiddlers will perform at the Time and the Valleys Museum on St. Rt. 55 in Grahamsville, Sullivan County, on Sunday, April 30 at 2 pm.
They will perform fiddle music while intermingling local fiddle music history, song history and the origins of fiddling. Continue reading
On Saturday, March 11, Historic Huguenot Street will host a performance by Linda Russell in honor of Women’s History Month in the Crispell Memorial French Church.
Russell’s performance, “A History of American Women in Song,” will explore the role of women’s lives in society from the 18th century to the 19th Amendment, featuring broadsides, laments, murder ballads, love songs, parlor melodies, and suffrage anthems that reflect the changing status of women in society. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast, Tom Lindsay, who performs with Michael Eck as the folk duo Lost Radio Rounders, has songs from American Presidential elections going back to an 1840 musical tribute to Martin Van Buren. You can listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
Music researcher and performer Dave Ruch has put together a comprehensive new webpage exploring the iconic song “Low Bridge, Everybody Down,” more commonly known simply as “The Erie Canal Song.”
Originally composed in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen, “Low Bridge” has traveled the globe, becoming among the best known and most beloved Erie Canal songs. Yet, few know of its origins as a commercial composition by a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. Continue reading
LaMama Theatre on East Fourth Street is where puppets, monsters and actors cavort, presenting classic and cutting-edge performance, whooping and hollering in many languages to stage just about any variety of theater from around the globe.
In March, in the space named after the founder, Ellen Stewart, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre partnered with Dvorak American Heritage Association to present “The New World Symphony: Dvorak in America,” by Vit Horejs. A jazz trio led by James Brandon Lewis on sax threaded musical commentary on the live and puppet action, adding a contemporary flavor to tales of Dvorak’s musical journeys through American sounds. Continue reading
In Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, and Other Traditinal American Folk Songs (Cornell University Press, 2015), Richard Polenberg describes the historical events that led to the writing of many famous American folk songs that served as touchstones for generations of American musicians, lyricists, and folklorists.
Those events, which took place from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, often involved tragic occurrences: murders, sometimes resulting from love affairs gone wrong; desperate acts borne out of poverty and unbearable working conditions; and calamities such as railroad crashes, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. All of Polenberg’s accounts of the songs in the book are grounded in historical fact and illuminate the social history of the times. Continue reading
Buffalo based musician and teaching artist Dave Ruch is seeking information on Franco American musicians and singers, past and present, from the Northern New York area.
Ruch is researching French American musical traditions for an upcoming project with Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY). Past collaborations between Ruch and TAUNY have included the “W is for the Woods” website on traditional Adirondack music, and the Emmy-winning “Songs to Keep” project. Continue reading
The emergency passport request of Robert and Margaret Perkins was granted, and a long, difficult journey began on the heels of what had been a very trying time. Besides the recent separation, their last year in Darmstadt had been spent in poverty-like conditions. Germany’s inflation rate had skyrocketed, driving up the price of everyday items. Robert and Margaret were forced to live on meager supplies and with little heat during the cold winter. They witnessed a food riot. All about them, men, even partially disabled, were conscripted into the military. Women were forced to fill the manual labor jobs normally held by men. And everywhere, soldiers marched off to war, spouting hatred for England and America, and confident of victory. Continue reading
Imagine the drama of the moment: in a courtroom, Edward Perkins battling against the city of Beacon, New York, desperate to win on behalf of his poor family. The charge? They had been cold-heartedly evicted from their apartment by city officials, and for several chilly, rainy June days, he had searched for new housing.
Meanwhile, Edward’s wife and son suffered and his daughter fell ill, presumably from the terrible living conditions. The damages sought (in 1915) were $15,000 from the city, along with $30,000 from the police chief who had deposited all the family’s belongings on the sidewalk. The $45,000 total was equal to $1.1 million in 2015. Continue reading