Tag Archives: Music

Civil War Weekend at the NYS Museum

By on


Civil War Weekend at NYS MuseumNationally acclaimed folk musicians Jay Ungar and Molly Mason along with Kim and Reggie Harris will present a free concert at the Clark Auditorium of the New York State Museum in Albany at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday, September 21st.  The concert features Civil War music and highlights a weekend celebration of the Museum’s award-winning exhibition “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.” Continue reading

Event to Celebrate Traditional Adirondack Music

By on


LGM-ADK-LegendsThey’ll be spinning Adirondack legends in songs and stories, but they’re practically legends themselves. Chris Shaw, Dan Berggren, Bill Smith, and newcomer Alex Smith, will be in Bolton Landing for a free concert in Rogers Park on September 15. Adirondack Legends: a festival of new and traditional Adirondack music and stories, will be presented by the Lake George Mirror.

Adirondack Legends was organized by Chris Shaw, the Lake George native who has made a career of singing Adirondack folk songs and telling Adirondack tales. His repertoire includes some of the region’s earliest songs, and the revived interest in the Adirondack Songbook of Marjorie Lansing Porter is one inspiration for the show, he said. Continue reading

Musician Blind Tom: Black Pianist and Entertainer

By on


3b30858rIn June 1874, music lovers in Northern New York were excited. For the second time in three years, Blind Tom, the world-renowned black pianist and entertainer and arguably the first black superstar to perform in the U.S., was coming to Malone. For years after the Civil War, he had been wowing audiences throughout the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, continental Europe, and South America with his one-man show which was part vaudeville and part classical piano music.

Tom had many talents including the ability to: play the piano, coronet, French horn and flute; sing and recite speeches of well-known politicians in Greek, Latin, German and French; mimic any music a member of the audience might offer for him to hear; and use his voice to make the sounds of locomotives, bagpipes, banjos and music boxes. While singing one song, he could play a second with his right hand, and a third with the left. Continue reading

Harlem Blues: Last Party At The Lenox Lounge

By on

1 Comment

On New Year’s Eve the cigar smoke was thick on the sidewalk in front of the famed jazz club, the Lenox Lounge. Men in tuxes and women in clingy gowns stepped out of white stretch limos, three deep on Malcolm X Avenue, a.k.a Lenox Avenue in Harlem, as blue notes popped from the chromed doorway.

A huge bejeweled crowd could be glimpsed dancing and drinking through the wide octogon window. Continue reading

Richard Whitby: Notable Upstate Musician

By on


Richard Whitby’s career in music had blossomed, and after years of hard work, he was offered Second Chair Trombone in John Philip Sousa’s band, and First Chair upon the lead trombonist’s imminent retirement. It was a tremendous honor, and highly regarded confirmation of his great talent, but there was a problem: Richard was still under contract to Carl Edouarde, who had no intentions of releasing him from a prominent run at New York’s Palace Theater. Continue reading

Warrensburg’s Dick Whitby, Notable Musician

By on

1 Comment

Obituaries vary widely in their historical value. Sometimes they’re elaborate; at times they are understated; some leave out important facts; and some, well … some are just hard to explain. Like this one from March 1952: “Richard A. Whitby, a native of Warrensburg, died on Wednesday of last week at his home in Albany. Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Kathryn M. Waring Whitby; two sisters, Mrs. Frank Chapman and Miss Kate Whitby of Yonkers.” Continue reading

The Churubusco Live-In: Clinton County’s ‘Woodstock’

By on

1 Comment

The Churubusco Live-In, planned as the 1970 sequel to the historic Woodstock concert of 1969, was in deep trouble. The town of Clinton, which included Churubusco, sought legal help to shut the event down. J. Byron O’Connell, an outstanding trial attorney, was bombastic at times, and his aggressive quotes [if long-haired people came to the village, “they’re just liable to get shot”] appeared in major newspapers in Boston, New York, and elsewhere. As Churubusco’s representative, he sought to derail the concert and preserve the hamlet’s quiet, rural life, while the promoters, Hal Abramson and Raymond Filiberti, fought back. Continue reading

The Churubusco Live-In: Clinton County’s ‘Woodstock’

By on


We’ve all heard of Woodstock at one time or another—that famous (or infamous) concert held in August 1969. It was scheduled at different venues, but the final location was actually in Bethel, New York, about 60 miles from Woodstock. For many who lived through three major homeland assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the racial riots of the turbulent 1960s, Woodstock was an event representing peace, love, and freedom. It’s considered a defining moment of that generation, and a great memory for those who attended (estimated at 400,000). Continue reading

The Civil War: A Musical Journey

By on

1 Comment

Four Seasons, Four Years is a new Old Songs production featuring eleven singers and musicians from the Adirondacks performing a selection of songs extant in America between 1850 and 1865. This performance takes place at View (the former Old Forge Arts Center) this Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 7:30pm.

The show includes both popular songs of the period as well as songs composed in response to the Civil War itself and events leading up to it. The songs are interspersed with historical narrative specific to New York State and the New York Volunteer Regiments.

Old Songs’ presentation of Four Seasons, Four Years – The Civil War: A Musical Journey brings the songs and sounds of the Civil War back to life without stinting on the truth, the tragedy and the horror. Selections from letters, historical papers and soldier’s diaries are read between the musical passages, creating a seamless flow of narration and song.

The cast of singers and musicians include Greg Artzner, Dan Berggren, Betsy Fry, Steve Fry, Reggie Harris, Terry Leonino, John Roberts, Bill Spence, Toby Stover, Susan Trump and George Wilson. All known in their own right as fine working musicians, they have joined forces to present this unique show in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The songs of this period include Negro spirituals, shape-note hymns, marching songs, sentimental songs and songs and parodies written by 19th century writers such as Stephen Foster, George F. Root, the Hutchinson Family and Henry C. Work. The cast performs in individual and ensemble performances bringing these songs alive with great gusto, emotional impact and exceptional musicianship.

The production has been produced, compiled and directed by Old Songs, Inc. Executive Director Andy Spence in collaboration with the musicians. View their website at www.oldsongs.org  to learn more.

You may purchase tickets by calling View at 315-369-6411 or via email info@ViewArts.org.

Tickets are $25/$20 members, and can be purchased by calling View at 315.369.6411. To learn more about View programming, visit www.ViewArts.org.

Saranac Lake’s Hobofest Set For Sunday

By on


The Fourth Annual Hobofest, an all-day music festival “at-the-tracks” in Saranac Lake NY celebrating railroad culture and the “hobo spirit,” is happening on Sunday, September 2nd. This year’s Hobofest will take place under the “big top,” to assure against the variables of weather, from noon until 11pm. Eat and Meet Grill & Larder will serve local fare, also a children’s activities booth and festival & artist merchandise tables.

This year’s special guest is Washington State legend, Baby Gramps. A former street musician and train buff, Gramps plays antique resonator National Steel guitars, and sings his own unique arrangements of rags, jazz, & blues songs from the 20’s & 30’s, and many originals with wordplay, humor, and throat singing. His appeal is to a wide range of audiences from “jam-band” – having toured with Phish and the Flecktones- to punk to old timey traditional and to kids of all ages. He has performed across the States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Several unsigned, fully-realized ensembles, all “invested” in Hobofest, offer distinct takes on roots music: The intricate groove-grass pulse of Big Slyde, this year with the smoky vocals of Hanna Doan. The Adirondack-Brooklyn hybrid, Frankenpine, craft a modern take on bluegrass, with a colorful palette and original voicing. Crackin’ Foxy distinguish themselves with a post-vaudeville vintage of styled song, elegant female three-part harmony, and swinging arrangements. This year’s appearance of the young and grizzled Blind Owl Band, follows their recent romp through the Northeast, diving headlong into the mosh-pit of old-time as dance music.

The day traditionally kicks off with bluesman Steve Langdon hollerin’ and pickin’ ala John Henry against the din of the first arriving train. New to this stage this year are Eddy and Kim Lawrence, with their wry sense of humor, and deft fretwork from the Canadian border, Keene resident Stan Oliva, and Quinn Sands from Cleveland, OH.

Archival Exhibition Celebrates Brooklyn Academy of Music

By on


When it comes to the performing arts, New York City may forever be synonymous with the Broadway musical, at least in the popular imagination.

However, while there’s a lot to be said for Broadway, New Yorkers and performing arts aficionados alike know that if you want to see the work of the most daring and innovative artists working in music, dance, and theatre today, you need to venture far away from the lights of the Great White Way. Continue reading

Historic Local Recordings Now Available in Plattsburgh

By on

1 Comment

Access to hundreds of audio recordings that reveal the rich histories of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties are now available at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Feinberg Library’s Special Collections.

Recordings include Adirondack Folk Music; Clinton, Essex, and Franklin County oral histories, including those by local residents born prior to the American Civil War; SUNY Plattsburgh concerts; a 1963 recording of Edward “Doc” Redcay on piano and Junior Barber on dobro; and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost reading his works.

The collection of recordings is the result of a collaborative effort by SUNY Plattsburgh Communications Professor Timothy Clukey and Feinberg Library’s Special Collections staff. According to a statement released to the press “copyright restrictions require that researchers visit Special Collections during open hours to listen to any of these recordings.” The recordings are available as mp3 files on a new Audio Station computer kiosk.

A Soundscriber Recorder was used in the mid-20th century by Marjorie Lansing Porter, historian for Clinton and Essex counties. Porter recorded 456 interviews with elderly local residents telling stories and singing traditional Adirondack folk music.

Among the folk music examples, Granma Delorme sang more than one hundred folk songs for Porter, including a Battle of Plattsburgh ballad composed by General Alexander Macomb’s wife. Included also is “Yankee” John Galusha singing “The Three Hunters,” “A Lumbering We Shall Go,” and “Adirondack Eagle.” Francis Delong sings “My Adirondack Home,” and “Peddler Jack.”

Many of the recorded songs deal with mining, lumbering, Adirondack folk tales, and other subjects, as well as traditional Irish and French folk music handed down through generations. The Porter Oral History Interviews cover many topics of historical interest in Clinton and Essex Counties, such as ferry boats, Redford glass, mining, and lumbering.

The Audio Station also includes 96 interviews conducted by William Langlois and Robert McGowan with elder Franklin County residents in the 1970s.

Plans in the works for additions to the Audio Station include:

Rockwell Kent audio recordings (now on reel-to-reel tapes in Special Collections’ Rockwell Kent Collection);

SUNY Plattsburgh Past President Dr. George Angell speaking on antiwar action in 1967—“Protest is Not Enough”;
The 1965 SUNY Plattsburgh Students for a Democratic Society and S.E.A.N.Y.S. teach-in, “The Vietnam Question,” with introduction by Dr. Angell; 
A1964 speech by Senator-Elect Robert Kennedy on the Plattsburgh campus; and a 1964 meeting between Senator-Elect Kennedy and Dr. Angell, discussing various local and county concerns and other topics.
For more information, contact Debra Kimok, Special Collections Librarian (email: debra.kimok@plattsburgh.edu; telephone: 518-564-5206).

During the summer, the Feinberg Special Collections will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 1 pm – 4 pm, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10 am – noon and 1 pm – 4 pm. Saturday appointments can be arranged with the Special Collections Librarian.

Odetta, Richard Wright Being Honored Today in NYC

By on


Today, Tuesday, July 17, 2012 the Historic Districts Council and the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center in New York City will unveil new cultural medallions for two pioneers in the fields of literature and music.

First at 11:00am, in collaboration with the Fort Greene Association, author Richard Wright will be celebrated with a medallion unveiling at 175 Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Then at 2:00 pm their will be an unveiling of a medallion commemorating the life of Odetta, the legendary singer, songwriter and political activist, at her longtime residence, 1270 Fifth Avenue, in East Harlem. The public is invited to both events.

Odetta: The Voice of the Civil-Rights Movement, 1930-2008

Odetta Holmes, born on December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama was a true activist, performance artist and musician. Her powerful image and robust voice was and continues to represent the politically driven folk-music of the 1950’s and 1960’s. As an African-American female performance artist during a time of political and racial upheaval, Odetta was a leader and voice for the civil rights movement; marching with Martin Luther King Jr. and performing a show for John F. Kennedy. The ability she had to convey meaning and life into her music inspired others to follow in her pursuit of fairness, equality and justice.

Author Richard Wright, 1908- 1960

Born in Mississippi, Richard Wright spent the majority of his childhood living in poverty in the oppressive racial and social atmosphere of the south. Wright escaped familial and social constraints by immersing himself in the world of literature, and became one of the first great African American writer’s of his time. Richard Wright relocated to Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood and was living here in 1938 when he drafted his first novel, Native Son. He wrote several controversial novels, short-stories and semi-autobiographical accounts that reflected the brutalities often inflicted on the African American people of the south during this period. Wright eventually left New York City for Paris. His grave is located in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

About the Ceremony and Cultural Medallion Program

Distinguished scholars, artists and elected officials will be participating in both of the cultural medallion ceremonies. The Richard Wright program will include Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, celebrated playwright Lynn Nottage, Paul Palazzo of the Fort Greene Association, musician and author Carl Hancock Rux, and Howard Pitsch will read a message from Wright’s daughter, Julia Wright, who currently resides in Paris. Pianist Dave Keyes will perform Odetta’s signature piece, This Little Light of Mine, at the Odetta ceremony.

The Cultural Medallions are a program of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair of the HLPC, created the Cultural Medallions program, and will lead the ceremony. The HLPC has installed almost 100 medallions around the city to heighten public awareness of the cultural and social history of New York City.

Songs of War of 1812 POWs Highlighted at NY History Conference

By on


The annual NY State History conference, held this year at Niagara University, launched with a song from a POW imprisoned in Dartmoor, marking the conference theme on the War of 1812.

The British captured teen-aged Thomas B. Mott in 1813 and he struck back in song, satirizing his captors, decrying the harsh conditions and reign of lice, and stoutly defending presidents over kings. Continue reading

Nellis Tavern: War of 1812 Songs and Stories

By on


The historic Nellis Tavern museum east of St. Johnsville (Montgomery County) will present performer and researcher Dave Ruch on Saturday, May 5, in a special concert entitled “The War of 1812 – Songs and Stories from New York and Beyond.” The program will begin at 2 p.m.

With guitar, mandolin, banjo, jew’s harp, bones, and voice, Dave Ruch interprets the traditional and historical music of the New York State region. For this program, Ruch presents a ringing portrait of the War of 1812 through the songs and stories of the people themselves.

Ruch has dug deeply into archival recordings, diaries, old newspapers and other historical manuscripts to unearth a wealth of rarely-heard music which, alongside some of the classics from the war period, offers a rounded and fascinating picture of this “second war of independence.” Special emphasis is given to New York State’s important role in the conflict.

By the War of 1812, the Nellis Tavern, originally built about 1747 facing the Mohawk River, had been enlarged and faced the recently completed Mohawk Turnpike (NYS highway 5). The turnpike was an important thoroughfare during the war, and the tavern served a host of travelers, military and civilian alike. Ruch will perform music which might have been heard in the tavern two hundred years ago.

Ruch travels widely from his home base in Buffalo, giving hundreds of performances each year for schools, museums, historical societies, libraries, festivals, community events and more. He will appear at the Nellis Tavern as a Speaker in the Humanities sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the Palatine Settlement Society at 518-922-7051.

Woody Guthrie Centennial: Guthrie Archivist Interview

By on


Music legend and songwriting luminary Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, and this year marks his centennial birthday. To celebrate, the Grammy Museum, the Guthrie family, Woody Guthrie Publications and the Woody Guthrie Archives have planned an international program of events, including tours, concerts, festivals, and conferences.

Ryan Anthony Donaldson of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) recently had the chance to ask Tiffany Colannino a few questions about the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration. Tiffany is the Archivist with the Woody Guthrie Archives, currently located in Mount Kisco, New York, as well as the newly appointed ART Advocacy Chair.

ART: How did the centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum, Guthrie Family/Woody Guthrie Publications, and Woody Guthrie Archives come about?

TC: The centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum and the Woody Guthrie Archives has deep roots. For starters, we are both non-profit organizations committed to the history of American music. The Archives’ mission is to perpetuate Woody Guthrie’s life and legacy through the proactive preservation of his Archival material, whereas the GRAMMY Museum’s mission is to explore and celebrate the enduring legacies of all forms of music. Although these missions differ, with the Archives’ focus on preservation and research, and the GRAMMY Museum on public programs and activities, our two organizations can work together to use these archival documents to bring Guthrie’s life to a broad audience.

But it’s more than just our missions that link us together: Robert Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum, is actually a former researcher at the Woody Guthrie Archives. Since 1990, Santelli has researched in the Archives in support of several Woody Guthrie book projects, including his 2012 work This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of the American Folk Song. He has maintained an active working relationship with Nora Guthrie – President of Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc and Director of the Woody Guthrie Archives – for over 20 years.

In a recent press release, Nora Guthrie comments on this partnership, remarking: “Because of its deep enthusiasm for Woody’s creative legacy as well as the underlying influence he’s had on so many musicians and songwriters in all genres of American music, the GRAMMY Museum is the obvious choice to help us celebrate the legacy that he created.”

The centennial celebrations will include concerts, conferences, and exhibits across the United States, Canada, and Europe. We’ve launched www.Woody100.com as a one-stop-shop for all of our North American events, and www.Woody100.de for our European events. In addition to the events we are planning with the GRAMMY Museum, these sites also list the Grassroots events that Guthrie fans and supporters are planning across the world, including lecture series, concerts, hootenannies, and exhibits. In addition, there are many new releases – books, films, and musical albums – including many based solely on material from the Woody Guthrie Archives, set to launch in 2012 to help celebrate Guthrie’s centennial, and perpetuate his legacy.

ART: In terms of centennial celebrations for Woody in the New York area, there will be a concert at Brooklyn College as well as a conference at Penn State University in September. What topics relating to Woody Guthrie would you like to see explored at the conference?

TC: That’s a tough question, because there are so many facets of Woody Guthrie’s life yet to be explored! However, the great thing about the academic conferences being planned for this year is that rather than focus solely on a specific aspect of Guthrie’s life, each conference will use Guthrie as the starting point to open a discussion on a broader, contemporary theme. The theme for each conference will be selected by the host institution, allowing them to decide on a topic that is of direct relevance to their local community.

The 2012 Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebrations will include four large academic conferences: Tulsa, Los Angeles, Penn State, and Brooklyn.

The Tulsa conference, Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100, used Guthrie as a stepping stone to discuss Oklahoma politics. At the University of Southern California conference, Woody Guthrie’s Los Angeles: A Centenary Celebration, we’ll talk about Los Angeles in the late 1930s, where Guthrie worked for several local radio stations and wrote for various newspapers after fleeing the Dust Bowl. Woody At 100: Woody’s Legacy to Working Men & Women, the Penn State conference in September, will use Guthrie to focus on the labor movement and unions, while the theme for the Brooklyn conference, also in September, is yet to be announced.

ART: It has been announced that the research collection of the Woody Guthrie Archives will be relocating from Mount Kisco, NY, to Woody’s home state of Oklahoma in 2013. How is the planning coming along for it?

TC: In 2013, the Woody Guthrie Archives will relocate from Mount Kisco, New York to a permanent home with the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a native Oklahoman, this move will truly bring Guthrie’s life full circle!

The Archives will be located in a repurposed warehouse – the Tulsa Paper Company – along with other arts oriented organizations, and I have had the opportunity to walk through the building site several times. Work is already underway, and it is exciting to see the Archives’ new home come to life! I have had meetings with the building architects to review design plans and requirements, discussing the archival needs to be taken into consideration during the design phase. This relocation to Tulsa will ensure continued researcher access to the material in the collection, and the long-term preservation of over 10,000 pages of documents held in the Woody Guthrie Archives.

More information on Woody Guthrie centennial events is available online.

Lafayette Spaulding: Fiddlin’ Around on Broadway

By on


Ol’ time, foot-stompin’ fiddle music is a North Country staple, rooted in times past when people made their own fun. Its heyday was principally from the mid-1800s to the 1940s, finally giving way in the post-World War II years to the automobile and widespread availability of electricity. Sources of entertainment changed, but before that, the tradition of barn dances and the like was strong across the Adirondacks.

For the past seventy years or so, that tradition has been preserved by a number of outstanding musicians, and it continues today with young Dorothy Jane Siver. Back in the 1950s and 60s, when some of the old tunes were rolled out, it brought back memories of Crown Point’s Lafayette Spaulding.

Born in Ironville (about six miles southwest of Crown Point village in Essex County) in 1830, Spaulding worked on the family farm and at the same time developed a strong interest in music. As an adult, he continued on both paths, operating his own farm in Crown Point while broadening his musical skills. For a time he was the Crown Point Lighthouse keeper, but he farmed most of his life.

The gigs he did as a young boy—parties and dances—confirmed a burgeoning talent. That led to appearances at taverns, dance halls, hotels, wedding receptions, and performances in musical presentations. But he didn’t neglect the smaller venues. Whether you called it a hop, a parlor dance, a kitchen dance, or a barn dance—if it was somewhere in the vicinity of Crown Point, Lafayette Spaulding was the guy to call.

The name itself has a great ring to it, as did his wife’s (Abigail Spaulding). Cora was the name chosen for their daughter, but nothing nearly so normal for their two sons—Viceroy and Vilroy.

By 1860 Lafayette was the pre-eminent dance caller around, and for the next thirty years, his music brought joy to thousands. There was some extra money to be made doing it, but Spaulding was driven by a love for music and performing.

His showmanship was memorable, characterized by two main features. First, he would gladly play once his seating was properly prepared—a chair placed atop a table.

That afforded him full view of the dance floor, which led to another of Lafayette’s favorite pastimes—correcting any dancers who messed up the steps. Spotting an offender, he would stop the music, and to great exaggeration and lots of laughter, Spaulding would correct everyone, offering proper instructions before the music resumed. He managed a running commentary even while calling the dance. The public loved it.

By the mid-1890s, Lafayette was a local legend and had friends beyond count. He was in great demand, and though it seemed like he should be slowing down at the age of 65 (life expectancy then was 48), the best—or at least the biggest—was yet to come.

In late 1899, Spaulding was approached by J. Wesley Rosenquest, manager of the 14th Street Theatre in New York City. Rosenquest had already completed two highly successful runs of The Village Postmaster, a play written by Alice Ives and Jerome Eddy. The story was based on traditional New England life, and Act 2 began with a dance scene. Lafayette was to play the fiddle and call the dance. The skill he had developed in his own act (correcting dancers) was put to use in choreographing the scene.

He joined the theatre company at Troy to rehearse, and a month later, at Christmas, the show opened in New York City to a packed house. The success continued to rave reviews in The New York Times and other newspapers. Said one writer, “Probably the member of the cast who aroused the most interest was “Laffy” Spaulding, the Adirondack Guide, who called the dances. The amusing incidents of the 2nd act, in the Donation Party scene, caused much laughter.”

And in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s true: back then, when a man from “up north” somehow made it into the city newspapers, he was more often than not referred to as an Adirondack Guide.

Six months shy of his 70th birthday, Lafayette was a hit on Broadway and loving every minute of it. He informed friends of his latest ventures, including lunch with the head of a 5th Avenue jewelry firm, and dinner with a millionaire admirer.

In late January, plans were made for the play’s three-week stint covering Brooklyn and Jersey City before touring the western part of the state. By September, he was back at home enjoying his new-found celebrity status.

Lafayette resumed performing in the Lake Champlain area, just as he had always done. A snippet from one report is classic Spaulding: “La Fa [as he was known] Spaulding, of New York theatre fame, made a decided hit. His old fashioned music and manner of calling the changes were amusing, and his way of correcting mistakes, though somewhat abrupt, created uproarious laughter.”

One of his last appearances was in 1905 at the Union Opera House in Ticonderoga. It must have been something to see when the 75-year-old took the stage, prompting this description: “The dancing of ‘Honest John,’ with Lafayette Spaulding as fiddler, brought down the house and revived fond memories of olden times in the minds of the older persons present.”

In November 1907, at the age of 77, Lafayette Spaulding died. Perhaps fittingly, he was found seated upright in his chair as if ready to call the next dance.

Photo: Above, the 14th Street Theater in 1936, shortly before it was torn down; Below, an advertisement at the beginning of Spaulding’s theater run (December 1899).

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Fife & Drum Corps Muster at Fort Ti on Saturday

By on


Fort Ticonderoga celebrates more than eight decades of Fife and Drum Corps performance with its annual Fife and Drum Corps Muster on August 6. The muster will highlight several Fife and Drum Corps from across the northeast and as far away as Michigan performing throughout the day. The muster will crescendo into a combined Fife and Drum Corps performance at 3:30 pm on Fort Ticonderoga’s Parade Ground.

This event highlights the role Fife & Drum music has played in the commemoration of American history. Fife and Drum Corps gained increased popularity during the American bicentennial celebrations. In 18th Century military life, fifes and drums served as one of the primary modes of battlefield communication and camp regulation.

Fort Ticonderoga formed its first Fife and Drum Corps in 1926 on the eve of the 150th anniversary celebrations of American Independence. The Corps performed at the Fort each summer until the beginning of World War II. When the World’s Fair came to New York City in 1939, the Fife and Drum Corps was a featured performer on May 10th, Fort Ticonderoga Day celebrating the 164th anniversary of the capture of the Fort by Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys.

In 1973, in preparation for the bicentennial, Fort Ticonderoga revived the fife and drum corps to perform daily during the Fort’s summer season. The fife and drum corps has performed every year since and has been featured performers at many major public events including the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games, the christening of the US Navy Guided Missile Cruiser USS Ticonderoga CG-47, and several Evacuation Day parades in Boston, Massachusetts.

Today the Fife and Drum Corps is comprised of Ticonderoga area high school students who are paid employees of Fort Ticonderoga, a private non-profit organization. The Fife and Drum Corps is part of Fort Ticonderoga’s Interpretive Department whose focus brings to life Fort Ticonderoga’s specific history through daily interpretive programs, historic trades and special events.

Fort Ticonderoga’s full schedule and information on events can be found online or phone (518) 585-2821. Fort Ticonderoga is located at 100 Fort Ti Road Ticonderoga, New York.

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga’s Fife and Drum Corps Performs at Fort Ticonderoga.

Olana Civil War Event: Rally ‘Round the Flag

By on


The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers will present a free concert of music popular during the Civil War along with letters and commentary from and about the war. The music starts at 2 PM on the East Lawn at Olana State Historic Site on Saturday, August 13, 2011. There is a $5 per car fee at the entrance to the park; bring your own blankets and chairs; the concert is from 2 – 4 PM.

The 77th New York has appeared many times at Olana, each time to an enthusiastic response. This year, their performance is part of the Sesquicentennial observances of the Civil War taking place throughout the country. The 77th New York will provide a look at the war from a musical perspective. Dressed in authentic reproductions of historic uniforms and costumes, the 77th New York provides a musical and narrative story of both sides in the painful and bloody conflict

The Civil War is of importance to Olana because of its relevance to Frederic Church, his art, and his family. While Church did not fight in the Civil War, he supported it financially; some of his greatest works, like Icebergs and Cotopaxi, were produced during this time. He and his family, like so many in this country, suffered the deaths of dear friends in the conflict. Long time friend and author Theodore Winthrop was lost in one of the first battles of the war; later friend and fellow Connecticut artist John Jameson died at the infamous Andersonville prison camp.

Currently, an exhibit, Rally ‘round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War, is featured in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery. The exhibit explores the Civil War connection to the artist and the country; it also provides a look at the paintings and a career cut short by the conflict, the works of Church’s young friend and artist, John Jamison.

Free August Music Series at Saratoga Battlefield

By on

1 Comment

The race track in Saratoga Springs may be quiet on Tuesdays, but Saratoga Battlefield will be alive with music. Friends of Saratoga Battlefield will sponsor four free lunchtime concerts at Saratoga National Historical Park’s visitor center located on Route 32 and 4 in Stillwater. Bring a lunch and listen to a different program each week: folk, classical and martial music.

August 2­ Rich Bala – Find out how waterways and canals shaped New York’s history from colonial times to the end of the 19th century on a musical tour by acclaimed folk singer Rich Bala.

August 9­ Elizabeth Huntley – How much more elegant can things get? Sublime music of the 18th century performed on the harp, sublime views of the Saratoga Battlefield from the Visitor Center lawn. Enjoy classical pieces played upon the Queen of Instruments performed by harpist Elizabeth Huntley.

August 16­ Dave Ruch – Dave Ruch presents Traditional and Historical Songs of New York. Lively presentations of songs and ditties from all corners of the Empire State. These are the songs of real-life “Yorkers” from the past – farmers, lumbermen, immigrants, children,Native Americans, canallers, lake sailors and more – collected through considerable research, and interpreted for all to enjoy with banjo, guitar, mandolin, bones, spoons and more. (This Speakers in the Humanities event is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York State Legislature.)

August 23­ Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps – Martial music at its best. The Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps performs tunes that may have wafted over the landscape mingled with the gun smoke during the Battles of Saratoga.

Saratoga National Historical Park offers a variety of programs. For additional information call (518) 664-9821 ext. 224 or visit www.nps.gov/sara

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga Fife & Drum Corps (Provided).