The “Songs To Keep” documentary, album, book and concert tour are underway, raising awareness of rare Adirondack North Country folk songs. Collaborating with TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York), the Adirondack History Center Museum and SUNY Plattsburgh Feinberg Library’s Special Collection, Mountain Lake PBS is helping to bring the Majorie Lansing Porter Song Collection to light.
Along with an album recorded from the collection, a songbook, manuscript and traveling exhibit, the PBS documentary will bring all aspects of this previously unavailable historic assembly of regional folk songs to the public.
Majorie Lansing Porter (1891-1973) spent her life devoted to preserving Adirondack folk songs. Porter weaved her way throughout New York State in the 1940s and 1950s, recording traditional musicians and singers. Upon her death in 1973, her vast collection, notes, oral histories and interviews were housed in the SUNY Plattsburgh Feinberg Library’s Special Collections.
Porter’s friend, a musician, Lee Knight spent 20 years researching the songs and singers recorded by Porter as well as transcribing the music’s lyrics. His research as well as the Feinberg Library’s Special Collections two years of digitizing the collection of 300 traditional ballads, lumber camp and iron mine songs and Iroquois chants helped lay the foundation for the upcoming public concerts to be shown around the Adirondacks.
TAUNY Program Director Hannah Harvester says “Marjorie Lansing Porter has not been given her due and we want to shine the light on her. In additional to her place in history, this collection of songs is a treasure trove. Some songs have survived and been passed down, but others would have been lost if she hadn’t recorded them. There are these unique versions to the region. There are Iroquois, Irish, French-Canadian songs that give a window into cultural history.”
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Old Forge VIEW, Edwards Opera House, Elizabethtown’s Adirondack History Center Museum and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Glitz Theatre are the remaining vendors that will host these groundbreaking concerts.
Tonight, Wednesday, August 21, 8:00 p.m. – Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Tickets $15
Featuring: Dave Ruch, Bill Smith and Don Woodcock, Jamie Savage and Sue Grimm, Dan Berggren with Alex Smith, Celia Evans, Bernard Ouimet
Saturday, August 24, 7:30 p.m. – View, Old Forge, Tickets $15
Featuring: Dave Ruch, Jamie Savage and Sue Grimm, John Roberts and George Ward, La Famille Ouimet, Colleen Cleveland
Saturday, September 14, 7:00 p.m., Edwards Opera House, Tickets $10
Featuring: Dave Ruch, Don Woodcock, The Fraser Family and Friends, John Kirk and Trish Miller, Lee Knight
Friday, September 20, 6:00 p.m., Adirondack History Center Museum, Elizabethtown, Tickets: $8 ($5 for museum members)
Featuring: Lee Knight, Sean Rosemeyer (Porter’s granddaughter), and other special guests.
Saturday, September 21, 7:00 p.m. – Giltz Theater, Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh, Tickets: $10 (available at Angell College Center* and at the door)
Featuring: Dave Ruch, Jamie Savage and Sue Grimm, Dan Berggren, Colleen Cleveland, Lee Knight, June Millington
Photo of Marjorie Lansing Porter used with the permission of the SUNY Plattsburgh Feinberg Library’s Special Collections.