Thursday, September 20, 2007

RCPA Has New Chair: John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake

A Press Release recieved from the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA):

RCPA Votes John Collins as the New Chair of the Board of Directors

Robert Harrison of Brant Lake selected as Vice-Chair

North Creek – The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) Board of Directors voted John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake as the new Board Chair. John Collins was a founding Board member and has served on the Board since 1997. Robert Harrison of Brant Lake was voted in as the new Vice-Chair. Harrison has served on the RCPA Board since 2005.

“The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks is a very important voice. The RCPA serves as the eyes and ears and especially the voice for those of us who live in the Park and recognize its value. We will continue to work to protect the natural resources and promote a sustainable economy throughout this remarkable place. The Board and staff of the RCPA are committed to preserving the Forest Preserve, the great open spaces and the rural communities that are the Adirondacks,” said John Collins, the new RCPA Chair. Collins has served on the Town of Indian Lake Planning Board, the Indian Lake Central School District Board of Education, as a Commissioner and Chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, on the Board and as Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum, on also currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Crary Foundation and the Northern Forest Center.

Robert Harrison was voted in as the RCPA’s Vice-Chair. Harrison is a member of the Brant Lake Volunteer Fire Department, is a school bus driver for the North Warren School District, and is a member of the Town of Horicon Master Plan Steering Committee. “I’m very concerned about the Adirondack Club & Resort project proposed for the Big Tupper Ski Area. The RCPA has applied for party status and will continue to participate and monitor this project in the months and years ahead. As an FSC certified landowner in the RCPA’s sustainable forestry certification program, I will work diligently to grow this program and recruit new landowners and help get more businesses certified to use certified wood and sell certified projects. This program seeks to build the local economy and protect private forestlands,” said Bob Harrison.

In addition Joe Mahay of Paradox was voted as the Secretary/Treasurer.

“We’re all delighted with the new leadership that John Collins and Bob Harrison bring to the RCPA,” said Peter Bauer, RCPA Executive Director. “We face many challenges across the Adirondacks from over-development, poor state management of the Forest Preserve, declining water quality, a serious shortage of affordable housing, invasive species and land protection among other issues. Our challenges are huge so somebody who knows the Park well, who has a successful business here, and who cares deeply about both the future of the Park’s wild areas and residents is critical at this point in time to lead the RCPA to confront these challenges.”

The 14-member RCPA Board of Directors are all year-round residents of the Adirondack Park. The Board meets seven times a year and holds an annual members meeting each September. The Board approves all RCPA programs and positions (all RCPA positions since 2003 are posted on the RCPA website www.rcpa.org). The RCPA manages the largest water quality monitoring program in the Adirondacks, the Park’s only sustainable forestry FSC certification project for landowners and businesses, monitors development on a town-by-town basis annually, and has issued reports on development trends in the Adirondack Park, ATV abuse of Forest Preserve lands, need for improvements in state regulation of septic systems in New York, and the future of Fire Towers on the public Forest Preserve and private lands in the Adirondacks. The RCPA manages the Adirondack Park Land Protection Campaign and the Adirondack Park Clean Waters Project and works collaboratively on various community development projects. The RCPA formed in 1990. The previous RCPA Chairs were Joe Mahay of Paradox, Philip Hamel of Saranac, and Peter Hornbeck of Olmstedville.

The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks

The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship and protection of the natural environment and human communities of the Adirondack Park for current and future generations. The RCPA pursues this mission through advocacy, education, legal action, sustainable forestry certification, research, water quality monitoring and grassroots organizing. The RCPA has 3,500 household members and maintains an office in North Creek.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bud York Defeats Larry Cleveland, Val Keehn Beats Gordon Boyd

Primary election returns reported by Capital News 9 show that Nathan H. “Bud” York has defeated incumbent (and Glens Falls Post Star favorite) Larry Cleveland in the Warren County Sheriff Republican and Independence Party primaries. Since Cleveland will no longer be on the ballot in November as the candidate for either party it looks like Bud York will be the next Warren County Sheriff.

In Saratoga Springs Progressive Democrat Valerie Keehn has apparently fended off a primary challenge from conservative Gordon Boyd despite heavy and nearly relentless attacks from right-wing Saratoga area blogs and the conservative Saratogian. Keehen will no doubt still have a tough battle ahead against a Republican challenger in November.

Local primary results can be found here:

Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties (Capital News 9)
Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Plattsburgh Press Republican
Glens Falls Post Star


Friday, September 14, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Stay Up-To-Date On Fall Foliage Peaks

Make A $10 Photo Light Box

Do-It-Yourself Leaf Shredder

Build Your Own Sport Utility Bike (SUB)

Crazy Wine Cork Art

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Friday, September 7, 2007

RCPA Executive Director Peter Bauer Leaving

Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks today. Before his tenure with since 1994, will leave his position by the end of September according to a news release the Adirondack Almanack receivedRCPA Bauer worked for the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century, and at Adirondack Life. In his position with the RCPA, he worked on a variety of issues affecting the stewardship and environmental protection of the public and private lands of the Adirondack Park and was the target of much right-wing criticism. He is married to Cathleen Collins and has two children, Jake and Emma. He will be moving to a position as Executive Director for the Fund For Lake George. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

End of Summer: Adirondack Travel Edition

Now that the summer tourist season is mostly over, we’ll present what has become our annual list of some of the best travel blogging of the Adirondacks we’ve seen. If you have a post you find worth sharing let us know.

One of our favorite local blogs, Adirondack Musing, took their annual trip to Saratoga for a day at the flat track, the harness track, and the racino. The posts, with some nice photos, are in four parts (Saratoga, Backstreetch Tour Parts One and Two, and Race Day).

Another local, Rebbecca Leonard, has been travelling the highways and byways of the Adirondacks all summer trying to sell her first book, Adirondack Nightmare: A Spooky Tale in the North Country, which she self published in the spring. Her journeys are interesting slices of life in the region – good and bad.

Dave Schatsky just returned from an Adirondack vacation:

We didn’t see much wildlife–local experts say the park system is so large that the bobcats, martins, and other mid-sized mammals have no motive for straying closed to humans. Black bears are not hard to encounter there, but it’s better not to and we didn’t either. We did see a salamander–my favorite amphibian–frogs, wild turkeys and deer.

Dominique shared her experiences and suggestions of camping with her toddler at Cranberry Lake in Sophia In the Adirondacks:

Make sure that your child can be very involved….when my husband went fishing, we had a small toy fishing pole so that Sophia could emulate what he was doing. Also, a variety in the level of activity is beneficial. It was great to relax for the afternoon on the beach after a busy morning of hiking and campground activities.

A Woman Obsessed took a Mini Yarn Crawl through the Adirondacks with stops in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Our first stop on the yarn crawl was Lonesome Landing in Saranac Lake. Cute town, cute store, cute owner. Things were a little disorganized, but there was interesting yarn, out of print books, and a great deal on Opal sock yarn ($11!!!!) I brought home this darling, after Meg spotted me the cash to make the purchase- if you go to Lonesome Landing, be forewarned that they only accept cash and checks!

Warren D. Jorgensen left Tarrytown for An Adirondack Mountain Sojourn:

Anxious to put work-city-civilization-traffic behind, I put the hammer down on the five hour slab ride that put me off exit 30 and onto route 73 west and into the park. The weight of a thousand and one problems lifted off my shoulders with the sight of the High Peaks, and for some reason, I felt at home. I have been coming to these mountains since 1958, and the sight of mountains always warms my soul.

As the evening faded, a canoeist paddled across the lake off the rear deck of our cabin just outside Lake Placid, and we decided that in this nothingness, we would do nothing. No plans, no itinerary, but just follow the front wheel and see where it would take us on the roads that wound through this “Forever Wild” wilderness.

Kathleen at Be Still And Know spent some time at Chapel Island on Upper Saranac Lake:

The loons cry, campfires burn, birds sing, leaves begin to turn, fish jump, children splash with delight into the cold lake water, water skiers ride the wake, sailboats sail, pontoons party their way around the waters edge, eagles scream and soar, and the earth smells ever so sweet. I’m bundled up with all my sweatshirts, and strip down to my tankini, forgiving the drastic temperature change…just to be here basking in the glory of Mother Nature at her best.

Many of the posts have some outstanding photos, but be sure to check out the flickr Adirondacks photo pool for more great Adirondack vacation amateur photography.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sketches of Sam Bush by Speedy Arnold

George (Speedy) Arnold plays guitar and sings for the bluegrass band Three Doug Knight, which appears at local bluegrass festivals in the Adirondack region of New York State. The band is most enjoyable and we’ve heard them play several times this summer. Last week, at the Otis Mtn. Festival, I learned that Speedy Arnold also illustrates children’s books. Later I saw him sketching during the Sam Bush set. As with many able and talented people who live in the Adirondacks, Speedy does a variety of things to keep body and soul together. He serves as a school bus driver in the Ausable Valley Central School District, owns and operates Arnold’s Grocery and Likker Lokker in Keeseville, NY and serves as assessor for the Town of Ausable. Information about his illustrations can be found here.

Here are two sketches Speedy did during Sam’s set.


You can contact him about others.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Sam Bush, Infamous Stringdusters Led Otis Mountain

By Ted Lehmann

Saturday evening August 18th at the Otis Mountain Music Festival in Elizabethtown, NY was cool and clear, but neither the fans nor the bands felt cold as the Sam Bush Band and the Infamous Stringdusters heated up the night. Promoter Jeff Allot has worked hard to make this small festival in the rugged Adirondack Mountains a success. In bringing one of the great bands of bluegrass history as well as one of the hottest young bands on the circuit together for a day, Allot scored a huge artistic success. Whether this proves to be a financial success and allows him to continue this great festival remains to be seen, but this festival deserves support and encouragement.

The closing jam provided one of those thrilling moments that may only happen in bluegrass festivals. In the encore, Sam invited the Stringdusters to join him and they jammed for half an hour to the delight of the crowd that whooped it up for more. It was simply a great night. The New England Bluegrass Band, Big Spike, and Three Doug Knight all deserve credit too.

Ed: Above is a shot Ted took of the New England Bluegrass Band. More pictures from the Otis Mountain festival can be seen on his blog here.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bridge Collapse Recalls Historic Adirondack Disaster

The recent collapse of the bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Minneapolis brought to mind the tragic history of similar events in the Adirondacks.

Workers building the historic Stone Arch Bridge (photo above from the late 1800s) over the Ausable River in Keeseville had a close call in 1842. The bridge of native stone, believed at the time to be the largest such bridge in the country, was being built to replace the original wooden structure erected in 1805. The men had completed the first course of stone including the keystones and had nearly finished the second course when a violent storm blew in. Just as more then 30 men fled the storm’s heavy rain to a wooden shed on the bank of the river the entire bridge collapsed into the Ausable with a thunderous crash. The tremendous crash was said to have shaken buildings as far away as Port Kent.

Delays in the construction of the bridge caused by the collapse inadvertently caused a more tragic accident that same year. On local militia “muster day,” September 13, 1842, the unfinished bridge caused the Essex County militia to cross a smaller swinging bridge (supported by chains) nearby. The bridge was filled with bystanders as they marched across in lock step. It’s believed the overloaded bridge combined with the stamping feet of the marchers caused the bridge to collapse into the churning river below. Local newspapers reported that nine people were drowned, and four later died of exposure. Two boys, Richard Pope and Richard Peabody, were swept over a nearby dam with their arms around each other and were among those drowned.

A similar accident twice befell the men building what was then longest bridge in the world (3,239 feet) over the St. Lawrence River at Quebec. As one of the enormous spans was being raised from pontoons, it gave way and crashed into the river taking with it fifty men. Observers said the central span, weighing more than 5,000 tons, buckled at the center before it fell. At least five were killed. The accident occurred in 1916, but just nine years before a similar accident on the same bridge killed 70.In the spring of 1931 the Whallonsburg bridge, which carried much of the Albany-Montreal traffic over the Bouquet River in Essex County, collapsed while Robert O’Neil of Willsboro was crossing. O’Neil’s car fell nearly twelve feet but he escaped uninjured. The bridge’s steel trusses slipped from one of its abutments. The next day four boys were sitting on the railing of the wrecked bridge when it gave way and they went into the water. Kenneth McDougall was knocked unconscious from a serious head injury but the others escaped relatively unharmed. The photo at right shows the new abutments, made of rough quartzite from Champlain Stone.The 1842 Chain Bridge Collapse ranks among the deadliest accidents ever in the Adirondack region. Read more about the others here.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Otis Mountain Music Festival – Preview

The Otis Mountain Music Festival will hold its fifth annual event on August 17th and 18th in Elizabethtown, NY along route 9 between the route 73 split and Elizabethtown. This festival has been moving its date and searching for an identity which will sell in this huge rural county within the Adirondack Park in northern New York. It remains to be seen whether scheduling two of the most popular and progressive bluegrass bands in this venue will bring in the crowds needed to make this event pay. I can only hope. In scheduling the great, established Sam Bush Band and the wonderful emerging band The Infamous Stringdusters to appear on Saturday, promoter Jeff Allot is offering a day of the very finest progressive bluegrass that can be found. He is also offering an interesting, if little known, supporting cast ranging from traditional bluegrass to indie/rock that may hit the spot or fail to please.

The setting of the Otis Mountain Festival could not be any more beautiful. The band stand sits at the base of a gentle ski hill which slopes upward and away to form a natural amphitheater. There is plenty of room for people to see the bands and, I understand, an area has been set aside to permit dancing without interfering with viewing and listening. In the past, this festival has featured excellent food venders featuring offerings several cuts above the usual fair food served at bluegrass and music festivals. There is rough camping available and good transportation from the rather remote parking areas and the festival site. Allot has gone to great lengths to make this event one in which there has been extensive community involvement, and, in its 2005 version, succeeded admirably. Last year he changed the date to conflict with another New York State festival, which we chose to attend. This year he has again chosen a new date. I thought the weekend after Labor Day was a great date to hold a festival, but apparently it didn’t draw sufficient crowds, and it was chilly at night. Perhaps finding a regular date and keeping it would be a good way to build the festival audience.

Sam Bush is one of the most important influences in bluegrass music since its invention by Bill Monroe. With the establishment of The New Grass Revival in 1971, bluegrass opened itself to the new sounds coming from Rock and Roll bringing new sounds, rhythms, and themes into the acoustic music Monroe had pioneered and whose influence continues to dominate the genre. In his history of bluegrass, Neil V. Rosenberg points out that the musicians have always been out ahead of the fans of bluegrass music in their willingness to explore new approaches to the music. For more than 35 years, Sam Bush has been in the lead. He has introduced electric instruments and drums to the genre without ever bending it too far from its roots. His mandolin and fiddle playing are extraordinary. His current band, with Scott Vestal on banjo, Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on Drums, and Stephen Mougin on guitar continues in the tradition Bush has established, but the band is really Sam Bush. The list of performers Bush has played with forms a who’s who of bluegrass and country music greats.


While the Sam Bush Band represents the genesis and progress of modern bluegrass music, The Infamous Stringdusters stand for the state of the art. Composed of a group of players, several of whom studied at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston, this fast rising group has taken the country by storm during the past eighteen months. I have written about their debut album “Fork in the Road” here. They still need to establish a solid record of ongoing accomplishment, but this first recording is better than a good start. Otis Mountain gives listeners one of their last chances to hear and see the original band, as brilliant flat-picking guitarist Chris Eldridge is leaving the band to join Chris Thile. Eldridge represents a link between the past and the future. He’s the son of Ben Eldridge, an original and continuing member of The Seldom Scene, who is acknowledged as a master of innovation on the banjo. Chris Eldridge appears to be in some other world as his wonderful solos and oh-so-solid rhythm guitar contribute mightily to the Stringdusters’ drive and style. Banjo player Chris Pandolfi is the first banjo graduate of the Berklee School of Music, perhaps the premier school for contemporary jazz, rock, and pop musicians today. Jeremy Garrett on fiddle comes from Idaho where he was a member of his father’s band The Grasshoppers, and he studied at South Plains College in Texas, where there is a well-known bluegrass program. Garrett sings lead and plays fiddle. Jesse Cobb, on mandolin, also comes from a family of bluegrass musicians. Andy Hall on Dobro and providing lead vocals is also a graduate of Berklee, where he majored in Music Production and Engineering. Finally, Travis Book, the newest member of the band on bass, comes from Colorado, where he was recognized for his playing as well as his lead singing. This band came together after all its members had moved to Nashville and established themselves with a variety of touring bands as well as studio musicians. Their collaboration grew out of jamming in the rich Nashville scene and his matured as they formed the Stringdusters and have worked to forge a distinctive sound and style. As a band they are still maturing and should provide years of delightful surprises to
thoughtful and informed listeners.

As might be expected with two such budget busting bands, the remainder of the lineup emphasizes either bands you haven’t heard of or local/regional bands that don’t have to travel too far or demand too much to appear. This does not, however, mean you won’t find something worth listening to. Big Spike, acting as host band this weekend, comes from Vermont and seeks to recreate the sounds of bluegrass and country music as it existed at about the time bluegrass began to distinguish itself as a sub-genre within the country music rubric. According to their web site “The band aims to recreate a sound that is long gone from country music, a sound closer to the honky-tonk and early bluegrass sound of the 50’s than it is to what’s played in Nashville today.” They are justly familiar to bluegrass fans around New York and New England.

Similarly, The New England Bluegrass Band, while best known in its namesake region, consists of excellent musicians presenting music in mostly traditional formats. They have recently been joined by Ashleigh Caudill, a new graduate of Berklee School of Music on bass and vocals. Joe Walsh, new mandolin player for the group, is also a student at Berklee. Since the Infamous Stringdusters are on the bill here, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Chris Pandolfi sitting in with the group, too. Lincoln Myers, Ron Cody, and Cecil Abels are long term members of this excellent bluegrass band. All the members have experiences that cross genres and also have considerable range within bluegrass. You can expect first class sets from this band on Saturday.

Three Doug Knight is a local bluegrass band that provides very satisfactory covers of bluegrass standards as well amusing songs written by guitar player Speedy Arnold. They will provide more than satisfactory sets on both Friday and Saturday. For me, Wild By Nature, Greenwich Mean Time, and Crossing North are unknown quantities. You can find a little more information on Greenwich Mean Time here at their MySpace entry. They provide a couple of cuts from their catalog. Their blurb seems determined not to provide any useful information about them except that they come from Olympia, WA. Crossing North is a duo based in Plattsburgh, NY. You can hear some of their cuts here.

Tickets to the Otis Mtn. Music Festival are $24 advance until August 18th and then $29 at the gate. The Festival map can be found here. This eclectic festival looks like a really good bet. Between two great national bands, some pretty well-known regional bands, and some new experiences, you won’t be wasting your time.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Local Olympic Hero Jack Shea: Camels Relieve Fatigue

Behold, Jack Shea, local Olympic hero declares in this classic ad that Camel cigarettes “relieve fatigue.” Now we know how Shea became the first Olympian to win two gold medals in the same Olympics – a feat he accomplished during the 1932 games at Lake Placid. The ad is courtesy of www.weirdomatic.com (via Boing Boing).

According to wikipedia:

Shea chose not to defend his Olympic titles at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, at the request of a Lake Placid rabbi for it would be in poor taste to be so “over-zealous.”
One wonders what role the Nazi Olympics controversy had in the rabbi’s urgings.

Shea twice served as the Olympic Regional Development Authority chair. From 1958 to 1974, he was a town justice, and from 1974 until his retirement in 1983 he was the supervisor of North Elba.

His son, Jim Shea, Sr., was a 1964 Olympian in Nordic skiing and his grandson, Jim Shea, Jr. was a 2002 Olympic skeleton gold medalist.

Jack Shea carried the Olympic torch into Lake Placid in 2002 but was tragically killed in a head-on car crash with a drunk driver just before his grandson won the gold.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Fox Family Bluegrass Festival – Preview

The 18th Annual Fox Family Bluegrass Festival will take place August 9 – 12, 2007 in Old Forge, NY. The Fox Family’s home is in the Adirondacks, even though they have relocated to Nashville. Fronted by the wonderful voice of Kim Fox, this band continues to host a traditional bluegrass festival. Accommodations are limited and the camping is rough. There are no hookups and the nearest shower requires a drive of several miles. Old Forge is located here, in the southwest corner of the massive Adirondack Park, close to the New York Thruway and I-81. The Adirondack Park, a six million acre state park, is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, a vast tract of woods, mountain, and lakes. Because many people harbor stereotypes about New York, few recognize that this magnificent wilderness lies with only a few hours’ drive of millions of people in the northeast and the Midwest.

IIIrd Tyme Out

Headline bands, in addition to the host band Fox Family, are IIIrd Tyme Out, Jr. Sisk & Rambler Choice, reunited and on tour, and The Gibson Brothers, one a local band but now a national band of growing popularity which retains its loyalty to the local festivals that booked them when they weren’t so big. It’s hard to tell just now who will turn up with IIIrd Tyme Out. Founded and fronted by Ray Deaton, Bassist and premier bass singer, has announced he is leaving the band and The Bluegrass Blog announces here that Edgar Loudermilk has replaced him. Deaton originally said he would stay the season, but has moved up his change. Mandolinist Alan Perdue has been replaced by mandolin master Wayne Benson, which will add considerable depth to the band. Russell Moore is a long-time standout on vocals and rhythm guitar. Steve Dilling has been with the band on banjo for sixteen years. He’s struggling with distonia, but an injured Dilling is still better than most banjo players. All-in-all, despite their recent changes, IIIrd Tyme Out should continue as a very strong band. It’s always interesting to see how a changing band develops. Watch them on stage as they discover new ways to present their music through the addition of new musicians.

Jr. Sisk has long been one of the premier voices in bluegrass music. When Blueridge broke up as Alan Bibey left to help form Grasstowne and Alan Johnson moved on to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (side note: Isn’t it interesting how many bands have former Quicksilver players and how this particular festival features several of them?) Jr. Sisk reconstituted Rambler’s Choice and began to tour with them. This group made one recording with Rounder in 1998. Junior, a resident of Virginia, played with the Lonesome River Band in their early days as well as with Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz. His distinctive high lonesome tenor and solid rhythm guitar have added depth and character to every band he has played with.

Sarah Jarosz is a fourteen year old mandolin player who lives in Austin, TX. She has received a lot of recognition in IBMA’s effort to promote younger artists. There are a lot of young, female mandolin players out there just now. Sierra Hull and Jessica Lovell are just two of a growing number. Sarah Jarosz has joined this group. If half of Sarah’s professional friends on her MySpace page have seen and heard her, she’s likely to be worth your time, too. Aiophe Donavan of Crooked Still offers quite a comment.

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers of course need no introduction to readers of this blog. Simply put, we believe this group is among the premier bluegrass bands in the nation. As their national recognition increases, they have lit up audiences from Yakima Washington to Myrtle Beach. No longer a regional band, the Gibsons originated in Ellenburg Depot, NY, only a few miles south of the Canadian border, but their characteristic brother harmonies and very strong instrumental support are without peer. Watch Eric Gibson, who is one of the few lead singers who picks effectively while singing. He has yet to receive adequate recognition for his fine banjo work. Listen to brother Leigh, whose voice blends with Eric’s as only brothers can. Both brothers write wonderful songs and their background and taste has led them to create new bluegrass sounds from classic country and rock and roll. Bassist Mike Barber, mandolin player Rick Hayes, and fiddler Clayton Campbell add depth and taste to this superior band. The variety of their sounds, harmonies, and keys takes them beyond bluegrass while never straying very far from their roots.

A huge revelation that comes almost every time we attend a local festival is the reminder that there are so many fine bluegrass bands around. While people think of New York as urban and ethnic, the state is home to many bands rooted in country and bluegrass music. These bands are well-represented at the Fox Family Festival.

Local bands include The Atkinson Family, whose delightful music, much of it written by father Dick ]Atkinson, combines country and bluegrass with a northern New York tone that fits right in here. His song about losing the farm should be a classic. The review in Bluegrass Unlimited noted, “Tearin’ Up the Line is a stellar production that will surely generate many new friends for the group.”

The Dalaney Brothers describe themselves as a contemporary bluegrass band that has played around New York State for the past 25 years. Over the years, they have recorded five albums. Recently they replaced two longtime members for medical reasons. The New York Times named Full Spectrum as one of the top ten local releases in 2000.

Sweet Cider describes itself as “ rooted in vocal harmony, attention to arrangement and original material. They now perform their own style of acoustic music with that ever-present bluegrass flavor. The Northeast Country Music Association has named them CMA bluegrass band of the year several times, and they have been inducted into the NE CMA hall of fame as well as receiving other awards. They hail from Rotterdam, NY along the NY Thruway.

Miller’s Crossing is a Long Island bluegrass band whose sound, according to the cuts on their web site, is traditional southern. Their lead vocalist has a pleasant voice and instrumentals are strong. “Miller’s crossing prides itself on the original material eachmember brings to the band’s repertoire. They strive to play bluegrass music the way they feel it, and the result is a fesh outlook on the music while not getting to far away from its roots.” The McCarthy/Paisley Band from Elbridge, NY advertises itself as featuring traditional Americana and contemporary folk music.

Off the Wall’s entry at ibluegrass says, “Blending folk, bluegrass and traditional country into a unique, no frills sound that lends itself to the works of John Prine, Guy Clark, Tim O’Brien and the Seldom Scene, as well as the works of more obscure songwriters. Add to that, strong vocals and tight harmonies, you have the makings of enjoyable music that tells the story of lifes journey.” They come from central New York.

Bill Knowlton and Lisa Husted will emcee. Tickets are $75.00 for the entire festival, including rough camping. Day passes are $20.00 for Thursday, $30.00 a day for Friday and Saturday, and $15.00 for Sunday. Gates open for camping on a first come, first served basis at 10:00 AM on Wednesday and there is no reserving of spaces for others. A dump station and showers are available nearby, but there are no amenities for campers on the site. This festival has one of the most interesting and varied programs for young people of any bluegrass event, showing their interest in and concern for children’s enjoyment and providing alternatives for parents wishing to give their children a good time. For additional information, check out the Fox Family Bluegrass Festival’s web site.

Some pictures for this post were taken from band web sites. I will remove them immediately upon request.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Keene Valley Fire Dept’s Annual Field Day

By

The 2000 census lists the population of Keene Valley, NY at 1063. In summer the population nearly triples, and this influx of summer residents is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because the village is largely dependent on the business generated by summer residents and taxes raised from these (generally) wealthy summer people to fund its necessary and more optional institutions.

Furthermore, pressure to buy land and build second homes on it has driven the cost of living here to levels that make it nearly impossible for young locals to stay at home, work, and raise families. It’s a blessing, because the money makes it possible for this village to thrive in many ways, providing retail opportunities, service, and government jobs that otherwise might not be available.


Essex County, located in the northern corner of the Adirondack Park, is huge, about 500 square miles larger than Rhode Island, but has amassed a population of only 38,000. This rural village in the heart of the Adirondack wilderness is a thriving and lively place and the home of the annual Keene Valley Fire Department Field Day. Volunteer fire departments in the US are facing something of a crisis. Volunteerism has declined while the performance standards for membership have risen. Members of volunteer fire departments, at least in New York, must constantly train to upgrade their skills and raise money to upgrade their equipment. But a village like Keene Valley would be in jeopardy if it weren’t for the existence of the KVFD and its ambulance/rescue squad. Almost all the housing in the village and on the surrounding hills is wood frame. The nearest hospital is thirteen miles away. Without the fire department and the ambulance squad, houses would burn and people would die.

Each year on the last Sunday in July the KVFD holds its annual field day. After years of running this annual event, the Fire Department has got it down to a science. The day begins with a demonstration of fire fighting and rescue equipment and techniques. Continues with a range of activities for young children, including face painting and Tim Dumas, a magician, offers a variety of raffles and Chinese auctions with small and large prizes donated by local businesses, and culminates with a widely known and justly appreciated barbecue chicken dinner, which each year sells around 600 meals, many eaten in the fire house meeting room, while others are taken home.

A local bluegrass band, Three Doug Night, plays bluegrass through the late afternoon and early evening. Several 50/50 drawings are held during the day with half the proceeds going to the fire company and half to each lucky winner. All is calculated to encourage people attending the event to gladly let loose of goodly amounts of cash in an easy and enjoyable way to provide needed support for the fire company. Big sellers each year are the KVFD t-shirts, collected and prized by local and summer people alike. Beer flows. Music abounds, Drinking laws are enforced. People come for the party and stay to spend. While the Keene Valley Fire District is tax supported and pays the major portion of the fixed costs of operating the fire company and ambulance squad, the fire department itself runs the field day. Proceeds from this event are often earmarked for purchasing a specific, needed piece of equipment or helping defray additional costs not covered by tax revenue. As such, the Field Day stands as the major annual fund raiser for the fire company.

Perhaps as interesting as the economic needs met by this annual party are its social implications. While it has narrowed in recent years, a social and economic gulf between local residents and summer visitors has long existed. Summer people come to stay in their cottages and purchase services, which they expect to be prompt and efficient. Local people offer these services, but the gulf cannot be denied. That is, except on field days. It’s as if the fire department serves as a leveling ground, providing a place where people can meet on neutral ground and, for a fairly brief time, interact on a more equal than usual basis. Captains of industry, construction workers, media moguls, corrections officers, retired military officers, retired town workers, slackers, entrepreneurs, you name it; they’re all here. Some may seem like out of place creatures checking out the “local scene,” but real affection and cordiality is also plainly in evidence. Relationships in this community run deep and old and have a long history. They are complex and convoluted, perhaps more the stuff of a novel than a blog entry. The American story of narrowing the gulf between classes and economic status is writ large in this gathering.

In recent years the KVFD Field Day has become more contained and less wild. The hours have been shortened, beer sales curtailed, kids activities increased, bluegrass music added, and a community party has been established. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Keene Valley Fire Department. You should mark your calendar, too.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Adirondack Genealogy: Researching Local Family Roots

Despite exaggerated claims that genealogy is one of America’s favorite past times, researching family history has become popular enough to generate tens of millions of web pages devoted to the topic.

A Google search for “genealogy” yielded 35.6 million results

Sports” yielded 710 million results
Coins” yielded 82.3 million results
Stamps” yielded 73 million results
Adirondacks” yielded 2 million results
Adirondack” yielded 5.3 million results
Adirondack genealogy” yielded zero results

Here’s a quick review of free Adirondack genealogy sites that provide resources for the local family historian. If you have some locally important sites to add, just drop us a note at adkalmanack -AT- gmail -DOT- COM.

The Northern New York Library Network has made available (and searchable!) more than half a million pages from 25 area newspapers and counting. It’s one of the most important historical resources for the Adirondack region.

Microsoft’s Live Search Books, Google’s Book Search, the Library of Congress’s American Memory, and Cornell University’s Making of America sites, although nationally oriented, all have amazing collections of full text books and periodicals related to the Adirondacks. Search for your specific surname or location and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find!

www.usgenweb.org is perhaps the largest and most important free site for American genealogy. Broken into states, and then counties, the site features user submitted wills, census transcriptions, vital records, and more. It’s a great place to start your online Adirondack genealogical journey. Here is a link to New York’s counties.

Of course don’t forget your local library as an offline starting point and general guide to your Adirondack family history. The two most important library sites in the Adirondacks are those of the Southern Adirondack Library System and the Northern New York Library Network. You can get inter-library loans of microfilm and other reference books, and each local library usually has nice local history collection.

When you need help getting a pipe fixed, you find a plumber. When you need help with history, go to a historian. Be sure to meet and explore the minds and collections held by your local historians and local historical society. Each county site has contact info for them – they can answer basic questions regarding local history and many have indexes and access to local records.

Lastly, before we get started on the local sites, you should become familiar with the best way to document your family history. The research is most fruitful when you can pass it on to someone else for their enjoyment – write it down and use footnotes. Cyndi’s List has a large collection of links to help you write engaging and accurate family history.

Here are the most significant links county by county. I’ve noted a few of the highlights, but you’ll need some serious time to delve into all the resources available on each site.

Warren County – Perhaps the best site in the Adirondacks. Tim Varney has compiled an impressive set of resources, frequently updated and growing all the time. One recent impressive addition is the transcription of H.P. Smith’s History of Warren County. The County Clerk’s office has also been digitizing and making available some of the records they hold.

Essex County – Fred Provoncha has taken over the Essex County pages. They offer some gems, including transcriptions of many of the county’s cemeteries.

St. Lawrence County – Norm Young and Russ Sprague maintain a site that includes a nice index of Cutter’s Genealogy of Northern New York from 1910.

Franklin County – Is up for adoption by someone with web skills who can maintain a site that already includes some great resources like an index to Those Were The Days-A History of Bangor, NY.

Clinton County – Check out the 1841 Gazetteer of Clinton County! Maintained by Marion McCreadie.

Hamilton County – Lisa Slaski is coordinator for this site which is one of the most useful of the bunch. Check out the biographies of local residents. Indian Lake Town Historian Bill Zullo also has a site with plenty of local historical resources.

Herkimer and Montgomery counties share a site maintained by Martha S. Magill and Lisa Slaski. A Look at what they recently added to the site will give you a sense of how much hard work they’ve been doing. Check out their transcribed “newsy tidbits from local newspapers” for a real historical and genealogical treat. Also, check out the Fulton Montgomery Photo Archives – it’s quite a collection.

Lewis County – Even though the site’s coordinator Sandy is not from New York, the web page contains some great photos and a killer Lowville Business directory from the mid-1800s.

Jefferson County – Maintained by Nancy Dixon, this site features regular monthly additions. Check out the Jefferson County Pioneers page for bios of early Jefferson County settlers.

Oneida County – Betty Carpenter-McCulloch has grown the site over the past several years to include a amazing collection of cemetery and census transcriptions, and a lot more. One of it’s best features is the collection of links to Native American family history.

Saratoga County – No doubt because of its coordination by Heritage Hunters of Saratoga County and it’s nearness to civilization more generally, this county site is an incredible resource. Check out the list of Saratoga County Databases. Also new to Saratoga is the Saratoga Public Library’s Saratoga Room History Databases which include information on 19th Century Architecture, historical data about notable fires in Saratoga Springs involving prominent buildings, large losses, or loss of life, the index to Dr. Walter S. McClellan’s Scrapbooks about the formation and operation of the Saratoga Spa from 1931 through 1954, a list of unique Saratoga nicknames of the mid 20th century, an index to Print Collection in The Saratoga Room, and more.

Washington County – George A Jackson occasionally maintains a site. Unfortunately, Washington County is well behind the ball when it comes to putting their historic resources on line.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Working Families Party Makes North Country Endorsements

New York’s Working Families Party has been posting its endorsements throughout the state this past week. Here are the endorsements from the North Country Chapter which includes Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex and Hamilton counties.

To get involved with WFP in the Adirodack region contact Alex Rabb at 718-222-3796 or by e-mail at arabb AT votewfp DOT org

* City of Plattsburgh Council Member Ward 1
Timothy R. Carpenter

* City of Plattsburgh Council Member Ward 2
Mike Kelly

* City of Plattsburgh Council Member Ward 6
Chris Jackson

* County of Clinton County Legislator District 5
Keith Marvin Defayette

* County of Clinton County Legislator District 9
John William Gallagher

* County of Clinton Treasurer
Kimberly Kleist

* County of Jefferson County Legislator District 11
Doris C. McLallen

* County of Jefferson County Legislator District 3
Dean T. Morrow

* County of Jefferson County Legislator District 5
Cindy McNultry Ross

* County of St. Lawrence Sheriff
Gus Burns

* Town of Beekmantown Council Member
Sharron Garden

* Town of Beekmantown Highway Superintendent
Samuel R. Dyer

* Town of Chazy Council Member
Christopher W Latremore

* Town of Macomb Town Justice
Lafayette Young Jr.

* Town of Madrid Board Member
Bill Tyndall

* Town of Massena Council Member
John Martin Wicke

* Town of Morristown Board Member
Christopher B. T. Coffin

* Town of Plattsburgh Clerk
Amy Lynn Duquette

* Town of Plattsburgh Council Member
Tom Wood

* Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor
Bernard Charles Bassett

* Town of Plattsburgh Town Justice
Randa Buompensiero-Filion

* Town of Rutland Supervisor
Ronald H. Cole

* Town of Saranac Supervisor
Joe Gerardi


Monday, July 9, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Make A Fishing Lure Necklace

Get A Bahco Clearing Axe

Make Shelves From An Old Futon

The 15 Coolest Firefox Tricks Ever

Five Things You Should Know When Buying Cigars

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at previous editions of Adirondack Hacks here.