Local Songs (w/Audio, etc)

For as long as Adirondackers have been learning songs from others, they too have been creating their own original songs out of everyday experiences in the woods and at home. Often these new creations become “old songs” as they are passed from generation to generation.  Many  have a known author, while the origins of others are more obscure.  Some seem to have been sung only by the author, or a few close friends; others were known throughout the whole Adirondack region, and beyond.  According to folklorist Herbert Halpert, all of this local song making is a good sign:

“I believe that the presence or absence of parodies or local songs is a test of the vitality of a folk song tradition.  If singers do not make up new songs, or manipulate the old materials, we have one indication that the singing tradition in that area has become fossilized.”

-- Herbert Halpert, Folklorist, 1951

While the region has no shortage of talented songwriters currently writing songs about aspects of Adirondack life (see Contemporary Singer/Songwriters page),  this section will focus on local, original songs from Adirondack tradition bearers; that is, songs of local origin in the repertoires of the traditional singers themselves. 

Murder, death, war, lumber bosses and other local characters tend to dominate the subject matter of these songs, with hardly a mention of romance, nature, the environment or any sense of home and hearth.


  • Irishtown Crew
Yankee John Galusha
aka Lard Clemens Job

“The following relates to my logging operations in 1926 beyond the Jackson place on Mill Stream (Tug Hill area).  The number of men in the small logging camps generally averaged from ten to twenty.  At the present time this once beautiful timber land is grown up to brush”

-- “Old Lard” [John E. Clemens,  circa 1950]

  • Tebo
 Bill Smith

Songs by Lee Knight: