Traditional singers learned much of their song material directly from family and others, and sang it in more or less a similar manner to those who came before them. In essence, they are singers who grew up “absorbing” heritage song tradition and conventions of its performance.
- John "Yankee John" Galusha - Minerva, NY
- Lily Delorme - Cadyville, NY
- Sara, Jim and Colleen Cleveland - Brant Lake, NY
- Judge Learned Hand - Elizabethtown, NY
- Lawrence Older - Middle Grove, NY
- Theodore Ashlaw - Hermon, NY
- Lena Bourne Fish - Black Brook, NY
- Edward Ashlaw - Parishville Center, NY
- Steve Wadsworth - Northville, NY
The Tradition Evolves
There were some people who grew up “absorbing” heritage song tradition and conventions of its performance but went on to incorporate newer, or otherwise departing, musical influences in repertoire, instrumentation, and/or stylistic presentational inclinations, the latter including professional and commercial entertainer imitation or homage. Distinctions between individuals in this category and “Traditional Singers” sometimes blur insofar as portions of repertoire, instrument uses, shifting performance styles, and so on. The blurring may become more pronounced over time.
The Revivalists were, by and large, people who did not grow up “absorbing” a tradition of community and family-based traditional music, as inherited through processes of oral tradition, but who discovered the genre later in life and dedicated part or all of their music-making activities to performing their own interpretations of traditional material. Revivalists tend to seek out and to self-consciously “acquire” traditional material, performance techniques and mannerisms, and the like; contacts with traditional singers and instrumental musicians, whether in person or through recorded sources, are quite common. So are contacts with other revivalists in order to learn and share. Many of these performers first became aware of the music-making during the Folk Music Revival of the 1950s and 60s and performed in what was then a contemporary folk style (fingerpicked nylon -string guitar, smooth vocal presentation, squared-off meter and rhythm, etc.) that helped to connect modern audiences with roots heritage music.
In the years following the Folk Music Revival and its great popularity on college campuses and in coffee houses in cities and towns, a new generation of people emerged with a dedicated inclination and talent for music-making (often, both singing and instrumental) and an interest in traditional or “folk” music. These artists have been drawn more to the Revivalists style of performance and to an eclectic variety of repertoire material. Presenters/Interpreters often attest to personal discovery--otherwise growing up familiar with modern-day commercial pop or other music genres--and opt to specialize in a mixture of traditional folk music and more contemporary "folksy" songs, including their own arrangements and singer/songwriter compositions. Some performing artists in the category have longtime Adirondack family and community heritage ties, others not. Most individuals in the category engage in independent historical and music heritage research that informs part-time or full-time music education and public programs at all age levels. Many of these artists who include Traditional Adirondack Music in their repertoire make their livelihood as performers and teachers, by touring, promotional Internet websites, and now and then self-production or independent label CDs.
- Dan Berggren
- John Kirk & Trish Miller
- Lee Knight
- Stan Ransom
- Dave Ruch
- Christopher Shaw & Bridget Ball
- George Ward
- Jeff Warner
The Contemporary Singer/Songwriters
The Adirondack region inspires present-day creative songmaking and musical arrangements by performers whose primary interests and influences substantially depart from Traditional Adirondack Music. Their song texts and tune titles may here and there allude to natural environment features, or North Country happenstances, that also crop up in heritage material. For the most part, composers and performers in this category seek professional recognition through a combination of public venues and mass media dissemination of their music-making. Adirondack heritage processes of oral tradition are marginal, at best, in the contemporary circulation of material.