NYFS logo    tagline
 Pinto Guira making guiramaking a mandalaplaying mandolin

Voices, Spring-Summer 2015:
Follow the links on the Table of Contents to see excerpts of articles and read columns.
JOIN the New York Folklore Society today to receive Voices.



Volume 41

Become a member to receive the complete VOICES



The Danzaq of Southern Peru in New York Crossed Scissors at the Crossroads of Immigration [excerpt]
By Tom van Buren

16 Drawing The Line: Reflections on the importance of drawing by hand in an increasingly digital age [excerpt]
by Stephen Alcorn

28 Craft Revisited: Moving toward a Consumer Revolution [excerpt]
by Jeromy McFarren

42 In Memoriam: Hilt Kelly: Catskills Fiddler and Caller
by Jim Kimball

Departments and Columns

12 Good Spirits: Home, Sweet Homewood
by Libby Tucker

13 Upstate: Getting Off Track
by Dan Berggren

14 Downstate: High Banter
by Steve Zeitlin

38 ALN8BAL8MO: A Native Voice—BEING IROQUOIS: Arthur C. Parkerby Joseph Bruchac

40 Artist Spotlight: Joe Crookston—Singing and Painting for the Beauty

41 Good Read
Tahawus Memories, 1941–1963: The Story of a Unique Adirondack Hometown

Review by Chris Linendoll

46 From the Waterfront: From Boatyards to Condos
by Nancy Solomon

48 NYFS News and Notes

Stephen Alcorn
Cover: “Self-portrait” by Stephen Alcorn. Pen and ink and gouache on tinted paper; 22" x 17". Read Stephen Alcorn’s article beginning on p. 16: “Drawing the Line: Reflections on the importance of drawing by hand in an increasingly digital age.”

Ellen McHale
From the Spring-Summer 2015 issue of Voices:

In the past few weeks, I have been strongly reminded of the value of traditional arts and culture and their importance to the fabric of our everyday life. As executive director of the New York Folklore Society, I consider traditional arts and culture to be an important aspect of one’s sense of self, and a source of pride for a community. It seems to me, without question, that one’s knowledge of one’s own heritage provides grounding, which is essential for the development of a whole person. In making the argument for the importance of traditional arts, I frequently like to point to the importance of culture and the arts for personal and community development. However, in the last two days, two illustrations of the generational aspect of culture and the arts, and their importance to individual and community economies, came strikingly into view.

The first illustration came about as the result of my attending a celebration of the life of the late Yacub Addy, a traditional Ghanaian drummer whose obituary appeared in Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, Fall–Winter 2014. Honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a National Heritage Fellow, Yacub Addy died in December 2014, at the age of 83. On May 30, 2015, there was a private celebration on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, organized by Yacub’s wife Amina Addy and other members of his family. While this was a wonderful event due to the outpouring of love and admiration expressed and the celebratory nature of honoring Yacub, I was also struck by the important economic role that Yacub Addy had played in the lives of his family and band members. As the family patriarch, Yacub Addy was the senior “tradition bearer” of a family legacy of the renowned Addy family of drummers, singers, and dancers from the Avenor neighborhood in Accra, Ghana. This role as the elder statesman of the tradition of drumming by the Ga people held great cultural importance. However, it was also important from an economic viewpoint. Throughout the decades of his involvement with Ghanaian drumming, (from before the independence of Ghana in 1957 to the present), Yacub Addy involved at least 62 band members in his ensemble, many of whom followed him to the United States and became citizens and permanent US residents. As present and former members of Yacub Addy’s ensembles were introduced at the celebration, as part of honoring of his life, the numbers on stage grew and grew—not only with musicians but also with their spouses, children, grandchildren, and other members of their extended families. As their ranks ballooned, it was a poignant recognition of the incredible role of traditional arts in the founding and maintenance of community.

The second, less dramatic illustration followed a few days later on June 2, when I attended a Refugee Art Exhibit, organized by the English as a Second Language (ESL) program of the Albany City Schools and the Refugee Roundtable of Albany, NY—a group of volunteers who work with newcomers to the Albany area. Hosted by the Honorable Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany, at Albany City Hall, the exhibition showcased artistic productions of children within the Albany City School’s ESL classes. It was also an opportunity to recognize the work of adult master weavers from the Karen and Karenni communities who have been resettled in Albany from Burma and who are recipients of apprenticeship grants from the New York State Council on the Arts to teach their weaving to community members. Entrepreneurial in spirit, the weavers are anticipating the day when they will be offering their work for sale in retail establishments. Although the traditional art reflects Karen and Karenni heritage and culture, it also has worth for the weavers’ economic participation within Albany and the greater Capital region. While master weavers Sha Lay Paw and Kee Meh are newly at the center of the weaving enterprise, it will be interesting to see what ripples they make and what impact their weaving will have on the lives of their families and associates in the next 50 years.

Yacub Addy’s legacy reached across two continents and hundreds of people. The legacies of Sha Lay Paw and Kee Meh are yet to be determined, but I can assure you, we will all be the beneficiaries.

Ellen McHale, PhD
Executive Director
New York Folklore Society

Current and former members of Yacub Addy’s Ghanaian ensemble, Odadaa! are recognized
during a celebration of his life, May 30, 2015. Photo by Ellen McHale.Current and former members of Yacub Addy’s Ghanaian ensemble, Odadaa! are recognized during a celebration of his life, May 30, 2015. Photo by Ellen McHale.

A display of the weaving of Sha Lay Paw and Keh Mee, Albany City Hall, Albany, NY, June
2015. Photo by Ellen McHale.
A display of the weaving of Sha Lay Paw and Keh Mee, Albany City Hall, Albany, NY, June 2015. Photo by Ellen McHale.

Todd DeGarmo
From the Spring–Summer 2015 issue of Voices:

An explosion of pollen sent us to the hospital one May morning. A seemingly extraordinarily long winter ended suddenly with 80-degree temperatures and soaking showers! Spring flowers responded immediately, enthusiastically casting pollen into the air, covering porches and cars in a fine yellow dust. Heaven for those awaiting spring. Hell for those suffering from allergies and asthma.

Many years ago, my wife’s difficulties were with all those cherry blossoms, azaleas, and other warm weather exotics in Washington, DC. “Up North,” we wait for winter’s end as crocuses and daffodils, more often than not, poke up through snow.

That morning the fruit trees, suddenly in bloom, were quite a sight, but the small flowers of oaks and maples especially caught my attention. “Tree flowers?” You remember the acorns you used in fights as a kid, and maple seeds you’d break in half, peel open, and stick to your nose—the fruits of these small flowers. Millions of blossoms softened the once bare trees on distant hills. Poor Nancy, her eyes almost swollen shut, could not appreciate the view.

Flowers of my childhood in the mid- Hudson Valley included forsythia, its golden flowers bursting forth before its new leaves opened. It grew like a weed in our yard, generating a new bush wherever a weeping branch touched the ground. Shadblow, or serviceberry, another early bloomer, was said to mark “the shad run”—the migratory fish swimming up the Hudson to spawn. I often picked daisies, buttercups, black-eyed Susans, and other wildflowers for bouquets for my mother.

An elderly neighbor gave my dad a variety of young lilac plants with blossoms of purple, white, and a deep French blue, that grew to become a hedge alongside the yard. What a sweet, heavenly scent! The still young lilac bushes offered only few blossoms, though, so we kids had to find others to make bouquets for Mother’s Day. After Sunday School, we’d walk the mile home from church, crossing neighbors’ yards of the village. About halfway, we’d pass through an archway of a tremendous lilac hedge, so loaded with purple and white blossoms that the branches almost touched the ground. Tolerant neighbors smiled from behind their curtains, as we broke off armloads of scented blooms to proudly carry home, where we filled large vases for our grand bouquets.

These days, vases of lilacs are not good for my wife’s allergies. We find common interest in another flower of early May. Just when yards and fields begin to green, in some places vast swaths of gold overtake the green. The dandelions have bloomed! Opening for only a week or so, this humble flower provides for our springtime ritual— dandelion wine-making.

Nancy’s dad made dandelion wine north of Syracuse years ago, and when we first moved back to the upper Hudson Valley, a neighbor served us some at a dinner party. A local wine-making store sponsors an annual contest. Still, it’s not a common activity.

Farm fields with acres of flowers are the best picking. Early in my wine-making career, I received permission to pick flowers from the matriarch of a farm. While I was filling my bucket, her angry son confronted me, a perceived trespasser: “Just what do you think you’re doing?” I humbly replied, “Picking dandelions, sir.” We became fast friends, though he refused my offer of a bottle of the future product. Now each spring Nancy and I receive hearty waves and smiles from passing vehicles.

Patience is necessary. Some say to gather the entire yellow blossom head; others say use only the yellow petals pulled out of the green calyx. I pick, agreeing with some that a bit of green adds to the final product. It also fills the bucket faster. Sliced oranges, lemons, and fresh ginger go into the dandelion flower tea that steeps for five days, covered with a cloth to keep bugs out. My daughter laughs at childhood memories of Dad’s stinky concoctions in buckets in the kitchen. Nowadays, she and her college friends enjoy the wine.

The dandelion tea is then strained, the liquid boiled with 10–15 pounds of sugar, depending on whether dry or sweeter wine is desired. When cooled, yeast is added to start the conversion of much of the sugar to alcohol. For one of my first batches, I used Euell Gibbons’ recipe in Stalking the Wild Asparagus that called for cake yeast spread on toast to be floated on the tea. Now I use champagne yeast, but not the additives some winemakers use to kill wild yeast, stabilize the wine, and hurry the process. The golden liquid is then siphoned into a 5-gallon glass carboy with an airlock for an oxygen-free environment that allows the fermentation gases to escape.

More patience. Leave it alone in the cool dark of my stone cellar. Transfer to another carboy to help clarify the wine. Transfer again into cleaned, recycled wine bottles. Seal with new corks. By fall, this cottage wine is drinkable, but far better if aged longer, even a few years.

An hour of driving, another hour or so in the ER that May morning. The swelling subsided. Heart rate was normal. The pollen count this spring was off the charts, the doctor agreed. All too soon the snow will return, and a glass of dandelion wine by the fire will remind us that spring will also come again. We hope that perhaps the flowers will bloom with less exuberance next year. Meanwhile, let’s have another glass of dandelion wine.

Todd DeGarmo
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library


Walter Velille and Luis Aguilar performing at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck, October
8, 2006, shortly after they had arrived to settle in New York. Photo by the Tom Van Buren.

'La Simbiosi.' Mixed media on paper; 22 in. x 17 in. By Stephen Alcorn.

Chris Hubbard, of Salem, NY, canes a chair using traditional rattan materials and hand
tool techniques. Photo by Jeromy McFarren.

Hilton and Stella at Roxbury Fiddler! 2006.
Photo by Jim Kimball.

Spring–Summer 2015, Volume 41:1–2

Acquisitions Editor
   Todd DeGarmo
Copy Editor
   Patricia Mason
Administrative Manager
   Laurie Longfield
   Mary Beth Malmsheimer
   Eastwood Litho

Editorial Board: Varick Chittenden, Lydia Fish, Hanna Griff-Sleven, Nancy Groce, Lee Haring, Bruce Jackson, Christopher Mulé, Libby Tucker, Kay Turner, Dan Ward, Steve Zeitlin

Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore is published twice a year by the New York Folklore Society, Inc.

Advertisers: To inquire, please call the NYFS (518) 346-7008 or fax (518) 346-6617.

Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.

TO PURCHASE A BACK ISSUE of Voices, visit our online book store.

TO PURCHASE A SINGLE ARTICLE from Voices, use the form below:

Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

To order a single article, please enter volume number, issue (“fall-winter” or “spring-summer”), and title of the article you wish and click on an order button below to purchase through Paypal or with your credit card. We will send you a PDF of the article via e-mail upon receipt of your order.

ITEM #603
Single Article $3.00
Volume No. & Issue

Member Price  $2.00
Volume No. & Issue

NEW YORK FOLKLORE SOCIETY ♦ 129 Jay Street ♦ Schenectady, NY 12305 ♦ 518.346.7008 ♦ Fax 518.346.6617 ♦ nyfs@nyfolklore.org