Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs and artwork from people in all parts of New York State. Voices is the Societys membership magazine. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Join NYFS today to receive this new membership magazine!
Voices features articles, stories, interviews, reminiscences, essays, folk poetry and music, photographs, and artwork drawn from people in all parts of New York State, folklorists and non-folklorists alike. The magazine also publishes peer-reviewed, research-based articles, written in an accessible style, on topics related to traditional art and life, including ethnic culture. Informative columns on subjects such as legal issues, photography, sound and video recording, archiving, ethics, and the nature of traditional art and life appear on a regular basis.
|Look inside ⇓
VOICES, Vol. 39, Fall-Winter 2013
What always strikes me about
Voices is its clarity and openness,
both in design and content. It’s
inviting, lively, and readable and has
plenty of variety. It presents artists
and communities with respect
and sensitivity, yet one learns too
about what folklorists do and who
they are. Voices gives a picture of
New York State and its people that
cannot be found elsewhere.
—Anna Lomax Wood, Director,
Association for Cultural Equity
LISTEN to New York Folklore Society’s executive director, Ellen McHale interviewed by Steve Black for his radio show, “Periodical Radio,” about Voices.
⇐LOOK INSIDE back issues of Voices
FROM THE EDITOR
From the Fall-Winter
2013 issue of Voices:
“If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land. I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land.”
—Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, “If I Had a Hammer” (1949).
What a blow to hear of
Peter Seeger’s death on
January 27, 2014 at the
age of 94.
I thought the man
would live forever.
What a champion of so
many causes over the
decades of his life, and
a master of weaving music into this activism.
I’m so glad to have joined recent
celebrations of his life’s work. At last year’s
benefit concert at Proctors Theater in
Schenectady, I enthusiastically sang along
with Pete, as did a full house of supporters.
In 2007, I joined the American Folklife
Center’s symposium and concert in honor
of the Seeger family, at the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC, where Pete
Seeger had been employed 67 years earlier by
the Archive of American Folk Song. What a
treat to be a part of the conversation, and,
of course, to sing with Pete Seeger, his sister
Peggy, his brothers Mike and John, his wife
Toshi, and other family members.
As a college student, I first experienced
Pete’s power of music to fuel all his causes
in a live, sold-out concert at Harvard
University. It took place on Saturday, January
12, 1980, my weekend off from a somewhat
boring Gloucester fisheries lab internship. I
took a train into Boston and hoped to get
tickets from someone by hanging around the
hall. My notes from the time say, “No luck at
all but it gave me a chance to go back stage
and watch Pete put the finishing touches
on an audience-participation sign, chat with
some people, and smile a lot. He seemed
genuinely nice.” I remember the excitement
of waiting with other folks hoping that,
despite the announcement of a full house standing room, we’d finally get in. At
intermission, a fellow college student and
usher took pity and slipped me into the
hall. He had me climb a ladder to a wooden
platform holding spotlights above the hall,
and from this perch, I sang along with the
entire hall led by this extraordinary man. I
was energized by the concert. I was energized
by his message that every voice can be heard,
everyone can take a part. What a good feeling!
“Pete,” someone mentioned, “is the
closest thing we have today to an American
Folk Hero. His message is passed on in his
song. A powerful tool.”
I must admit, I love the Huffington Post’s
take on the man in a recent blog, “30 Things
You Need to Know About the Hudson
Valley Before You Move There”: #20: “Pete
Seeger is the unspoken king of Beacon. If
you don’t know who Pete Seeger is, prepare
for a master class. The wildly influential folk
singer-songwriter made the Hudson Valley
town of Beacon his home for most of his
life, until his death in January. These days,
he’s treated as a demigod around the area.”
And why not, I could nod a bit smugly
as a resident with eight-generation roots
in the Hudson Valley. Pete Seeger was on
the front lines of cleaning up our beloved
Hudson River in the 1960s and ‘70s. His
Circles and Seasons (1979) was a rallying cry for
the youthful charter members of Ecology
House at Colgate University. I especially
love his “Sailing Down My Golden River”
on this album (see insert). And fresh out
of college, what a thrill for this member to
join the volunteer crew of the Hudson River
Sloop Clearwater (which Seeger co-founded
in 1966) to teach environmental education
and later use his songs and techniques
to awaken environmental activism in our
young campers at Wildwood, in neighboring
Massachusetts in the early 1980s.
Yet even years before becoming a
folklorist or a budding environmentalist, I
was touched by Pete Seeger’s power of song,
without even knowing it. I was in elementary
school in the 1960s, a bit young to be a part of
his earlier causes. Nonetheless, Pete activism
found its way to us in our rural, somewhat conservative village. I now see his hand in
the technique used by my enthusiastic fifthgrade
music teacher, Mrs. Raycraft, who
got a bunch of unruly rural fifth-graders to
“stand up” and “sing out like we meant it,”
while she pounded out on the upright piano,
Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.” In my rural
Methodist Church, we all sang his “Turn,
Turn, Turn” and “Where Have All the
Flowers Gone?”—understanding both the
message and the underlying encouragement
that each of us could make a difference.
I must admit. Pete Seeger’s passing has
been hard to take. But his song reminds us,
“To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn) there is
a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)....A time to
be born, a time to die.... A time to laugh,
a time to weep....A time of peace, I swear
it’s not too late.”
Thank you Pete Seeger. Music moves
the message. You may be gone, but your
message lives on: Lend your voice. Sing out.
Participate and make a difference.
Voices Acquisitions Editor
Founding Director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library
|“Sailing Down My Golden River”|
Sailing down my golden river,
Sun and water all my own,
Yet I was never alone.
Sun and water, old life givers,
I’ll have them where e’er I roam,
And I was not far from home.
Sunlight glancing on the water,
Life and death are all my own,
Yet I was never alone.
Life to raise my sons and daughters,
Golden sparkles in the foam,
And I was not far from home.
Sailing down this winding highway,
Travelers from near and far,
Yet I was never alone.
Exploring all the little by-ways,
Sighting all the distant stars,
And I was not far from home.
Originally titled: “Sailing Down This Golden
River” Words and music by Pete Seeger (1962)
TRO - ©1971 Melody Trails, Inc. New York, NY
The taxpayers are hollering,
and the state’s contribution
to this wonderful little
magazine has been
drastically cut. Those of
us who read it all the way
through have to all chip in.
—Pete Seeger, musician and activist,
Beacon, New York
VISIT our online gallery bookstore to purchase back issues.
|Meet Todd DeGarmo, Voices Acquisitions Editor|
Todd DeGarmo is the acquisitions editor for Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, leading an editorial team which includes Ellen McHale as executive editor, Patricia Mason as copy editor, and Laurie Longfield as Voices’ manager. Todd took over this editorship from Dr. Eileen Condon who served as acquisitions editor until 2007.
Todd is the founding director of the Center for Folklife, History and Cultural Programs at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Todd is a former board member and past president of the New York Folklore Society. He brings a wealth of knowledge and prior experience to the position of acquisitions editor, including a knowledge of Japanese culture, Adirondack studies, tourism, and architectural studies.
Send Your Story
Did you know that Voices publishes
creative writing, including creative
fiction (such as short stories), creative
nonfiction (such as memoirs
and life/work stories), and poetry?
We also publish artistic and ethnographic
photography and artwork, in
addition to research-based articles on
New York State folk arts and artists.
If you are one of New York’s many
traditional artists or working in a traditional
boat building, traditional healing,
instrument making, firefighting,
and nursing, to name a few—please
consider sharing your life or work
story with the readers of Voices: The
Journal of New York Folklore. Check
out our new column heading First
Person, which spotlights folk artists
and folk arts workers, giving creative
people space in each issue to share
their life stories in their own words.
First Person allows people to share
the reasons they have spent a lifetime
supporting or recreating New York’s
diverse traditions, passing them
down through generations—whether
it’s gardening, carving, roots music,
village dancing, egg decorating,
weaving, quilting, fiddling, traditional
singing, basketry, ethnic foodways,
traditional calligraphy, or home altar
building. Email the
acquisitions editor of Voices, at
Check our submission guidelines for authors.
Send your letter to the editor here
writers. We write
every day: monographs
articles, field notes,
festival and event brochures,
grant applications, final
reports, press releases, proposals. In fact,
I would say that time spent writing is more
than fifty percent of any folklorist’s annual
cycle of work. The essentials of folklorethe ethnographic materialare fundamental
to a great story. As any fieldworker can
attest, entering into the personal experience
of another individual is expansive and illuminating.
The everyday becomes novel when
viewed from the viewpoint of the uninitiated.
The job of the folklorist is to translate
that experience to those who may not get
the opportunity to go through it themselves
and to help the reader to find meaning in the
—Ellen McHale, PhD, Executive Director, NYFS
|What is Folklife?|
The everyday and intimate creativity that all of
us share and pass on to the next generation:
The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to
Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories
Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking
Our childhood games and rhymes
The way we celebrate life
– from birthing our babies to honoring our dead
The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
– religious, medical, magical, and social
Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions
The way we decorate our world
– from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingoes in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies
The crafts we create by hand
– crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs
Patterns and traditions of work
– from factory to office cubicle
The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group
Folklife is part of everyone’s life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.
In the end ... we are all folk.
—American Folklife Center
Library of Congress, Washington, DC