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Voices Fall Winter 2013Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society.

Dedicated to publishing the content of folklore in the words and images
of its creators and practitioners!

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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 Society’s 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

Voices FW2013

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.
Download MP3

⇐LOOK INSIDE back issues of Voices

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.

Todd DeGarmo
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

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 to Voices!
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 occupation—including fishing, 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 nyfs@nyfolklore.org.

Check our submission guidelines for authors.

Send your letter to the editor here

Folklorists are writers. We write every day: monographs and scholarly articles, field notes, festival and event brochures, exhibit texts, 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 folklore—the ethnographic material—are 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 experience.
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

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