Historic folk-song collection inspires film, live broadcast on Mountain Lake PBS

By Dru Sefton

Mountain Lake PBS will air a special live broadcast Dec. 6 to introduce the public to a rare collection of folk songs from the Adirondacks.

Folk Singer Pete Seeger, left, with Songs to Keep Producer Paul Larson. (Photo: Mountain Lake PBS)

Folk singer Pete Seeger, left, with Songs to Keep Producer Paul Larson. (Photo: Daniel R. Swinton)

The Plattsburgh, N.Y., pubcaster and TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) are partnering on the presentation, Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, inspired by the Marjorie L. Porter Collection of North Country Folklore at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

Porter, a local historian and newspaper columnist, dedicated her life to preserving the tunes. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, she traveled the state interviewing and recording musicians and singers and collecting songs, transcripts and writings. Recently, the library digitized the collection while a friend of Porter’s transcribed lyrics and completed research on their origins and context.

For the first time, the collection is the basis for a musical project, the station said in today’s announcement. The two-hour broadcast will feature a documentary and live in-studio interviews and performances from folk singers featured in the film, including Alex Smith, Sue Grimm Hanley and Jamie Savage.

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, a personal friend of Porter’s, appears in the documentary as well, along with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of the trio Peter, Paul & Mary. Actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael, who perform as The Bacon Brothers, sing “My Adirondack Home” in the film. The two own a family camp in the region and are frequent visitors.

“This project seeks to create new publications and events to bring attention and further increase access to this important cultural asset,” Mountain Lake PBS said.

A Kickstarter campaign raised $15,000 for the project in August.

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