MY LONG ISLAND HOME: Traditional Music of Long Island. By Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler. Cassette and CD. 65 minutes. 1997. Recorded and mixed by Lane Gibson and Charles Eller in 1994 and 1997 at the Charles Eller Studios in Charlotte, VT. Art direction by Futura Design, Shelburne, VT. Copyright 1997 by Stanley A. Ransom, Jr. (BMI). A product of Connecticut Peddler Enterprises (BMI).
The research for much of this recording was done in the 1960's, when I was Director of the Huntington Public Library in Suffolk County, Long Island. At that time I was involved in the folk music revival on Long Island. I spent several years in my spare time researching Long Island traditional and historical music in most of the public, historical and academic libraries on Long Island and Manhattan. I wish to thank the librarians of these institutions for the excellent job they have done in acquiring and preserving local history.
I especially wish to thank Darlene Hall and the Museums of Stony Brook for allowing me to use tunes written and played by William Sidney Mount. I also thank Bethpage Restoration fiddler Eric Marten of Franklin Square for his many suggestions for traditional tunes played on Long Island, also Frederick P. Schmidt, Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, folksinger Stephen Sanfillippo, Gale Huntington, the late Frank Warner, and historians Rufus Langhans and George Weeks. Of particular assistance was folksinger Christian Johnson, formerly of Long Island, now a costumed guide at Independence Hall, for permission to use his versions of "Acres of Clams" and "Ballad of Pudding Hill," for which he supplied the music. Special thanks to Dorothea King, Long Island Collection, East Hampton Library, for her information and assistance, and to Susan Onofrio of Plattsburgh, vocal and music consultant.
Cover photo: "Home, Sweet Home," the East Hampton home of John Howard Payne, courtesy of the Home Sweet Home Museum and its Director, Mrs. Averill Geis.
Instruments used are a curly maple 16/15 hammered dulcimer crafted in 1988 by the late Kenneth H. Butler, of West Hartland, CT, a 12/11 hammered dulcimer built by Rod Driscoll, Peru, NY, in 1981, a 12 string Alvarez guitar (1984 Yairi model), a 6 string custom guitar built by Frank DeLeone in New Haven in 1951, a 1926 Gibson Model A mandolin, a 4 string banjo, an Oscar Schmidt 21 bar maple autoharp, an Oscar Schmidt diatonic autoharp converted by Maurice Dill, and a dombek drum made by Ken Lovelett.
This extended length tape/CD is produced using Dolby B noise reduction.
Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler, was born in Winsted, CT, in 1928. His maternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Haight Sheldon, was born in Deer Park, Babylon, L.I., in 1858. Her grandfather, William Henry Haight, designed and built the boilers for the ironclad "Monitor." At age 6 she was hoisted on to her father's shoulders to watch Lincoln's casket as the funeral procession advanced down Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1864. She taught Stan the Dutch children's lullaby, "Trip a Trop a Tronjes," from her Dutch forebears. The song appears on Stan's "I Love Long Island" recording. Stan Ransom, as The Connecticut Peddler, distributes and shares music, folklore and songs from his large pack. The American Association for State and Local History awarded him a 1994 Certificate of Commendation for his work as a folklorist and in recognition of his achievement in the preservation and interpretation of local, state and regional history. He received this distinction once before, in 1970, in recognition of his book, "America's First Negro Poet; the Complete Writings of Jupiter Hammon of Long Island." He also originated Black Poetry Day, celebrated nationally on October 17th, the birth date of Jupiter Hammon of Huntington, who was born in 1711.
1. Acres of Clams. Traditional tune: "The Old Settler’s Song." Used by permission of Christian Johnson, who adapted and recorded this song on his "Acres of Clams" album in 1976. Banjo, guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
2. Where Are the Stones? A 19th century tribute to long lived residents of Oyster Bay. From a poem by Samuel Youngs. Tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, vocal.
3. Pumpkins. Words traditional, popular in Long Island and Connecticut before 1870. Quoted in David Gardiner’s "Chronicles of the Town of Easthampton," (1871) and in Lewis S. Mills "Story of Connecticut." (1932). Tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, vocal.
4. Wainscott Dumpling. 1832. Words from Everett J. Edwards "Whale Off!" (1956). Tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, vocal.
5. My Long Island Home. Words by Edward Livingston Greenwood. Music by Hugh V. Knox. Copyright 1928 by Ed. L. Greenwood and H.V. Knox. Guitar, autoharp, vocal.
6. Carolan’s Concerto/George Brabazon. Turlough O’Carolan, (1670-1738), was an Irish harper. Blinded by smallpox at 18, he was taught to play the harp, and he composed many dedicatory pieces, or "planxties," to honor his hosts as he traveled. His "Concerto" was composed as a result of a challenge to emulate the more famous composers of his day. "Planxty George Brabazon" honors one of Carolan’s hosts. Both pieces appear in "The Gentleman’s Repository," a book of tunes published in New York City in 1813. Hammered dulcimer, guitar, diatonic autoharp, and dombek.
7. Loss of the Albion. Words from the Journal of Charles A. Babcock of the Cold Spring Harbor whaling ship "Tuscarora," October 1, 1839-May 28, 1841. Pennypacker Collection, East Hampton Public Library. The Albion was lost April 22, 1822, off the Irish coast. Among those drowned was Professor David Fisher, of Yale College, who left his library to his intended bride, Catherine Beecher, founder of Hartford Female Seminary. Traditional tune: "Caroline of Edinburgh Town." Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
8. Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me. This famous seaman’s hymn was written in 1871 by Reverend Edward Hopper, minister at Sag Harbor, with music by John E. Gould. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
9. Coast of Peru. From the log of the "Bengal," 1832, as noted in Gale Huntington’s "Songs the Whalemen Sang." One of the best descriptions of how whales were taken. Guitar, vocal.
10. Shep Jones’ Hornpipe/Willet’s Hornpipe. Hornpipes from the William Sidney Mount collection at Stony Brook Museum. "Shep Jones" was composed by William Sidney Mount. "Willet’s" is an early English hornpipe. Used by permission. Hammered dulcimer, guitar.
11. ‘Round Cape Horn. There have been many printings of this famous Sag Harbor whaling song, but the tune had been considered lost. Pat Kelsey, former Assistant Director of the Huntington Public Library, introduced me in the 1960's to a sailor friend, James Morrison, who had served with old Sag Harbor whalers who knew and sang the song as a "slowed down ‘Barbara Allen’." Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
12. Rockaway; or, On Old Long Island’s Sea-girt Shore. 1840. Words by Henry John Sharpe. Music by Henry Russell. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
13. Christmas on the Sea. Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite Christmas carol. Still sung annually at Christmastime at his church, Christ Church in Oyster Bay. By Henry Work and Hezakiah Butterworth. With Marne O’Shae. Guitar, autoharp, vocals.
14. Home, Sweet Home. Words by John Howard Payne. Music by Henry Rowley Bishop. One of the most beloved of all American songs, it first appeared in 1823 in Payne’s play, "Clari, or the Maid of Milan." Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
15. Rustic Reel/Lady Walpole’s Reel/Lord McDonald’s Reel. "Rustic Reel" was often played by William Sidney Mount on "Cradle of Harmony," the violin he designed and built in 1847. "Lady Walpole’s Reel" is also known as "Boston Fancy." "Lord McDonald’s Reel" is an earlier version of "Leather Britches." Three popular 19th century reels. Hammered dulcimer, guitar.
16. Paddy, Get Back. According to Frank Warner, this song was known to Long Island whalemen, often in different versions. Sailors were often misled as to their destination until it was too late. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
17. Reuben Ranzo. A popular topgallant halyard chantey. According to historian Mrs. Andrus Valentine, it was sung by Cold Spring Harbor whalers. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
18. Jenny Lind Polka/Old Molly Hare/Beaux of Oak Hill. Three popular fiddle tunes. Singer Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale," toured America for promoter P. T. Barnum from 1850-1852. "Old Molly Hare" was sent to William Sidney Mount by his brother Nelson, a dancing master living in Georgia. "Beaux of Oak Hill" was the earlier name for "Boys of Blue Hill." Hammered dulcimer, guitar, diatonic autoharp, dombek.
19. Ballad of Pudding Hill. By Miss Fannie Elkins. Courtesy of the East Hampton Library and Christian Johnson. The heroine, now identified by a descendant as Mrs. Mary Sandford Miller, outwitted British soldiers foraging during the American Revolution. Tune by Christian Johnson. Used by permission. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.
20. The Three Sisters. Traditional. This version from "Nonsense Songs," by Norman Cazden, is copyrighted 1961 by Melody Trails, Inc., NY, NY. Guitar, mandolin, diatonic autoharp, dombek, vocal.
21. The Good Time Coming. Written in 1846 by Charles Mackay (1814-89). This anti-war song swept the country during the Civil War. It was sung in Huntington, LI, on February 22, 1864, by men from the 127th NY Volunteers and the villagers, all of whom longed to see an end to the war. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin, vocal.