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DOWN THE SARANAC: CASSETTE ONLY. 43 minutes. 1991. Recorded at Sound Waves Studio, Burlington, VT. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Madriss.

Humorous, topical and historical songs of Plattsburgh and Clinton County, New York.

Guitar: 6 string acoustic guitar built by Frank DiLeone, in New Haven, CT in 1950.   Guitar: 12 string acoustic Alvarez guitar, 1984 Yairi model.  Hammered dulcimer: 16/15 curly maple model built by Kenneth H. Butler, West Hartland, CT in 1990.

Cover photo by S. Ransom: "Saranac River at Plattsburgh," oil painting by Emmett Pine, Keeseville, NY, 1979. Collection of S. Ransom.

Side A (21:54)
  1. Down the Saranac. "Fun-tubing" excitement in 1981, a rescue on the Saranac River of two college students, Paula Sanger and Corky Risen. 12 string guitar and vocal.
  2. City of Plattsburgh. First as a song with 6 string guitar, then as a dance tune with 12 string guitar and hammered dulcimer.
  3. Plattsburgh Sewage Plant. Plattsburgh has had odor problems since the 1970’s, when the city sewage plant was first built. It remains in 1991 an almost daily topic of conversation, as this humorous song explains. 12 string guitar and vocal.
  4. City With the Stereo Smell. Would you believe two smells? A compost plant built in 1986 at the other end of town provides a strong ammonia odor to match that from the sewage plant. 6 string guitar and vocal.
  5. Plattsburgh Odor Army. A call to volunteers to help the engineers locate sewage odors by "General" George Miller, the City Engineer. Tune: "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp." 12 string guitar and vocal.
  6. Fanoline Salve. This cure-all ointment was manufactured around 1900 by Mrs. Frances (Fanny) Hall at her home, now the Kent DeLord House Museum in Plattsburgh. 12 string guitar and vocal.
  7. Smith Wead Bridge. This Saranac River bridge across the street from City Hall was torn down by the D & H (Delaware & Hudson) Railroad crew in 1974. Tune: "Days of ‘49" (trad.) 12 string guitar and vocal.
  8. Plattsburgh Trolley Song. The Plattsburgh trolley was a familiar sight and performed a valuable service from 1895-1929. 6 string guitar and vocal.
  9. Plattsburgh Love Song. The lyrics of the chorus were hand-lettered in white paint on the side of the D & H trestle bridge over the Saranac River perhaps as long as two decades ago by "RH." This is how I imagined these words might have been placed there. 12 string guitar and vocal.
SIDE B(21:36)
  1. Boys at the Bridge. In 1814, during the War of 1812, a small band of teenage boys dared to defend the Bridge Street Bridge against advancing British soldiers. Their gallantry was later rewarded by Congress, which presented each of them with a new rifle. 6 string guitar and vocal.
  2. Roslyn Castle/Backside of Albany. "Roslyn Castle" was a Scottish pipe tune played at the funeral of Captain George Downie, Commander of the British fleet on Lake Champlain. He was killed by cannon fire during the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh. "Backside of Albany," to the Irish tune "Boyne Water," was use by Micah Hawkins to accompany his comic poem, "Backside of Albany, or, the Siege of Plattsburgh. This was first performed on February 8, 1815, in Albany. It was sung in blackface sailor dialect, and it describes the victory on September 11, 1814, of Commodore Thomas Macdonough at the Battle of Plattsburgh. 12 string guitar and hammered dulcimer.
  3. Pickin’ Berries. Altona, NY, was widely known in the 1930’s for its blueberries, picked commercially all summer long by local residents and families who camped at the berry fields on Altona Flat Rock. 12 string guitar and vocal.
  4. Clinton County Farmers. In 1989 and 1990 a number of Clinton County farmers were caught growing marijuana in the centers and back edges of their corn fields. 6 string guitar and vocal.
  5. Dannemora Prison Blues. What it might feel like to be sent from New York City to the State prison at Dannemora, the "Siberia" of New York State prisons. Tune: "The Frozen Girl." (trad.) 6 string guitar and vocal.
  6. Clinton County Love Song. For my wife, Christina. 6 string guitar and vocal.
  7. I Like It Here In Clinton County. A great place to live, laugh, love, work, play, and retire to! 6 string guitar and vocal.
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