"SONGS OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN"
"SONGS OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN." Cassette and CD. 1995. 66 minutes. Recorded and mixed by Lane Gibson at Charles Eller Studios, Charlotte, VT. Art direction by Futura Design, Shelburne, VT. Copyright by Stanley A. Ransom, Jr. (BMI). Funded in part by a grant from the Council on the Arts for Clinton County, Inc., with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Cover photo: The "Philadelphia," the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Revolutionary War gunboat replica, from Basin Harbor, VT.
Instruments used are a 1850's Ransom hammered dulcimer attributed to Henry Ransom, Sherman, NY. Also a 12 string Alvarez guitar (1984 Yairi model), a 6 string guitar by Frank DeLeone, a 1926 Gibson Model A mandolin, an Oscar Schmidt 21 bar autoharp, and a West Granville, MA, drum. Thanks to folklorist and musician Dr. I. Sheldon Posen, Engineer and musician Lane Gibson, and vocal and music consultant, Susan Onofrio.
Special guest musician: Victor Bourdon, an 82 year old French-Canadian fiddler, who used to "play his fiddle all night long for square dances 'til dawn and never repeat a tune."
1. The Last Long Mile. Words and music by Emil Breitenfeld, 17th Company, 18th Plattsburgh R.O.T.C. c1917 by Henry W. Savage, Inc., as part of the Jerome Kern musical comedy "Toot-Toot." Guitar, drum and vocal by Stan Ransom. Keyboard by Lane Gibson. Published in "The Plattsburger," 1917.
2. Isles of Lake Champlain. In 1900 Daniel T. Trombley dedicated this poem to the Isle LaMotte Historical Society. It celebrates the beauty of the islands at all times of the year. Tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin and vocal.
3. Champ. The Lake Champlain Monster, our most famous resident, recorded as being seen more than 200 times since 1609, when such a monster was seen by Samuel de Champlain. Words by Stan Ransom. Tune adapted from the traditional song, "Old Hewson, the Cobbler." Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
4. Lake Champlain Waltz/Ransom's Waltz. First waltz is original; the second is a 19th century waltz by Henry Ransom's family from western New York, courtesy of Mitzie Collins of Sampler Records. Hammered dulcimer, guitar, autoharp.
5. Battle of Valcour Bay. Words by Stan Ransom; tune traditional. Story of the "first naval battle of the Revolution" fought by two Army Commanders on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The gunboat "Philadelphia," sunk during the engagement, is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
6. In Prohibition Days. Rumrunners on Lake Champlain developed a unique way to retrieve their whiskey, after artfully discussing their problem with Dr. Hudson, the science professor at the Plattsburgh Normal School. Original song by Stan Ransom. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
7. The Sailor and His Bride. The favorite song of Captain Hiram Belden of Dresden, NY, a 19th century tugboat captain on Lake Champlain. Text traditional. Tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin and vocal.
8. Sweet Biddy Daly/St. Anne's Reel/Gaspe Reel. Three popular French-Canadian fiddle tunes played by Victor Bourdon. Fiddle and guitar.
9. The Piper's Refrain. By Richard Nardin, c1983 by Bop Talk Music. Used by permission. The ballad of Lord Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, a Major in the Black Watch 42nd Highland Regiment, who fell at Fort Ticonderoga during the French and Indian Wars and died July 17, 1758. This ghost story was the subject of the poem "Ticonderoga" by R.L. Stevenson. Hammered dulcimer, guitar, vocal. Verse one, lines 4-8 added by Stan Ransom.
10. The Burning of the Phoenix. Traditional ballad, first published in the "Whitehall Democrat" on May 1, 1846. Tune: "Caroline of Edinburgh Town." The "Phoenix" burned and sank three miles from Burlington, VT, on September 5, 1819. It details the heroism of 22 year old Captain Richard Sherman. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin and vocal.
11. Little Ice Shanty; or, the Lake Champlain Ice Fisherman. Dr. I. Sheldon Posen, folklorist and creator of the exhibit and book, "You Hear the Ice Talking, " composed this song in 1987, to the tune of "The Stern Old Bachelor," to describe ice fishing on Lake Champlain. Used by permission. Vocal by Shelley Posen.
12. Kushaqua Waltz/Singing Sands Beach Waltz. The first was written in 1904 by Perley M. Helms of Port Henry, NY. The "Singing Sands Beach Waltz" was composed by Marie La Force of Plattsburgh, NY, in 1910. Singing Sands Beach is now the property of Clinton Community College on Bluff Point overlooking the beach. Ransom hammered dulcimer, guitar and autoharp.
13. My Native Lake. Words by Margaret Miller Davidson. Tune by Stan Ransom. Written in 1833 at age 10 by the Plattsburgh poet Margaret Davidson, who was forced to leave Plattsburgh for a time because of her tuberculosis. Born on March 26, 1823, Margaret and her older sister, Lucretia, both wrote poetry at an early age. Neither lived more than 18 years, Margaret dying at age 15, but both received wide recognition. Washington Irving wrote a biography of Margaret Davidson in 1841. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.}
14. Lake Champlain Ice Rescue. True story of the rescue of 23 persons from a floating ice floe in 1988. Original song and tune by Stan Ransom. Guitar, mandolin, vocal.
15. Fort Blunder. Fort Montgomery, in Rouses Point, NY, was built in the wrong country! Words by Stan Ransom. Tune: "Yankee Doodle." Guitar, mandolin, vocals.
16. Aime Patnode's Jig/Charlie Hunter's Jig/Irishman's Heart to the Ladies. Fiddle tunes played by Victor Bourdon. The last tune is also known as "Sweet Biddy Daly." Fiddle and guitar.
17. Lakes of Champlain. From "Country Songs of Vermont," 1837, collected by Helen Hartness Flanders. A variant of "Lakes of Col Fin," first published in 1872, this song was adapted to commemorate a drowning accident in Lake Champlain. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin and vocal.
18. Song of the Moose. Words and tune by Stan Ransom. Composed in January, 1993, in reaction to a plan by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to import 1300 moose into the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks to enhance tourism. They estimated that only one motorist would die every 2.5 years from a moose charge or by hitting a moose. This song is from the moose's point of view. Guitar, autoharp, mandolin and vocal.