Two recent WIOX programs feature
the new Grant Rogers website
|Grant Rogers, the "Catskill Mountain Songmaker"|
On April 18 and May 2 on WIOX Community Radio, Catskills Folk presented a preview and a review of the new website about Grant Rogers, the Delaware county resident known as the "Catskill Mountain Songmaker." Grant was a well-known musician - both instrumentalist and singer - in the mid-20th century in the Catskills. The website is the collaborative program of a committee of the Ogden Free Library in Walton and Music on the Delaware, who together unveiled the website at an informative reception at the Library on April 22. The committee gathered resources about Grant Rogers and designed the website to make the materials available to the public in ways not possible before. The materials include informative essays, audio recordings of interviews and music, video recordings, interview transcripts, and images, plus a biographical essay.
The focus of the website is, of course, Grant Rogers (www.grantrogers.org). There are historic images of him, his family and his home, audio recordings of his instrumental tunes and his songs drawn from many sources, including his CD still available from Folk Legacy records and a rare recording from the Smithsonian made by Norman Studer, the director of Camp Woodland. The video section includes black and white recording of Pete Seeger's TV show, on which Grant was a guest.
The audio section also includes tunes from Rogers's contemporaries, and interviews of family members and contemporary musicians as well as musicians he inspired. Stories from Robert Gregory, tunes from Frank Fisher and Edwin St. Onge, plus interviews with Bob Moss and Bruce Hoyt enlarge the focus of the website to include the 20th century context for Grant Rogers's work. Interviews with Jay Ungar, Wes St. Onge, and Kathy Shimberg (and eventually with Ira and Laurie McIntosh) reveal the current influence of Grant Rogers.
The video section begins with a purpose-made video by Jessica Vecchione featuring the family history in interviews with Rogers's nieces, plus the Pete Seeger TV show, followed by music videos from Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and a performance by Mile Twelve, a blue grass band.
The archives section contains important essays in a sub-section entitled "Music Genealogy." One essay called "Roots" explores Grant Rogers's musical inheritance from his family; a second essay called "Contemporaries of Grant Rogers" provides the context for his relationship to other contemporary musicians; and a third essay called "Legacy of Grant Rogers" reveals his influence on current musicians. But this is not all. "Archives" is where you will find all the images of family, contemporary musicians, and current musicians. It also includes transcripts of all the interviews filed in the audio section.
The new Grant Rogers website greatly expands the amount of Catskills material available, especially audio recordings of his instrumentals and songs. Beyond this, the unexpected addition of little known recordings by contemporary musicians and square dance callers, plus both audio and transcript version of each interview shows the thorough work of the committee. They certainly have met their goal of documenting and preserving important aspects of Catskill Mountain culture by creating a treasure of a website about Grant Rogers. They intend to keep adding to it, with contributions from the community, and eventually to create a performance of the "legacy" musicians. Now it is up to folklorists, regional and local historians, and Catskills art centers to do the same for other Catskills musicians and artists.
-- Ginny Scheer, Folklorist, Catskills Folk Connection