Sunday, April 24th there will be a world premier not to be missed! It’s a musical celebration of our agricultural heritage: Unsung Heroes – Songs of Our Elder Farmers by Local Songwriters taking place at 3pm in the beautiful Rondout Valley High School Auditorium, 122 Kyserike Road, Accord.
Over the winter, some of our best local songwriters have been working with wonderful elder farmers who have spent their lives working the land. The songs they’ve written vividly capture the texture and richness of the farming life though a variety of music traditions. Here are just some of the featured farmers and songwriters:
Jack Schoonmaker is the 12th generation of the Saunderskill Farm family; Mark Brown has worked the land but is best known for his gritty, witty, country blues. Together they have created Sixteen Eighty, a song that tells the story of one of the oldest farms in the nation, from the time of its purchase from the Lenape tribe.
Kelleigh McKenzie, an indie folk songstress who plays a wicked banjo, worked with two elders. Jackie Brooks’ life is steeped in farming — she is both a farmer’s daughter and farmers’ mother. Abe Waruch’s song tells of his family’s journey from the Ukraine to Cherrytown, of his special skill in birthing calves, and of his delight in pranks.
Wayne Kelder is more of a rock and roll farmer — Tom Holland’s song about Wayne’s life, Salt and Smoke, shares the challenges and fun. Tom also worked with Rima Nickell; Seeds explores the essence of Rima’s love of the earth.
Heather Masse’s beautiful voice is familiar to any fan of the Prairie Home Companion, she’s a favorite duettist of Garrison Keillor. Heather has composed a jazzy number with dairy farmer Frank Coddington, celebrating the wonder of growth and hard times endured.
Fruit farmers Bill and Joyce Wilklow inspired Vickie Russell to write the folk song The Farm Comes First; it highlights the sacrifices that must be made to grow our food.
ELDER FARMERS: Jackie Brooks, Eddie Cantine, Frank Coddington, Wayne Kelder, Rima Nickell, Jack Schoonmaker, Abe Waruch, Bill & Joyce Wilklow
SONGWRITERS & MUSICIANS: Heather Masse, Mark Brown, Kelleigh McKenzie, Vickie Russell, Tom Holland, Guest artist Happy Traum. Backup band: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, Ralph Legnini, Eric Parker, Rondout Valley High School Choir, and guest poet Zena Nason
The program runs from 3-6pm — beginning with song and ending with a reception of singers, farmers and neighbors. Suggested donation:$15 adult advance tickets ($20 at door) and $5 farmers, elders,&kids to 18. Advance tickets or call 800-838,3006
Unsung Heroes is a collaboration of two groups: SageArts and the Rondout Valley Growers. SageArts is an intergenerational arts project that encourages social inclusion and dignity for elders in the Hudson Valley. It brings together songwriters and elders from local communities to collaboratively write an original song about the elder’s life. The RVGA is a grass roots organization of farmers and neighbors working together to keep local farming strong. The event is co-sponsored by: Sage Arts, RVGA, Ulster Alive, Arts Mid-Hudson and I Love NY.