A Green Mountain Mixtape

Dec 6, 2017

Memphis has soul, Nashville has country. What is Vermont’s music? You may as well ask, “Who is a Vermonter?” Even in the 1930’s, those questions resisted easy answers.

This Episode’s Featured Object:

“A Vermont Kitchen Tunket” Carving

Mary Rogstad: We see “A Kitchen Tunket,” a carving by Napoleon DeGuise. He was also known as “Nap” DeGuise. He was from Waterbury; he was a barber. He had these [carvings] in his barbershop window, and people used to come in and admire them.

According to DeGuise, he carved and displayed these pieces in his barbershop so that children of other generations would have true pictures of things they may have heard of, but had never seen.

Image of Helen Hartness Flanders recording a song by Mrs. Fairbanks.

Other images: A box of wax Dictaphone cylinders used by Flanders to record singers in the early days of her collecting, and one of the aluminum LPs that Flanders used before switching to vinyl records, and eventually, reel-to-reel tapes.

View more details about the Helen Hartness Flanders collection on the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives website.

Listen to tracks that Helen Hartness Flanders recorded.

Learn more about Linda Radtke, Mark Greenberg, and Big Heavy World.

Episode Transcript

It’s 1930. Milking is still done by lantern light on many farms. But there’s a new visitor in the barn, and in the homes of Vermont.

Linda Radtke: What I think they were worried about at that point in our history is that radio was entering the farms, and electricity.

Linda Radtke produces the Choral Hour on Vermont Public Radio. She also gives live performances that feature songs popular in Vermont during the Civil War, as well as songs found in the Vermont Historical Society’s collection of sheet music.

[music: The Maid of Lamoille]

Linda: And it’s true that they worried that people would no longer sit around and tell these stories or sing these songs. Of an evening, they’d have the radio on in the barn and they’d have the radio on at home.

Linda is one of several notable Vermonters who have dedicated themselves to documenting and preserving the sound of our state, believing that Vermont music tells us something about who we are as Vermonters. But what is Vermont music? And should we even ask that question?

Read the full transcript.

Episode Credits

Much of the music for this episode came from “Thrufters and Through-Stones: The Music of Vermont’s First 400 Years,” a compilation assembled by Big Heavy World. Deb Flanders, the great-niece of Helen Hartness Flanders, sang “Young Charlotte.” The “Pony Boys Theme” is from Don Fields & the Pony Boys: Historic WDEV Broadcasts and Last Sessions on Rootstock Records. “St. Anne’s Reel” is from Kitchen Tunks & Parlor Songs on Multicultural Media. And “Bye Bye Blues” is from Buddy Truax: Music Man on Rootstock Records.

Thanks to the Vermont Folklife Center for the use of Mark Greenberg’s recordings of the Burundian Children’s Song and the Somali Bantu Wedding ceremony. Learn more about the New Neighbors project.

Thanks as well to A2VT for the use of their song, “Ghetto.”

“Goulden Vanitee,” sung by Douglas Kennedy, is from the 78 rpm disk HMV B 10836 matrix OEA.17982. Recorded under the auspices of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.