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Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist

Thomas Stern 11 Feb 24 - 09:25 PM
Robert B. Waltz 12 Feb 24 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,Wendy M. Grossman 13 Feb 24 - 06:37 AM
GUEST 13 Feb 24 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Stevebury 13 Feb 24 - 12:05 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Feb 24 - 03:17 PM
Thomas Stern 15 Feb 24 - 10:56 PM
Thomas Stern 27 Feb 24 - 10:14 PM
Robert B. Waltz 28 Feb 24 - 06:10 AM
Thomas Stern 28 Feb 24 - 09:56 PM
GUEST 06 Mar 24 - 09:35 PM
Thomas Stern 06 Mar 24 - 09:41 PM
Thomas Stern 08 Mar 24 - 11:35 PM
Thomas Stern 23 Mar 24 - 09:57 PM
Tradurban 21 May 24 - 09:57 AM
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Subject: Ellen Stekert
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 11 Feb 24 - 09:25 PM

For those of us who remember the 1940s-1960s folk revival, Ellen
Stekert is an important singer, collector and folklorist.

Ellen J. (Jane) Stekert
Professor Emerita University of Minnesota, Department of English.

There is now a website devoted to her: https://ellenstekert.com/

A 2017 recording of a concert she gave in Minneapolis MN
https://youtu.be/M94j6e3Gmhw
Hope someone can identify a few items in this concert marked ???.
tentative list of the songs:
1 Little Drummer ???
2 introduction
3 Midnight Special (Leadbelly)
4 Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
5 Where Have All the Flowers Gond (Seeger)
6 Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds)
7 On The Rim of the World (Malvina Reynolds)
8 All Kinds of Trouble (from Folkways Anthology) ???
9 Dummy Line
10 Ballad of October 16th (Almanac Singers)
11 Balance the Budget ???
12 Shule Aroon
13 talk - recording Lumberjack Songs for Harold Thompson
14 Shugo ???
15 Golden Apples of the Sun
16 Old Devil Time (Seeger)
17 Children's medley ???
      what are the songs ?????
      who is the collecter she refers to ?????
18 talk - folk revival
19 So Long It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust) (Guthrie)

an extensive interview here:
https://musicguy247.typepad.com/my-blog/2020/05/dr-ellen-stekert-cornell-indiana-university-of-pennsylvania-folklorist-recording-artist-educator-american-folklore-society.html


WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Stekert

recordings
----------

STINSON SLP 49 Ozark Mountain Folk Songs Volume I   10" LP 1955
Ellen Stekert, guitar, vocals
Program notes by Kenneth S Goldstein and lyrics on container
A1 Down By The Sea Shore
A2 Grandma’s Advice
A3 On The Banks of the Sweet Dundee
A4 Father Grumble
B1 Whistle, Daughter, Whistle
B2 Wildwood Flower
B3 Putting On The Style
B4 Caroline of the Edinborough Town

[a 2nd volume was mentioned in the liner notes, but not issued??]


CORNELL Recording Society CRS 10050,            10" LP 1956
Ballads of Careless Love
- Love Songs from Great Britain and the United States
Sung by Ellen Stekert
Notes written and edited by
Prof. Harold W.Thompson, Editor: New York Folklore Quarterly.
Side A (F8-OL-2442-1A)
A1 Down in the Willow Garden
A2 Frankie and Johnny
A3 I Know Where I'm Going
A4 Hand Me Down My Walking Cane
A5 Dink's Song
A6 Careless Love
A7 Come All You Fair and Tender Maidewns
A8 The Trees They Do Grow High
Side B (F8OL-2443-2)
B1 Died For Love
B2 Charlie Is My Darling
B3 Omie Wise
B4 The Blackbird
B5 Easy Rider
B6 Go 'way From My Window


RIVERSIDE RLP 12-634            LP 1956
Traditional American Love Songs
Milt Okun and Ellen Stekert

A1 Must I Go Bound   
A2 She's Like The Swallow   
A3 Shule Aroo (Ellen Stekert)   
A4 The Cambric Shirt = Scarborough Fair   
A5 The Lass From The Low Country   
A6 Poor Lolette   
A7 Who Will Shoe?   
A8 The Lass Of Glenshee   
A9 He Took Me By The Hand   
B1 Paper Of Pins   
B2 Trouble   
B3 The Foggy Foggy Dew #   
B4 The Brazos River   
B5 Adios Mi Corazon # (Spanish Is The Loving Tongue)   
B6 Every Night When The Sun Goes Down (Suzanne) #   
B7 Red Rosey Bush   
B8 No, John, No   

various tracks from this Riverside album reissued on
Riverside Wonderland albums EVERYBODY SING! Vol.1, 2, 3.
Prestige CD The Riverside / Folklore Series Vol. 3:
Singing the New Tradition Songs, Singers, and Instrumentalists of
the Folk Revival.

in ELEKTRA EKL 151 OUR SINGING HERITAGE Volume I       LP 1958
A8 Ellen Stekert: The House Carpenter
B3 Ellen Stekert: Froggie Went A Courting

[note: the unissued Volume II reportedly contains some Stekert tracks]

Elektra 60402 O LOVE IS TEASIN' 3-LP box
   contains Froggie Went A Coutring.


FOLKWAYS FA 2354            LP 1958
Songs of a New York Lumberjack
Ellen Stekert
A1 Bounding the U.S.
A2 Hills of Glenshee
A3 The Western Pioneers
A4 The Two Sisters
A5 Johnny Troy
A6 Poor Old Anthony Rolly
A7 Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade
A8 The Drummer Boy
A9 The Trouble Down at Homestead
B1 The Fox
B2 The Cumberland and the Merrimac
B3 The Singular Dream
B4 Lakes of Ponchatrain
B5 The Black Cook
B6 Abe Lincoln Went to Washington
B7 The Shanty Boy and the Farmer's Son
B8 Les Raftsman
B9 The Jealous Lover


FOLKWAYS FS 3805 The Unfortunate Rake       LP 1960
206 A Sun Valley Song         Jan Brunvand and Ellen Stekert


FOLKWAYS FH 5717 Songs of the Civil War    LP 1960
206 The Cumberland and the Merrimac         Ellen Stekert
304 Pat Murphy of the Irish Brigade         Ellen Stekert


1962 SWARTHMORE COLLEGE
1962 Swarthmore Song Fest (Folk Festival)


Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning, 1910-1983
Film by Mimi Pickering, Produced by (c) 1988 Appalshop Films, 38min.
https://www.folkstreams.net/films/dreadful-memories


Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 12 Feb 24 - 04:08 AM

To the above list of recordings, we can add one book of essays she co-edited. Américo Paredes and Ellen Stekert, The Urban Folk Experience and Folk Tradition (1970).

I met her around the concert was recorded. At the time, she was living in a nice little house in south Minneapolis with her partner and (as I recall) a rather opinionated bird. She was recovering from a neck injury. She must have recovered pretty well; not too long after that, she was featured in an REI ad for outdoor equipment.

Unfortunately, my parents took possession of all the LPs we got from her, so I can't look up the liner notes to see what information they add to the above.

And, yes, that's the Milt Okun who did music arrangements for Peter, Paul and Mary (who needed his help desperately) and The Chad Mitchell Trio (who didn't). The cover photo on the LP is not them, however. The people who produced the album wanted a more photogenic couple.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: GUEST,Wendy M. Grossman
Date: 13 Feb 24 - 06:37 AM

Bill Steele, who was around the folk scene in Ithaca NY in the 1950s before migrating to SF and then back to Ithaca circa 1972, used to talk about her. He seemed to really admire her singing.

I have a tattered copy of the Ozarks album I bought when a long-time folkie's collection was sold off.

wg


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Feb 24 - 09:00 AM

The Little Drummer is Roud 2302. There are several versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection and broadsides on the Bodleian Ballads website under the title The Silly Drummer.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: GUEST,Stevebury
Date: 13 Feb 24 - 12:05 PM

Ellen Stekert recorded northern Pennsylvania/Southern Tier NY woods singer Ezra Barhight (Songs of a New York Lumberjack). I don't know where the original recordings may be archived.

My notes include the following publications:

1966 “Four Pennsylvania Songs Learned before 1900, From the Repertoire of Ezra V. Barhight”, in Goldstein & Byington, Two Penny Ballads and Four Dollar Whiskey: A Pennsylvania Folklore Miscellany, published for The Pennsylvania folklore Society by Folklore Associates, Inc, Hatboro, PA, 1966, pp 15-32

1966 ‘Cents and Nonsense in the Urban Folk Song Movement: 1930-66’ in Rosenberg, Transforming Tradition, 96-97. The essay was originally published in Bruce Jackson, ed., Folklore and Society” Essays in honor of Benjamin A. Botkin (Hatboro, PA: Folklore Assoc, 1966) 153-68

1987 ‘Autobiography of a Woman Folklorist’ Journal of American Folklore 100 (Oct-Dec 1987 579-85
Stekert’s experience studying folklore at Indiana University and Dorson’s hostility toward the folk music revival

1987 Oral History 128 pp 160 minutes
http://digital.lib.usu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/AFS/id/135
Ellen Stekert speaks of her involvement with the Indiana University Folklore Institute. She outlines her early education and her early interests in folklore, mostly from classes at Cornell University and from her involvement in the folksong revival. She attended IU to earn her master's degree and then the University of Pennsylvania to earn her PhD. Stekert describes at length her turbulent relationship with Richard Dorson as a student and then a colleague. She describes her fellow students at IU and the intellectual environment they created. She touches upon her reasons for leaving IU after earning her master's degree. She describes her experiences as a doctoral student at U Penn. She also speaks briefly of her time at Wayne State University and her work in the Wayne State University Archives. Throughout the interview she mentions her childhood bout with polio, and how it has affected her life. She describes some pictures she has saved from her time at IU. She also evaluates the education she received at IU.

-- Stevebury


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Feb 24 - 03:17 PM

Sorry that was me sans cookie at 9 a.m.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 15 Feb 24 - 10:56 PM

Thanks Steve and Stevebury!


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 10:14 PM

update to the tentative list of the songs in the SOLID STATE concert:
1 Oh Hard Fortune/Little Drummer
    The Little Drummer is Roud 2302. There are several versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection and broadsides on the Bodleian Ballads website under the title The Silly Drummer.
2 introduction
3 Midnight Special (Leadbelly)
4 Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
   in STINSON album A Pete Seeger Concert (1953) WHO WROTE THIS ???
5 Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Seeger)
6 Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds)
7 On The Rim of the World (Malvina Reynolds)
8 Arthritis Blues (Butch Hawes)
    Butch Hawes in FOLKWAYS Lonesome Valley FP-10/FA 2010
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0lDYldGbv0
    Ramblin' Jack Elliott recorded ARTHRITIS BLUES on his 1962
    Prestige/International album COUNTRY STYLE.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OG8HSc3UEA
9 Dummy Line
   Joe Hickerson :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2yhZRA6H3E
   1930 The Packard Family https://www.youtube.com/watch?=CJDuvvSVG2k
10 Ballad of October 16th (Almanac Singers)
   October 16, 1940 first peacetime draft became law.
   from Almanac Singers first album SONGS FOR JOHN DOE.:
11 Balance the Budget (Joe Glazer)
   from the LP BALLADS FOR BALLOTS (1960, Labor for Kennedy-Johnson)
   Revised in 1984 for Glazer's Reaganomics album JELLYBEAN BLUES V.2
   Music: So Long it's Been Good to Know You.
12 Shule Aroon
13 talk - recording Lumberjack Songs for Prof. Harold Thompson
14 Shugo
   Collected by Ellen Stekert (Ezra "Fuzzy" Barhight, NY lumberjack).
15 Golden Apples of the Sun
16 Old Devil Time (Seeger)
    composed for 1970 film: Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon
17 Children's medley ???
   songs collected by Asher Treat in Wisconsin from Kentuckians.
18 talk - folk revival
19 So Long It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust) (Guthrie)


Minnesota Public Radio WTIP interview
Stinson, Cornell
recording Fuzzy Barhight
teaching, fieldwork
photo exhibit at Solid State, field work, newport
sings Careless Love
https://ampers.org/folklorist-ellen-stekert-performs-and-shares-stories-from-folklore/

Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 06:10 AM

Thomas Stern wrote: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
   in STINSON album A Pete Seeger Concert (1953) WHO WROTE THIS ???


It was collected in 1939 by William Wolff at the School for Southern Women, according to a Festschrift for Richard A. Reuss. I haven't located a copyright claim. So I think you can list it as traditional.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 09:56 PM

Thanks Robert!

There are a couple of MUDCAT threads - one is for the VOLVO commercial
which is not WINNSBORO - actually Hard Times in the Mills.
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=169188
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=34402


The SECONDHANDSONGS site credits the music aa the 1919 composition
ALCOHOLIC BLUES by Albert Von Tilzer.

They state there is a 1948 recording - looks like they say by Seeger,
but I can not find a reference to this.
There is a track on LEADBELLY's LAST SESSIONS titles Winnsboro Cotton
Mill Blues, but it is Alcoholic Blues. These recordings are c.1948.

DOES ANYONE KNOW OF A SEEGER RECORDING FEFORE 1953 ???????????

Seeger sang WINNSBORO on the STINSON album A PETE SEEGER CONCERT 1953.

Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 28, No. 2/3, Special Double Issue: Labor Song: A Reappraisal (May - Dec., 1991), pp. 103-133 (31 pages)

Doug DeNatale and Glenn Hinson
The Southern Textile Song Tradition Reconsidered

p.114
The "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues," sung to William Wolff in 1939 at the
School for Southern Women Workers, is one of the finest examples of
anger redirected through humor:

Old man Sargent, sitting at the desk,
The damned old fool won't give us no rest.
He'd take the nickels off a dead man's eyes
To buy a Coca-Cola and an Eskimo Pie ...

When I die, don't bury me at all,
Just hang me up on the spool room wall;
Place a knotter in my hand,
So I can spool in the Promised Land.

When I die, don't bury me deep,
Bury me down on Six Hundred Street;
Place a bobbin in each hand
So I can doff in the Promised Land



Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (Unknown) [Zilphia Horton Folk Song Collection, Tennessee State Library.]
Greenway, John. 1953. American Folksongs of Protest. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

The liner notes to a 1982 MAGPIE album WORKING MY LIFE AWAY states:
WINNSBORO COrrON MILL BLUES Penned
by an unknown mill hand in Winnsboro, North
Carolina sometime during the 1920's, this song
borrows its tune from" Alcoholic Blues", also well
known during those days. The tune has survived
oral tradition and was set to another lyric by electrical workers in Wausau, Wisconsin, during a
strike in 1952.

KEEFER lists
Winnsboro/Winsborough Cotton Mill Blues

Rt - Alcohol Blues
Sing Out Reprints, Sing Out, Sof, 6, p 4 (1964)
Fowke, Edith & Joe Glazer (eds.) / Songs of Work and Protest, Dover, Sof (1973/1960), p 74
Blood, Peter; and Annie Patterson (eds.) / Rise Up Singing, Sing Out, Sof (1992/1989), p260
Scofield, Twilo (ed.) / An American Sampler, Cutthroat, Sof (1981), p168
Silverman, Jerry / Folk Guitar - Folk Song, Scarborough Book, Sof (1983/1977), P184 (Winnisboro Cotton Mill Blues)
Greenway, John / American Folksongs of Protest, Perpetua, Sof (1960/1953), p144
Leisy, James F. (ed.) / Folk Song Abecedary, Bonanza, Bk (1966), p370
ACTWU Songbook, AFL-CIO, Sof (1978ca), p44
Hillmen. Hillmen, Sugar Hill SH 3719, LP (1981/1963), trk# 10
Lead Belly. Lead Belly's Last Sessions, Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40068-71, CD( (1994), trk# 1.29 [1948/09/27]
Mountain Musicians Cooperative. Brown Lung Cotton Mill Blues, June Appal JA 006, LP (1976), trk# A.06
Reams, James. Kentucky Songbird, Leghorn LH 004, CD (1994), trk# 14
Seeger, Pete. Pete Seeger, Archive of Folk & Jazz FS 201, LP (1965), trk# 4 [1953-54]
Seeger, Pete. American Industrial Ballads, Folkways FH 5251, LP (1956), trk# B.07
Yarrow, Peter. Hard Times, Warner BS 2860, LP (1975), trk# A.04
Winny Hayes


Cheers, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Mar 24 - 09:35 PM

SOLID STATE Concert - updated list.
Any additional corrections, additions, references, notes ?????
Thanks, Thomas.

Solid State Program from Solid State Records
Ellen Stekert Program 2017-03-25

EJS: When I ended this program, as well as during it, I judged it the worst program I had ever given. I had just gotten over the seasonal flu and I was aware that I had lost the soaring high notes I used to have. The audience was a hodge-podge of friends and strangers who fit into this little record store off 46th Street and Minnehaha Ave. South in Minneapolis. During the program you will hear me speaking with and to the audience. Sitting near me was my partner, Beth Upton, who insisted that although my voice when I was younger was ethereal and pure that now that I was older one could hear a greater range of expression in it, the reflection of a life experience. She encouraged me to keep working at making a “comeback” as a singer. I was 82 when this program was done. Little did I know then that in two years I would no longer be able to sing or even talk clearly. Two surgeries to fuse my upper spine would accidently cut the nerve to one of my vocal chords, January 2019.]

1 Drummer Boy [Oh Hard Fortune/Little Drummer - Roud 2302]
EJS: Learned from Ezra "Fuzzy" Barhight. From upstate New York   
There are several versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection and
broadsides on the Bodleian Ballads website under the title
The Silly Drummer.
2 introduction
3 Midnight Special (Huddie Leadbetter)
4 Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
collected in 1939 by William Wolff at the School for Southern Women.
author unknown. [Zilphia Horton Folk Song Collection, Tennessee
State Library.]
EJS: from Pete Seeger
    STINSON SLP57 (1953) A Pete Seeger Concert
Greenway, John. 1953. American Folksongs of Protest. Philadelphia: U.Pennsylvania Press
5 Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Pete Seeger)
EJS: Joe Hickerson is alluded to here. He helped Pete write it and made it a circular song
6 Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds)
7 On The Rim of the World (Malvina Reynolds)
8 Arthritis Blues (Butch Hawes)
Butch Hawes in FOLKWAYS FP-10 (FA 2010) Lonesome Valley (c.1950)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0lDYldGbv0
Ramblin' Jack Elliott recorded ARTHRITIS BLUES on his 1962
Prestige/International album COUNTRY STYLE.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OG8HSc3UEA
9 Dummy Line
EJS: learned from Sarah Newcomb at Oberlin and Swarthmore in 1962 –
   learned years earlier. It is from an early 78 rpm]
Joe Hickerson :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2yhZRA6H3E
1930 The Packard Family https://www.youtube.com/watch?=CJDuvvSVG2k
10 Ballad of October 16th (Almanac Singers)
   October 16, 1940 first peacetime draft became law.
   from Almanac Singers first album SONGS FOR JOHN DOE.
11 Balance the Budget (Joe Glazer)
   from the LP BALLADS FOR BALLOTS (1960, Labor for Kennedy-Johnson)
   Revised in 1984 for Glazer's Reaganomics album JELLYBEAN BLUES V.2
   Music: So Long it's Been Good to Know You.
12 Shule Aroon
    EJS: learned from Phlip Claude who learned it from her step
   father, Asher Treat,    who collected it from singers in Wisconsin
   who were originally from KY
13 talk - recording Lumberjack Songs for Prof. Harold Thompson
14 Shugo
    EJS: Learned from Ezra "Fuzzy" Barhight. From upstate New York   
15 Golden Apples of the Sun
    EJS: Song of the Wandering Angus – Yeats
16 Old Devil Time (Seeger)
    Composed for 1970 film: “Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon”
    EJS: Seeger was probably influenced by the song “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens”]
17 Children's medley
    EJS: collected from singers in Wisconsin who were originally
    from KY
   1-Water water Wildflower
   2–How many Miles to London Town
   3-Little Red Wagon Nobody’s business
   4-Turn Cinnamon turn
18 talk - folk revival
19 So Long It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust) (Woody Guthrie)


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 06 Mar 24 - 09:41 PM

The cover of a brochure is pictured on the Ellen Stekert website.
The full brochure is online here:
Ellen Stekert brochure

Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 08 Mar 24 - 11:35 PM

WINNSBORO COTTON MILL BLUES - found the 1948 recording

CHARTER 25 (People's Songs, Hollywood) second pressing, 1948
Travelin'
Pete Seeger with his 5-string banjo
The Death of Harry Simms (Jim Garland) / Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (traditional)
Pete Seeger


Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 23 Mar 24 - 09:57 PM

The Solid State concert appears to be PRIVATE now - perhaps this
is temporary while the titles are being corrected ???
Parts of the concert are on SOLSTA's Facebook page.


A Pete Seeger concert at Corell University, Ithaca NY - May 16, 1957
has been posted to YouTube. Pete is accompanied by Ellen on a
few songs.

Pete Seeger concert at Cornell, 1957


Sourwood Mountain/Nobody's Tone Death
Deep Blue Sea
I Never Shall Marry
Housewife's Lament
He Will Just Do Nothing At All
Oleanna
Tangled Melodies (spoken)
0Abiyoyo
Demi Song
The Miller's Song (She'd Have Her Corn Ground)
Dayenu Passover Song
Aguinaldo Song (Puerto Rican Christmas song)
Que Bonita Bandera (Puerto Rican Flag Song)
Open the Door, Softly/Over the Mountains
Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas)
United Nations Make a Chain (WWII left-wing words to "Keep Your Hand on the Plow"
How Can I Keep from Singing?
It Takes a Worried Man (w/Ellen Stekert & Joel Hendler)
The Brazos River (The Texas Rivers Song - Ellen and Pete)
The Er-I-E Canal
Down By the Riverside
This Land is Your Land
The Wedding Songs
Get Along Home Cindy Cindy


Special thanks to Ellen Stekert for clarification of titles, etc.)

Part 2
Banks of the Ohio (Ellen and Pete)
Rock Island Line (Joel Hendler and Pete)
Leadbelly Medley (Pete on 12-String): In the Pines
Kisses Sweeter than Wine, Mr. Tom Hughes' Town
Pay Me My Money Down/The Water is Wide
Green Corn (Leadbelly song)
Sloop John B.
There Was A Cottage in the Woods
Spanish Civil War Song
Freiheit!
Old Man Atom
Hush Little Baby, Don't Say a Word/There Once Was a Man and He Was Mad
Oh Eve, Where Is Adam?
Oh When the Saints Go Marching In
Go Down Ye Blood
Red Roses
End of tape - Pete is still going

Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Ellen Stekert-singer, collector and folklorist
From: Tradurban
Date: 21 May 24 - 09:57 AM

Following are the "liner notes" to Pete Seeger's May 16th 1957 Cornell Concert as it was re-constructed by Dan MacDonald of Ohio State University with Ellen Stekert's help.

Ellen wanted the concert to be contextualized so that listeners would understand that at this particular time Seeger was under investigation and indictment by the United States' UnAmerican Activities Committee. He was eventually cleared of all charges but this was a tense and a painful time for many, among them, Pete.

Professor Harold Thompson had asked Ellen whether or not he should invite Seeger to campus for a concert since powerful Right Wing voices had been raised against his coming. Stekert strongly suggested that Seeger should be invited since he was being asked as a recognized leading authority on American folk music and as an outstanding performer of that material.

Seeger was invited, and, as in his previous visits, Ellen Stekert (Harold Thompson's Assistant) was his guide and contact during his visit.

Stekert helped MacDonald put together the liner notes that follow. She wanted MacDonald to note the arc of Seeger's performance and how it related to his personal life. She pointed out that Seeger becomes increasingly political as the concert progresses, significantly dedicating an anti-nuclear protest song to Cornell Professor Philip Morrison, noted anti-war physicist and, ironically, Ellen's initial advisor when she arrived at Cornell in 1953.


(excuse the formatting)


Pete Seeger in concert at Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University

The concert presented here took place at Willard Straight Hall, Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. Most likely date is May 16, 1957, based on notes from Dr. Ellen Stekert, notices appearing in the Cornell Daily Sun, matched to what is on the tape, and a letter from Toshi Seeger (dated July 10, 2002), indicating that “Pete says yes – either 1954 or 1957 concert.” Dr. Stekert was an undergraduate at Cornell from 1954 through 1957. Her personal notes indicate that she did sing onstage at the 1957 concert.

The concert itself takes you back to the early days of the folk music revival. Pete is often joined by the audience members, singing folk music from around the world, and joined by two students, Ellen Stekert and Joel Hendler. Pete talks about Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie from direct experience. He also talks about others, unnamed, from whom he learned songs. It is a delightful concert to listen to.

Ellen Stekert has made an important career in collection, academic study and performance of folklore and folksong, so it is nice to have captured her in the very beginning of her career, while she was an undergraduate assistant of Dr. Thompson. Joel Hendler was active in the Cornell folk singing community, and, a year or so after this recording was made, formed aduo with Peter Yarrow, later of Peter, Paul and Mary. Joel passed away in 2015.


The Venue and Controversy

We are certain the concert took place at Willard Straight Hall, given Dr. Stekert’srecollections and correspondence held in the Cornell archives from a university attorney to an alumnus who had complained about Cornell hosting the concert by “one of the most widely-known and publicized communists in this country.” The attorney advised the alumnus that publicity about the concert was limited to a one-day, four-line notice in the Cornell Sun Calendar of Events, which included the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall as the venue. That wasn’t exactly accurate, as the image below (about 1” by 1”) also appeared in the Sun in a column of advertisements. He also noted that Seeger is “apparently a competent entertainer. He did not lecture, but merely entertained.” He also estimated the audience
size at 400-500.


The Songs

(special thanks to Ellen Stekert for clarification of titles, etc.

Part 1
Evening of Doggerel/Sourwood Mountain
Nobody's Tone Deaf/Deep Blue Sea
I Never Shall Marry
Housewife's Lament
He Will Just Do Nothing At All
Oleana
Tangled Melodies (spoken)
Abyoyo
Demi Song
The Miller's Song (She'd Have Her Corn Ground)
Dayenu Passover Song
Aguinaldo Song (Puerto Rican Christmas song)
Que Bonita Bandera (Puerto Rican Flag Song)
Open the Door, Softly/Over the Mountains
Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas)
United Nations Make a Chain (WWII left-wing words to "Keep Your Hand on the Plow"
How Can I Keep from Singing?
It Takes a Worried Man (w/Ellen Stekert & Joel Hendler)
The Brazos River (The Texas Rivers Song - Ellen and Pete)
The Er-I-E Canal
Down By the Riverside
This Land is Your Land
The Wedding Song
Get Along Home, Cindy (with audience - Joel Hendler prominent)
Part 2
Banks of the Ohio (Ellen and Pete)
Rock Island Line (Joel Hendler and Pete)
Leadbelly Medley (Pete on 12-String):
In the Pines
Kisses Sweeter than Wine
Mr. Tom Hughes' Town
Pay Me My Money Down/The Water is Wide
Green Corn (Leadbelly song)
Sloop John B.
There Was A Cottage in the Woods
Spanish Civil War Song
Freiheit!
Old Man Atom
Hush Little Baby, Don't Say a Word/There Once Was a Man and He Was Mad
Oh Eve, Where Is Adam?
Oh When the Saints Go Marching In
Go Down Ye Blood Red Roses
End of tape - Pete is still going


A Context

The mid-to-late 1950s was a tough time for Pete Seeger, a political activist and member of the Communist Party from 1942 through 1949. In August of 1955, he was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He refused to name personal or political associations, on the grounds that it would violate his First Amendment rights, saying that the questions being asked were “improper questions for any American to be asked.” In March of 1957, he was indicted for contempt of Congress. Seeger was convicted in a jury trial in 1961, but, in 1962, an appeals court overturned the conviction. This was about 2 months after the indictment, and, as Dr. Stekert notes, the songs become more political as the evening progresses.

A picture of Pete Seeger from a 1958 concert at Cornell, published in the Cornell Sun.


The Recording

The tape appears to be recorded using microphones on or near the stage, apparently at the direction of folklore Professor Harold Thompson of Cornell (indicated in a postcard from Pete Seeger in 1996). At one point, the sound system broke down, and the rest of the concert is Pete onstage, without amplification.

I obtained the tape when Dr. Thompson’s daughter, who came to my office while I was at Cornell oneday, having heard that I liked history, music, and old tapes. She gave me a pile of 6 or 7 open reel tapes and said I could have them. Most were recordings of 1950s rock ‘n roll radio broadcasts, but this tape was hidden among them, unmarked. I sent a copy to Pete, and heard bits of information from two postcards from Pete, and a letter from Toshi Seeger. It has taken about 25 years to get this much detail about the recording, and I owe several people thanks for their help, especially Dr. Ellen Stekert.


The Restoration

A special thanks to Craig Maier, of Diamond Cut Productions Inc. who did the tape transfer and restoration. The quality of the recording is less than ideal, but Craig has done a very nice job of restoring the tape to a quality that is better than the original, and we felt that, given the historical significance, was important to make available to others. Also thanks to Rick Carlson for his help making this concert available to others through the Diamond Cut Productions website.


Liner Notes by Dan McDonald, 10/19/20


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Mudcat time: 22 June 2:22 AM EDT

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