October 23, 2020
What does a vibrant camp sound like without its campers?
Camp Killooleet sits on the banks of the Hancock Branch, a tributary to the White River in Hancock, Vermont. Since 1927 it’s welcomed kids ages 9-14 for a classic summer camp experience. Hiking and swimming, arts and woodworking, sports, horse-back riding and a particularly strong music and song culture due in large part to the longtime connection of the Seeger family with Killooleet. John and Ellie Seeger bought the camp in 1949 and today their daughter, Kate Seeger and her husband Dean Spencer are the camp directors. John Seeger was the brother of the legendary folk singer, Pete Seeger.
Back in August, Mary Wesley and assistant producer Abra Clawson drove down to Hancock to meet with Kate, Dean and Kate’s brother, Tony Seeger. Tony is an anthropologist and audio-visual archivist and he serves on the Board of Directors for the VFC. It was an unusual visit because for the first time in 93 years, Camp Killooleet was closed, due to Covid -19. Where you’d expect to hear splashing and shouting in the pond and music in the camp house there was only birdsong and a slight breeze.
This episode explores the ways in which a summer camp community, an inherently ephemeral group, stays connected over time and distance. Camp Killoolleet in particular offers a unique site of observation and reflection thanks to two albums recorded in 1958 available from Smithsonian Folkways: Songs of Camp and Sounds of Camp. These historical recordings feature documentary soundscapes and sing-alongs that allow us to travel back in time to hear just what was missing from Killooleet during this “camper-less” summer of 2020.
We thank Smithsonian Folkways for granting us permission to feature selections from Sounds of Camp and Songs of Camp in this episode. You can find both albums--as well as the entire Smithsonian Folkways catalog here on their website.
The campers and counselors featured in this episode are Charlie, Kim, Smitty, Danny and Avi. You can sit in on one of the Killooleet Virtual Campfires here on YouTube.
Vermont Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. For more information visit our website.
September 18, 2020
This episode of VT Untapped™ is the first in a six-part series built around our “Listening in Place” project. We’ll take you into six different Vermont communities where we’ve spent some time listening to what people are going through and what they’re thinking about during the pandemic and beyond.
Since mid May the VFC has been working in partnership with Project Independence, an elderly day center in Middlebury, as part of our Listening in Place project, which seeks to document the everyday lives of Vermonters as they live through the extraordinary events of 2020. Project Independence serves over 100 participants with the goal of keeping elderly people independent and at home for longer. However after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was clear that they had to greatly adapt their in-person programming in order to keep their participants and staff safe. Project Independence transitioned to Zoom video calls, which required much technical support and providing people with new devices that would fit their needs. Now each day, participants can take part in a large array of activities online.
Between May 12 and August 5, one of these activities was to participate in an online interview with the VFC. We spoke with 22 different people, participants, staff and volunteers who shared their perspectives on life during Covid.
Having a conversation and recording online could be tricky and many times we heard the common refrain, “Can you hear me? Are you there?” But when technology cooperated the connection went deeper than just a clear internet signal. People shared about the impact of suddenly having to stay home (for some, visiting Project Independence was their only outing), missing family and friends, honest confessions of loneliness and powerful messages of resilience that perhaps only the perspective of age can allow. We hope you enjoy hearing some of these perspectives in this episode of VT Untapped™.
This podcast is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Please visit our website to learn more.
April 21, 2020
This special episode of VT Untapped shares three stories that were recorded during a “Virtual Story Circle” in early April during the Covid-19 pandemic. A Story Circle is a supported space where participants respect the testimony of others as each person is invited to speak about their own experience. In this case, people are speaking about their experience living in Vermont during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The VFC first used this model of group storytelling as a response to Tropical Storm Irene, finding that it offered a unique opportunity for individuals trying to process and understand a shared traumatic experience, both by talking about their own experience and listening deeply to the experiences of others. Although we can’t safely form in-person circles at this time, the widely available video conferencing platforms to which many of us have turned to stay connected can also connect us to share our experiences.
Just as each person’s experience of this time differs, every participant will relate their story in their own unique way. We hope that by bringing forth a multitude of perspectives in a group setting, participants and observers will encounter the broad scope of experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolds—and that will come to define our collective understanding of this period in time.
These Story Circles are part of the VFC’s Listening in Place project, developed in response to the pandemic. VFC will be holding Circles on an ongoing basis according to public interest. We have also developed a facilitator’s guide for community members wishing to host their own. Learn more at www.vtfolklife.org/listening
February 12, 2020
‘How did you meet?’ is probably one of the most common questions couples receive. In the spirit of Valentine’s day we’re sharing another round of these love stories recorded by VFC staff through interviews with friends and neighbors.
So what do we mean by “Meet Cute”? Well, the term refers to the conditions under which two potential partners meet—trust us, it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary. Last year in Episode 4 we shared three stories of Vermonters finding love, and this year we’ve got three new ones for you. It’s 2020 after all, so some folks meet on Tinder, some owe it to the Seven Days personals, and thank goodness, some still meet in a good, old fashioned, hipster coffee shop! Hear them all in this month’s episode!
We are slowly growing our “meet cute” collection and we have more stories than we could fit in the episode so be sure to check out this playlist to hear them all! Some are from earlier interviews and some more recent. All are pretty darn cute!
December 18, 2019
A guy walks into a bar and…starts singing? If that bar is Brattleboro’s McNeill’s Brewery and it’s the third Saturday of the month between 3-5 pm then the chances of this happening are pretty high.
That’s when the Brattleboro Pub Sing meets.
And in this episode of VT Untapped you get to come along!
The pub-sing or pub-session tradition originates in the British Isles. “The Pub” being a place where people gather as much to socialize with friends and family as to enjoy a local brew, the addition of music seems only natural. A pub-sing isn’t a performance, it’s more like a participatory grown-up sing along—think group karaoke only without a machine—and everyone is welcome. Popular repertoire tends to be songs with a call-and-response structure or with an easily repeated chorus so that the crowd can join in and ‘raise the rafters.’
Amanda Witman and Tony Barrand started the Brattleboro Pub Sing in 2011. Tony is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University and a prolific musician and performer. He’s best known for his musical collaboration with John Roberts in their duo “Roberts and Barrand,” who recorded ten albums together between 1971 and 2003. A longtime Brattleboro resident, Tony has been teaching English folk song for years through the Brattleboro Music Center and other local events. After several successful one-off pub sings at the BMC’s Northern Roots Festival, Amanda, a local folk song enthusiast, asked if Tony would help her make pub singing a regular occurrence.
To learn more about VT Untapped visit: www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/untapped
August 30, 2019
Hello Vermont Untapped listeners! It's time for a late-summer update.
The days are still (sort of) long, the sun is bright and we’ve been pretty darn busy here at the Vermont Folklife Center. Listen in for a short update on our doings (and to hear where to get the best cinnamon rolls in St. Johnsbury!)
We’re also taking a moment to let you know that our next full episode of VT Untapped will be released towards the end of September. Following that, we’ll release one more episode in late fall and then call season one of VT Untapped a wrap! We’ll kick off a whole new season in January 2020.
VT Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center.
June 28, 2019
VT Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center.
June is a month when we celebrate our fathers, so we would like to use this month's VT Untapped episode to show you Vermont through the eyes of a unique father and daughter team: Perkins Flint (1878-1969) and Katharine Flint DuClos (1907-2010).
Perkins Flint lived and farmed in Braintree, Vermont, in the late 19th and early 20th century. His great-great-great-grandfather, William Flint, was one of the first settlers of the town, and Perkins (or Perk, as many affectionately called him) grew up hearing his own father’s stories about the social and geographical landscape of the town. Years later, Perkins brought his daughter up on those same stories and continued to add his own to the growing collection. She interviewed him in the mid-60s and with help from her mother painstakingly wrote down many of the stories he told. When folklorist Greg Sharrow met her in 1974, he began to uncover her family’s unique place as keepers of the town’s history.
Perkins was struck with TB when Katharine was very young, and she had to learn essential skills for helping out on the farm, becoming his “right-hand man.” According to Katharine, most women in that day couldn’t hitch up a team or drive a Model T, but she did all of that and more.
May 25, 2019
This month on VT Untapped we take a trip to the “Retreat Meadows,” a flooded, marshy area at the convergence of the West and Connecticut rivers in Brattleboro, Vermont, that regularly freezes over in winter. It was on this icy plain that Vermont-based Colombian photographer Federico Pardo noticed a small village of rough, squarish structures spring up each season. These ice “shanties” intrigued him and he began documenting them in 2016.
The VFC became involved when Vision & Voice Gallery Curator Ned Castle met Federico and the project expanded to include a series of interviews with shanty owners. In these conversations, the fishers speak of their shanties as structures, remark on the amenities and people they house, detail the practice of ice fishing, and, directly and indirectly, reflect the relationships, connections, and community they reinvent each year at the Meadows.
Learn more about the Vermont Folklife Center here on our website.
April 26, 2019
Martha Pellerin was a musician, scholar, advocate, educator and song collector—to name just a few of her many roles. Her family immigrated to Vermont from the Eastern Townships of Quebec in the 1960s, settling in Barre. Growing up, Martha navigated a complicated landscape of culture and identity. While her family spoke French at home and maintained strong ties to Quebec, Martha also spent much of her life immersed in American culture and the English language.
Ultimately she found her calling, unifying these dual elements of herself and proudly identifying as a Franco-American. Martha worked her whole adult life to understand the nuances therein, to draw out, document and sustain the stories, songs and traditions of her family and community and to help others do the same. She was committed to “progressing the culture” of Franco-Americans in Vermont and beyond.
Martha died of cancer in 1998 at 37 years old - much too soon. In this episode we hear recordings of Martha from the VFC archives as well as interviews with her son, Ian Drury, and with Burlington-based musician Michele Choiniere, one of many Franco-American Vermonters whose life was touched by Martha.