The (Folk) Arts of the Holidays

Roxanne Locy, a TAUNY North Country Folkstore artist, shows seasonally-inspired works in her Rockhead Creations Studio (Canton, NY). Photo by Xiuke Wei. Courtesy of TAUNY Archives.

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Tasting the Seasons with TAUNY

During the 2020 summer strawberry season, TAUNY Kitchen Specialist Teresa Stone tried out a sumptuous strawberry shortcake in her kitchen at camp.

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The Art of Weddings: Mennonite traditions and more

Ruthann Roggie (Lowville, NY) shows Camilla Ammirati (TAUNY) and Rosanna Moser (AMHF) the dress she made for her 1962 wedding. Photo by Camilla Ammirati. Courtesy of TAUNY Archives.

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Little Theatre of Watertown staging the comedy “Squabbles”

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The cast from Squabbles rehearse a scene Tuesday at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Center.

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The cast from Squabbles rehearse a scene Tuesday at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Center.

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NNY crafters see opportunity in Etsy’s new definition of ‘handmade’

Thelma L. Hamilton of Watertown is a maker of painted ornaments who does about 20 percent of her business on Etsy, the online craft sales site. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

Thelma L. Hamilton of Watertown is a maker of painted ornaments who does about 20 percent of her business on Etsy, the online craft sales site. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

Etsy, the handmade and vintage e-commerce site that has nearly a million sellers of everything from wool scarves to soap, has struggled with its identity as a mecca for small-scale artisans for its nearly decade-long existence. The struggle was captured in a terms of a service policy that grew to 14,000 words in an attempt to enumerate all of the gray areas in what qualified as “handmade.” Then, in September, Etsy changed its guidelines, allowing sellers to hire help for production or shipping, and even to forge partnerships with manufacturers.

The change has generated some anxiety among artisans who want to preserve the site’s small-scale, human-driven provenance and raised fears that larger sellers would infiltrate, taking a cut of these crafters’ livelihood.

But many sellers, including a number of north country merchants, believe the changes will help creative businesses grow and will perhaps change little about the site, which is expected to exceed $1 billion in total annual transactions this year.

“I think if it’s handmade it’s not going to be an issue,” said Thelma L. Hamilton, who has been hand-crafting holiday ornaments from her Watertown home for more than 20 years. “We’re already competing with worldwide merchants.” [Read more…]

Music is their ‘agenda’: Inspired by loss of friend, musicians come together

Wagner’s Agenda performs during the 2013 KeithFest at Coyote Moon Vineyards, Clayton. The music festival is a benefit concert for Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician who died at the age of 33 in April 2010 and a friend of the members of Wagner’s Agenda. Now in its fourth year, KeithFest raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County. Courtesy Melody Brabant

Wagner’s Agenda performs during the 2013 KeithFest at Coyote Moon Vineyards, Clayton. The music festival is a benefit concert for Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician who died at the age of 33 in April 2010 and a friend of the members of Wagner’s Agenda. Now in its fourth year, KeithFest raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County. Courtesy Melody Brabant

In the past three years, rock band Wagner’s Agenda has made a rapid rise to fame in the north country, now a mainstay at such popular venues as O’Brien’s Restaurant, the John Hoover Inn and Time Warp, and a frequent face at benefit concerts, known for their energetic and lively performances.

The band formed after a benefit concert for friend Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician, shortly after his death at the age of 33 in April 2010. Wagner’s Agenda still performs at the summer benefit, now called KeithFest and in its fourth year, which raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County.

Wagner’s Agenda was originally composed of Ian Wagner, who left shortly after its inception and now plays acoustic guitar locally under the name Ian Wagner Unplugged, Robert Perkins, still the band’s guitar player and violinist, Tom Contino, Justin Reynolds and Gino Cappuccetti—all members of the jazz fusion band Queen August, through which Mr. Cappuccetti and Mr. Perkins have been playing together for about six years. [Read more…]

A sound all their own

Fred & the Eds perform at the Paddock Club, Watertown, while the crowd dances on a recent Friday night. The band has been playing for nearly 20 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

Fred & the Eds perform at the Paddock Club, Watertown, while the crowd dances on a recent Friday night. The band has been playing for nearly 20 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

North country favorite Fred & the Eds stands test of time [Read more…]

The music man: WHS music director Russell Faunce leads dynamic, successful program

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

It’s almost impossible not to smile in the presence of Russell J. “Russ” Faunce, director of music at Watertown High School and a stalwart of musical and theatrical productions both in the district and in the community for the past three decades. Maybe it’s because he himself seems to be perpetually smiling. Or that, even carrying a stack of Scantrons and a red pen through the music department on a recent Friday afternoon, he seems easy going and exudes his philosophy, with an encouraging yet serious demeanor: that, simply, with hard work and dedication, success will come.

And come it has to the students in his choirs, though Mr. Faunce himself is quick to self-deprecating laugh off almost every mention of his role in it. In his 32 years of teaching at the high school, he’s never not had a student make it to the New York State School Music Association All-State Conference for choir, the most prestigious and competitive competition for a high school band, chorus or orchestra student. Selection requires a near perfect score on the highest, most grueling level of NYSSMA solo — even three points below 100 usually doesn’t make the cut.

And it’s not just one student. In 2003, he sent a record eight. Last year, he sent four. [Read more…]

A quarter century of classical brilliance

Crane School  of Music professor Kenneth B. Andrews has conducted the Orchestra of Northern New York for all of its 25 year history. Courtesy ONNY

Crane School
of Music professor Kenneth B. Andrews has conducted the Orchestra of Northern New York for all of its 25 year history. Courtesy ONNY

ONNY maintains vibrancy after 25 years of performances [Read more…]

Preserving history’s high notes

Jill R. Breit, executive director for Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, with a CD of music titled “Songs to Keep.” The disc includes traditional Adirondack and north country folk music that Marjorie Lansing Porter collected and preserved played by contemporary Adirondack musicians. Photo by Jason Hunter/ NNY Living

TAUNY’s Porter project keeps north country folk songs alive [Read more…]