Over an average twelve-month period, the restaurant [Grand Central Oyster Bar] serves between fifty and seventy-five varieties of oysters. Each is somewhat different in appearance and taste, but nearly all are variants of the eastern oyster or Crassostrea virginica, the species native to the Atlantic and Gulf seaboards.

Bringing Old-Time Fiddling into the Twenty-First Century

The North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Museum is located in the township of Osceola, New York, in the Tug Hill region of northern New York. The hall of fame and museum was born along with its sister, the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association, in 1976…. My grandmother, Alice Clemens—three times New York State ladies’ fiddling champion—was a cofounder of the museum and association. She thought it was important to document not only the lives of the hall of fame inductees, but also the lives and music of other fiddlers. She also worried that some of the older fiddlers might soon pass away without teaching anyone the tunes they played.

From Central Park Rumba with Love

Central Park Rumba is an internationally known music event. I first heard about it in Mexico City in 1980, described in great detail by Cesar Sandoval, a drummer who had lived in New York and frequented the rumba circle in the 1970s …When traveling to Havana to visit my family in the 1990s, rumberos (rumba drummers) and other musicians asked me if I knew their rumba friends from Union City, the Bronx, and Central Park. I arrived at my first CP Rumba the second week of
September 1994, my first week living in the city. There in Central Park, I was told that rumba was addictive. I got hooked! I became a regular to the scene.

First Person

My name is Julissa Vale, a native New Yorker born of Puerto Rican emigrants. I do not remember a time in my life when the sound of music was not present. I was raised on Spanish ballads, salsa, and the Jíbaro music typical of rural Puerto Rico. During the holidays, bomba and plena were also played at home. The songs played in my household weren’t just from Puerto Rico, but from all over Latin America.

Voices in New York

Grupo Rebolú’s CD, Abriendo Caminos
(or Opening Roads), offers the listener 10
high energy tracks featuring the sounds of
Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast. Nine
of these tracks were written by the group’s
director, Ronald Polo, with arrangements
by co-director, Morris Cañate. Friends since
childhood, Ronald and Morris grew up together
in Barranquilla, Colombia, and first
met as youngsters enrolled in the Escuela
de Música de Barranquilla, Carlos Franco.

Low Bridge, Everybody Down!

Canal season may be over, but at The Erie Canal Museum in November 2012, the music of the Canal resounded in “Low Bridge, Everybody Down!: An Erie Canal Music Celebration.” The two-day public celebration, co-organized by The Erie Canal Museum and The New York Folklore Society, was the first-ever event devoted exclusively to an exploration of the rich musical heritage created, developed, and transmitted by means of the Erie Canal. Workshops, concerts, presentations, discussions, and displays provided activities that appealed to a wide variety of audiences.


Musicians love good instruments, and they love to play them for receptive people. Audiences love to be entertained and for the length of a performance, the musician,instrument, and audience share the same space. This is the story of some of those spaces.

A Banjo Story

Everyone listened intently to the words and the lovely trills and his earnest expressive demeanor. There was encouragement mid-song: “Good man, yourself.” “Good man, Paddy.” There was a circle of aunts and uncles and American visitors in attendance. A few others had songs that night. Aunt Peg, from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, offered The Wild Colonial Boy. But Paddy was the real singer, with a seemingly endless store of songs, most of which I had never heard. All the same, I was delighted and moved. We drank and listened and talked. I heard about cousins in Germany and uncles in the Bronx, and I tried to piece it all together and remember who was who. As my grandmother was one of thirteen, there were many people to discuss and to hear about.

A History of the Adirondack Pipes and Drums

It is recorded that the founders of the band wanted to pay tribute to the highlanders that fought in the area during the French and Indian War. The band sought permission from the appropriate officials of the British military in Canada to wear the Royal Stuart tartan for pipers and the Black Watch tartan for drummers. A charter was obtained for the organization from a local judge. Instruction in piping and drumming was arranged through members of the Schenectady Pipe Band.

From the Editor

What a blow to hear of
Peter Seeger’s death on
January 27, 2014 at the
age of 94.
I thought the man
would live forever.
What a champion of so
many causes over the
decades of his life, and
a master of weaving music into this activism.
I’m so glad to have joined recent
celebrations of his life’s work.

Remembering Pete Seeger 1919-2014

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of friend and longtime New York Folklore Society member Pete Seeger. Pete contributed in many ways to the conversations and discussions of the Society.

Voices in New York

Certain places grasp hold of hearts and imaginations of the people who live there. The cadence of language, the rhythms of daily life, the particular way the universal dramas of life, love, and death are played out in a place can lodge themselves under the skin, into the souls of a people. This intense experience of place is shared through the music of the Fraser family on their CD, Home of Our Hearts. For the Fraser family, two locations are “home”: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and the foothills of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

Raquel Z. Rivera

A portrait of an important Puerto
Rican traditional artist in New York City, Raquel
Z. Rivera, told in her own words—through a conversational
interview with folklorist Eileen Condon
and through excerpts from Raquel’s creative and
scholarly writing.

Voices in New York

This 2010 CD by the duo called Æ, comprised of Eva Salina Primack and Aurelia Shrenker, is a treasure of women’s voices…The 14 tracks feature Georgian, Albanian, Greek, and Ukrainian songs, with two old-time songs from this country, “Across the Blue Mountains,” and “Wind and Rain,” as well as a Corsican song.


Ned took to the sea as a teenager, first to Gulf
Coast ports, later to California, where he found
work as a caulker in San Francisco Bay shipyards
by day, moonlighting as a singer, accompanying
himself with the banjo. Eventually, and with
strong support from many maritime trades workers
there, he became a full-time entertainer. Back
in New York as a well-established performer,
Harrigan began to stretch vaudeville skits into
full-length plays. They were anything but static
pieces. He refined, added to, and reintroduced
them frequently.