Song #13: North River Song

North River

Well, I am sick of winter and ready for summer, or at least Spring.  How about you?

This week’s song is an ode to all things river-related and is another one from Piti Theatre’s mini-musical, “Olde Coleraine” about the town of Colrain in Western Massachusetts.  The little black and white drawing next to the song above is a sketch Godelieve Richard did of me performing in the show.

Here’s a blurb from  Piti Theatre’s Bandcamp page:

“The North River runs through Colrain, MA and is a tributary of the Deerfield River, joining the Deerfield just above Shelburne Falls at a spot known now as “Sunburn Beach.” In the 1800’s the North River was home to a variety of mills and around these mills were small villages where mill workers lived. Children were part of the labor force but these small communities within Olde Coleraine also had their own one room schoolhouses. ‘North River’ is part of the musical “Olde Coleraine” that was originally developed for Suzanne Taylor’s 3rd grade class at Colrain Central School. This residency led to a full production for the public at Piti Theatre’s 7th Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Art Festival in 2016 featuring local actors and young people. These efforts were made possible by the Mass Cultural Council STARS program and Mass Humanities.”

I can’t wait to go swimming!

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North River Song
Words by Jonathan Mirin, Music by Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson; Bass: Tommy Byrnes
Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go swimmin’
yeah
down in the North River
five nice spots to choose from
that’s just countin’ the close ones
still mighty cold when you’re not in the sun

It’s been a long winter
down in Adamsville
and it’s been a long winter
out in Lyonsville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s go fishin’
yeah
down in the North River
four nice spots to choose from
we can go when work is all done
when we’ve caught enough we let’em run

It’s been a long winter
up in Gimletville
and it’s been a long winter
down in Shattuckville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go picnicin’ yeah
down by the North River
three nice spots to choose from
pack bread and apple pie thick as your thumb
watch the birds come and eat our crumbs

It’s been a long winter
down at Elm Grove
and it’s been a long winter
huddled round the stove

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go crossin’
yeah
let’s cross the rivers
two rivers to choose from
the North and West Branch are the ones
build enough bridges to get things done

It’s been a long winter
at Taylor Brook
when the wind blew
those sawmills shook

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s get on the trolley
yeah
down by the North River
we’ve only one track to choose from
keep the windows open and sit with your chum
listen to your heart beat like a drum

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(another day at the mill)
Down by the river
(we can drink our fill)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(we’ll swim every day)
Down by the river
(we’ll fish our way)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(Down from the ridge)
Down by the river
(across the covered bridge)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(no need for a boat)
Down by the river
(let yourself float )
Down by the river

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont Hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Song #12: The Electric Road

trolley sized

Song # 12:  Electric Road

Hey, did you know there used to be an electric trolley running between the towns of Colrain and Shelburne Falls in Western Massachusetts?

The Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway operated from late 1896 to late 1927 and carried freight and passengers through what was known as “Colrain City” down to Foundry Village, Griswoldville, Lyonsville, Adamsville, Shattuckville, Elm Groove and other hamlets before reaching Shelburne Falls.  At the South end of the 7 mile line, at the Buckland station across the Deerfield River from Shelburne Falls, you could connect with the Boston and Maine Railroad and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

“In 1927, faced with mounting debt, the SF&C ceased operation and was sold at foreclosure. The line was scrapped in 1928. The only surviving equipment of the SF&C is the 32’9” eight-wheel Combination Baggage-Passenger car #10, manufactured by the Wason company of Springfield, MA in 1896. The car has been fully restored to operating condition and today resides at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum at the site of the old Buckland depot where it is used for recreational rides in the same freight yard where passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight were loaded and unloaded one hundred years ago.”  (Wikipedia)

I didn’t know about any of this until Piti Theatre was hired a few years ago to do a residency with the 3rd graders at Colrain Central School.  Working with a local Colrain historian, Piti Director Jonathan Mirin wrote a beautiful mini-musical about Colrain history featuring songs about the trolley, the local rivers, and children working in the mills.

For more information about Colrain’s “Electric Road” and the rural landscape/society it ran through, check out this interesting article in the Greenfield Recorder.

That must have been one gorgeous train ride!

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Electric Road by Jon Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music Services
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Music Studio

Hey hey look at them go
They’re gonna make an electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Trolley’s gonna carry all of our loads

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road