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Meet the Masters: Return to Masters Homepage
Bill Smith, Basketmaker & Storyteller, Colton

The vanishing of old ways in the North Country. Watch (QuickTime video 1:20)

Some of the fine points of weaving a pack basket. Watch (QuickTime video 1:43)

On growing up lonesome. Listen (Real 1:10)

Bill tells the one about... Listen (Real 4:28)

Family variation of the old ballad, Go Tell Aunt Rhody. Listen (Real 3:13)

Bill Smith was the subject of this May 1, 2000 profile jointly produced for radio by Traditional Arts in Upstate New York and North Country Public Radio. Listen (Real 6:44)

BILL SMITH of Colton is widely known throughout the Adirondacks and beyond as a master of many traditional arts of the region. As a boy, Bill was fascinated by the ash splint basket making of Mohawk men who camped in the woods behind his family's house on their way to work in the lumberwoods. Twenty years ago he took up basket making himself.

In recent years he has also been performing for a variety of audiences with a wide repertoire of stories and songs about local life. At home he learned stories of woodsmen and the woods from his logger father and songs and poems from his mother.

He has concentrated on retelling traditional stories and creating new ones. He has been written about in numerous articles and books, including his own 1994 collection of stories called Tales from the Featherbed and has produced six cassette recordings of his stories and songs.

Return to Masters Homepage

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