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The Good Natured Man: Ransom releases 12th album

Apr 27, 2023Apr 27, 2023

Staff Writer

The album cover for "The Good Natured Man" by Stan Ransom.

PLATTSBURGH — "The Good Natured Man" is the 12th and final CD of Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler.

The 15-track album features 36 instrumental hammered dulcimer tunes, old and new.

"I wanted to make this album because I had thought one more album was all I was going to be able to do because CDs are going out of style, unfortunately," Ransom, a Plattsburgh resident, said.

"But I wanted to get into print and make it useful a few things that I thought I was important for other hammered dulcimer, mandolin or folk musician people to know about."

The CD is available at Bookburg Books in Champlain Centre or from the artist.

Track 1 is a double dose of "Roslyn Castle/Backside Albany."

The former was War of 1812 sonics, and it was composed by the Scottish composer, Richard Hewitt in 1746, according to the liner notes. It was later adopted by the British Army as a tune to play at funerals and sad occasions,where it was known as "Roslyn Castle Dead March."

In the September 11, 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh, British Capt. George Downie was killed and buried in Riverside Cemetery with Fifer Nicholas Stoner playing the march.

In 1981, Ransom was the director of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library Systems and was doing programming for various groups and individuals.

"I got a grant to hire a teacher of hammered dulcimer," he said.

"The first person I selected, who now is a very famous person, called John McCutcheon from Georgia. He came up and not only did he teach a group of us at C-E-F Library Systems meeting room where 12 of us met.

"He told us to be sure and play a tune called ‘Backside Albany.’ Backside Albany, he said, came from a 1919 Sears Roebuck catalog in which not only were hammered dulcimers shown to be played and purchased, they gave historic tunes of which ‘Backside Albany’ turned out to be the most important tune of the Battle of Plattsburgh. I included that.

"That was the first Black minstrel tune, by the way. I put information in the CD, words that came along with it to tell about it.

"I wanted local people to use it for the Battle of Plattsburgh celebration if they could."

Track 2, the title track, "The Good Natured Man," is a hornpipe composed by Scottish fiddler James Hall.

Track 3 is a medley of "British Grenadiers/Scotland the Brave/King George's March, all traditional songs played in 1812 by British soldiers.

"The first four tunes are connected to the Battle of Plattsburgh," Ransom said.

"The others are songs that are not well or tunes that are not necessarily well known but are those I thought would be useful for beginning hammered dulcimer or mandolin players or also anyone that was interested in that type of music."

Track 4, "New Rigged Ship/Devil Among the Taylors (Devil's Dream)" are traditional tunes from England.

Track 5, "Money Musk/Haste to the Wedding/Mason's Apron" are tunes from America.

Track 6, "Nancy Dawson/Flowers of Edinburgh/White Cockade" are 18th century tunes.

Track 7, "Kate of Colerain/Kitty Tyrell/Lovely Nancy" are tunes of 1813.

"A lot of tunes go back to the British and other persons playing in the 1600s and 1700s, for the most part, the times of our early history, all the way up to the present-day," Ransom said.

Track 8, "Ripsaw."

"Some are by local musicians that people know who are no longer here because they are deceased like ‘Whipsaw’ by Vic Kibbler, who was a famous fiddler here," he said.

Track 8 also features Ransom's compositions, "Cold Frosty Morning/Adirondack Cascade."

Track 9, "Adirondack Waltz" is also by him.

Track 10, features three jigs, "Rippling Waters/Tuggerman's Jig/Bride of the Winds."

Track 11, "Lake Champlain Waltz/Ransom's Waltz" is by Henry Ransom, Nunda, NY and dates to 1860.

"Other things like Larry O’Gaff and Johnson Pond (Track 12) all came from the southern part of our area of New York State," he said.

Track 12 also features "Irishtown Breakdown" by D. Berrgren.

"I have the City of Plattsburgh March (Track 13)," Ransom said.

Track 14, "Jenny Lind Polka/Old Molly Hare/Beaux of Oak Hill" are from William Sydney Mount.

"I have Long Island tunes including (Track 15, Rustic Reel), Lady Walpole's Reel, Lord McDonald's Reel," he said.

"Those were played in Long Island.

"It's just generally from all over. Tunes that I like, that I like to play, and I thought other musicians would appreciate it."


Ransom heard musician Rod Driscoll, of Too Tall String Band fame, play hammered dulcimer in 1979 and 1980.

"He made them, and in 1980 in the spring, I purchased for $450 his smaller hammered dulcimer. I had trouble finding out how to hit the strings, but I worked at it all one weekend until I got down the technique. After that, I looked everywhere for tunes."

After Driscoll and McCutcheon, Ransom's next instructor was the late Paul Van Arsdale (1920-2018), a very important hammered dulcimer player from North Tonawanda, NY. He learned to play from his grandfather, Jesse R. Martin (1854-1939).

"He came to North Country Community College," Ransom said.

"Dr. Heller set up a week-long music program with getting people in to teach local music. Paul Van Arsdale came and taught us all to play many different tunes. He was a person who was an unusual player. He was a machinist, and so he made his own hammered dulcimers."

Ransom thanked him at the end of the week and gave him a bottle of sherry.

"He said, ‘I will give you a set of my hammered dulcimers,’’" he said.

"So I have, probably, one of the few hammered dulcimer sets that Paul Van Arsdale made out a pair of hacksaw blades, which he cut down into little wooden blocks on the end. This would be a very important thing to have, and it's a wonderful gift from him."

Next, Ransom attended the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium for 25 years at Blue Mountain Lake Inn.

"In the summertime, we all gathered at Blue Mountain Lake Inn for music all kinds including hammered dulcimer, lap dulcimer, fiddle, and everything else. I attended faithfully for those for about 25 years. and I still keep it up."


The dulcimer is referenced in Bible verses.

"’Bring your dulcimers and other things to sing and play,’" Ransom said.

"It was a very popular instrument in most countries. For instance in the 14th century, I have pictures that show young women in the courts of King Louis of France in the 1400s were playing hammered dulcimers. Every place seems to have a hammered dulcimer, the Irish, the British. They are called different things in different countries. There are a lot of different types of hammered dulcimers."

Ransom, 95, makes regular appearances at First Fridays in Plattsburgh in front of Cornerstone Bookshop during the summer times and the Battle of Plattsburgh in September.

"Usually Peter Cadieux and I team up and play the songs of the Battle of Plattsburgh and tunes on the hammered dulcimer," he said.

"Any time I can get a chance, I would like to perform."

Email: [email protected]


WHAT: The Good Natured Man by Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler

AVAILABILITY: Bookburg Books, Champlain Centre, 60 Smithfield Blvd. or Stan Ransom, The Connecticut Peddler, 35 Iowa St. Plattsburgh.

COST: $15 plus $1.20 tax.

PHONE: 518-563-5719

EMAIL: [email protected]

Staff Writer

Robin Caudell was born and raised on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College.She has worked at the Press-Republican since 1990

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