December 21, 2013

Rome songwriter fights fading accent of Maine-ahs

Ayuh, Maine’s accent is disappearing, but songwriter Stan Keach, with help from Hallowell musician Larry Morissette, is bringing Maine-grown music to area schools.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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MAINE SINGS: Hall-Dale High School choral students rehearse songs by Stan Keach, of Rome, during a recent class. The two songs by Keach feature Maine icons Donn Fendler and Bean Boots by LL Bean.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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WICKED GOOD: Larry Morissette, right, directs choral students at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale as Stan Keach, center, of Rome, records the group singing his songs.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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The song ends with a blueprint to a business.

“I’ll save up my money when I get my pay — borrow some more for a skidder some day; Then I’ll be the boss, and I’ll hire me a crew — Haulin’ out pulpwood, and hardwood too.”

Nestor pointed to research that found children with a strong arts education were more likely to become inventors, scientists and researchers.

Decisions about what parts of Maine’s history should be taught, in music class or elsewhere, are generally made on a local level, Nestor said.

Some school board members and teachers might be enthusiastic about a new way to incorporate Maine-specific songs into the curriculum, and others might pass it over in favor of something else, she said.

Final notes

Stan Keach isn’t thinking much about whether his music will change arts education or reverse the ongoing fading of the Yankee accent. For now, he and Morissette still are pursuing their first sale.

Selling music to local public schools might be gratifying, but it isn’t a way to get rich quick.

Songs typically sell for about $2 or $3 per copy, with one copy purchased for each member of a class that probably has no more than 50 members.

Before the first sale, however, the songs had to be transformed from their original bluegrass versions.

“We do what we do by ear,” Keach said. “The harmonies are close. The instrumentation is bluegrassy.”

Morissette formalized the music, replacing a lead vocalist with different leading parts for altos and other vocal parts. He also introduced a piano accompaniment, a nod to the type of instrument most often used in the chorus room.

Deb Large, the music director at Hall-Dale, said she’s heard the modified songs, but hasn’t sat down to evaluate them seriously for possible inclusion in next year’s programs. In these days of tight school budgets, it can be tough to find money to buy music some years, she said.

However, she said she did see the benefits of having her students work with the musical duo.

“It helps kids see, and say ‘I could do that,’” she said.

In order to produce an income from his songwriting, Keach also has written songs that will have an appeal beyond the state. He hopes to market the songs, based on universal student experiences such as homework and detention, to national music publishers.

He noted that the best way for him to support his local music efforts is to sell his songs to people from away.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt
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Additional Photos

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SONG TRIBUTE: Musicians Julie Churchill, left, and Stan and Liz Keach before singing Stan’s song about Maine icon Donn Fendler, who was famously lost on Mount Katahdin as a child.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

CONNECTED TO CULTURE: Larry Morissette directs choral students at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. The singers were rehearsing two songs that were composed by Stan Keach, of Rome, and feature two Maine icons, Donn Fendler and Bean Boots by LL Bean.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy


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