Long-lost Maine music recordings reveal voices from the past

PORTLAND, Maine — It took Matt Shipman the better part of two years to produce his senior thesis at Vermont College before he graduated in 2003 with a self-designed degree in traditional folk music.

For his project, Shipman found and recorded interviews with traditional players in Maine, North Carolina and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Inspired by field-recording music collectors of the past, he wanted to identify song connections between the geographically disparate East Coast musicians.

Those musical threads never quite materialized, however.

But Shipman did have life-changing adventures while interviewing and jamming with the old timers. They helped set the path for the rest of his musical life, including his work with Celtic-tinged ensemble Josephine County and Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection.

Shipman got a good grade on the project, too.