Folk fixture Shaw enjoying new role running Adirondack school

Christopher Shaw may be embarking on a new chapter in his life, but that doesn’t mean that his caree

Christopher Shaw may be embarking on a new chapter in his life, but that doesn’t mean that his career as a performer is over.

The Adirondack singer, songwriter and storyteller was recently named executive director of the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne. Opened in June 2010, the school’s mission is to preserve the arts, crafts and culture of the Adirondacks.

“I’m not going to stop performing, but I am going to try to stay out of airports,” said Shaw, a Lake George native who has performed all over the country as a folk musician and also toured with Taylor Guitars for more than a decade as a clinician demonstrating American folk and country-style guitar. “I have two boys, 17 and 14, and they’ll be out the door quicker than a blink of the eye. This will afford me the opportunity to stay in the medium I love, but I will be able to spend a lot less time on the road.”

Created by James Mandle, a New Jersey native who spent his summers in Lake Luzerne, the Adirondack Folk School has grown dramatically in just two summers, and offers classes in everything from Adirondack music — Shaw’s specialty — to blacksmithing, toboggan-making and numerous other crafts. The school is housed in the former Lake Luzerne Town Hall at 51 Main St.

“I’m going to put a face on this organization, and I’m going out to find a lot of like-minded people who have similar interests in the Adirondacks,” said Shaw, who succeeds Sandy Sherman, who resigned in May 2011. “We’ve already reached out to local colleges and other groups and have been getting some wonderful initial response. We’re going to have over 200 classes this year. This was a great idea that really caught on, and now we’re continuing to grow.”

“Chris was the best candidate for the job,” said Mandle. “He’s the guy we were looking for to follow our mission and take the school to the next level. He’s a great guy to get out in front of people and talk about what’s important to the school. We’re very excited he’s with us.”

The Adirondack Folk School has more than 75 paid part-time instructors conducting their classes, and that number will continue to increase, according to Shaw. As for employees, Shaw holds one of three full-time positions at the school.

“Our volunteers are really the backbone of this place,” said Shaw. “They are our heroes, and they’re constantly bailing us out.”

Shaw’s musical talents have put him at such venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Chautauqua Institute, as well as various music halls and coffee houses around the U.S. and Europe. He has also worked for public television and was the voice of Seneca Ray Stoddard in the PBS special “Seneca Ray Stoddard: An American Original.” He lives in Averill Park with his wife, singer/songwriter Bridget Ball, and their boys.

While Shaw began his new job on Feb. 16, he has worked closely with Mandle since the school’s inception.

“Jim invited me to attend a 50-50 thing that first summer; 50 artists from a 50-mile radius,” said Shaw. “By the time it was done, it turned out to be a 100-100 thing, with 100 artists showing up. Then in November he asked me about helping him put together a musical benefit for the middle of the summer, and during the course of that conversation he said, ‘You know, we need an executive director.’ ”

Categories: Life and Arts

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