MacKay to be honored at this year’s Orient song swap

COURTESY PHOTO | Anne MacKay served as president of Oysterponds Community Activities.

Anyone who knew Anne MacKay knew she was a woman of action. Into her 80s Ms. MacKay wrote books of poetry, sailed, gardened, directed theater, served as president of Oysterponds Community Activities and even made her own instruments. Though she passed away last April at the age of 84, her presence can still be felt in her Orient community.

Her passion for music inspired the annual song swap at Poquatuck Hall. This year’s event is dedicated to Ms. MacKay, who co-organized the event with local musician and fellow community activist Gideon D’Arcangelo.

The program got its start in 2009 as a fundraiser for the hall’s upkeep and the OCA fund. Organizing the first song swap was a challenge, Mr. D’Arcangelo recalled.

“I was relatively new to the community and didn’t know many people,” he said. “When I first proposed the idea to the Oysterponds Community Activities board they told me I had to talk to Anne MacKay. There wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation. They said, ‘You have to talk to Anne because that’s what Anne’s all about.’ ”

When formulating the idea for the song swap the two became fast friends, bonding over their shared love of music. “She was a very strong woman and I was so happy to get to know her,” Mr. D’Arcangelo said. He described Ms. MacKay as a “wealth of knowledge.”

“She went down to the Greenport library to pick up a book on how to build instruments and taught herself how to make a dulcimer,” Mr. D’Arcangelo said.

Now in its fourth year, the song swap was set up to create a home for area musicians to share songs and stories with friends and neighbors.

“What I love about Orient is the strong close-knit community,” Mr. D’Arcangelo said. “Song swap is just part of that knitting. It brings the community together through music. It’s a very warm, welcoming evening.”

A singer and guitarist himself, Mr. D’Arcangelo began his music career more than 20 years ago under the guidance of famous music folklorist Alan Lomax. During their friendship, Ms. MacKay and Mr. D’Arcangelo collaborated on many community events, including the sea shanties program for the Oysterponds Historical Society. In her honor, Mr. D’Arcangelo will perform songs from that program during this year’s song swap.

Most of the musicians who participated last year will be back, and the program welcomes performers of all skill levels. Veteran singer-songwriter Nancy Baxter and fi ddler Helen Hooke are in the lineup along with several of the North Fork’s next generation of musicians, including 10-year-old Anna Claude Manning and 11-year-old Gideon Burnes Heath.

Ms. MacKay’s relatives Mary Dorman and Andy Dorman will also be taking the stage along with many others.

The fourth annual Anne MacKay Song Swap will take place at Poquatuck Hall, 1160 Skipper’s Lane in Orient, on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 at the door. Baked goods will be offered for sale.

All proceeds will go to Oysterponds Community Activities to maintain the historic hall. Audience members are invited to sing along or just sit back and enjoy the show.

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