New Sumner McKane project
shows Maine in early 1900s

FARMINGTON — “The Northeast By Eastern,” a documentary by Sumner McKane that combines film, history and live music to illustrate life from a simpler, more patient, yet enterprising American era, will come to the North Church, 7 p.m., Saturday, March 4. 

For years, Belfast-based Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company sent traveling photographer-salesmen on the roads all over New England and beyond with cameras, catalogues and order books, seeking buyers and markets for their unique “real photo” postcards. “The Northeast by Eastern” combines Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company’s comprehensive collection of early 20th- century photographs with archival film footage, interviews, oral histories, a musical soundtrack featuring period music, as well as an original score by McKane.

Combined, these stories and images illustrate an era unlike any other in American history. Interviews and oral histories not only detail the history of the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., and the postcard craze of the early 1900s, but also divulge stories from a quieter, simpler, yet stirring and enterprising time period. The audience hears first-hand accounts of smuggling during prohibition, of river drivers brawling for fun, of growing up without worry and without constant adult supervision, and of slop buckets spilling on tourists’ pies. These accounts are woven together amid an exceptional backdrop of archived films and Eastern Illustrating’s work. 

Sumner McKane is a filmmaker, composer and musician based in Wiscasset. He records instrumental music, film scores and music for media. He produces historical documentaries along with companion live presentations to his films. In a few short years, he has built a reputation for innovative historical storytelling using multimedia, combining various mediums to tell a historical story in a live setting.

McKane studied photography in Missoula, Montana, at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and the University of Montana. He graduated from the University of Southern Maine with high honors in history. His music is often featured on NPR’s “Echoes” program, and he is a recent Maine Arts Commission Performing Arts and Media Fellow award recipient. 

“The Northeast By Eastern” is his third historical documentary film project, following “The Maine Frontier” (2014) and “In The Blood “(2010). McKane is accompanied by Josh Robbins on bass guitar. Robbins is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter and has recorded and performed with McKane in arts venues, theaters, historical societies, schools and other venues throughout New England for over a decade.

This is the 2017 debut show for the Farmington Historical Society which has collaborated with New England Celtic Arts to bring a variety of entertainment to Franklin County. The North Church is located at 118 High St. in downtown Farmington.

The show is preceded by a “pie social” beginning at 6 p.m. in the church meeting hall. Pies and other refreshments home-baked by members, and coffee, are made available to attendees before the show and at intermission. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for upper-grade students and free for elementary students. Reservations are available by calling 778-2006.

post card
An undated photo of Broadway in downtown Farmington. The pine tree on the left still stands next to what is now the State Theatre building and SugarWood Gallery now occupies what was once an auto dealership, complete with gas pump, on the right

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