The lives of lumbermen like these will be told in the documentary-exhibit “In the Blood” at the Criterion Theatre on May 14. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMNER MCKANE

‘In the Blood’ tells story of lumberjacks

BAR HARBOR — The lives of 19th-century Maine lumbermen will be recreated in the documentary-exhibit “In the Blood” at the Criterion Theatre on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. The show will play in two acts with an intermission.

This project, by Maine musician Sumner McKane, combines the projection of archived film and photography with oral histories and a live musical soundtrack. The audience is taken into the rugged environment of untouched forest, into the camp, onto the haul roads, landings and yards, rivers and lakes.

“Many Maine towns owe a lot of their existence to these guys,” said McKane, the project founder and performing guitarist. “Their character, their skills and their integrity made the whole system work. Their way of life has gone by the wayside, but that character also seems to be dwindling, where work came first along with a sense of self-responsibility.”

For over three years, McKane combed libraries, museums, historical societies and archives to handpick the film and photos. McKane’s project provides a unique virtual journey into the lives of the original Maine lumberjacks and explores the rich history and lasting cultural impact of logging in Maine.

The musical score for “In The Blood” was composed to reflect the moods and environment of the films, photos and stories displayed onscreen. Based on McKane’s brand of ambient-Americana, the score blends melodic electric guitar and bass with textured sequences and manipulated loops of percussion. The background loops are made almost entirely of recorded logging sounds, from the trees creaking to the logs rolling.

The Criterion Theatre is a newly restored, nonprofit venue dedicated to preserving this historic space for artists, musicians, performers and audiences. Recently reopened, the Criterion has hosted first run Hollywood films, live theater, music, dance and children’s programming. Visit

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