Thursday, May 21, 2009

Music of the Civil War

As a musician, I have a keen appreciation for music of all genres, but I truly love music that originated from The War Between the States. I know my family thinks I'm crazy when I drive around listening to Civil War music in my car. In fact, my youngest son has told me so!

My favorite band is the 2nd South Carolina String Band. These guys are amazing, talented individuals who play at reenactments and put on concerts in and around Virginia. I met them last summer at the annual Battle of Gettysburg reenactment. They are so open that it seems anyone they meet likely becomes their friend for life. Even though these men are actually "Yankees," their songs center around the Confederacy. They met as reenactors, and discovered their musical talents while sitting around the campsite.

Another well-known Civil War artist is Bobby Horton. I was unfamiliar with him until recently, when I discovered that I'd listened to his music many times, albeit subconsciously. He participated in Ken Burns' Civil War documentary soundtrack, and I think his instrumental work is second to none.

There are many other Civil War era performers out there, and the challenge is finding an opportunity to see them perform live. They range from fiddle players to banjo pickers to hammer dulcimer players, and the music, even with arrangement changes, is as good today as it was way back when. It is the foundation of our modern day folk and bluegrass music, and I for one have a deep, affectionate reverence for it. Some songs are so stirring that they bring tears to your eyes. It's wonderful, too, how soldiers back then, experiencing the horrors they did, still found a way to hold onto their sense of humor (i.e. Goober Peas and The Invalid Corp) I would love having the opportunity to play these songs with talented musicians in an authentic setting. Maybe someday, I will.

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