Mudcat Café message #996537 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60711   Message #996537
Posted By: Uncle Jaque
04-Aug-03 - 12:36 PM
Thread Name: Music of US Civil War & Irish Immigrants
Subject: RE: Music of US Civil War & Irish Immigrants
Just FYI; in another unrelated thread on an upcoming Chany Sing in Portsmouth, NH,:
Shanty Sing @ Press Room Thread

We sort of drifted off topic into a discussion of the Irish Potato famine and immigration to "AmeriKay".

I have found some historical evidence of the U.S Navy running a British blockade in order to get relief aid to the Irish sometime in the 1840's, and I'd like to get some input from others who know a lot more about this part of History than I do.

It would probably be approprite to bring the discussion right on over here if anyone wants to pursue it.

That sounds like a top-rate production you've got there, Jed! It would fit right in with a program coming up next weekend up here in Brunswick, Maine - "Chamberlain Days" in honor of the reknown Commander of the 20th Maine at Little Round Top in Gettysburg, who went on to become a General, President of Bowdoin College, and Governor of Maine for a spell.

A statue of his likeness was recently erected on the Campus of Bowdoin College in Brusnswick near the building which used to be his home for a number of years, now being restored and opened as a Museum by the Pejebscott Historical Society.

Several years ago, the Maine Summer Theater - which is made up of Broadway Performers and Apprentices Summering in Maine - put on a Musical about the life of Joshua Lawrence, titled, appropriately enough, "Chamberlain".

I was asked to provide period music, in uniform of course, for a reception on Campus before the opening, at which Jeff Daniels who had recently starred in the epic movie "Gettysburg" was in attendance.
He seemed like a genuinely decent chap, actually.

As recompence, I was sold two tickets to the show for the price of one, not to mention all the little hore de'vours I could scoop into my haversack! It was not a particularlly lucrative gig, but the foraging was prime - and it was a lot of fun!

"A MUSICAL about the CIVIL WAR???!!" I mused, incredulous over the seeming paradox of the concept, imagining Federal Infantry in pink tuttus and ballet-slipper brogans flitting around a stage singing arias in high alto voices with lots of roullades, feigning a bayonet charge down Little Round Top. But it seemed so ludicrous that I figured it ought to be good for a laugh or two if nothing else, and besides, it had been a while since I had taken "Aunt Mahtha" out to the Theater - so to the Theater we went... out of curiosity for the most part.

Well, Mister; I'll have you know we were in for a big surprise, and an unexpected treat as well!

The show was phenomenal!

The songs had been composed just for the show, and some of them were just beautiful. And the rest wern't all that bad, either. The dramatic effects were very powerful, as when they had vignettes of the "Soldier" (often Chamberlain) sitting in camp reading a letter from a loved one at home (like his Wife "Fanny"), and the spotlight would slowly open on the figure of the sender standing behind him who would take up the narration of the "letter" as the "Reader" faded off.


I'd like to see that done to the poingient letter from Major Sullivan Ballou (which turned out to be his last, as he was killed at the Battle of 1st Bull Run a week later) to his Wife Sarah, as featured on the Ken Burns Series, with someone softly playing "Ashokan Farewell" in the background.

Yeah; I know the tune is "Farby" - but it has, thanks to Burns, taken on an association with the CW to the point that many Americans seem to relate it to the conflict more than "Dixie" or "Battle Hymn".
It's one of the most often requested "Civil War Songs" we get up this way when performing period music.

And it sure is pretty, ain't it?

Since when we are "in carachter" it is about a Century before Jay UNGAR is even to be born, so "I've never heard of it; Sorry Ma'am." has to suffice.
I really ought to learn it though, I suppose, and have sort of worked out the beginnings of an arrangement of it that uses BALLOU's letter as a lyrical theme. It's got potential.

That event out on Erie Canal sounds like a jolly good time - and we understand that Maeistro Minstrel BanjoSmith George WUNDER is going to be presenting there as well - now that alone will be worth the price of admission to anyone interested in the music and musical instruments of the ACW period.

A while ago he was looking into the reproduction of period "Parlor Guitars" which, if they are nearly as good as his banjos, should be quite the item. Does anyone know how he is coming with those? I havn't heard from George in a coon's age.