This weekend Chris and I played music for two days at a Civil War re-enactment, the Battle of Leatherwood. Roy Tackett, who often plays these events with his group Rich and the Poor Folks, needed some help because the other band members had schedule conflicts. So he asked Ron Short, who in turn invited us.
Both Ron and Roy had lots of period gear for us to wear, so we made sure that our pants and boots weren’t inappropriate and selected hats and shirts and vests from their collection. I should have thought to take a camera but didn’t.
Roy set up a 10×10 awning tent in the vendors area, and during the day Saturday and Sunday we were either playing there, or we would cross a swinging bridge to the field where the battle would be re-enacted to play for folks wandering around there. And Saturday night we provided the music for the ball, where a caller instructed the dancers in some reels, square dances, and such.
I’d never seen a re-enactment before, and can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into staging such an event, but it sure was a lot of fun to be part of the result. The participants are very serious about being true to the period, and so for a couple of days we got a small taste of what it must have been like to live in the mid-nineteenth century. The clothing in particular is authentic, and it was instructive to study what folks wore and think about why it was the way it was.
Part of the delight for us is that as a duo Chris and I don’t get to play much old-time instrumental music, sticking with songs because we really need the harmony singing to fill out our sound. But with Ron on fiddle and Roy on guitar, Chris was able to focus on his banjo playing, something he truly excels at. And it was a special treat to spend the day playing old-time music with Ron, who is unusual in that circle because he knows the words to many of those songs and doesn’t hesitate to sing them.
I don’t know how regularly the four of us will play as a band, but I hope it happens a few more times. We sounded pretty good in general, and there were a couple of songs in particular where I thought we created the sort of old-time groove that was a specialty of the late, lamented Reeltime Travelers. A groove that I think the listeners were responding to.