This is a traditional Irish folk tune from the mid-nineteenth century. The song is sung from the point of view of a young man who chances to meet a charming lady by the name of Rosie McCann, referred to as the “star of the County Down.” From the brief encounter the writer’s infatuation grows until, by the end of the ballad, he imagines wedding the girl. Charles Johnston, a former band director from Monroe Louisiana, and member of the 2nd Louisiana String Band, arranged it for Civil War era brass band. 1st Nebraska’s performance is from the Iowa Municipal Band Festival on July 11, 2015.
This version is based on two authentic Civil War band arrangements. We took some liberties with a couple of the interludes. Recorded live at the Iowa Municipal Band Festival in Boone, IA, on Saturday, July 11, 2015.
“Johnny” was written and published in New Orleans in 1863 by Patrick S. Gilmore, Bandmaster of the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Originally attributed to Louis Lambert (a pen name of Gilmore) and based on a traditional Irish tune (Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye). the song quickly became popular with war weary civilians and soldiers alike. It regained popularity during the Spanish-American War in 1898.
On a very hot Sunday morning, 1st Nebraska played a concert of authentic Civil War era music the in Chautauqua Tent of the John C Fremont Days Festival. It seems that the weather is always above 90 degrees for the annual festival in Fremont, NE.
Several regular players could not perform because the time for our concert had been shifted to the morning. Another player was in the hospital undergoing emergency gall bladder surgery. We wish her a speedy recovery. Fortunately, we had lead parts covered on all instruments, and the band still sounded great!
Prior to our performance we met Major General John C. Fremont and he paused for some photos with the band. As you might expect, the city is named after the “Pathfinder” who, along with Kit Carson, explored much of the western territories.
The original 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry Regiment was assigned to Gen. Fremont’s command for its first engagements in Missouri. There they first met and served under future General of the Armies and President, Ulysses S. Grant.
We enjoyed performing at the festival this morning, but are glad to be resting in our air conditioned homes this afternoon.
The 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band next performs in Omaha for the Vintage Auto Show at the Douglas County Historical Society on Sunday, August 16, at 11:30 AM.
On Thursday, July 9, 2015, 1st Nebraska appeared in concert in Columbus, NE. We helped rededicate the town’s 115 year old Civil War monument, and played a concert in Frankfort Square before a large and appreciative audience. The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, temperature about 80 degrees with a light breeze and low humidity.
Assisting in the monument rededication were members of the Sons of the Union Veterans who provided an honor guard and firing party for three musket volleys. Also participating was the granddaughter of the main speaker at the original monument dedication in 1900. For the ceremony the band performed “The Star Spangled Banner” and E-flat Cornetist Richard Cunningham played “Taps.”
The original monument was damaged in the large hail storm of 2013 and required new granite to restore the obelisk as well as a newly crafted eagle to mount atop the structure.
1st Nebraska also played a one-hour concert that included patriotic songs of both the North and the South, popular songs of the day, and a quickstep assembled from arias in Verdi’s opera Nabucco. The concert concluded with the haunting refrains of “Tenting on the Old Campground.”
We had a great time meeting the public, members of the Sons of the Union Veterans, and local officials including the Mayor of Columbus and the Curator of the Platte County Historical Society Museum. We look forward to returning to Columbus some day soon.