Old Dog Tray

Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864) is sometimes known as “The Father of American Music” for the many popular and sentimental songs that he wrote in the mid 1800s. Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Foster lived many years in Pittsburgh and wrote several songs for the Christy Minstrels who through their tours spread Foster’s songs far and wide. Among the songs made popular by Christy were “Camptown Races” (1850), “Nelly Bly” (1850), “Old Folks at Home” (known also as “Swanee River”, 1851), “My Old Kentucky Home” (1853), “Old Dog Tray” (1853), and “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair” (1854), written for his wife Jane Denny McDowell.

“Old Dog Tray” shows Foster’s love of dogs, especially in the words to the chorus: “Old dog Tray’s ever faithful; Grief cannot drive him away; He’s gentle, he is kind, I’ll never, never find A better friend than old dog Tray.”

This arrangement comes from Brass Band Journal published in 1854. It was recorded at Grace University on August 23, 2015.

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Grace University Concert

1st Nebraska was invited to perform for the Grace University Concert Band’s annual fall retreat, which was held Sunday, August 23, 2015 in Suckau Chapel. The students spend a day in bonding and musical activities and frequently invite a musical guest to perform. We were delighted to be invited by band director, Jeff James, who’s a great gentleman and friend.

We played our entire program for the students, who responded with enthusiastic applause throughout the performance. Here are two videos from that concert.

1. Nabucco Quickstep

Civil War bands often serenaded the officers during their evening meal. The officers liked to hear arias and other music from European operas. Claudio S. Grafulla (1812-1880), one of the best composers for bands during the Civil War period, wrote several opera medleys based on tunes for various operas. Nabucco (1841) was a popular opera by Giuseppe Verde (1813-1901), with a story of the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar). This arrangement comes from the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment Band, aka, The Port Royal Band.

2. Battle Hymn Quickstep

The music to the Battle Hymn of the Republic existed long before Julia Ward Howe penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The chorus of “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” was a Southern camp meeting song, and the verse, written by William Steffe, was used by the soldiers for “John Brown’s Body Lies a Mouldering in the Grave.” However, it was Howe’s 1861 visit to Washington, DC, where she saw all of the encamped soldiers and all of the wounded that her poet’s soul was kindled and set down the immortal words. This arrangement come from the 25th Massachusetts Regiment Band.

Serenading at Ft. Omaha

On a warm and humid Sunday, 1st Nebraska serenaded the public from the grassy knoll in front of the the Gen. Crook House at Ft. Omaha. Sponsored by the Douglas County Historical Society the Omaha Model T Club, the fort held “Vintage Wheels at the Fort” displaying several old “Tin Lizzie’s” and other autos from bygone days.

Beautifully restored Gen Crook House on Ft. Omaha
Beautifully restored Gen Crook House on Ft. Omaha

Ft. Omaha was established in 1868 and remained active through World War I. Its layout and buildings are typical of the Civil War era with dark red brick barracks and officers’ quarters and a large parade field in the middle of a quad of buildings. The Gen. Crook house is located on West Road at the back of the fort on a hill overlooking the main administration building. The house has been wonderfully restored and serves as a museum of late victorian era furnishings. Douglas County Historical Society is housed next door with publications and files dating back to the 1860s.

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Surrounding Gen. Crook in his garden

1st Nebraska played a variety of patriotic songs of the North and the South, popular songs of the day, and opera medleys. The crowd was very appreciative and several bought their folding lawn chairs and set up on the road across from where we were playing. Following our performance, 1NVBB took the opportunity to shoot some photos–with modern equipment, of course.

After the serenade on the steps of the Gen Crook House
After the serenade on the steps of the Gen Crook House