New Cornet for 1st Nebraska

This morning (November 7, 2016), FedEx brought our newly purchased Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory SARV B-flat Cornet. The instrument was produced in the 1870s based upon patterns E. G. Wright used during the Civil War. It has Side-Action Rotary Valves, a very popular design for brass instruments of the period, and was played valves-up with the first finger of the left hand nestled in the finger crook.


The gentleman who sold it to us had played the cornet for several years but no longer had a use for it. You can tell just how much he valued the instrument by it’s great condition. He told me the story of how he acquired the cornet: “I bought it from the original owner’s grandson. He called me one day and said ‘I have a clarinet.’ I asked him if it was wood or metal, he said metal, and I told him it wasn’t worth anything and to chuck it. LOL He showed up a few months later with the cornet and I realized I had only ever seen one in a museum. After he passed his widow sold me the horn.”



The instrument comes with its original mouthpiece and leather case. We’re so proud to own this beautiful cornet, and will put it into use early in 2017.







Battle of the Bands – Stones River

From December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863 the Union and Confederate Armies engaged in a major battle south east of Nashville, Tennessee just west of Murfreesboro at Stones River. The Union forces lined up from north to south on the west, The Confederate forces lined up from north to south to their east.

img_0121The night before the battle bands from both armies took turns serenading the troops and each other. First the Yanks, then the Rebs; back and forth for nearly an hour. Finally, one of the bands struck up “Home, Sweet Home,” and was soon joined by the band of the other side. Together they ended their “Battle of the Bands” on a tender note that touched the heart of every soldier, Blue or Gray.

This past October 15th reenactor musicians from bands portraying both sides gathered at the Stones River Battlefield to recreate the “Battle of the Bands.” I was pleased to represent Nebraska along with musicians from Texas, California, Ohio, Rhode Island, Alabama, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. We rehearsed music in respective Blue and Gray bands in the morning, enjoyed a lunch provided by the National Park Service, performed at various sites along the battlefield in the early afternoon, and closed our day with a recreation of the original “Battle of the Bands,” including the closing song “Home, Sweet Home.”

img_0117I had a wonderful time meeting musicians that I correspond with on facebook, including several members of the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Band. Many of these Buckeyes were members of the Ohio State Marching Band during their college years, as was I. During lunch we reminisced about our days in the band and told “war stories” of our experiences. Although there were several membes of more recent years, I was pleased to get reacquainted with a fellow member of my days in the band.

img_0125We are making plans for another “BoB” in a year or two. So, if you participate in a Civil War reenactment band please consider joining us.

Broken Bow Trip

What a wonderful trip the 1st Nebraska had to Broken Bow, NE for the 100th anniversary of their historic band stand. Over the years the town has enjoyed many concerts and historic speeches presented via this platform in their city square park. The citizens have repaired and restored the band stand to keep it as a focal point of their city, and they identify strongly with it. Be sure to view the video linked below to listen to them talk about their band stand.

North Platte TV Coverage of Broken Bow’s Bandstand Celebration. Short clips of 1st Nebraska included.


The day was full of activities, beginning with a fun run and including a chili cookout for lunch. The official program began at 2 pm with the posting of the colors and national anthem, followed by a reenactment of Sen. George Norris’ speech from 1935. Norris was portrayed by Dave Landis, a noted historical presenter from central Nebraska.


Following Landis’ portrayal the 1st Nebraska presented its concert. Several ladies and gentlemen wore period costumes which they paraded while we played. About half-way through our program we paused to hold an old-time paper plate throw sponsored by local merchants. Catchers of the plates won free meals and merchandise from the sponsors. Then we resumed and completed our concert.

The band was welcomed with great hospitality including a suite at the historic Arrow Hotel. The suite was a welcome respite following our 3.5 hour drive from Omaha. Following the concert Shelly and I retreated to the rooms to relax in the air conditioning and to watch the Ohio State football game.

We’re very thankful for the invitation to perform in Broken Bow, and want to acknowledge the main sponsors of the event: The City of Broken Bow, The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, and Custer Public Power. A special thanks goes to our contact person, Carol Fritzler.

Broken Bow Bandstand Celebration

On Saturday, October 8th, 1st Nebraska will travel to Broken Bow, NE, to participate in the city’s celebration of their historic bandstand, originally built 100 years ago. The band stand has been refurbished a few times over the years, and recently underwent a comprehensive restoration so that civic and musical events could continue to be held in the town square park.


The ceremony begins at 2:00 with flag posting by two honor guards and a reading of the speech given by Senator Norris in 1935. Norris was the champion of rural electrification, and today Nebraska remains the only state with 100% public power companies. The band will play the Star Spangled Banner at 2:00 and then perform its concert following the speech.

The event is being sponsored by the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, the Custer Power Company, and the City of Broken Bow. We’re really looking forward to this road trip and to meeting the very hospitable people of Broken Bow. If your in the North Central par of Nebraska on Saturday come out and hear us play and help Broken Bow celebrate.

Memorial Day 2016

I hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. But even more, I hope that you took time to pay respect to all the men and women of our armed services who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives so that we might enjoy our freedoms.

1st Nebraska didn’t perform for any of the memorial services yesterday, but several members of our group did. Some of our cornet players sounded taps at area cemeteries, and three of our members performed in the band at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Omaha.

1NVBB members, Bruce Chapman, Bill Hall, and Dave Krecek at Prospect Hill

Prospect Hill is the pioneer cemetery for Omaha. Here’ its historical marker.image

One of those buried at Prospect Hill is a member of the original 1st Nebraska Regimental Band, Charles Emil Burmester. He was born in Germany on 29 June 1844, and immigrated to the United States along with his parents through the port of New Orleans in 1857. Burmester enlisted in the 1st Nebraska Infantry in June 1861 and was assigned to the Regimental Band where he was a Musician, 3rd Class. He was discharged along with the rest of the band in August 1862 when the Union Army disbanded all regimental bands. He then served in Company K. Following the Civil War, Burmester settled in Omaha, married on 20 May 1871 to Mary Meyer, and eventually became president of the Omaha Barbed Wire Company. Burmester was a member of GAR Posts 7 and 110 in Omaha, and served as state Adjutant General in 1896-1897. Charles E. Burmester died on 17 February 1916.


1st Nebraska Buys Vintage Cornet

Yesterday I traveled to Des Moines to purchase a vintage Moses Slater TARV (top-action rotary valve) E-flat Cornet for use in our Living History Civil War band. The E-flat cornet is the main melody instrument for a Civil War band and its highest pitched voice.

The cornet was formerly owned by Steve Sprague, leader of the Liberty Band of Iowa who had the horn fully restored and buffed to a like-new shine.Slater left

Note the unusual valve action on the horn. Modern valves are upright pistons activated by depressing a button on the valve top. Here, the rotors are activated by the levers at the top of the instrument.

Slater nameplateMoses Slater, manufacturer of our “new” cornet,  was born in England in 1826, immigrated to the United States, and settled in New York City. He joined Stephen Gordon, and later Robert Martin to manufacture musical instruments, finally establishing his own firm. Slater died in 1899, but his firm continued to operate until 1920. (Musical Instrument Makers of New York, pg. 144)

Our goal is to outfit the entire 15-piece band with period instruments so that we can authentically recreate the look and sound of Civil War bands.

Target #1 – E-flat Bass Saxhorn

E-flat Bass Saxhorn – $6,500

Hi Friends,
Cribbs bass tallA fellow Civil War bandsman in Pennsylvania is selling his E-flat Bass Saxhorn at a GREAT price! This beautifully restored horn is of the Over-The-Shoulder (OTS) type so common among period bands. The seller still played the horn as of last year, and from the photos you can tell that there are no major dents, and that the patina has been buffed.

The E-flat Bass Saxhorn is the foundation instrument of the Civil War brass band, and has the lowest range. In today’s modern bands we replace the bass saxhorn with the tuba.

As with all Civil War period brass, the size and shape of the instrument’s tubing and the thickness and alloy of the metal are quite different from modern horns. To truly recreate the look and sound of the Civil War band 1st Nebraska needs to purchase these kinds of instruments.

Cribbs bass top

Won’t you help us purchase this fine instrument for our band. 1st Nebraska is a 501c3 public charity and donors are eligible for tax deductions. You can donate with PayPal or credit card on our gofundme page

Please help!