2017 Performances Have Begun!

This was a busy weekend for the 1st Nebraska. On Friday, Bill drove to Des Moines to acquire an antique baritone horn from the Liberty Band of Iowa. The maker, William Seefeldt, lived in Philadelphia during the Civil War and later and made a wide range of brass instruments. The baritone we purchased had been completely restored and re-plated to look like new, and it’s a beauty. Playing tests revealed its beautiful open tone and the relative ease of operating its Berliner valves. We’re looking forward to adding this instrument to the band.

Our first performance of 2017 was given yesterday at the Elk Ridge Villages Assisted Living Center. We always enjoy performing for senior citizens because they are so appreciative of our music. Many of the folks used to listen to band concerts in their youth, and some even played in their school or town bands. In addition to standard Civil War favorites, such as, Dixie, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the 1st Nebraska played a variety of quicksteps and marches. We premiered Washington Greys, Coronation March, George Hart’s Quickstep, Louisville March, and Home, Sweet Home.


Our next outing will be on Saturday, April 1st in Blair, NE, where we’ll perform at the Good Shepherd Communities Senior Center at 10:00 AM. If you’re in the Blair area be sure to drop by. Also stay tuned to our 2017 schedule list as it will be filling rapidly.

Kicking Off 2017

Happy New Year, Friends! Here’s hoping that 2017 is a wonderful year for us all.

1st Nebraska holds its first rehearsal of 2017 this Sunday at 2 pm. We’ll get a first crack at new songs for our program. We’re going to close with Home, Sweet Home in place of Tenting on the Old Campground, and replace Freischutz Quickstep with Ben Bolt. We’re adding Louisville March so that we can demonstrate the formal and stylistic differences between marches and quicksteps.

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The big opera tune for 2017 is “Coronation March from Le Prophete” by Giacomo Meyerbeer. This is a very regal and melodic piece suitable for the crowning of a monarch.

One of our E-flat Cornet players is also a wonderful tenor, so I’m arranging Stephen Fosters’ I Dream of Jeanine with the Light Brown Hair and Beautiful Dreamer to feature him. We’re also going to program a new edition “Washington Greys” based upon the parts of the 4th New Hampshire (Port Royal) Band.

Right now it looks like the first performance of the year will be in Elkhorn, NE on March 4.

1st Nebraska Helps Celebrate St. Barbara

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On a cold, rainy/snowy night on December 3rd, the 1st Nebraska traveled two hours to Lake View, Iowa to play for the St. Barbara’s Day Banquet for a sister reenactment group, the 2nd Iowa Light Artillery. In spite of the weather our hosts were very warm-hearted and were an appreciative audience. They even treated us to a catered dinner of roast beef, pork, and all the trimmings.

As an artillery company, the 2nd Iowa travels to events around western Iowa displaying, and firing, their cannon, and setting up camp in the manner of Civil War soldiers. Not only do the men dress in uniform, but the women also don period costumes.

The Order of Saint Barbara is an honorary military society of the United States Field Artillery. Both U.S. Marine and Army field artillery, along with their military and civilian supporters are eligible for membership. Thus, Artillerymen of the present are linked with artillerymen of the past in a brotherhood of professionalism, selfless service, and sacrifice symbolized by Saint Barbara.

The Feast of Saint Barbara occurs yearly on December 4th, and includes quite an intricate ritual. Click here for more information.

We first met the 2nd Iowa while performing for the Woodbine Sesquicentennial, and were happy to be invited to share in their celebration. Hopefully, both units will cross paths at future events and reenactments.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.