Wessel’s Living History Farm

Well, it’s mid-July in Nebraska. That means heat and humidity, a wonderful combination for outdoors performances. Yes, I’m being sarcastic!

1st Nebraska played both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, first at Wessel’s Living History Farm and then for the John C. Fremont Days festival.

Wessel’s Farm is a 1920s era operation with a beautiful house and side buildings. There’s a collection of old farm machinery including several old tractors. Several times during the summer local historians demonstrate common farm skills for the public. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the farm is the old country style chapel that has been transplanted to the grounds. 

1st Nebraska setup under a tent, which got us and the audience out of the sun, and played our 2017 program. The audience was very enthusiastic, and several folks traveled to hear the band play. The host told us that we’re developing quite a reputation in Central Nebraska.

On Sunday, 1st Nebraska returned to the John C. Fremont Days, again playing in the chautauqua tent.

Our next performance in on August 20th at Ft. Omaha for the Douglas County Historical Society’s “Vintage Wheels at the Fort.”  


John C Fremont Days – July 10

1st Nebraska had a busy weekend with concerts on Saturday and Sunday. First we played for the great audience at Aksarben Village Senior Living. It was so nice to play in air conditioning when wearing our wool coats. The audience knew many of the patriotic and some of the popular songs that we played including “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” and “Listen to the Mockingbird.” We look forward to a return engagement.

This weekend was the annual John C Fremont Days festival in Fremont, NE. This is an annual performance for us, and we enjoy working with the great festival staff. There are a few sites around the city for festival events. Some children’s events are held on the campus of Midland University, while Living History demonstrations are held throughout the weekend at Barnard Park. 1NVBB plays in the chautauqua tent at the north end of John C Fremont park.

photo by Naomi Greelis-Mattos

Yesterday’s weather was a hot 95 degrees with very high humidity. Musicians shirts were soaked through with perspiration from carrying their instruments a few blocks to the tent. So, we didn’t even bother putting on our wool coats for our concert. Fortunately for the audience there was a nice breeze, but most of the wind was blocked from the band by a mural behind the stage.

photo by Naomi Greelis-Mattos

The band played very well in the heat and humidity, which is always a challenge. We performed our entire 2016 program of patriotic songs of the North and South, popular songs of the day, and selections from popular operas of the Civil War era. The crowd was very appreciative, and we surprised by visits from some of our friends. All in all a great day to make Civil War band music.

Next up for 1st Nebraska is a concert at Ft. Omaha on Sunday, August 14, from noon till 1:00 pm. We’re returning to perform at the Douglas County Historical Society’s “Vintage Wheels at the Fort” auto show. There are always a number of great restored cars at the show, and we will play on the grass next to Gen. Crook’s house. Bring your lawn chair and come out to listen at this free event.




Plattsmouth Concert – June 18


On a searingly hot night in Plattsmouth, NE the 1st Nebraska performed before a very appreciative audience. The extreme heat kept some folks away, and we would have like to have joined them in the air conditioning, but we were happy to play for those that braved the weather.

p1The Plattsmouth Main Street Association has created a wonderful concert venue where all kinds of musical groups perform from rock bands, country bands, jazz combos, and concert bands throughout the summer. June 18th was our second visit and we were happy to renew acquaintances from last year.


The band played its 2016 program that includes¬†many popular Civil War songs like Dixie, p2Yankee Doodle, and Battle Hymn. We also played some popular songs of the day including Stephen C. Foster’s “Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming,” Septimus Winner’s “Listen to the Mocking Bird,” and “When This Cruel War is Over.” Featured music on this program was the Soldiers’ March from the opera Faust by Gounod, The Freischutz Quickstep based on themes from Weber’s opera by Claudio Graffula, The Hunter’s Chorus from the opera The Rose of Erin by Julius Benedict. The band premiered an arrangement of The Omaha Guards Waltz by Omaha piano teacher and Lieutenant in the Omaha Guards, Edward Dworzak.

We had a great time, in spite of the heat, and look forward to returning to Plattsmouth again soon. The 1st Nebraska plays next on Sunday, July 10 in Fremont, NE for the annual John C Fremont Days. We’ll be in the Chautauqua Tent at 3:30. Come out and hear us!

John C Fremont Days 2015

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.

Playing with a reduced complement in the Chautauqua Tent. Still sounded great!
Playing with a reduced complement in the Chautauqua Tent. Still sounded great!

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.

1st Nebraska poses with MG Fremont prior to our concert.
1st Nebraska poses with MG Fremont prior to our concert.
Major General John C Fremont and Band Leader Bill Hall outside the Chautauqua Tent.
Major General John C Fremont and Band Leader Bill Hall outside the Chautauqua Tent.

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.