Songs of the Civil War | Peterborough

A Concert with Jeff Davis
June 17th, 2010 7:30 PM

We have photographs to show us how Civil War battlefields appeared just days after the battles. Our attics are full of old bayonets; our archives are full of portraits of soldiers. There are battlefields to visit. Except for a few songs and hymns, such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” our national memory of that war is largely visual. But music was everywhere during the Civil War. For this program, Jeff Davis will sing and play ßthe music of the Civil War: There will be songs from North Carolina, Adirondack, and New Hampshire (especially from East Jaffrey’s Lena Bourne Fish); from fishing people from coastal Carolina; slave songs; parlor music; ballads of land and sea battles; hymns; and ditties of all sorts, accompanied by banjo, fiddle, guitar, dulcimer, mandocello, spoons, and Jew’s harp, and several hand-made instruments.

Jeff Davis is one of the country’s most respected collectors and interpreters of traditional music. He has toured in the United States, Canada, England, The Netherlands, and Norway. The on-line magazine NetRhythms said, “Jeff is one of the most charismatic and widely-regarded of American old-time folk-revival performers, possessing that maddeningly enviable trait of being master of several different instruments . . . as well as being a darned fine singer.” Nova Scotia’s Chronicle-Herald said, “When Jeff Davis sings the repertoire of the Appalachian Mountains, he cuts through decades and across borders, sitting us down in the dirt in front of a weather-beaten shack, at the feet of a hillbilly singer.” Clive Powncenby in fRoots magazine, said, “Jeff’s uncluttered vocals, whether a cappella or backed by his impressive playing, have understated backwoods ambience, referencing a front-porch quintessential America.

This concert is part of the Peterborough Historical Society’s Civil War Exhibit, which runs from March 25 through October 29. Through archival photographs, diaries, letters and Civil War artifacts the exhibit looks at the impact of the war on the local area and the men and women who answered the nation’s call to service. Among the artifacts and stories on display will be the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Osgood Hadley of Peterborough for his valor near Pegram House, the bible that saved Jonathan Felt’s life and the bullet that nearly killed him and a portrait of Katie Cummings, one of the two Peterborough women lost in the war.

The concert is in the Peterborough Historical Society’s Bass Hall, a lovely chestnut-paneled room that serves as an elegant venue for the music. Light refreshments will be provided.

Admission is $10. It is recommended that tickets be purchased in advance, as the capacity of the hall is limited. They are available from at or at the Peterborough Historical Society, 19 Grove St. in Peterborough, NH. For more information you may also call the Historical Society at 603.924.3235.