Our 16th annual dulcimer festival is coming quickly. It’s March 9- 12, 2017, in Port Allen, Louisiana. We have a great line-up of musicians and performers coming from all-over the country as well as many vendors. Our theme is “Yankee Doodle Dulcimer” Extravaganza and includes several special events. One is a music jam for dulcimers and acoustic instruments based on songs from the Revolutionary War Era on Thursday afternoon.
“Yankee Doodle Jam”
To get in the spirit of the theme, “Yankee Doodle Dulcimer”, we are planning a music jam based on Revolutionary War Era music (1763-1783). What music? You might ask. We had do quite a bit of thinking to figure out music that came from this time frame. And we did find several songs that we still play and many that aren’t heard anymore such as “Liberty”, “Free America” and “Chester.” These were some of the first lyrics penned in in colonial America which had a patriotic flavor. These tunes were printed on broadsides and in newspapers and posted throughout the towns. Patriotic, but no longer familiar to most of us.
Many of the songs played during the Revolutionary War came from England and Ireland. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was sung by British soldiers to make fun of the raggedy simpleton American Army recruit or “doodle”. It was a spoof on an aristocratic or stylish Englishman, a “Dandy”, who wore a Macaroni feather in his hat. The British Army sang it as they marched into the first battle of the conflict at Lexington, Massachusetts. But they were severely defeated. The American militia latched onto the song and it made it their own. It was played as a military marching song all during the war.
Top 10 Revolutionary War Tunes
We queried our guest instructors and Lagniappe members for songs which they associate with this period in our country’s history. Plus we scoured the internet for Revolutionary War Era songs . And we used books. Yes, there are several excellent resource books of American Folk music which include hundreds of songs and their origins. These include: “The Folksongs of North America” by Alan Lomax, “A History of Popular Music in America” by Sigmund Spaeth (this book included an entire chapter on “Yankee Doodle”), and “The American Songbag” by Carl Sandburg.
We have assembled an interesting jam list.
War of 1812 – Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
Here you can see the spiral of the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, the oldest Cathedral in North America in continuous use. It was founded as a Catholic Parish in 1720 along the Banks of the Mississippi River. The first cathedral built here, in Jackson Square, was in 1718. Jackson Square is named after Andrew Jackson, who became a war hero after defeating the British in New Orleans in the War of 1812.
The song, “The Girl I Left Behind Me, ” dates to the War of 1812 and New Orleans. The song has Irish and British origins and is also known as “Brighton Camp”. It was adopted as an American Army marching tune during the War of 1812 after they heard a British prisoner singing it in New Orleans in the 1814-1815 campaign This was at Villerie’s Plantation or Line Jackson. It was a favorite song of Andrew Jackson.
The song was especially popular during the Civil War where both sides had variations. Tradition says that this song was played when a British naval vessel set sail or an army unit left for another location, often abroad. It is the Regimental March of the U.S. Army 7th Infantry and is still played at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at the final Parade before graduation.
Helen Bankston has tabbed this tune for dulcimers, “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, using the Finale software. It has a catchy melody and is a great tune. We will include it in our jam book. . And here’s a PDF file you can download.
There will be many more surprises, too. We’re getting ready. Here’s the quilt for our stage backdrop which is almost ready to go to the seamstress who will machine quilt the layers together with her 16-foot computerized quilting machine. It will be raffled at our Saturday concert.
We hope to see you at our fête in March.