Gather 'round the campfire...
Bill Carrothers -
piano, all other sounds
Recorded at Studio M, Minnesota Public Radio, on 11/19, 21/93
Recording Engineer - David Baker
Produced by Bill Carrothers & David Baker
|Notes on The Blues And
I began my journey of discovery into the Civil War like many Americans did, with the broadcast of The Civil War series on PBS. I was very moved by that documentary and, specifically, the music. Over the next year I began compiling all the music I could find from that period and started playing it, thinking about it, exploring the possibilities of it. The Civil War, like World War Two, provided America with a tremendous body of music. After having studied jazz for so long, one might think that Civil War music would be a rather abrupt change, but it's not. Both represent the pop music of their day and both are expressions of the upheaval of their times. (It's interesting to note how artistic creativity seems to flourish during, or in the wake of, periods of upheaval and suffering). I've discovered, much to my delight, that the music of the Civil War is very backwards-compatible with the jazz standards I've been learning for so long. One of the things that makes jazz standards so appealing is their open-endedness and malleability. The same can be said of Civil War music. There is also a ghost-like quality to much of this music that lends itself to exploring the moodier side of the time period in which they were written. When I play Civil War music, there is an image that almost always comes into my head. It's an old film clip of Civil War veterans gathering at the Gettysburg battlefield, all of them old and withered and with long, flowing beards. Some have canes, some have one arm, one leg. They all look so ancient and fragile. What sticks in my head is that most of them have a look about their faces of men who have seen far too much pain and suffering, but there is also a strength in those looks that a younger, stronger man could never have. Years ago, my grandmother told me about my great-great grandfather, Washington Johnson, who was a lieutenant in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. After the war he married and became a sheriff in Kentucky. He also went on to become a champion fiddler of the state. He probably played many of the tunes on this recording. I'd be pleased to think he liked what I played but who knows. Either way, this CD is dedicated to him.
- Bill Carrothers -