News Column

Songs of war Trio sets the tone at Monocacy

July 13, 2014

By Laura Dukes, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

July 13--The historical music trio Ampersand gave listeners a peek at the music soldiers might have enjoyed during the Civil War.

They performed an outdoor concert Saturday afternoon as part of the Monocacy National Battlefield's events to commemorate the Battle of Monocacy.

The band has three members: Beth Lawton and Dick Hogle, of Denton, and Karl Neidhardt, of Annapolis. Lawton and Hogle formed the music group 12 years ago.

"We don't really do much battlefield stuff," Lawton said. "It's more the parlor music of the time. Music soldiers would know."

They performed tunes by composers like Steven Foster using instruments including the guitar, the hammer dulcimer, the banjo and the mandolin.

Though they dressed in period "non-modern" clothing, Lawton said they are not considered re-enactors since they use modern instruments and a sound system. She said some groups use authentic period instruments, but the sound doesn't always carry well.

"Mostly we have a lot of fun with this old music," she said.

Performing in settings like the Monocacy National Battlefield are their favorite settings to play since they know their audience is interested in the history behind the music, Lawton said. They also play at festivals, craft fairs, assisted living homes and in the occasional bar or pub.

"We're the afternoon crew," she quipped.

This was their second time playing at Monocacy, Hogle said. One of the numbers they performed was called "Hard Crackers," which he said the soldiers wrote about the food they were served, including hardtack.

"They used music to parody and complain about the conditions," Hogle said.

They also performed the 18th-century folk song "Shady Grove," which he said has had multiple adaptations through the years.

"It's a really neat song that really has legs," he said.

In between songs the band members gave some background to the historical significance, like "All Quiet Along the Potomac," which Lawton said is an anti-war song by Ethel Lynn Beers.

Sisters Cathy Jungbluth, of Frederick, and Amy Nagle, of Walkersville, brought their kids to listen. They planned on attending some of the other events at the battlefield throughout the day.

"I love bringing my children so they learn about it," Jungbluth said. "Hopefully if you learn about history, you won't repeat it."

Since their family was originally from the Midwest, the sisters said they got a better ideas of the "richness" of the Civil War once they moved to Maryland.

"It was brother against brother," Nagle said. "I find that sad, that it had to come to that."

Follow Laura Dukes on Twitter: @LauraDukesFNP.


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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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