ENTING TONIGHT evokes the memory of the hundreds of thousands of New York volunteers who fought in the Civil War and whose spirits still haunt many of the battlefields throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the South. Music from Ireland, Texas, The Carolinas, Maine and Louisiana was introduced to many soldiers and civilians by the thousands, many for the first time. Music was an important part of the life of the Civil War soldier. When Robert E. Lee heard a brass band playing one day, the sound was so pure and inspiring that he was moved to remark, "I don't believe we can have an army without music." Songs expressed humor about army camp life, lifted spirits and took the soldiers' minds off the devastation of war. Music reminded the combatants of their loved ones at home, and commemorated battles, heroes and military stratagems.
Using the words from soldier's and civilian's diaries and letters, music, portraits and landscape images of the period we bring the audience as close as we can to the events that forged a new nation out of the old. The concert is not strictly for the Civil War "experts". The program appeals to and is exciting for people who walk into the event knowing very little about the War Between the States. The program is designed for audiences at all levels of familiarity with history the long-time student of the Civil War as well as the occasional PBS viewer and the 5th grader who just learned about Lincoln, Grant and Lee yesterday. Tenting Tonight tells the story of people living through the most dramatic events imaginable, in the most personal terms by soldiers, nurses, politicians, teachers and bystanders from the Northeast.
The songs — all from the time of the Civil War are woven into the program. A visual arts presentation, audience camp sing-a-long and reading of excerpts from actual New York Volunteers' letters drive the program and makes the Civil War come to life for the audience. Though the program focuses on the events as seen from the North, we take great care not to demean those who fought on the other side. We also concentrate on the the events as they appeared to and affected the diverse population of the North, not only the men who fought. Tenting Tonight has been performed at numerous 19th Century historical sites, Civil War re-enactments and museums over the past few years. Here are some testimonials:
“The Balladeers were awesome and I know that our guests really enjoyed listening to the group. The music was fantastic! Thanks again for everything. I hope to see you again in the near future.”
-Valerie Hall, Director of Special Events, Marist College
April 28, 2012, Colonel Oliver Payne Mansion
“We are still basking in the success of your visit to our town, our Church and the Historical Society. It was a wonderful concert and great fun meeting and interacting with all of the Balladeers. What wonderful talent you share with your audience. So many of them expressed sheer enjoyment with the music and the atmosphere it creates. Thank you for your generosity in donating CDs and sharing the sales proceeds with us. I hope you have a great season of performances. Please give my best wishes to all the Balladeers. We love your music and the personalities of the group. Take care.”
-Gene Higgins, Rupert, VT Historical Society
May 12, 2012
“The concert was a huge hit and thanks for a fabulous line up! Everyone had such a good time in spite of the warm weather. The Balladeers are outstanding as usual and it’s great seeing everyone having such a good time playing. Thank you John for all your efforts pulling together what I hope will become an annual event.”
-Michelle Yost, Greene County Watershed Office
Streamside Songs & Melodies Concert
May 27, 2012
“Thank you and the Balladeers very much for two excellent concerts at Armory Day. When Joanne initially said, “We have to hire the Balladeers,” I thought “hmmm, never heard of them.” Well, now I have, and now I know that you are a terrific group ---- homespun and highly skilled musicians at the same time. It was obvious that the audience enjoyed the music and the personalities, including General and Mrs. Grant. Next time we will order cooler weather. I don’t know how you folks managed in the period attire.”
-Shera Cohen, Springfield Armory National Historic Site
July 9, 2012
“John ---- a thousand thanks to you and the Balladeers, who lent SO much to the event. Your presence made it special and memorable, and we’re all so very grateful. It was a pleasure to work with you ---- and that you were able to accommodate us on such a tight schedule! Again, many thanks, and we hope to see you again soon!”
-Jessica Fisher Neidl, Washington Park Conservancy, Albany, NY Soldiers & Sailors Monument Rededication
October 6, 2012
“Thank you very much for participating in the Senate House State Historic Site Civil War event. We enjoyed your music. Please hold the dates of August 15-16, 2009 on your calendar. Working with you this year was a very valuable learning experience. Thank you so much for contributing your time, energy and knowledge to our program.”
-Pam Malcolm and Richard Goring, Senate House State Historic Site, August 21, 2008.
“Your program “We’ll Sing to Abe Our Song” was a moving part of our celebration of 1800’s Days. You selected such a variety of music, and your presentation was exactly right as a culmination of the day’s events. The children’s three-day living history experience earlier in the week prepared them for enthusiastic flag waving to welcome your music and Honest Abe. Thank you!”
-Claire W. Hunter, Historical Society of Moreau and South Glens Falls, NY, September 7, 2006.
“Thank you so much for bringing the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers to the Chapman Historical Museum on Sunday, December 4th for the opening of our tour “The Civil War On the Home Front”. The music that your group performed throughout the house was not only beautiful and moving, as well as fun, but provided the necessary ingredient that made the program work. I know of several people who stayed the entire three hours that your group was performing just so they could catch every minute of it. A number of people told me that they felt as though they had been transported back in time to the 1860’s and that was largely due to the music being played throughout the house. I truly enjoyed working with you and sincerely hope that we can work together again.”
-Dodi Robinson, Educator, Chapman Historical Museum Glens Falls – Queensbury Historical Association, December 9, 2005.
“Thank you so very much for allowing us to use the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers music for the Saratoga Battlefield Monument DVD project. It was absolutely perfect as a backdrop“!
-Gina Johnson, Chief of Visitor Services, Saratoga National Historic Park, October 21, 2005.
“Many thanks to the Balladeers for a terrific program. You should be very pleased with the audience response to the entire concert. Best Wishes”.
-Bruce Cole, Crandall Public Library, September 26, 2005.
“Thank you for sharing your delightful music selections at our DEC Awards Reception on Saturday, March 11th. As always you brought a rich historical context to the songs while having entirely too much fun. It was truly a treat to hear these ageless songs revived and greatly supported our position that Greene County artists and art organizations well deserve their share of state funds. Thanks for adding an air of festivity to occasion”.
-Colette Lemmon, Twin Counties Cultural Fund, Columbia and Greene Counties Council on the Arts, March 21, 2005.
“On behalf of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Program, I would like to thank the members of the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers for your enthusiastic support of our flag preservation program and the museum. You have made a significant contribution both through your generosity and advocacy to the preservation of New York’s rich history. It is support and gifts such as yours that allow us to preserve the state’s nationally important battle flag collection. I do proudly consider the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers as the museum’s “house band”.
-Michael Aikey, Director, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, August 2, 2004.
“On behalf of the Trustees and the staff at the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History I want to thank the Balladeers for a sensational evening of music at the historic Vergennes Opera House last Saturday night. The standing ovation at the end of your performance said it all. The audience was fully engaged early on and the time flew by far too quickly. We were so lucky to have the entire troupe of musicians on hand for the concert as well as the glorious setting of the opera house. At times when I looked up at all of you in period dress on that lovely stage there was a strong sense of being lost in time, like it really could have been the mid-19th century”.
-Annie Perkins, Director, Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, May 13, 2004.
"You guys are wonderful! Thank you so much for the photo you sent. I will show it to everyone at the jam session and display it proudly in the store. It was a pleasure to have you all join us on that Friday night. We had a great time. It's a great way to get away from the hassles of the day to day and routine things, and just relax and be who we are. I hope you can get back to Gettysburg again in the near future and that you'll stop by and say hello. And if it happens to be on a Friday night, come on in and join us! You folks are great. Thanks again for everything. God Bless."
-Hank Janney, Arrow Horse Music Store Host of Bluegrass on the Radio Great Country WGTY 107.7 FM February 21, 2002
"Thanks for the tapes. I have reenactor withdrawal right now and can't wait for the season to start. Listening to the Balladeers helps me get through to the next reenactment season. So many of the songs are so special to me. I am so glad to hear that the "Pleasant & Delightful" shanty will be on your new CD. I think it is my favorite. Let me know when it is released so I can purchase a CD or tape. We will be sending a sponsor's ad to help support the Civil War Music Heritage Gathering event. Can't wait to see you. God Bless you all!"
Ladies of the Blue & Gray
February 20, 2002
"There aren't words to express it! Saturday evening in Windham was outstanding. The best time ever! It was great and all the additional touches made it more special. Everyone one of the Balladeers shines."
-Bette and Ray Osborn
East Jewett, NY
"So enjoyed your concert at Gettysburg on Labor Day Weekend. "Nearer My God To Thee" was done so beautifully. Listening to that song in the center of the battlefield was just so moving. Hope you plan to visit Gettsyburg again next year. If you do, please sing "The Battle Hymn of The Republic. Possibly your beautiful soloist could lead this song."
-Helen L. Geppi
Dear Friends, Thank you for making us feel like part of the Balladeers. What an honor to be part of such a wonderful group of entertainers. The 2001 Windham event was a wonderful evening. I think it was one of the best events yet. We are looking forward to seeing you again at Hill-Hold Museum on August 18.
15th NY Cavalry
"I was recently in Gettysburg to watch the groups at the music muster. I have since bought two of your CD's. I was on the Pennsylvania Monument when you folks played and was very moved by it. Especially when your vocalist sang "Nearer My God To Thee". That was incredible. I have never had seen anyone so moved by her singing as she was as she cried a good deal when finished. Thank you."
"Just a word to let you and the troupe know how much we enjoyed last night's concert. My family traveled in two cars due to different arrival times. Given that I was the driver of my car, I had to control my toe-tapping and foot-stomping all the way home. But once through the door, all h- broke loose. Thanks for a wonderful evening. You can be sure I'll keep the weekend of next year free."
"I want to thank you for making the Fair Lawn, New Jersey Civil War Weekend a great success. More than 1,000 spectators visited the park and several hundred attended your concert. The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers performance was outstanding. The mayor loved the concert. Moments like these are rare in life. This will be a weekend we will always remember. God bless you all!"
-Jim Hile, Sr.
Cpl. Lee's Lighthorse
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Civil War Weekend Event Coordinator
"Not only was the music toe tapping and soulful, the visual presentation coupled with reading of period letters was profoundly moving."
Alexandra D. McKee, Curator, Chapman Museum
"So much singing and playing amid slides and readings and general narrative from the New York Regimental Balladeers themselves, lends itself to a longer program. Clearly the audience was riveted and fully involved in the production."
"The highlight of the weekend was the Civil War concert Tenting Tonight. The audience joined in on many of the Civil War era songs and individuals read letters and other verse. The evening was both fun and moving at the same time. The Balladeers put on a tremendous show for more than two hours."
Larry Thompkins, Chair, Windham Bicentennial Committee
"A lot of people are looking forward to a repeat performance. The Balladeers did a great job." Richard A. Muscarello, Putnam County Historian
Additional Testimonials about
"Your music certainly added to the success of the 5th Annual Gettysburg Music Muster. Your group's musicianship and professionalism provided Gettysburg National Military Park with the tradition and standards set in 1995 by John Andrews, the founder of this event. It was all a wonderful blend of everything that was good in the 1800s. I feel the National Park Service presented the very best in Civil War era music."
Park Ranger in charge of Interpretive Operations
Gettysburg National Military Park
September 6, 1999
"What a pleasure to listen to the group who call themselves, the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers. Their renditions of "Shenendoah", "The Vacant Chair" and others had me stomping my foot and wanting to sing along. What a truly harmonious sound, the blending of their voices produce."
Glens Falls, NY
October 6, 1999
"The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers are awesome. It's nice to hear these songs performed as they would have been during the 1860s. The Balladeers music program is very well balanced. They also sing the songs that were popular in the Confederate camps."
Stan Malecki and Bob Notari
Glens Falls Soldiers'Monument Rededication Program Committee
The Community Scene-TV8
September 30, 1999
"The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers were the highlight of the weekend. Your performance was inspiring."
123rd Champlain Rifles
Cambridge, NY Civil War Encampment and Monument Dedication Weekend
August 13, 1999
"On Saturday July 24th the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers performed their "Tenting Tonight" concert at the Reformed Dutch Church. The event was sponsored by the Zaddock Pratt Museum in conjunction with the town celebration of Old Prattsville Days. The program included readings of actual letters from soldiers and period music. This was a wonderful evening to share with the entire family."
Zaddock Pratt Museum
"I would like to thank you on behalf of our members for your wonderful 'Tenting Tonight" program. As usual your presentation was moving and enjoyable."
Bo Williams Loomer
Adult Leaming Institute
September 7, 1999
"Thanks Balladeers! The students and staff loved your performance. We hope to schedule you again at my school next year so everyone can hear you the day before the re-enactment at Sullivan's Monument."
Mary Jane Todd Eckel
Coordinator, Elmira 2000 Civil War Educaton Day May 5, 2000
"I was at the Pruyn House on Saturday evening as part of the 125th New York Volunteer Infantry Civil War Weekend Encampment. I stayed for your concert and what a treat it was! You all were GREAT! The Boys of the Irish Brigade brought tears to my eyes. Please let me know how I can get a copy of the Boys of the Irish Brigade."
May 6, 2000
"I would like to thank the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers for sharing your love of music with our students. They loved the music and songs. Our student guides greatly enjoyed being part of the singing group. We hope that you have a great summer and hope to that you can visit us again in the future."
Marty Podskoch Teacher & Coordinator Book & Media Fair Committee
May 19, 2000
"Thunderstorm Fails to Deter Concert - Last Sunday was the opening of the 4th Annual Old Cambridge Days Outdoor Concert Series. The concert started outdoors despite the predictions of bad weather. Soon after the concert began, the long-forecasted thunderstorm roared into town with a crescendo of lightning, rain and thunder. The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers and audience shoe-horned into the Cambridge Library. Once set up out of the weather, everyone seemed to greatly enjoy this excellent group. Their program of authentic music is presented with period accompaniment on guitar, banjo, tin whistle and fiddle. In addition, they distribute song sheets and invite the audience to join in on some of the numbers."
Thursday June 29, 2000
"We had a wonderful time doing your event. I've played the Reflections CD over and over. My favorite is Peggy Gordon. She could sing me out of about anything!"
Civil War Heritage Foundation
August 21, 2000
"Thank you 77th NY Regimental Balladeers for your presentations at our August 5 & 6 2000 Heritage Days event. Your program greatly enhanced our public image and enriched the weekend's event. It is a wonderful time when we can fill the Badgley Annex with period music presented by well-versed, appropriately costumed musicians. The weekend turned out to be a great success and was well received by members and guests alike. Again, our sincerest thanks for your appearance at our Heritage Days event."
Carle J. Kopecky
Schoharie County Historical Society
Old Stone Museum Complex
August 17, 2000
"Thank you so much for your wonderful performance at our 8th Annual Civil War Days Program. The concert was so unique and very moving. You obviously gave a lot of thought and effort to this program and we truly appreciate it. We were particularly pleased with the special touch of including readings from actual Civil war era letters and the Gettysburg Address. This really conveyed to the audience some of the feelings and emotions of the people living through this difficult time. And the Last Meeting between Lee and Grant was a marvelous segment of the program as well. You did a truly impressive job and we will certainly want to arrange a return engagement for the group. Again, thank you so much for the great entertainment."
City of Chesapeake Public Library System September 22, 2000
"I wanted to formally thank the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers for your participation in the paries 6th Annual Gettysburg Music Muster. Your music certainly added to the success of this Event. I wanted, as well, to thank you for your generosity in providing the mechanics of sound for all the perfromances. I know everyone appreciated the equipment: from the musicians to the visitors. The gentle professionalism that the balladeers bring to Gettysburg only enhances the performance and, certainly, my experience organizing this. It makes my job so much easier. John Andrews set the standards for this muster in 1995. Since he has passed on and passed the torch to me, I think of his influence and his generosity and I try to work harder. With performers like the balladeers, I can relax and know the music, professionalism and the tradition will continue without a hitch. We look forward to continuing the tradition of this Muster in the year 200 1. We hope we can count on you for help again. Thanks again."
Music Muster Coordinator
Gettysburg National Military Park
September 8, 2000
"Thank you 77th NY Regimental Balladeers for your absolutely marvelous presentation at our Civil war Jubilee held March 3, 2001. Your varied program was superb, your performers were extremely talented and your audience was attuned to everything you did. The authentic costumes contributed to the ambiance of the day. The Civil War Jubilee was a wonderful success for the Oneida Public Library and the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers contributed greatly to the success. May we meet again!"
Oneida Public Library
March 20, 2001
How to Arrange for a Performance
We can arrange a program for your school, historical site and re-enactment organization at reasonable rates. We offer a variety of fund raising venues including: musical presentations, lectures, musical entertainment for social functions including receptions and teas and period dance events. All performance inquiries are promptly and courteously responded to by calling, or Emailing, John C. Quinn at 518-734-5655.
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