The Butternut Boys are not all boys. Our name comes from Bob Dyer's song about a Missouri folk hero known as "Johnny Whistletrigger." "Butternut" also refers to the grayish-brown shade home-dyed Confederate uniforms often turned. Because of the commonness of such uniforms, Yankees often referred to Confederate soldiers as "butternuts."
The Butternut Boys String Band's mission in life is to preserve songs of the Civil War era, especially those that are not seen as politically correct today. We do not believe in bowdlerizing history--and we believe that all Americans lose, if our historical heritage is lost.
Founder HAROLD HAUGAARD sings lead and plays guitar, modern banjo, minstrel banjo, bodhran, and concertina. Give him an instrument and he'll master it.
GLENN GUSTITUS hops from century to century; one moment he's on guitar, the next he's fine-tuning with sound equipment. We owe him many thanks for all his hard technical work.
CELIA MATER sings lead and harmony with Harold, and plays tin whistle, recorder, tambourine, and spoons. She hopes to learn bones and field drum, and put her piano skills to use with Civil War parlor songs. She also acts as music historian for the band.
We try to play instruments as close in sound as possible to those used in the mid-19th century; however, that is not always economically possible.
Harold plays what is possibly the only reproduction minstrel-era (ca. 1840) banjo in Kansas, patterned from a museum original. You'll notice its sound is softer than that of the modern banjo, owing to the gut strings and calfskin head. It is also tuned at least a fourth lower. It was obtained from Bob Flesher Custom Banjos (www.flesherbanjos.com) in kit form and built by Glenn.
The concertina--younger brother of the accordion--being small and portable, found itself on board many Naval vessels; its haunting sound must have sung of home to many a lonely sailor in wartime.
Tin whistles--related to the military fife-- made the trip from the British Isles to America, and would have been popular with Southerners of Celtic origin. Their chief virtue was portability.
For recorders Celia has not managed to find a period reference, but it is likely that they were known by other names--perhaps simply as whistle, possibly as flageolets (a similar wind instrument of the flute family). There are times when only a recorder produces the soft, melancholy tones appropriate to a certain period song.
Spoons have probably gone straight from the kitchen table to the songfest in the parlor for many centuries. They also featured prominently --with bones--on the pre-war minstrel stage--and very possibly as instruments a simple country housewife might pick up to join in the family fun.
The tambourine has roots in far antiquity . It is related to the ancient Egyptian sistrum. In the Civil War era it also starred on the minstrel stage as a rhythm instrument.
The bodhran, an Irish-Scottish one-headed drum, crossed the Atlantic with immigrants--and in our case, pretends to be the bass drum with a regimental or shipboard band.
Our guitars are of modern design and timbre, because we do a lot of acoustic performances and need the carrying power. C.F. Martin's 00028VS is a close reproduction of their 1903 model small bodied guitar and is used in most live performances. For these recordings, a Gibson J100 was used.
Marmaduke's Hornpipe.--This lively "hornpipe" (the name is derived from a medieval reed instrument, and refers to a skipping or hopping dance) gets the toes a-tappin'. The tune is anonymous, but comes from the Missouri fiddle tradition. The name refers to John Sappington Marmaduke, Confederate General and postwar governor of Missouri. Musicians of both sides commonly named wartime compositions for prominent military figures.
Keemo Kimo.--With folk music's origins tracing as far back as the Middle Ages in versions featuring frogs going a-courting, this particular version comes from slaves on the plantations of South Carolina. Also popular among whites, the nonsense song is known to have been sung by elements of the Army of Tennessee and General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A marching song, as such, it is the granddaddy of modern cadence calls.
McLeod's Reel/Ryan's Polka medley.--Two lively reel tunes of Celtic origin, better known to some as "Missouri wedding music" due to the charming wedding reception scene in the movie, "Ride with the Devil." Everyone loves a reel--it's easy to dance to and fun to perform.
Pray, Maiden, Pray.--This lovely late-war (1864) waltz tune evokes pictures of handsome Confederate officers squiring the local belles at, perhaps, one of Jeb Stuart's "hastily-got-up" balls. Lyrics: A. W. Kercheval. Music: A. J. Turner.
Tombigbee Waltz.--From Ireland via Texas comes this waltz tune. There can never be too many waltz tunes at a dance!
Old King Crow.--In 1843 the minstrel stage gave birth to this playful nonsense song. Words and tune by A. F. Winnemore (composer of other minstrel tunes, such as the smash hit "Rose of Alabama"). It should be pointed out that though the blackface minstrel show played all over the United States, it was enormously popular in the North, where the sight of black faces was an exotic novelty.
Honest Pat Murphy.--Composer and lyricist are anonymous, which is a shame, for it has a swing and panache that are unforgettable. Songs about the Brave Irish Soldier proliferated during the war, such as "Meagher is leading the Irish Brigade," and "Corcoran's Irish Legion." The Confederacy also had songs about Irish-Americans, such as "Kelly's Irish Brigade." This one was originally entitled "Pat Murphy of Meagher's Brigade." Perhaps late-war, it reminded listeners that "the paths of glory lead but to the grave."
Riding a Raid.--This anonymous 1862 song took as its melody the Scottish traditional "Bonnie Dundee"--which, being about Scots Highlanders fighting the invading English, must have had considerable resonance for Confederates. It's a tribute to the great cavalryman Jeb Stuart, who sang in battle, and to the great Christian general, Stonewall Jackson.
O, Lud! Gals!-It's back to the ever-popular minstrel stage with this Dan Emmett song --yes, the same man who composed of "Dixie". The man was amazingly talented. Not only did he rise to fame on the minstrel stage, but he also wrote a fife and drum manual for the antebellum Army.
Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy.--This lively song cannot be dated with precision; like many folk tunes, its roots are obscure. Versions have been dated to the Napoleonic wars, though they are probably far older. Because the Confederacy had to enlist sailors from England and many other nations to man its infant Navy, we like to think that sailors on the famous raider CSS Alabama would have sung this, accompanied by such instruments as they might have packed along in their sea bags. We first heard this tune on a recording by Celia's friends, the talented duo Kim and Paul Caudell, of the 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry reenactment unit.
South Wind / Planxty Fanny Power.--Is a combination of two Irish tunes, "South Wind" and "Planxty (tribute to) Fannie Power," an 18th tune by blind Irish musician O'Carolan. The violinist is John Page, who played with us for a year.