We formed the Camptown Shakers minstrel band to explore our interest in the popular music of mid-19th century America after meeting as American Civil War reenactors. As the soldiers did then, we entertain ourselves and our friends in camp, passing the time with music. Our goal is to research and perform the minstrel style of music in a way that is faithful to the original form. The sound of the fiddle and banjo is a classic combination, but with the addition of percussion the more primitive rhythmic sound of the early minstrel band is heard.
The "Shakers" instruments include 5-string banjo, fiddle, bones, and tambourine. The fretless banjos are strung with the gut strings of the period, tuned down low and played in the minstrel or "stroke" style. The fiddle is bowed in the traditional manner, fit to send dancers' to their feet or provide accompaniement for a song. The tambourine and bones shake and rattle, driving the music and giving the band its name.
Our music is composed of songs, banjo jigs, and fiddle tunes from the 1840's through 1865. We can be seen performing at reenactments, living history presentations, period dances, and other events. The Camptown Shakers will be found entertaining and educating the public throughout the day as well as playing for the participants at a dance or around the campfire. The music on our CD represents some of our favorites songs and tunes and is what you would hear should you camp with us.