Introducing the Huckleberry Brothers Band
Headquartered in the rural coastal plains of eastern North Carolina, we formed the Huckleberry Brothers band to explore our interest in the traditional and popular music of mid-19th century America after meeting as American Civil War reenactors.
The Huckleberry Brothers formed as a group in 2002 with three members as a result of meeting as American Civil War reenactors with an interest in mid 19th Century music. The group has grown to eleven members. The Huckleberry Brothers not only play in camp and for dances during Civil War reenactments in North Carolina and surrounding states, but also performs at living history presentations, period balls, and for various functions at the North Carolina State Capitol.
In February 2002 several Civil War reenactors began meeting at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, N. C. on a couple of Tuesday nights each month to play music of the mid-1800s. A number of individuals came and went, but Doc Edd Little, Edd Little, Sr., Curtis Cole, and Bryant Henderson stuck with it. We met fiddler Troy Parker at Bentonville in March of that year. Troy has been playing just about any instrument with strings for about fifteen years.
Our goal is to research and perform the minstrel and old time styles of music in a way that is faithful to the original form. The music is composed of songs, ballads, and fiddle tunes from the 1700’s through 1865.
Eventually, we figured that the time had come to attach a name to identify ourselves. We wanted something that would not be distinct to either North or South, nor militaristic sounding, so we agreed on "The Huckleberry Brothers." Huckleberries are both blue and gray on the outside, they grow uncultivated all over North America ("Wild on a ditch bank!) and "It's all good on the inside." We think it's a playful name with sort of a rhythm to it. "The Huckleberry Brothers -- everybody's favorite musical fruits. We don't beat around the bush."
Our first official public performance was at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, N. C. on Saturday, January 12, 2003. That year saw us perform at most of the Civil War sites in eastern N. C. – Forts Macon and Branch, Kinston, Averasboro, and Bentonville. More recent performances have been at Bennett Place State Historic Site, Appomattox Court House, and Manassas, VA, and Gettysburg, PA.
In January, 2004, we all nearly froze to death at the reenactment at Goldsboro's Old Waynesborough Village on the first night that we played with fiddler Mike Parker.
By March, Troy had brought along the fiddle, banjo, piano, and singing talents of Ann Massengill Ortiz. "Annie O" holds a Ph. D. in Spanish Literature, and teaches at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
In November of ‘05, Edd Little, Sr passed along to that big music hall in the sky at the age of nearly 92. His gentle friendship, jokes, and reflections of his youth on a dairy farm in northwestern New Jersey continue to guide and shape our approach to the music that he heard first hand from Civil War veterans.
By ’07, it only seemed natural to officially add the dancing and musical talents of Bryan Craddock on whistles, percussion and flat-foot dancing. Bryan is an experienced dance caller, and there’s nothing that we enjoy more than playing for a crowd of happy dancers.
Last, but by no means least, we are joined at practically any performance by a sundry host of musical friends, officially dubbed “The Cocklebur Cousins.”
It is our goal that our involvement in "The Huckleberry Brothers" and this music will provide even more fun and realism to historical and musical events. We have noticed one thing in particular -- this kind of music draws a crowd, and it seems to attract folks who are our kindred spirits.
As the soldiers did then, we entertain ourselves and our friends in camp with songs, dances, and infinite tomfoolery. Our goal is to research and perform the minstrel and old-time styles of music, particularly of North Carolina, in a way that is faithful to the original forms. The sound of the fiddle and banjo is a quintessential American pairing, and the addition of more instruments and percussion creates the varied and vibrant sound that transformed folk music into the foundations of American popular music.
The Huckleberries' instruments are authentically reproduced in the designs and materials of the mid-1800s. They include 5-string banjo, fiddle, guitar, Anglo concertina, tin whistle, 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.
Our music is composed of songs, ballads, and fiddle tunes from the 1700's through 1865. We hope to see “all y’all” soon at reenactments, living history presentations, period dances, and other events.
Minstrel music often exaggerated regional dialects for effect, especially those of Irish, German, and African-American origins. The dialectical variations and exaggerations do not reflect any attitude of negativity nor of disrespect on the part of the Huckleberry Brothers, but rather they are rendered purely for the purpose of approximating historical accuracy.
Banjo, Vocals: Edd Little, Annie Ortiz
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