A little help from some friends

Concert of Civil War-era tunes to benefit flood victims

— Delmar resident Bill Frueh, who created the band Rural Felicity, said one of the members of his group used to live in Rotterdam Junction. She was taken out of her second floor apartment building by boat during the flooding.

“The devastation of those floods is amazing,” he said. “She lost about everything. She was the regimental cook, and she had some of our tents and cooking gear in her car. The water went over the top and totaled it.”

Rural Felicity performs 19th century historical music of the northeast, while providing fife and drum music to various re-enactor groups. Frueh said his group developed out of several local fife and drum groups after discovering many of the songs they played also had lyrics.

“We try to do it as close as to how the soldiers would do it, or people in a tavern,” he said. “We’re not real polished, just here to have fun. We figure if we’re not having fun, why would the audience have fun?”

Frueh explained many of the songs the groups will play do not have an allegiance to the north or south, but were songs sang throughout the country.

“Even down south they would sing northern songs, they just might change the words,” he said. “If you’re used to a song, are you going to stop singing them just because you’re on the opposite side? It’s not like they have top 40 radio.”

Frueh said many of the songs that survived the test of time and can still be heard today are the ones with catchy tunes, adding, “Even if they had good words they wouldn’t last if they didn’t have a good tune.” That’s especially true because very few could read music or were even literate during the time.

Since Frueh is blind, the lyrics to tunes pose a similar problem.

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