Rebel in the Woods

Cathy Barton and Dave Para
Big Canoe Records

Boonville Folk Trio Releases Second Album of Missouri Civil War Music

The Civil War produced more music than any other war in American history, yet songs from Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas from that period remain largely ignored and obscure. Three Boonville musicians have released a second volume of songs and tunes to complete a comprehensive study of this fascinating part of Civil War history. The American Library Association in January 1996 named this album a "Notable Recording" for 1996. "Rebel in the Woods," is volume two of Civil War songs from the Western border produced by Cathy Barton, Dave Para and Bob Dyer. Barton and Para are known nationally and internationally for traditional folk music from Missouri and the Ozarks, and Dyer is a well-known songwriter, poet and historian. Their first album of Civil War music, "Johnny Whistletrigger," was acclaimed by regional historians and writers and also received a Notable award from the American Library Association. It furthered the trio's reputation for high-quality musicianship and extensive historical research. In his introduction to the album's illustrated booklet, historian Tom Goodrich credits Barton, Para and Dyer not only with unearthing "priceless musical relics, but by combining their tremendous talents and professional packaging these forgotten songs they have added a new dimension to our understanding of the conflict." Like volume one, "Rebel in the Woods" covers the period including the Missouri/Kansas border wars which precipitated the Civil War through the Reconstruction era which bore the black migrations to Kansas, the rise of the American cowboy, and the prominence of western outlaws, such as Jesse James. These events and personalities are all inter-connected, as demonstrated by the narratives and emotions found in the music of the period. A number of songs are specifically related to events and people in Central Missouri. "The War in Missouri in 1861," is a concise narrative of what led to the brief Battle of Boonville. The 20-minute conflict, sometimes known as "the Boonville races," was the first Civil War battle in the state and made the cover of Harper's Weekly. The song was probably composed by a Union soldier from Morgan County and set to a traditional tune. From the Kansas State Historical Society comes "Atchison's Buchaneers," a polictical spoof about the sack of Lawrence in 1856. "Gone to Kansas," a lament about black migration to Kansas during the Exoduster movement was collected in the 1940s from a traditional singer in New Jersey. Other songs of note include "Kelly's Irish Brigade," a group of Irish Confederates from St. Louis, a medley of songs about Jesse James, one of which Bob Dyer wrote, "Daniel Martin," a traditional narrative about the battle at Pea Ridge, Ark., and arranged by R. Paul Drummond, choral director at Central Methodist College, and "Missouri, Bright Land of the West," a propaganda song by the composer of the famous "Bonny Blue Flag," Harry Macarthy. Between them, Barton, Para and Dyer sing and play guitars, banjo, hammered and mountain dulcimers and mouthbow. They are also joined by an impressive cast of Missouri musicians. Dave Wilson, from the Springfield bluegrass band Radio Flyer, adds clear expressive lines on fiddle, mandolin and cello. Judy Domeny, also of Springfield, along with the famed Bushwacker Chorus, contribute lead and harmony vocals. Also heard on the record are penny whistle, piano, harmonica and percussion.

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