“‘Abe ... Never Could Sing Much’: Camp Meeting Songs and Fiddle Tunes in New Salem.”
Pete Ellertsen, volunteer editor in the oral history program at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, will give a talk entirled “‘Abe … Never Could Sing Much’: Camp Meeting Songs and Fiddle Tunes in New Salem” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 28, in the conference room at the Visitor Center, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, off Ill. 97 at Petersburg.
Pete will present a program based on his research into the music of New Salem, where he uses the Appalachian dulcimer to interpret the Southern upland culture of the period. During the 1830s, popular sheet music for piano and guitar was beginning to compete with the Anglo-Celtic ballads, fiddle tunes and folk hymns handed down by oral tradition. So we can document both kinds of music on the Illinois frontier.
Pete will emphasize music attested at New Salem and the nearby Rock Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as well as songs that William Herndon was told were sung by Abraham Lincoln's family and fiddle tunes that John Armstrong, the son of old settlers, played for Edgar Lee Masters in 1914, a session of which Masters said "I felt that somehow I was in the
Rutledge Tavern at New Salem" and "I felt that he was re-creating the past of the deserted village for me."