LOST CAUSE BAND
Please allow me to introduce you to Lost Cause. You can find out more about the band at http://lostcauseband.com/. We are Mississippi boys who only play songs that you would hear in a Confederate camp. We perform in period costume on proper stringed instruments. We have just released our debut CD of 14 classic Southern songs (you can order by contacting us through our web site). We are available for camp meetings, memorials, concerts, balls, etc. and are returning a percentage of CD sales to local camps when we play a meeting. We will also be contributing to the project to place a Mississippi monument at Shiloh (Mississippi is the only state whose troops are not represented there). Wholesale pricing is available for camps wishing to purchase CDs for fund-raising purposes.
Below you will find a review of the CD. Please contact us ASAP if you are interested in booking a performance as our schedule for the next four years is filling up.
Thank you for your time and we’re looking forward to hearing from you,
WP Rogers Camp 321
Music Review: Lost Cause Captures Spirit
By Bobby J. Smith
Staff Writer, The Daily Corinthian
The main thing that makes Lost Cause better than almost every other band who plays music from the Civil War era is that these guys actually sound like they’re having a good time with these old songs.
By not treating their material like sacred artifacts that you’d have to wear latex gloves to touch, Lost Cause resurrects the rowdy, laughing-in-death’s-face spirit of the men who fought for the losing side in America’s great trauma 150 years ago.
Most historical bands like this are as stale as vintage hardtack, and while many of these Civil War bands have fine, tight arrangements and stirring vocal harmonies, Lost Cause is the only one I’ve heard that sounds like they were really there.
It would be ridiculous for me to talk much about an “authentic” sound on their part, because none of us were there to hear how those old Rebels played these songs back then, but I believe this band has succeeded in capturing the spirit of those bloody times better than any other “period” band I’ve ever heard.
Much of this is because of Mike Byrd’s smooth-as-Old-Grand-Dad vocal work. Back in the days before these songs were historical relics, they were meant to be entertainment, and Byrd’s blend of swagger and stagger on the vocals sounds, to me, to be the closest we can get to hearing what it sounded like when a group of weary (but far from broken) Rebel boys had a spare minute to uncork the jug and play their music next to a campfire.
Their take on “Rose of Alabama” — a done and redone standard — is a perfect example of what I’m trying to say. The song is a tip of the hat to a girl who profoundly impressed the singer, and Byrd is the only person I’ve heard who sings it like it’s more of a brag for the boys than a parting tear for the girl. Just listen to how he sings, “Nobody ever knew her, nobody else but me.” The cat-house fiddle behind his vocal work jives perfectly.
The whole band seems to be in step with the soul of the time. Most Civil War bands I’ve heard play precise melody-line solos that sound like something out of a Mel Bay beginner’s acoustic guitar book or a .Midi file from a CD-ROM encyclopedia made in 1992.
Not these guys.
While the instrumentation is mostly content to back up Byrd’s lyrics, there are moments on this album that show these guys have definite ideas of their own.
For example, those first sentimental banjo notes played by Ernie Welch in the opening of “Dixie” — the first track — seem to foreshadow the album, and the war in a weird way. There’s something touching about that hint of sentimentality in the preamble of the foot-stomping good time these guys conjure in “Dixie.”
There are moments in this album when the vocals and music come together to really evoke the Civil War. If I were to make a movie about the Civil War, I’d have Lost Cause’s version of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” playing in the background when it got to the part about Vicksburg with the rawboned Confederates chasing rats to eat in the trenches, the cannonballs kicking up dirt and rattling the soldiers’ teeth, and explosive shells taking out big pieces of the Shirley house while everybody knows they’re defeated but nobody will say it.
That’s what this song sounds like to me.
Sing the song anyway, even if you know that the cause is lost and Johnny really isn’t going to come marching home.
Another little detail that captures what I’m talking about here comes from “Yellow Rose of Texas.” It’s an old song first sung by Texans based on a legend about a lady that distracted Gen. Santa Anna by heroically seducing him to assist Sam Houston’s army in whipping the Mexicans at San Jacinto. The Confederates made it their own.
After Hood’s disastrous late-war campaign in Tennessee, the soldiers jokingly added the verse “Talk about your Beauregard and sing of General Lee / But gallant Hood of Texas played hell in Tennessee.”
Think about that.
These half-starved poor boys had been marched all over the mid-south and fed into the meat grinder at Franklin and Nashville and they still had the sense of humor to make a joke about it in song. Those boys could march 20 hours a day barefoot on a handful of rotten acorns and still be funnier than any grandfather you ever knew when they had a few minutes to spare.
They didn’t sing these songs like they were in church — they whooped it up for one last true good time, knowing that it might be all they got. Those boys could see their best buddies beg for mercy and get shot down like mad dogs by the Yankees and see their friends and neighbors and selves turned into vicious animals by war and still say all was good because they really knew that it was all God’s will.
That’s the spirit I hear all over Lost Cause’s new album.
Beside all this historical relevance there are some moments of supreme musical beauty in this album. The first rollicking banjo solo in “Dixie” and Robin Harmon’s fluttering hummingbird mandolin solo in “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” are irresistible. The latter song is a gem in its entirety, my favorite track on the album, and just as true and sad today as when it was written.
Lost Cause stayed pretty close to the beaten path when it came to the material they chose for this album. It begins with “Dixie” and ends with “I’m a Good Ole Rebel” — which makes sense, in a narrative kind of way.
Many of the songs would be familiar to a person even casually interested in the Civil War. I think it’s a good choice, though, to stick with the recognizable songs the way Lost Cause has done. Non-specialists will recognize some of the songs, and even jaded musicologists and history buffs who just know they know everything will find some surprises here.
One more comment: Keith Letson’s work on the vocal-only “Roll, Alabama, Roll” is a definite high point of the album. If I’d lived back in the old days and heard a song like that I’d be ready to sign up to get shot to pieces for the first Glorious Cause that came around. Letson sounds profoundly affected by the story he’s singing, like he might’ve seen it all happening with his own two eyes.
But, then again, the whole album sounds that way. Lost Cause’s debut album gets five stars out of five and two thumbs up — for making the rebel yell echo all the way into our time.