Celebrating Early American Musical Traditions – The Sons Of Liberty

In an earlier post, The Sons of Liberty – Three Inspiring Young Men , I wrote about three bothers (Josh, Noah and Daniel Smith from Jonesville, VA) who are trying to keep 18th century music alive by playing it. With a background in classical violin, they began re-enacting and playing music of the 18th century in an authentic style in 2014 in state and national parks throughout the Northeast.


The Sons of Liberty are (left to right) Daniel, Noah and Joshua Smith of Jonesville, Virginia.

I first saw them in a YouTube video, and I enjoyed their playing so much, I decided to buy their first CD called Celebrating Early American Musical Traditions. They play music of the 18th century filled with beautiful melodies, from lively jigs and reels to enchanting and regal marches and laments.

The Sons of Liberty - Celebrating Early American Musical
The Sons of Liberty – Celebrating Early American Musical Traditions

Included in the album are 12 tracks:

  1. Soldier’s Joy/Liberty Soldier’s Joy is one of the most popular dance and fiddle tunes on both sides of the Atlantic. The tune of this song is believed to be a precursor to Yankee Doodle
  2. MacPherson’s Farewell was written by the famous Scottish outlaw James MacPherson as he awaited execution for his crimes.
  3. A-Roving is a sea chantey that sailors used to keep them in rhythm when they loaded and unloaded their cargo.
  4. The Jolly Tradesman is a classic tune from Thomas D’Urfrey’s Wit and Mirth or Pills to Purge Melancholy. The tune is from 1670.
  5. Sir Peter Parker was written in 1777 after the first siege of Charleston, South Carolina. It was written to an earlier tune.
  6. Rakes of Mallow is an Irish tune. “Rake” is short for “Rakehell”, an 18th century term for a man who lived a life of drunken debauchery,
  7. Swallow Tail Jig was originally known as Swallow’s Tail Reel, but they play it here as a jig.
  8. Johnnie Cope was a Jacobite ballad written in commemoration of the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.
  9. The Duke of Kent’s Waltzes were written in 1802 for the Duke of Kent. The first of these is featured in the film Beyond the Mask.
  10. Smash the Widows/Haste to the Wedding/The Irish Washerwoman
    • Smash the Windows was often used as an accompaniment to the country-dance, The Haymaker’s Jig.
    • Haste to the Wedding was used in the 1767 play The Elopement in London’s Drury Lane Theatre.
    • The Irish Washerwoman is widely used amongst Scottish fiddlers as a classic example of a jig.
  11. Men of Harlech is the unofficial Welsh national anthem written about the fateful 1468 siege of Harlech Castle in Wales during the War of the Roses.
  12. Over the Hills and Far Away was featured in the play The Recruiting Officer and was popular into the American Revolution.

The sound in this album is extremely crisp, clear and brilliant as if these three young men were playing in the same room with you. Their playing is impeccable and bright, and their enthusiasm and enjoyment in playing comes through in each track. Listening to their music is a joyful experience for any fiddle music lover. If you are a fan of early American music, don’t think about it; just buy this album. You’ll be glad you did!

Celebrating Early American Traditions is available at Townsends

See The Friends of the Sons of Liberty for more information

Added April 11, 2019: See also: The Sons of Liberty – A New (2nd) CD on the Horizon

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