Local musicians honor Battle of Gettysburg

VIENNA – A group of singers and musicians from the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond has released a concept album commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Using story and song, “The Fields of Gettysburg” album recounts this important Civil War battle during Gettysburg’s sesquicentennial year, July 1-3, 2013.

John A. Walsh of Vienna, Americana singer/songwriter, composed the song cycle of 12 tracks, complete with six historical characters and an interwoven narrative. “The Fields of Gettysburg” tells the story of six Americans “whose lives intertwine in a tragic tale of intense duty and personal sacrifice, conflicted allegiance, young love dashed, and innocence lost.”

The album, released March 31, features singers and musicians who all hail from or live in the Appalachian region. Singer/songwriter Todd Burge of Parkersburg co-produced the album with Walsh and sings the role of Union Gen. John Buford. Walsh, a Marietta native, sings the role of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet and is the recording’s primary guitarist.

Buford and Longstreet are the moral bookends for the song cycle, Walsh said. Three childhood friends from Gettysburg become entangled in a “curious scenario” as two of the characters find themselves on opposite sides at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Others involved in the musical project are Mountain Stage co-founder and host Larry Groce as the narrator, Grammy winner Tim O’Brien on fiddle, West Virginia Music Hall of Fame founder/director Michael Lipton on electric guitar, Mountain Stage band veteran Ammed Solomon on drums and percussion, Bill White on piano and organ, and Carpenter Ant/Mountain Stage regular Ted Harrison on bass guitar.

Providing voice for the six characters, besides Walsh and Burge, are Jessica Baldwin as Mary Wade, Justin Arthur as Wesley Culp, Colton Pack as Jack Skelly and D.J. Archer as Jennie Wade.

Also contributing to the album are Julie Zickefoose playing the penny whistle, Cynthia Puls playing the cello, David George as co-executive producer/engineer (River Rat Studio in Marietta) and guitar and piano cameos, Josh Antonuccio as engineer (3 Elliott Studio, Athens) and Don Dixon with soundtrack mastering.

Walsh said the album has received a good response, with sales from across the United States, Europe and Australia. The project began three years ago, Walsh said.

“Simply put, this is historical narrative at its finest. ‘Fields of Gettysburg’ is an intimate and engaging musical journey through a battle that came to define the outcome and the legacy of the Civil War. Culling together an impressive collection of West Virginia’s finest players, performers, and producers, songwriter John Walsh has given his audience a poignant and personal narrative of the lives that were touched by those three bloody days in 1863. Engaging lyricism, broad soundscapes, and impeccable performances carry the listener through the haunting and harrowing tales of the Fields of Gettysburg,” said Josh Antonuccio, record producer/engineer.

An album release concert for “The Fields of Gettysburg” will be 8 p.m. April 27 at the Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta. Tickets are available at the Galley, 740-374-8278, and online at www.theadelphia.com