PARKERSBURG - A Vienna man whose life-long passion is music has collaborated on a CD series about the Civil War.
Mike Evans, 60, wrote music and lyrics for songs in the three-volume "God Didn't Choose Sides" series, a project by Rural Rhythm Records of Nashville, Tenn.
Volume 1, "Civil War True Stories About Real People," will be released on Feb. 12, the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, Evans said.
Mike Evans of Vienna poses with his guitar. Evans collaborated on a CD series observing the Civil War, which commenced 150 years ago. (Photo by Jess Mancini)
"I am really excited about this," said Evans, a union insulator. "This has been a labor of love for the past three years for all of us."
Volume 1 includes four songs Evans co-wrote with either Paula Breedlove and Mark "Brink" Brinkman. Brinkman with Sam Passamano, president of Rural Rhythm Records, contacted Evans for his participation in the project.
America is observing the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
Early in the endeavor, the emphasis was placed on writing about real people and occurrences during the war, rather than writing a song of an fictional account or character, Evans said. Much of the last three years was spent on researching stories, he said.
Among those was Nancy Hart of Roane County, a Confederate spy and member of the Moccasin Rangers, a guerilla group with Southern sympathies.
Her story is told in "Rebel Hart."
"The Lady in Gray" is about a woman who travels to Camp Chase, a Union prison of war camp near Columbus, to see her beloved, only to find Benjamin F. Allen of the 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Company D, died and was buried in grave No. 223.
"She stayed in Columbus and for the rest of her days took care of the grave," Evans said.
The woman's ghost, the Lady in Gray, is believed to travel the cemetery, he said. Occasionally flowers are found at the grave, Evans said.
"Carrie's Graveyard Book" is the story of Carrie McGavock whose plantation, Carnton, was used as a field hospital in 1864 during the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., Evans said. She took care of many of the soldiers, their blood stains still present in the mansion to this day, he said.
More than 1,000 soldiers were laid to rest on the plantation and McGavock kept meticulous records of their burial so families would know where the soldiers are laid to rest. She cared for the records and the cemetery until she died in 1905.
"She spent her life and fortune taking care of the soldiers," Evans said,.
"Providence Spring" is a song about a lightning bolt striking at the infamous Confederate Andersonville prisoner of war camp, causing fresh clean water to flow from the ground. A stream for the disease-rampant camp had become polluted with human waste.
"The men believed God had answered their prayers," Evans said.
Evans has been a musician his entire life. Bluegrass, Evans said, is his specialty.
He played with Surefire in the 1990s for about 10 years.
"If there ever comes a time when I can't play this anymore," he said holding his guitar, "it's going to be a very hard pill to swallow."
Evans doesn't write music. His ability comes from the heart, which is from where music should come, Evans said.
"I play by ear," Evans said. "I'm fortunate God blessed me with a really good ear."
The CDs will be available on amazon.com, Evans said. Songs that can be downloaded will be available on airplaydirect.com.
Evans also is working on songs for the second and third volumes of the CDs. The third may be a gospel music album, but that has yet to be determined, Evans said.
It was an honor working on the songs and participating in the project, Evans said.
"A hundred years from now, people aren't going to know who I am, but they may remember these songs," he said.