Making the Music of History . . . at the Smithsonian

David Goss (center in red shirt) and The 2nd South Carolina String Band at the Smithsonian Institute.

It wasn’t the first time David Goss, assistant professor of history and director of museum studies, performed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. But it was still, well, the Smithsonian. So Goss and his Civil War band, The 2nd South Carolina String Band, traveled back last month to play their period instruments and music in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. They played in the room where Lincoln held his second Inaugural dinner; the event attracted over 6,000 guests. 

Goss plays guitar and is the lead singer of the band, which performed over 25 songs from the era with period instruments. Last spring, he and his band members also played when Documentarian Ken Burns, who directed the PBS television series on the Civil War, was the keynote speaker. Some 300 audience members attended that event at the Smithsonian.

“Playing again (at the Smithsonian)  underscores the reality that this era in American history is becoming more popular within the culture, not just the academic community,” Goss said. “And it shows why the Civil War was so important on so many levels. Everything in our country changed from that point on: from states’ rights and race relations to the influence the federal government would have on states and how they would operate from then on. It really was a pivotal time for our country.”

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