The Sons of Liberty, Joshua, Noah and Daniel Smith, three brothers from Southwest Virginia, have a unique mission: to preserve the music of the American Revolution — by playing it.
“We’ve always been very interested in history and started playing classical violin at an early age,” says Noah. “Performing the music of the 18th century, our nation’s founding era, was really a natural outgrowth of that.”
“As living history interpreters, our job is not only to perform musically but to educate listeners through first and third-person interpretations. Accuracy is the key to a correct representation of what music really sounded like during the American Revolution. For us, preparing a song or program for performance isn’t just about practicing, it’s an intense amount of research into the past,” Joshua adds. “What’s really quite fascinating is how music so effectively transports listeners back in time, in a way that no other medium can. It’s truly a unique experience.”
The brothers began re-enacting in 2014 but have been playing music together for much longer.
“When we started learning to play violin, I was 5,” says Daniel. Their re-enacting journey started at Martin’s Station, a living history site within Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing, Virginia.
“It’s truly a unique place,” says Noah. “Martin’s Station is the most accurate reconstruction of a frontier fort in the eastern United States. Every log of every cabin was hand hewn and all construction was done with period tools, by reenactors working and living in the conditions actually experienced by the original builders in 1775. We came to Martin’s Station truly in awe, and we now enjoy it as part of a group of people who are as close as family, dedicated to preserving our history.”
This association with Martin’s Station led to performances across the southeast at state and national parks, as well as private museums and foundations, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.
The brothers’ two music CDs, “Celebrating Early American Musical Traditions” and “A Delightful Recreation,” are featured in venues across the eastern United States, as well as on the website of the 18th century merchandise retailer, Townsends, www.townsends.us.
Their two favourite tunes to play are “Over the Hills and Far Away,” a march from 1706, and “The Flowers of Edinburgh,” an 18th century Scottish tune.
“We love ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ particularly because we have ended every music program we have produced in the last six years with this song. ‘The Flowers of Edinburgh’ is special, not only because of its charming melody, but also because it was a personal favorite of Thomas Jefferson,” Noah says.
Joshua, Noah and Daniel are 18, 16 and 16 respectively. They are the sons of Michael and Barbara Smith and live on a farm in Lee County, Virginia.
They hope to always play music together, but realize that they will all eventually go their separate ways.
(submitted story and photo)