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HARDTACK and HARD TIMES: Fun Fest Civil War Event Sees Musician and Historian Team Up.

June 20th, 2014 3:53 am by Ned Jilton

HARDTACK and HARD TIMES: Fun Fest Civil War Event Sees Musician and Historian Team Up.

Civil War historian Thomas Cartwright will team with Musical artist Michael Holloway to present a portrayal of Private Sam Watkins, based on Watkins' book "Co. Aytch" Photo courtesy of the Tri-Cities Civil War Round Table.

Folks attending the Civil War night, July 14, at Fun Fest are in for a real treat as Civil War historian Thomas Cartwright will team with Musical artist Michael Holloway to present a portrayal of Private Sam Watkins, based on Watkins' book "Co. Aytch First Tennessee Regiment or a Side Show of the Big Show"

I had the chance to spend the day with Cartwright as he conducted tours of the battles of Spring Hill and Franklin during the Civil War Trust convention I attended recently in Nashville. Cartwright is not only knowledgeable, but highly entertaining and when he talked about the Battle of Franklin he pulled no punches as he told it like it was in vivid details.

I have also read Sam Watkins' book. Written from his perspective as a private in Company H, First Tennessee Regiment, C.S.A., Watkins' book is one of the best first person accounts from the war. The book was heavily quoted through-out Ken Burns Civil War series on PBS and is worth reading by those who only have a passing interest in the Civil War.

"We're ecstatic to have Thomas Cartwright take the stage" said D. Wayne Strong with the Tri-Cities Civil War Round Table. "He will share with us his depiction of one of the most memorable soldiers of the Civil War, Sam Watkins, and who wrote Co. Aytch, a riveting recount of his life during the war. As a young boy, Cartwright read the book, Co. Aytch, and was so enthralled with it, he committed the book to memory.

Cartwright, in conjunction with the Lotz House Civil War museum, has teamed with long-time music performer and entertainer, Michael Holloway, to take what Watkins began to write after the war, and what Cartwright memorized as a child, into the 21 century. Holloway wrote and will perform all original music to enhance the experience of the two hour portrayal. Holloway calls his music on the new CD "American music, by an American artist for an American story."

Robert Hicks, author of New York Times bestseller The Widow of the South said, "Thomas Cartwright has partnered up with Michael Holloway to give us Sam Watkins' Co. Aytch and what a gift it will be. For those of us who have loved ol' Sam and his Co. Aytch, this is long overdue. For those who have never read Co. Aytch, it is the best introduction I can think of."

Hicks added, "In Sam's own words, Cartwright movingly retells the story of Sam's adventures in the service of the South. It is hard to imagine anyone that Sam would have rather had retell his story. Added to all of this is the wonderful music that Michael Holloway wrote and performed in accompaniment to Sam's words. Cartwright and Holloway have hit this one out of the park. This performance is a must for anyone who loves the rich history of the American Civil War."

Michael Holloway has a long and storied musical career. Growing up in Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta, his exposure to music came early, accompanying his father to blues jams with other workers in the pulp wood business. Playing left-handed, Holloway learned the guitar on his own, playing his father's instrument upside down. In fact, the legendary Gibson Guitar even created a left-handed Dobro especially for Holloway to play. He has released two albums including Blues Travel Fast and Riding This Train which includes a cut called Feast or Famine with duet partner Gretchen Wilson. He's toured the country as well as Europe and opened for such acts as BB King, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and Little Feat.

The Fun Fest Civil War evening is on Monday, July 14, from 6:30 -- 9:00, in The Renaissance Center Theatre at 1200 East Center St., Kingsport, TN. The ticket cost is only $5.00/person and can be purchased at the Fun Fest Store after June 20th or the night of the performance at the theater door.

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