Upriver Music visits Bath Library

The last ten days were big for visiting musicians in the Warm Springs area. There was duo of folk musicians playing at the Elementary Schools and the library, and two Big University Marching Bands played with the Bath County High School band.

Dan Moorefield and Teresa Morrison spent Thursday the 10th at both Millboro and Valley Elementary Schools, and gave a third performance at the library in the evening. More than just a series of songs, Dan and Teresa’s program, “Upriver Music” gave a view on the life and times of Mark Twain through music that would have been played during his time. They interspersed songs with stories about and by the great author and humorist.

Dan sang and played guitar, and piano, and sometimes fiddle, while Teresa played banjo, mandolin, Irish whistle, and alto recorder. One of their songs began with a traditional Irish version, and concluded with the familiar upbeat one used to rally troops during the 1860s.

(Insert Music here)

Dan gave a little background.“So, Civil War came along, when Sam Clemens got to be a riverboat at age 23, remarkably young age to be given that kind of responsibility. And he kept at it until 1861 when the Civil War came along, and it shut down the riverboat traffic on the Mississippi cause you had armies fighting for the river, and you just couldn’t run up and down the river on a steamboat anymore, so it shut down and he was out of work. And he thought, “Well, I’ll join the army.” So, he did. He joined a confederate volunteer group. And he drilled with them a few weeks, until a few Yankees showed, so he deserted, and he headed west to Nevada where they had silver mines opened up, and he tried his luck as a silver miner. That didn’t work out to well.”


Samuel Clemens, by then known as Mark Twain, next worked as a travel writer in San Francisco, and even went to some Pacific Islands and sent home dispatches. His writing career was advancing rapidly, and it wasn’t much longer before he had what we now call “rock star status.”

Again Dan Moorefield,

“Sam Clemens, when he got done with his boat trip out west, came back east and he never went back.”

This was a time in American history when more people were moving west than east.

Dan and Teresa then played Shenandoah, which almost became the state song of Virginia quite a few years back.

“That lasted until some wise man in the legislature figured out that this song wasn’t about Virginia at all. It was about Iowa. There’s a town in Iowa called Shenandoah. And that was the jumping off place for the trip west. They were settlers, and outfitters; they’d set you up with a covered wagon, and a team of oxen or a team of mules, or whatever you needed. And off people would go, you know, out to the Land Rush, or the Gold Rush, or the Silver Mine Rush.

For another story about a visit from musicians in Bath County, more than a hundred of them please stay tuned to AMR.

(Whistle music here.)

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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