Most reenactors seem to like period music, whether it be brass 'n drums or banjo. To me it was an acquired taste - I was a metal head back in my wilder days. So I had to make the shift to more earthy or marching band music. At first it was a change - I didn't really like bluegrass music, but I did have an affinity for Celtic music, which allowed me to ease in the more earthy Civil War music. I was surprised how easy I was able to enjoy period music - and now I can say I can enjoy bluegrass too!
It's not hard to imagine that there's a sub-set of reenactors who focus on the music of the Civil War period. When I went out of the hobby, the regimental bands were beginning to make a meaningful splash in the Civil War community. When I came back, there was a decent selection of researched and recreated music to choose from.
The smallest groups that do events and other period-appropriate events are the soloists, duos and trios that have a simple set-up of stringed instruments and accompaniment such as a harmonica, flute or similiar. A great example of such a "group" is the Battlefield Balladeers, a duo with none other than David Corbett, a favorite commenter on Seeing the Elephant (recreated). It's a sincere regret that I missed him at Perryville -- could have used some great music that weekend. Earlier this year I also blogged about a couple of artists who play at some events, but their mark was made through their recordings, Martin Liebschner, Jr. and Carson Hudson, Jr.
The next step up are larger string and small instrument bands. One that comes to mind is the 2nd South Carolina String Band. This group is still very active in reenacting circles and has a respectable longevity. Their bio looks like this:
The 2nd South Carolina String Band was formed in August of 1989 by five riflemen of Co.I, 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry, a unit of Civil War reenactors that was very active during the five years of events celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War - and for many years to follow. After the battles, drills and inspections, the boys who had instruments played and sang around the campfire while members of the unit would often join in and sing along. This was the beginning of the 2nd South Carolina String Band.
A very nice beginning indeed!
Brass Bands are the ones that are most associated with military music of the period. Many groups emulate these groups. The in doing a little it of research, the first I was able to find was the colorful Excelsior Cornet Band. Although they play almost exclusively in New York state, they seem to have a very busy schedule. Maybe they'll come southward for a performance or two. Another region-bound, but sizeable band is the Band of the California Battalion. They seem have a fairly busy schedule, although they have no schedule up to see. They're considerable gathering, with several representative instruments.