Q: How did you get interested in music?
A: I've always been interested in music since I was a kid. I played the trumpet "¦ through junior high and high school. I guess I was about 16 or so (when) I got my first guitar and started playing. I played a couple of different kinds of music. I became more and more interested in music from a couple of historical periods "¦ and I started to take lessons for classical guitars. I also learned how to play the lute. I play Renaissance lute and I also play Baroque lute and an instrument called a vihuela, which is an early Spanish court instrument. Two of the periods that also interested me were the American colonial period and the time of the American Civil War. Since I also played folk music in addition to the instrumental music "¦ I just began ... learning a lot about (Civil War music). Of course, living not far from Gettysburg "¦ I was always interested in (it). I learned a lot of the songs and did a lot of research.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I live near Mechanicsburg now. I grew up fairly close by. I went to school in Palmyra down in Lebanon County. I've lived in this area "¦ most of my life.
Q: Did you have a mentor or teacher who helped you learn the obscure instruments?
A: I did. I studied classical guitar, and then I drove to Philadelphia to learn the lute. (Laughs) That was a little bit of an effort. Once a month (I) would spend Saturday morning down there studying with a woman who lived in Philadelphia. I've taken a lot of workshops. Guitar, I learned locally, and for the Civil War-era music, I recently bought a six-string banjo.
Q: Does the older music require you to use different performing techniques?
A: I play the guitar with the classical guitar technique "¦ with finger picking. With ... the lute -- you play a little bit differently. You play with the flats of the fingers. With the Renaissance lute, you play a lot of the rapid runs with your thumb and your first finger. The techniques are bit different for the different instruments.
Q: How did you get involved with Steam Into History?
A: I had an email one morning and saw a story in there about Steam Into History getting started. This was ... last winter or early spring. I had done Civil War music for a number of years and I thought, "I wonder if they'd be interested?" So, I sent them an email, and they responded and they were interested. That's how we first got in touch. Frets and Strings Antique is ... a name I've given to my music. The Antique obviously comes because I do early music. The Civil War is really the latest music I play. I'll occasionally have to go a little more modern for a performance, but generally speaking that's as modern as I get. I kind of go backward from there.
Q: Do you incorporate the history of the time period into your performances?
A: To some extent I try to work in a little history with it. I try to make it entertaining and not a plain lecture or anything like that. People a lot of times will ask questions about the music and about the composers. Sometimes, there (are) kind of interesting stories behind that that I've found from reading. I try to relay some of that as well. I think these songs really help us to understand the people of that period.
Q: What was happening musically in the 1860s?
A: Of course, the war had a huge influence. There were a lot of songs written for various purposes -- recruiting and so forth -- for the war itself. The other thing was the rise of a lot of popular composers like Stephen Foster and some others. It was an interesting period in American popular music. I do a fair number of songs that were popular and songs that you've heard of like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The Battle Cry of Freedom" and songs that came out of the Civil War the everybody knows. There are some more obscure ones that I've found through the years going through books and sometimes online. A lot of times what I've found is that people would take songs that were known ... at the time and put new words to them. (They'd take) their experience from the war or something about the war that they'd set it to a tune of people would know.
Q: Do you enjoy performing on a train?
A: I've performed for Steam in History quite a few times. It's just a venue I've really enjoyed playing. The people just seem to enjoy the music. People ask me about the Civil War. I can't claim to be the greatest expert, but people will ask me a variety of questions. I've always been really interested in history. This gives me a chance to combine my interest in ... American history with music. I now do a character interpretation of George Washington. That's another chance to use some of my acting skills along with my love of American history. Washington was a fascinating man. I've read quite a bit about him and have studied him quite extensively. One of things that impressed me most was his emphasis on personal integrity. It's amazing how he stuck with his moral standards. To some extent, the impression people have of him is true.
Q: Have you ever combined your music with the impression? I don't know if Washington was musical.
A: He could dance. (Laughs) He was not otherwise musical. I haven't really combined it, but I've had success just a few weeks ago. I did a colonial fair where I was Washington on Saturday and then went back with the music group I play with to do colonial era music. The performance is separate (from) the Washington interpretation. I have a day job, so that limits (my schedule) to some extent. Most of what I've done has been central and maybe a little towards eastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.
Civil War musician Jeff Greenawalt of Frets & Strings Antique will perform 10:30 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Saturday on Steam Into History, a replica Civil War steam locomotive. The trail will run weekend programs and a few weekday excursions through December. Tickets are $19 for adults and $9 for kids 3 to 13, plus a $1 ticketing charge. For details and tickets, visit steamintohistory.com. Read more meet-the-artist interviews at flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.