Civil War Events Feature Minstrel Song Revival

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Visitors to some Civil War anniversary events are hearing another long-silenced sound amid the cannon fire.

It's music from 19th-century minstrel shows, performed not in blackface but in uniform.

Some re-enactors have formed camp bands to play music that soldiers enjoyed hearing around battlefield campfires. The most popular tunes included songs from the minstrel stage.

Groups such as the 2nd South Carolina String Band pride themselves on their accurate impressions - right down to the exaggerated black dialect of songs with inescapably racist overtones.

The musicians say they don't mean to offend. Critics say they should help listeners understand how the demeaning songs also helped popularize the banjo, an instrument with African roots. -- By DAVID DISHNEAU