Tales and Tunes from 1864

On a sultry summer night that would have made Mark Twain feel right at home, “Way Out West in 1864” delighted and entertained an audience of all ages with stories, insights and authentic music of the day.

Pat Kaunert perfectly portrayed the legendary storyteller Mark Twain in word and presence. In his trademark white Southern gentleman suit and fluff of white hair and bushy mustache, Mr. Twain spun yarns of his journey west, from his attempts at being a riverboat captain back east, through his stagecoach ride across the plains and silver fields of Nevada, until finally arriving at his cabin on Jackass Hill where one of his best-known stories, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was written. And, of course, the evening would not have been complete without Mr. Twain himself relating this famous tale to our eager audience.

Dave Rainwater provided the wonderful music of the era and of the evening.  Not simply musical interludes, each song was explained in detail as to when they were written and how they related to the times. Dave’s talents extend beyond just the fiddle, of course, and he demonstrated his skills on the guitar, viola and several other instruments throughout the show.

At the end of the evening, everybody stayed in their seats—nobody wanted it to be over! So, with the call of “one more tune!” from the back of the packed house, Dave got a glint in his eye and really got down to some serious contest-winning-level fiddling. His selection? “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Oh, yes. You heard right.

It was absolutely fascinating to hear Dave play and explain each section of the song and how it was actually a medley of many popular fiddle tunes of the day. Then he ran through the heart of the song with fingers and bow flying in a blazing display of fiddling prowess. It’s no wonder he’s played with the New Christie Minstrels and is currently with the Black Irish Band. This man is a rare talent not to be missed, and we hope you were able to make it for this unforgettable show under the stars.