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2019 Deep River Ancient Muster

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Fife & Drum Corps groups will gather at the annual Deep River Ancient Muster on July 19-20, 2019 at Devitt Field in Deep River, Connecticut. The Deep River Ancient Muster is the oldest and largest gathering of fife and drum participants and enthusiasts in the world and has been referred to as “The Granddaddy of All Musters”, and “A Colonial Woodstock”.

Deep River Ancient Muster

Up to 80 fife and drum corp groups dressed in historical attire converge each July on the third Saturday at Deep River. They parade along Main Street, passing historic homes and buildings while performing some of the same music that provided the cadence for troops marching into battle during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and other early American military engagements.

“It’s (the Deep River Ancient Muster) become the main gathering place for people in fife and drums,” says Clark, a music professor at the University of New Haven (Conn.), who has attended every Deep River muster since 1964. “People plan their year around it.”[1]

Although the Deep River Ancient Muster is a competition between the groups, there is a lot of camaraderie between members of the different fife and drum corps. They share in the experience, music, heritage and tradition of fife and drum.

At the parade’s end, the ife and drum corp groups make their way to the baseball diamond at Devitt’s Field and line up in a colorful display of band uniforms from early Colonial days to the 1890s. Each group performs a medley of favorite songs, including Revolutionary War standards such as “York Fusiliers” and “Chester,” and Civil War tunes such as “The Girl I Left Behind” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Various awards are presented at the Deep River Ancient Muster for “non-competitive” categories as group traveling the farthest and the group with the most marching participants.

Muster Date: The Deep River Ancient Muster is always the 3rd Saturday in July

Tatoo: Friday starting at 7:00 pm at Devitt’s Field

Host Corps: Deep River Junior Ancients

PARTICIPANT’S NOTE: You MUST read and accept the DRAM Guidelines and Information page before going to the Muster Registration pages.

On-line muster registration: Access to on-line registration is at the end of the DRAM Guidelines detail page, and will end on JULY 1. Registrations after that date will be accepted at the muster field on Friday, before 8:00 pm.

Parade: Saturday starting at 11:00 am. The Deep River Ancient Muster parade starts at the corner of Main and Kirtland Streets and proceeds down Main Street to Devitt’s Field.

Host Corp: Deep River Ancient Muster Committee and the Deep River Drum Corps

Deep River Ancient Muster: Starts immediately following the parade at Devitt’s Field. Roads close at 10:30 am. Parking in several locations along Main Street, Deep River Congregational Church, The Stone House, Deep River Hardware, Deep River Public Library and Route 80.

Current Year Participating Groups: View list of fife and drum corps currently signed up to attend the Deep River Ancient Muster.

Tatoo & Muster
Devitt Field
15 Southworth Street
(Corner Main Street & Southworth Street)
Deep River, CT 06417

Main & Kirtland Streets
Deep River, CT 06417

For more information:

Echoes of history
Most of the music played at the Deep River Ancient Muster dates to the Revolutionary War and has been performed in the same style generation after generation. It’s important for all drum corps to retain their distinctive sound and to carry their traditions forward. Unlike contemporary music that is often “interpreted” by performers, the music of the eras played by these groups is history, and as such is played in its original composition.

During the early Colonial era, America’s fife and drum music grew out of necessity to communicate across distances of up to five miles. Before foundries were established that could cast church bells, town drummers notified citizens of public events.

Throughout the Revolutionary and Civil wars, percussion instruments were used to tell troops when to wake, eat, work, sleep or be on alert. By the Civil War, young boys were recruited for the task of playing music for foot soldiers to break up the monotony of long marches and to inform troops when to assemble, charge, retreat or cease-fire. During the same period, cavalries introduced a brass horn to the music of war.

After the Civil War ends, the bugle takes the place of fife and drum for military purposes, and the fife and drum become a recreational and nostalgic part of music.

Westbrook Drum Corps at Deep River Ancient Muster

Mustering a Tradition: About the Deep River Ancient Muster
The Deep River Ancient Muster traces its roots to May 13, 1879, when five area fife and drum corps participated in a “field day” at Devitt’s Field in Deep River.

“They were competitive events, though they weren’t very competitive. It was really an excuse to get together and play music,” says Clark, a founding member of the Connecticut Valley Field Music, a fife and drum band based in Middletown, Conn.[1]

For the next seven decades, more field days occurred periodically until September 5, 1953, when 15 corps from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Washington, D.C., gathered for the first muster in Deep River, which featured a one-mile parade through town and later included a series of short musical performances—called a “tattoo”—at Devitt’s Field.

Mark your calendar today so you don’t miss the next Deep River Ancient Muster on the third Saturday in July at Devitt Field in Deep River, CT.

Tags: Deep River Ancient Muster, Fife & Drum Corps Muster, DRAM

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[1] Americana: Fife & Drum Corps, American Profile, by Caryn B. Davis, July 2, 2013