'Stonewall Country' 'over all too quick'

Robert McKinney
Special to the Herald Courier
May, 2015

ABINGDON, Va. - Robin and Linda Williams are the sorts of musicians one wishes one could forget... To have the pleasure of discovering them all over again for the first time.

Hailing from up Shenandoah Valley way, Robin and Linda have appeared on "Prairie Home Companion" many times but are one of those 'boutique" musical acts that are dearly loved by those who have discovered them but who are widely unknown by the general public. Other acts in this category might include Norman and Nancy Blake, Trout Fishing in America or even Leonard Cohen. Not to mention our own Wayne Henderson, Helen White or Gerald Anderson.

For several years Robin and Linda have performed "Stonewall Country," a musical re-creation of the life of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson that traces his life from early orphan-hood through his death in May 1863 from pneumonia eight days after losing an arm to "friendly fire."

Somewhat unusual for stories about Jackson, this production reveals Jackson not as some sort of demi-god but as an often-times brutal, almost maniacal killing machine who never hesitated to throw his soldiers into situations from which he knew casualties would be astronomical. In fact, he had the reputation of expending his men faster than any other Civil War general including even U.S. Grant.

Joined by actor Jason Petty as Stonewall Jackson, Emily Mikesell and Jim Watson, Robin and Linda perform 19 songs, most of them originals but also including "John Brown's Body" and "Onward Christian Soldiers." It's a one-act play that is over all too quick and, even though it gives one something to think about, you'll leave fans of Robin and Linda Williams if you aren't already.

"Stonewall Country" plays on the Barter Mainstage through May 9 and returns to the big Barter tent on the lawn from June 18 through 21.

For info and reservations: 276-628-3991 or www.bartertheatre.com