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The good news keeps coming for Don Johnson.
Johnson and his band, President Lincoln’s Own, has been invited to perform at the Smithsonian Institution during the weekend of this year’s Presidential Inauguration.
President Lincoln’s Own appeared in the Steven Spielberg movie, “Lincoln,” and Johnson is certain that the movie led to this opportunity.
“Everybody’s on cloud nine right now,” he said.
The plans for President Lincoln’s Own are still a work in progress. Johnson said they will be performing three or four times per day on Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20 at the National Museum of American History.
The inauguration will be held on Monday, Jan. 21, which is also Martin Luther King Day, but Johnson said he did not know yet if the group would be performing on that Monday.
He added that the invitation almost got lost due to a problem with a cell phone he received as a gift for Christmas. Smithsonian officials attempted to call Johnson, but because of an issue with his voicemail, he did not receive the message until a week later.
Johnson found a way to return the call, and it was just in time, too. He said the Smithsonian was making plans to invite a different group, the Federal City Brass Band. Johnson had previously performed with that group during the 2001 and 2009 inaugurations.
Chris Wilson, the director of daily programs and the African-American history and culture program, said Johnson’s niece works at the Smithsonian and had mentioned his role in “Lincoln.” After researching Johnson and his band, Wilson decided to invite them to participate in their inauguration weekend events.
Wilson said the museum has an exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as displays regarding the Civil War and Lincoln’s presidential campaigns.
“We felt they were a natural fit,” Wilson said.
Just as important, Wilson pointed out that having Johnson and his band will give people the opportunity to experience history.
“People don’t usually get to hear that music as it would have sounded in the 19th century,” Wilson said.
Johnson formed President Lincoln’s Own after he was recommended for “Lincoln” by Mark Elrod, who has one of the finest over-the-shoulder instrument collections in the world, according to Johnson.
He was recommended, in large part, because of his reputation. Johnson has won solo awards in the National Trumpet Competition, and he is the artistic director of Kentucky Baroque Trumpets, which has won an ensemble award in the historic division.
Johnson created President Lincoln’s Own using members of Kentucky Baroque Trumpets and other musicians he knows who perform Civil War era music.
During the inauguration weekend, Johnson said the band will perform a number of pieces that relate to Lincoln, including “Dixie,” a song generally associated with the Confederacy.
“It was Lincoln’s campaign piece in 1860,” Johnson said.
He said they would also perform a version of "We Are Coming, Father Abra'am," which is the song the band performed in the movie, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Johnson pointed out that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was not the national anthem during the Civil War.
Based on his previous experiences in Washington D.C. during inauguration weekend, Johnson is expecting the city to be packed with people.
“You just wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “You walk outside and there’s literally hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a real fun event.”