The ninth annual Brooklyn Folk Festival will be at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church (Clinton and Montague streets) from Friday evening, April 28 through Sunday evening, April 30. Your correspondent has attended the last two festivals–see here and here and enjoyed them enormously. This year’s promises to be even better, given the superb roster of musicians–some veterans, some new–who will be performing.
On the bill for Friday evening are Anna and Elizabeth, who are Anna Roberts-Gevalt, a Vermont native who now lives in Brooklyn, and Elizabeth LaPrelle, a native of Rural Retreat, Virginia who still calls it home. They’ve managed to combine the Southern and Northern Appalachian traditions in spine-tingling harmony. I heard them for the first time on March 11, at a Celtic Appalachian Celebration. In the clip above they do “Lovin’ Babe,” a song from the Southern tradition.
Also on the schedule Friday is Jim Kweskin, shown in the clip above singing “Blues in the Bottle” on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion in 2009. Kweskin has been a fixture on the folk scene since I was in law school during the
Cretaceous Period late 1960s. Friday’s lineup also includes, among others, Native American dancers and Ukrainian vocalists.
One of the performers Saturday afternoon will be Peter Stampfel, whom I first knew of as part of the Holy Modal Rounders, described some years ago as “the originators and sole exponents of the genre known as acid folk.” In the clip above he does a frenetic version of the pop standards “I Will Survive” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”
On Saturday evening Delta blues fans, of which I’m one, can enjoy the music of Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, shown in the clip above doing “Mississippi Bottom.” Others performing that evening include The Calamity Janes, from Waxahachie, Texas, and Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir.
Among the performers Sunday afternoon will be Meredith Axelrod whose set was, for me, one of the highlights of last year’s Festival. In the clip above she sings “Nothing in Rambling” in front of the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Red Hook. Jalopy is the organizer of the Festival. Others on the Sunday afternoon bill include local kid favorites (but also loved by adults) the Deedle Deedle Dees, and the old time music masters, the Down Hill Strugglers, joined by the many talented John Cohen, formerly with the New Lost City Ramblers and the Putnam String County Band. At 1:00 PM Sunday, on the banks of the Gowanus (take the F train to Smith and 9th), there will be a banjo toss contest. The winner gets – you guessed it – a banjo.
The Last Poets formed in the late 1960s, doing poetry to conga accompaniment. As such, they have been credited with inspiring rap and hip-hop. The clip above shows them doing “This is Madness” accompanied by the great jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. The Last Poets are among the performers on the Festival’s final, Sunday evening concert. Among the other performances Sunday evening will be of music from the Balkans and from India.
The performances described above will all take place on the Festival’s Main Stage, the chancel area of the church, viewed from the pews in the nave. There will be other performances in the Parish Hall, including opportunities to do salsa dancing Saturday evening and square dancing Sunday afternoon. In the Workshop Room there will be book readings and discussions, films, a kid friendly instrument building workshop, and singing instruction, among other things.