That’s folk, all! Brooklyn fest opens on May 21

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The Brooklyn Folk Festival has already gotten too big for its britches!

The second annual event not only features a slew of the borough’s best musicians at Jalopy on Columbia Street, but has added extra shows at Cabrini Urban Meadow Park on President Street between Columbia and Van Brunt streets.

You can thank banjo player and blues folklorist Eli Smith for the expansion of the May 21-23 event. As he did last year, Smith has beaten the bushes to find an eclectic mix of old-time music, blues, pre-blues, jug band music, New Orleans jazz folk songwriting, Greek, African and Mexican folk music.

“It’s not so much getting big acts for the festival, but about getting quality acts,” said Smith. “That’s why the Mexican folk band, Radio Jarocho, Gambian kora player Salieu Suso and American blues and folk musician Blind Boy Paxton are highlights of the festival.”

Other highlights include North Carolina banjo player and ballad singer Clifton Hicks, singer/songwriters Feral Foster and Mamie Minch, blues artist Ernie Vega, and Smith’s own Dust Busters Band.

String musicians looking to learn new folk techniques will find the blues guitar workshop with Bob Malenky and old-time banjo workshop with John Cohen helpful.

Beyond that, there will also be square dancing on May 23, when folk music aficionados and musicians alike can get to stepping.

“It will be called by Dave Harvey of the New York City Barn Dance,” said Smith. “He’s a very good caller and the dance will have special musical guests.”

Brooklyn Folk Festival at Jalopy [315 Columbia St. between Woodhull and Rapelye streets in Red Hook, (718) 395-3214], May 21-23. For info, visit

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