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Ken Waldman’s ‘From Red Hook to the Real Alaska’ at the Jalopy Theatre

‘Fiddling poet’ throws roots music showcase

for The Brooklyn Paper

This is one music show where you can really find your roots.

On Jan. 9, the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook is hosting a variety show that starts and ends with Appalachian string-band music and throws in Irish sessions, country, bluegrass, and even some percussive dancing in between.

“You can get a whole education in one night,” said Ken Waldman, who is also known as “Alaska’s Fiddling Poet,” and will bring together more than 20 artists for the roots showcase.

Though based out of Alaska, Waldman has spent the better part of the past decade on the road. Along the way, he has made friends across the country, many of whom will be in town for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference, taking place in Manhattan Jan. 10–14. For the past five years, Waldman has been putting together variety shows in conjunction with the annual conference, and the Jalopy show — dubbed “From Red Hook to the Real Alaska” — marks his second in Brooklyn.

Waldman will kick things off with his unique mix of Appalachian string-band music and original poetry. From there, the night will also see sets from the likes of out-of-towners Wild Carrot, a Cincinnati duo that combines bluegrass, country, Celtic, swing, and modern folk; and Brian Vollmer’s Old-Time Music Party, an old-time string-band based out of Ithaca. Several Brooklyn locals will also take the stage, including fiddlers Stephanie Coleman and Caitlin Warbelow.

Warbelow, a fellow Alaskan who now lives in Greenpoint, is putting together a group specifically for the Jalopy show. The line-up will feature musicians from her album “Manhattan Island Sessions,” a compilation of live recordings of traditional Irish music sessions from around the city.

“People hear a lot of Irish music these days, but most of the commercial stuff is very different than the actual traditional reels, jigs, and songs,” said Warbelow. “The idea behind presenting session-style music is to expose audiences to the experience of hearing ‘real’ traditional music in a performance context while still retaining the amazing drive and energy that makes people head out to pubs to hear this style of music.”

A highlight of the night is sure to be Ken’s Class Party, a big jam session in the middle of the showcase that will feature a series of collaborations from all of the musicians on hand that night.

“It’s an experiment, but they’re all great ingredients,” said Waldman.

“From Red Hook to the Real Alaska: An All-Star Roots Music Variety Show” at the Jalopy Theatre [315 Columbia St. between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street in Red Hook, (718) 395–3214, www.jalopy.biz], Jan. 9 at 8 pm. $10.

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