A champion whistler. A legend who cut his teeth by sitting in with Bill Monroe. A bluegrass singer and favorite on “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Though this might sound like an episode of “America’s Got Talent,” it’s just your typical night during the Brooklyn Winter Hoedown, an annual festival that returns to Superfine in DUMBO March 5-7.
The diversity of the acts is owed to Dock Oscar, one of Brooklyn’s country fixtures as the man behind the site kingscountyopry.com. He’s buddies with another Brooklyn country man, Alex Battles, who handles things over at Brooklyncountrymusic.com, running the more electric Brooklyn Country Music Festival in the fall.
“I’m more of a bluegrassy person,” says Oscar, a South Sloper who’s running his sixth Brooklyn Winter Hoedown. “I wanted to give a shout-out to the great bluegrass and old time fiddle bands.”
The 12 bands playing the three-day festival range in all manners of sub-genre – including bluegrass, old time, hokum, country blues, gospel and old-school country – with one uniting bond: they’re all acoustic, string bands.
“They’re all bands that reach back to the days of this kind of music, but they’re not all straight and narrow,” says Oscar. “They have their own way of doing it, but it’s all kinds of acoustic music. They don’t need to be amplified. Just wood plus strings. That’s all you need.”
Among the offerings are some Hoedown regulars, like Jan Bell on March 5, The American String Conspiracy and Oscar’s own band, The Ambassadors of Love, on March 6, and Blue Harvest (“If you want real traditional bluegrass, that’s your band”) on March 7.
Some new acts for this year include The Whistling Wolves, which features a champion whistler, on March 5, Jen Larson, a bluegrass singer with a soulful voice that’s been featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” who will be playing with Straight Drive on March 6, and, one that Oscar is particularly thrilled about, Greg Garing, a singer who’s sat in with bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and is a legend in his own right.
“He is the real deal,” says Oscar. “He is the kind of person that if you put him on a stage we will rock your world. He has a high lonesome voice that will raise the hairs on the back of your arms.” Watch for him March 6.
Also playing the festival will be Vincent Cross and Good Company on March 5 and, on March 7, The Calamity Janes, Bobtown, Kelli Rae Powell, and, the Brooklyn Country Music man himself, Alex Battles.
The Brooklyn Winter Hoedown is March 5-7 at Superfine (126 Front St.) in DUMBO. Admission is $5 Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday is free (though a hat will be passed, keeping in the tradition of Superfine’s Sunday brunch). Reservations are recommended if you are eating or want a table. For more information, go to www.kingscountyopry.com or call 718-243-9005.