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Folkin’ ay! Brooklyn fest is now a three-day stand - Brooklyn Paper

Folkin’ ay! Brooklyn fest is now a three-day stand

Finger pickin’ good: Eli Smith brings a folk festival to Red Hook’s Jalopy, from June 10 to 12.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The one thing the owners of Jalopy can’t stand is turning people away. So when they were planning this year’s Brooklyn Folk Festival, they knew that the popular event needed to go big — or make people go home.

So this year’s festival will not only be in two venues — the Columbia Street theater, plus the significantly larger Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition pier — but also span three days, June 10-12.

“I hate turning people away, and last year we did that regularly,” said Jalopy co-owner Lynette Wiley. “This is a good solution.

The festival is essentially one long weekend of the Red Hook venue’s weekly Roots and Ruckus night — a celebration of traditional roots, blues, and folk music.

“A think a lot of people are hungry for this, they’re looking for something they perceive as real,” said festival founder Eli Smith. “People hear a lot of music on the radio that’s not human, thanks to synthesizers and people singing through computers, and they’re looking for something that they can identify with.”

The 30-plus acts include Pat Conte of The Canebrake Rattlers and Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders; traditional banjo music from North Carolina’s Clifton Hicks; country crooner Alex Battles; blues musician Blind Boy Paxton; and Smith’s own folk band, the Dust Busters.

“The most well-known forms of American music will be well represented, but we’re also going to have music from the Balkans, the Caribbean and North Indian classical music for the first time this year,” said Smith.

The weekend will also feature workshops, films, a square dance, and, in another first, a banjo toss, a contest Smith thought up late one night wherein whoever throws the instrument farthest into the bay wins a brand new banjo.

“That’s going to be a hoot,” said Wiley. “It’s crazy.”

The Brooklyn Folk Festival at Jalopy [315 Columbia St. between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street in Red Hook, (718) 395-3214], June 10 at 6 pm, and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition [499 Van Brunt St., near Reed Street in Red Hook, (917) 655-2980], June 11 at 2:30 pm and June 12 at 2 pm. Tickets $20 each day ($55 for the weekend). For info, visit www.brooklynfolkfest.com.

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