Holy folk! Music fest passes the plate for St. Ann’s - Brooklyn Paper

Holy folk! Music fest passes the plate for St. Ann’s

Holy folk!: The Brooklyn Folk Festival started at St. Ann’s church, and organizer Eli Smith hopes his concert on March 11 will help preserve the sacred spot.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

They’re raising the roof!

A group of Brooklyn folk musicians will hold a fund-raising concert and square dance this weekend to help repair the ceilings of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church. The show on March 11 will also serve as a preview for the Brooklyn Folk Festival, taking place in the same sanctuary in late April. The long association between the 9-year-old music gathering and the 170-year-old holy site inspired the group to pass the collection plate, said the festival’s founder.

“It’s a beautiful and historic space with a long history of music happening there,” said Park Sloper and banjo player Eli Smith. “We have a great relationship with the folks that run the church and want to help them as much as possible in completing the repairs.”

The ceiling repairs are largely complete, said Smith, and the concert should help complete the final touches.

“St. Ann’s church is a landmark building that needs to be preserved and we hope this benefit is awesome,” he said.

Smith will perform at the concert, and so will fellow Brooklynites Eva Salina and Peter Stan, who will bust out some traditional Balkan tunes. The music performances will be followed by a square dancing session, featuring five-piece string band New York City Barn Dance and caller Dave Harvey, who will give a quick square dance how-to that will get the audience into a hootenany mood, said Smith.

“Once the band starts playing and the caller calls out — people start dancing and swinging,” said Smith.

Anyone can step right up and get the moves, he said.

“That’s the magic of it — you literally don’t need to know how to dance, just show up,” said Smith. “The caller of the band teaches you the dance.”

The ninth annual Brooklyn Folk Festival on April 28–30 will feature more than 40 different bands, said Smith, representing folk traditions from around the world.

“Brooklyn Folk Festival Preview Concert” at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church (157 Montague St. at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, www.stannholytrinity.org). March 11 at 7:30 pm. $20–$100.

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