Park Slope is a long way from the hills of Appalachia, but for two days in September, the neighborhood will be filled with the down home sound of fiddles and banjos.
James Reams started the Park Slope Bluegrass & Old-Time Jamboree 12 years ago and ever since, devotees of this quintessential form of American music have flocked to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture to celebrate a fusion formed from the music of African-American slaves and Scotch-Irish settlers.
“I think there’s just a craving for this type of roots music,” Reams explained. “People don’t get to see the real thing in New York City.
“This is the music of the people — the story of America melting and fusing into a different style,” Reams added.
This year’s festival will span two days — Sept. 11 and 12 — and feature live performances, all-day jam sessions, workshops and good eats courtesy of Dizzy’s Diner over on Ninth Street.
Musical guests include Reams’s band, The Barnstormers, plus Hells Kitchen Country, the A-Kays, Lightning in the East and many more.
And don’t worry if you don’t own a string tie; this jamboree has always been about inclusion.
“It’s an opportunity to hear people you don’t hear all the time,” says Steve Arkin of Lightening in the East. “It’s antiquity. It’s spooky, ancient, authentic sounding music.”
This year, Alan Jabbour, former director of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, will also be on hand to push the Jamboree’s Bluegrass cred even higher than it already is.
The celebrated fiddle player, credited with helping to revive old-time Southern string band music starting in the 1960s, will not only perform, he’ll also conduct a fiddle-playing workshop.
Park Slope Bluegrass & Old-Time Jamboree at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture [53 Prospect Park West at Second Street, (718) 768-2972]. Tickets for Friday night are $10 ($6 for children); all day tickets for Saturday are $4. Music and workshops begin at 12:30 pm.