Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

7th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival: April 17th-19th, 2015!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Hey folks – The 7th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival is on it’s way!  Get your tickets now!


April 17th-19th at our amazing new venue, St. Ann’s Church, centrally located in Brooklyn Heights!  Here’s a photo of the venue:

Complete 30 band lineup below! PLUS! Workshops, film screenings, and the BANJO TOSS competition!

CLICK HERE for tickets
, or visit

Brought to you by Down Home Radio Show and the Jalopy Theatre…


Friday April 17th:

8:00PM Jackson Lynch – Blues guitar, old time fiddle and banjo breakdowns, songs and ballads
8:45PM Horse Eyed Men – Original folk/country outer-space music
9:30PM Michael Hurley – Legendary folk musician, needs no introduction!
10:15PM Jerron “Blindboy” Paxton - Country blues, fiddle and banjo
11:00PM Terry Waldo’s Rum House Band - Legendary early Jazz and Ragtime pianist with his band
11:45PM Feral Foster and His Band – Excellent songwriting based solidly in Blues, Folk, Gospel and Balkan music

Saturday April 18th: Afternoon Concerts

1:30PM Wyndham Baird – Folksongs, blues, and more!
2:15PM King Isto’s Tropical String Band – Hawaiian/tropical stringband music
3:00PM Ryan Spearman – Banjo and fiddle music, old and new
3:45PM Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues – Raucous jug band music! Traditional and original
4:30PM Frank Fairfield and Zac Sokolow – American stringband music from the great state of California!
5:15PM Suzy & Eric Thompson – Folk, Blues and Bluegrass music, from the great state of California!
6:00PM Tom Marion with Frank Fairfield – Italian and American string music featuring polkas, waltzes, mazurkas!
6:45PM Ozark Highballers – Amazing old time string band from the great state of Arkansas!

Evening Concerts

8:00PM M. Chad Levitt – St. Ann’s amazing pipe organist will play the Church’s huge pipe organ!
8:30PM Pat Conte – Direct from the Secret Museum
9:15PM  The Cactus Blossoms – Original and Traditional country songs, sung in harmony
10:00PM Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens
11:00PM Souren Baronian and band – Middle and Near Eastern Music

Sunday April 19th: Afternoon Concerts

2:00PM Uncle Shlomo’s Brooklyn Kids – a traditional music ensemble comprised of some of Shlomo Pestcoe’s young private music students (ages 9 – 16) and his grownup musician friends who are all highly acclaimed local performers.
2:45PM Hoodoo Honeydrippers – Country Blues duet
3:30PM Art Rosenbaum - Grammy Award winning musician and folklorist
4:15PM “Treasure from the Archive Roadshow” - Live performance of music from the collections of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress featuring the Down Hill Strugglers, John Cohen and Nathan Salsburg
5:00PMFamoro Dioubate – Djeli playing Mande Balafon music from Guinea
5:45PM Bruce Molsky – Old time fiddle, banjo and guitar
6:30PM Four o’clock Flowers - Blues and Folk duet

Evening Concerts

7:30PM Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen - old time string band
8:15PM Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel (of the Holy Modal Rounders)
9:00PM The (Whiskey) Spitters – Old, Blues and Jug Band Music – the Jalopy House Band!
9:45PM Litvakus – Klezmer/Jewish music of Belarus, beautiful newly researched and rediscovered music

Workshops, Dances and Film Screenings:

All workshops and film screenings are included with the price of admission..!

1:00PM Old Time Jam Session
2:30PM Songs of Freedom with Mat Callahan & Yvonne Moore – Discovering the Irish Revolutionary songs of James Connolly!
3:15PM Folk City! - A presentation on the roots of New York City’s folk music revival in the 1930s by Folk City curator Stephen Petrus, from the Museum of the City of New York. Explores  the initiatives of seminal figures, such as Josh White, Lead Belly, and Woody Guthrie.  Be sure to check out the Museum of the City of New York’s extensive exhibit on the folk music revival opening at the museum in June 2015.
4-5:30pm “Singing in Harmony”, Vocal Harmony Workshop with Don Friedman and Phyllis Elkind
“We’ll pick a few songs from the world of old-time, early country, bluegrass and gospel, teach the melody and harmony parts, and before you know it, you’ll be singing in two and three part harmony!  We’ll do each song as a group and then give you a chance to try it out as a duet or trio.  All levels of singers welcome!”

1:00PM Banjo Toss – The famous banjo throwing competition.  Win a free banjo!
2:30PM Selected films by Alan Lomax in honor of the famous folklorist’s 100th birthday year!
3:30PM Fiddle Workshop with Bruce Molsky
5:00PM  Old Time Banjo Workshop with Art Rosenbaum (Grammy award winning musician and folklorist)
6:30pm Square Dance! – with the Ozark Highballers as the dance band, Alex Kramer calling!

4th Annual Washington Square Park Folk Festival

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Hello everybody – come on out to the Washington Square Park Folk Festival that I’ve been putting together the last few years, if ya can!  – Eli


1pm – The Down Hill Strugglers
1:45pm – Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
2:30pm – Lightning in the East
3:15pm – Radio Jarocho
4pm – Square Dance!  with David Harvey of NYC Barn Dance

Organizers are happy to announce the upcoming 4th Annual Washington Square Park Folk Festival.  This festival is free and open to the public and is set for Sunday Sept. 14th, from 1-5pm.  The festival stage is located by the Garibaldi statue on the East side of Washington Square Park, seating will be provided.

This year the festival will feature blues music from Jerron “Blindboy” Paxton, two old time string bands; the Down Hill Strugglers, recently featured on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and Lightning in the East, featuring banjoist Steve Arkin, and Radio Jarocho playing Son Jarocho style music from the Veracruz region of Mexico.  The festival will close with a community square dance!  The dance is always great fun, and will be called by David Harvey of NYC Barn Dance.

The festival celebrates and continues the long tradition of folk music performance in Washington Square Park. This tradition goes all the way back to the 1940’s and the birth of Folk music in New York City, with the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger coming together on Sunday afternoons to play music and socialize in the park.  This tradition continued up through the 1960’s where the park welcomed a young Bob Dylan to the folk music scene in the city, and it continues up until today.  The Washington Square Park Folk Festival is the first formal festival presentation of Folk music in Washington Square Park’s history and we are proud to see the festival enter its 4th successful year.

The Brooklyn Folk Festival: April 18th-20th, 2014…

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The Brooklyn Folk Festival, a co-production of Down Home Radio and the Jalopy Theatre, is almost here!  It’s gonna be an incredible event! – with 30 bands, film screenings, workshops, jam sessions and contests!  Coming up April 18th – 20th, 2014 at the Bell House, a great venue here in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Folk Festival is now going into its 6th successful year.  This year’s festival will focus on Old Time String Band music from the United States and will feature a number of traditional groups and musicians coming to the city from various parts of the South, representing their local traditions, as well as a number of great groups from right here in New York.  We will also have Indonesian Gamelan gong music, Andean music from regions of the old Inca empire, Balkan music, jug bands, blues, jazz, songwriters and more… a huge wealth of talent!

The festival will feature Frank Fairfield and Jerron “Blindboy” Paxton, Dom Flemons and Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, R. Crumb with the East River Stringband, as well as 25 other bands and performers.  The Brooklyn Folk Festival is modeled on the early days of the Newport and University of Chicago folk festivals and seeks to present an authentic folk festival experience, with a diversity of traditional music, as well as contemporary songwriters, plus workshops, jam sessions, film screenings and the famous Banjo Toss contest!  There will also be a very nice tribute to Pete Seeger with group singing and a family friendly square dance.

Its gonna be fun!  Get your tickets right away!.. visit the festival website at: for the compete schedule and ticket information.

- Eli

Turn, Turn, Turn – Pete Seeger Is Gone

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Today we honor Pete Seeger, the first and greatest of modern folk musicians. Pete did it all. What great talent and vision. We won’t see his like again.  Included here are a few film clips of him over the years that I think are really good.  Click Here to hear an interview I did with Pete in 2007 for Down Home Radio.

Pete Seeger invented being an urban folk singer in its modern incarnation.  All the strands that we see around us today he in a lot of ways did first, the traditional, the popular and progressive sounds, the political.  Pete was among the very first (maybe first?) people in the modern era from outside the tradition to learn thoroughly very traditional banjo playing and ballads from records, field recordings and firsthand sources in the South, and although initially an outsider ultimately give back to the tradition. He also played popular and classical music on the banjo and was very well versed in African-American music and 12-string guitar playing learned directly from Leadbelly among other sources.   He built on his experience of Woody Guthrie’s songs and style to make his own protest songs in an early modern singer-songwriter style which he invented and which also paved the way for later “Folk-Rock” stylings.  And as he broke through into the mass media with his band The Weavers and as a solo performer, Pete really invented the genre of “Folk Music” as a category within the field of Popular Music as a whole.  In fact, Pete’s father Charles Seeger, a founder of the field of Ethnomusicology, wrote on the subject, saying that in the modern era, folk and popular music would meld as isolated, local and traditional communities were brought under the influence of mass communication and rapid transit.

In the many pieces now being written in the press about Pete I often see it said that he “was a champion of justice, civil rights and the environment.”  That is very true, in addition to and in conjunction with music he was a committed and extraordinary social activist.  He was also a life long socialist, and someone who had a deep sense of compassion, fairness and respect for all people and communities.

His activities in the Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement and Environmental Movement I have seen widely discussed.  But a major part of Pete Seeger’s legacy and the foundation of his identity as a musician and cultural worker, is his crucial involvement in and commitment to folk music.  Somehow this aspect of his life, which was of a piece with his other convictions, seems to be poorly understood in the mass media and is somehow always mentioned only in passing.  Pete Seeger CARED about folk music – music with a long history, made and perpetuated by regular rural people, played in a rough style and dealing with topics and gritty realities that pop music would never touch.

["To Hear Your Banjo Play" - 1947 - narrated by Alan Lomax and featuring a young Pete Seeger and the only footage of Woody Guthrie in his prime.]

Pete Seeger personally did the fundamental work that popularized the repertoire and created the social context for folk music to persist in our modern mass culture society. For instance, in 1939 Pete operated the recording machine for Alan Lomax as he recorded the great banjo player Wade Ward, absolute bedrock recordings for anyone interested in playing real traditional old time banjo music.  But its much more than that…

First off, Pete Seeger invented the concept of “pop-folk,” with his band the Weavers, teaming up on their early records with producer Gordon Jenkins (who also worked with Frank Sinatra, etc… for Decca Records) to create a hybrid music of songs from the folk repertoire in a pop style that was usable by the mass culture industry of the time and became extremely popular. And secondly he pioneered the idea of mass group singing at concert events.  Pete literally sang together with millions of people over the course of his career.

Pete did the hard touring, taking him away from his wife Toshi and family, starting in the 1940′s and continuing for decades, that created from scratch the audience for Folk Music in modern post WWII America. Much of his work over the many years has been with children, at schools and summer camps, a field which few popular entertainers particularly in the early days, would touch.  These children grew up and became the folk music audience and folk musicians of the 1950′s, 60′s and on…

Urbanized or suburbanized people were and are used to experiencing music passively as commercial consumers of CDs, radio, etc.  Pete’s mass group singing at his concerts gave people who had lost a personal connection to making and experiencing music, a way to connect, feel good about their musical selves and be a part of a community.  He gave back to so many people, at least on a basic level, the chance to sing and make music together, a vital part of being human, even as “progress” has worked to alienate and isolate us.  Most were content to sing with Pete at the concerts but many many people also went home and picked up instruments and pursued making music themselves more proactively at different levels.

[Pete sings out against the Vietnam War on the Johnny Cash show with his song "Bring 'Em Home."]

What a talent.  That was what allowed him to breakthrough and operate in the visionary way that he did.  Pete Seeger had so much talent it was stunning.  He was completely unlike any other figure or “entertainer” in the field of American popular music.  He was and is the only person in the popular consciousness who cared about folk music, really knew what he was talking about in a very serious way and took that understanding to the stage in his performances.  He played at colleges, summer camps, big venues, benefit concerts, radio and television, everywhere.  Pete Seeger was also a founder of the Newport Folk Festival that presented so many great traditional artists and is also inextricably linked to the first and greatest independent record company devoted to American Folk Music, Moe Asch’s Folkways Records.  Without Pete, who knows if Folkways could have survived all these years?  He recorded dozens and dozens of albums for them, which remain among their biggest sellers, and have given them so much needed revenue over the years when most of their amazing recordings did not.

Pete was an intellectual and a theorist, as was his father, and was very widely read.  He also made films, field recordings and started the magazines People’s Songs and then its successor Sing Out! where he wrote columns, published songs and engaged in dialogue and journalism for years.  He produced and hosted the amazing television program “Rainbow Quest” and has also written several books, song books and banjo and guitar instructional manuals.

Pete Seeger is much more than a protest singer, although he was certainly that and in great form.  He was incredibly proactive and prolific.  When did he sleep?  In the few times that I got to meet and spend some time with him I found him totally unassuming, uninterested in stardom in anyway, without ego and yet extremely charming and compelling.  He was indeed very tall and slim, he had small eyes, a ready crooked smile, he drank buttermilk and even at an advanced age seemed youthful in a way.  You realized immediately upon talking with him that he was extremely smart, focused but also a serious dreamer, whose ideas many felt were impractical!  But a lot of them caught on in big ways… I think its possible to say that without Pete those of us working in the field of folk music today might not be here at all.  If folk music means something to you, then Pete Seeger lives on.

Here is a very good article that is worth reading from the New York Times:

Here is a photo of Pete Seeger with Geoff and Lynette Wiley, owners of the Jalopy Theatre, New York’s best folk music venue, and myself at a Woody Guthrie tribute event at Brooklyn College in 2012.

Here is an excellent interview with Pete Seeger on the news program Democracy Now!

Here’s  a very nice piece about Pete Seeger written by Jeff Place, the archivist at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings:

Jon Pareles wrote two very nice pieces for the New York Times:
Using His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s
Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change, Dies at 94

And here is a good piece on the origins of the song, “We Shall Overcome,” which was another one of Pete Seeger’s great gifts to us all:

Grow The Brooklyn Folk Festival

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

To fans and supporters of the Brooklyn Folk Festival,

We hope that you enjoyed last year’s, 5th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival. Many of you have been friends of the Festival from the beginning, and we truly appreciate your support. We hope you have enjoyed watching the festival grow from a small event, into a substantial yearly showcase, drawing bands from New York City and across the nation.

This year’s Brooklyn Folk Festival will be held at the Bell House, which was also our home for last year’s Festival. The 6th Annual Festival is scheduled for April 18th-20th, 2014 and will feature 30 bands over three days, playing American and world folk music, along with workshops, film screenings, jam sessions and the world-famous Banjo Toss Contest. Tickets will be available soon, stay tuned to or for more information.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Brooklyn Folk Festival 2010  Brooklyn Folk Festival 2011

The Festival has been and wishes to remain the nation’s largest folk festival set in an urban area; right here in the heart of New York City. The festival is curated by folklorist, musician and author Eli Smith in partnership with the Jalopy Theatre and exhibits the very best underground and nationally recognized talent in the field of Folk Music, including blues, bluegrass, old time, songwriters, jug bands, gospel music, klezmer, Mexican, Balkan, African and Indonesian folk music and more. In the 1960’s the greatest yearly gathering for folk music took place at the Newport Folk Festival on a farm in Rhode Island. Today we want to keep the yearly focus of the vibrant new folk music revival squarely here within the borders of Brooklyn. This will keep the festival accessible for New Yorkers and visitors from out of town, and help keep Brooklyn the heart of the contemporary revival of interest in folk music.

We are starting early in order to find a home for the 7th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival, to be held in 2015. We will need your help to secure a larger location for the festival as it continues to grow in size and scope.  The festival has already been recognized by sold out crowds, the press, and folk music artists themselves as a “magical event” which stands out with clarity and vision against a backdrop of noise. In addition to finding a location, we wish to invite and confirm notable acts and artists to join the festival.
Brooklyn Folk Festival 2012
  Brooklyn Folk Festival 2012

For all of these reasons we are asking you to support the Brooklyn Folk Festival.
We are asking for your donation to help us plan and secure Brooklyn Folk Festival 2015! The Festival is a non-profit event, and your donation is tax deductible.

Donations can be made out to our fiscal agent, Fractured Atlas with our account # 11-3451703. Checks can be sent to 315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn NY 11231.

You can also follow the link at the bottom and make your secure tax deductible donation online.

As a thank you gift we are offering the following rewards:

Folk Hero – $1000: 3 three-day passes to the 2014 festival, 10 tickets to any shows at Jalopy Theatre and a complete line of Jalopy LPs and CDs.

Founders Circle – $500: 2 three-day passes, and four tickets to any show(s) at Jalopy Theatre

Benefactor – $250: 2 three-day passes to the 2014 Festival

Friend – $100: 1 three-day pass to the 2014 Festival

Supporter – $50: BFF t-shirt and BFF 2012 and 2013 Live Albums on CD


Eli Smith, Lynette and Geoff Wiley and the Friends of the Brooklyn Folk Festival.s, I support The Brooklyn Folk Festi!

Make a secure online donation

Brooklyn Folk Festival 2012

Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” Soundtrack

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Hello everybody,

 I’m pleased to announce that my old time string band the Down Hill Strugglers has a song on the soundtrack album to the new film by the Coen Brothers, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”  Its track #8 on the soundtrack album, a great old folk song called “The Roving Gambler” that we first recorded a couple of years ago for our Folkways record.  We are joined on this song by our great friend, mentor and ofttimes bandmate John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers).

The film is really good.  It’s set in the Greenwich Village folk music scene in 1961 and is loosely based on parts of the autobiography of the great folk and blues singer Dave van Ronk.  Its great to see the Coen Brothers do another folk music based movie as a kind of followup to “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” although the films are very different.

The soundtrack album is set for release on Nov. 11th and the film itself comes out in mid December.  Other musicians on the album include the amazing and versatile Punch Brothers, Marcus Mumford (without his Sons) and noted folk singer Justin Timberlake.  The album was recorded and produced by T Bone Burnett.

More information is available at the Nonesuch Records website, and you can hear the whole album at NPR’s website.

The Harry Smith Festival

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Hello everybody,
  Look out for the 6th annual Harry Smith Festival, coming up this weekend in Milheim, PA!  Should be a great event, I’ll be there with the Down Hill Strugglers and John Cohen…  For more information take a look at their facebook page.

The Down Hill Strugglers Take to the Road

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Hello everybody,

The Down Hill Strugglers are taking to the road again this Fall. Look out for us in the Eastern half of the United States!  We have 10 shows across 7 states – including several show in New Orleans and an appearance at the St. Louis Folk and Roots Festival!  Hope to see ya somewhere out there…

See our website: for more information… here are the dates:

Tues. Sept. 24th - Bowling Green, OH
The Happy Badger
331 North Main St.
Show time: 7-9pm
They serve food, but BYOB/Wine.

Thurs. Sept. 26th – Louisville, KY
The Greenhaus
2227 South Preston St.
Showtime: 8pm, opener TBA

Fri. Sept. 27th – Champaign, IL
Techline Studios
307 South Locust St. Champaign, IL 61820
7pm opener – Flatville Ditch, we go on at 7:45pm.


Sat. Sept. 28th
– St. Louis, MO
St. Louis Folk & Roots Festival
Urban Chestnut Stage 1-2pm
Grandel Theater Square Dance 4-6pm
See: for tickets. Ralph Stanley headlines.

Sun. Sept. 29th
– Eureka Springs, AR
Chelsea’s Corner Cafe
10 Mountain Street
2 sets 7-10pm
No cover!

Thurs. Oct. 3rd – New Orleans, LA
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp St.
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Lobby Atrium of The Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s Stephen Goldring Hall

Sat. Oct. 5th – New Orleans, LA
Allways Lounge
2240 Saint Claude Ave.
with Yes Ma’am and the Drunken Catfish Ramblers

Wed. Oct. 9th – Athens, GA
The Globe
199 N. Lumpkin St.
Showtime TBA
Opener TBA

Thurs. Oct. 10th – Carrboro, NC
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
8pm – Hushpuppies open
9pm – we go on
$6 member advance, $10 advance, $14 day of show

Sat. Oct. 12th – Baltimore, MD
Creative Alliance – us with John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers).
8pm with opening set by Walker and Jay

“John Cohen joins this talented young band to perform old time music…while excerpting his documentary films on Appalachian music…”
$20, $15 mbrs & stus.
Maryland State Arts Council’s Cliff Murphy hosts a Q & A.

The Union Makes Us Strong

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
There is Power in a Union
New from Down Home Radio host Eli Smith:

Hello everybody,

My friend Peter K. Siegel and I have just released an album of Union and Labor songs that we’ve been laboring over for some time.  It came out great!  It features a number of old standards of the American labor movement, as well as several that are not well known but are really good and interesting songs.  Many of the songs were penned by old IWW (Wobbly) song writers, including several by Joe Hill.  The songs are rendered in an old time string band sound.

The album features Peter and myself, joined on a number of songs by Andy Statman, Craig Judelman and Walker Shepard.  The album also features really nice liner notes – a 20 page booklet with an essay written by Cliff Conner, lots of pictures, etc.

We really tried to make a high quality album that sounds great and is accessible to people, so that these great old labor songs might live again.  If you are interested the album is available in all the usual ways – Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, stealing, etc….  We hope you will enjoy!

Solidarity Forever…

- Eli

Washington Square Park Folk Festival 2013

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Hello everybody.  Well the 2013 Washington Square Park Folk Festival is coming right up and its gonna be great!  Come out to the stage on the East side of the park on Sunday, Sept. 15th from 1-6pm.  Free admission!

Here’s the schedule:

1pm Baby Soda Jazz Band

1:45pm Peter K. Siegel and Eli Smith

2:15pm Litvakus

3pm Pat Conte

3:45pm Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen

4:30: Hubby Jenkins (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops)

5:15 pm: Square Dance! with Dave Harvey of NYC Barndance

Thank you so much to our sponsors for making this event possible: The Washington Square Hotel, Matt Umanov Guitars, NYU, the Jalopy Theatre and the NYC Parks Department!




Poster by Bruised Egos.