[The 2020 festival is rescheduled for November 6th – 8th.]
For Eli Smith, growing up in downtown Manhattan and Greenwich Village, the allure of Folk Music’s distant past was enough to inspire him to create The Brooklyn Folk Festival 12 years ago. “Of course many know in the 50s and 60s this area was big for folk music, but when I grew up here in the 90s there wasn’t much going on,” Eli said.
“I knew something important had happened here that was important to me. As I began to discover the music of artists like Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie, and The New Lost City Ramblers, I knew all those people had been where I was, but they weren’t here now. So I started to look for it. I tried to find some of the older musicians that were still in the area, and I gathered all the records that I could and started educating myself about the music. That really became the focus of my life over the last number of years,” he said.
Eli believes we are in a new wave of Folk Music revival in the US. “That’s what I’ve tried to be a part of and make happen again in New York City,” he said. Eli says he tried to further his vision of this revival when he created the Brooklyn Folk Festival in 2008. “I was surprised there wasn’t already a festival here because there was so much talent already in that area. So, we create one.”
Each year the festival is presented by the Jalopy Theatre & School of Music, which features a music venue, music school, instrument store, and a record label that releases festival recordings. The three day festival brings together thousands of music fans and hundreds of musicians to the historic St. Ann’s Church near Brooklyn Heights. More than 30 musical acts as well as film screenings, work shops, a square dance, jam sessions, and their famous “banjo tossing” contest, make up the much anticipated annual event.[The 2020 festival is rescheduled for November 6th – 8th. Some of the scheduled performers include The Cactus Blossoms, Che Appalache, The Legendary Ingramettes, Jerron “Blindboy” Paxton, and Nora Brown]
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