The Brooklyn Folk Festival brings another robust lineup of banjo pickers, jug bands and more. We asked festival founder and producer Eli Smith to tell us what he is most excited to see at this year’s throw down.
1. Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
“He’ll be singing and playing blues and ragtime guitar, banjo, fiddle, piano and harmonica. Jerron has played at every single Brooklyn Folk Festival, and over these 10 years it has been amazing to watch him develop his music. His performances have become truly masterful and magical.”
2. Innov Gnawa
“This Grammy-nominated band plays gnawa: a beautiful, entrancing type of traditional music from Morocco. It uses an instrument called the gimbri, which is kind of like an African banjo or lute, carved out of wood and covered with camel skin. It accompanies five or six male singers that also play percussion.”
3. Pokey LaFarge
“We at the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook have known Pokey for years, and he used to play here at the little theater, back in the early days, before he got to be well known. It’s great to have him for his festival debut, and [I’m] glad he could make the trip from his home in St. Louis.”
4. Eden & John’s East River String Band with R. Crumb
“Many people have heard of R. Crumb as an artist and illustrator, but he is also a world-renowned record collector, an excellent musician and a great proponent of the old—often rural and handmade—grassroots, down-home music that we love and present at the Brooklyn Folk Festival.”
5. All the film offerings
“I’ll mention Gold: This movie was made by a friend of mine and filmed in August 1968 in the remote foothills of the Sierra mountains. This off-the-hook celluloid drug experience captures the essence of the ’60s with a reasonably coherent story and a soundtrack by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and the MC5. It’s the 50th-anniversary screening, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.”
The festival takes place at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Friday, April 6–Sunday, April 8 (brooklynfolkfest.com). $25–$40. Buy tickets.