Music: The Brooklyn Folk Festival takes place this weekend

Brooklyn Folk Festival
Musician Jackson Lynch opened the fifth Brooklyn Folk Festival at the Bell House.
Credit: Eli Smith

For all the clatter of New York’s mechanized soundscape, an earthy twang can still be distinguished through the grinding steel, honking horns and buzzing technology. Whether plucked on an old guitar in the subway or blown through wheezy harmonicas in Washington Square Park, the city’s storied folk sound still keeps time with the urban rhythm.

The hootenanny of the year, The Brooklyn Folk Festival, thrown each year by the Jalopy Theatre and Down Home Radio Show, goes beyond the familiar jugs, fiddles and banjos of American folk. The 30 bands of this year’s edition demonstrate a global perspective of folk, including performances of Indonesian Gamelan, North Indian classical and Chinese acapella.

Festival co-producer Eli Smith considers the festival more authentic than most, along the lines of the influential Newport and University of Chicago folk festivals in the 1960s.  “There are a lot of festivals out there today advertised as ‘folk,’” he points out, “but only present singer-songwriters and forms of rock derived from it.”

This year’s festival focuses on old time string band music from the United States and is bringing dozens of performers from the South. For the musicians themselves, the three days, beginning April 18, offer more than just a chance to show off musicianship, it allows them to pay tribute to the spirit. “It’s about community, plain and simple,” Ernesto Gomez, guitarist and singer in Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues, explains. “It’s the people’s music.” Perhaps the most impassioned tribute this year is a group singing along led by the Jenkins Family band dedicated to folk icon Pete Seeger, who died last year.

Although the festival’s popularity has forced it to change venues several times in its six-year history, the Bell House, a converted 1920’s warehouse in Gowanus, remains host this year. In addition to the music, vocal and instrumental workshops taking place, there’s also square dancing and film screenings — plus the famous Banjo Toss contest, in which participants compete on distance.


PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.


Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.


NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.


Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.


'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.


Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.


Q&A: The brains behind 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. We talked with Christopher Locke of Glu Canada to find out more about developing the game.


The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…


Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.


Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…


This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…


Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…


Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…