BROOKLYN BLUEGRASS BASH
CHRIS THILE & MICHAEL DAVES
The Godfather of New Acoustic Music
TONY TRISCHKA AND TERRITORY
National Fellowship Award winner
ANDY STATMAN TRIO
From Punch Brothers, Crooked Still, Goat Rodeo
AOIFE O'DONOVAN, NOAM PIKELNY & CHRIS ELDRIDGE
PLUS: THE CALAMITY JANES, KRISTIN ANDREASSEN AND FRIENDS, AND THE BILGER FAMILY
With emcee Peter Sarsgaard
Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash is a benefit concert presented by the 4th Mission for the ceiling restoration campaign of Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
It began with a cave in - or, rather, two. Last September, just fifteen minutes before Rosh Hashanah services, large chunks of plaster began to fall from the ceiling at Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope. The plaster nearly hit Rabbi Andy Bachman in the head, prompting a sinking sense of deja vu. Bachman and his Jewish congregation were gathered in a Protestant church because the ceiling of their own synagogue, Beth Elohim, had begun to collapse two years earlier. The twin disasters attested to the fragility of Park Slope's beautiful old sanctuaries. But they also galvanized the community's spirit. After the first collapse, Pastor Daniel Meeter invited Bachman's congregation to worship at Old First. After the second, Bachman returned the favor, inviting Old First to celebrate Easter at the newly renovated synagogue.
Like most things in Brooklyn, religion works a little differently around here. On September 23rd, at the Bell House in Park Slope, more than a dozen of the city's finest bluegrass musicians will donate their services to a benefit concert for Old First, which still faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in ceiling repairs. Old First has one of the oldest congregations in the country - Peter Stuyvesant established it in 1654 - and the church lies at the very heart of the cultural life of Park Slope. It serves as a homeless shelter, a day-care facility, a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous, and a magnificent performance space for local arts groups. It's both a neighborhood landmark and one of the city's loveliest halls, with Tiffany glass windows, Arts and Crafts woodwork, and a Neo-Gothic spire of Indiana limestone. The congregation is small, however, with only a hundred and thirty members and other participants, and they can only afford to save the building with the neighborhood's help. Enter the Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash.
New York has always been an improbably wonderful place to hear bluegrass. Since the early seventies, homegrown players like Tony Trischka, Andy Statman, David Grisman, and Kenny Kosek have pushed the boundaries of the genre, while legends like Bob Wills, Earl Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers have regularly swung through town for concerts. Somehow, a city that's about as far from the roots of bluegrass as you can get has become its second home - a place of kindred urgency and sophistication, humor and mad invention. It's no small thing, in other words, to say that this is the most exciting time for bluegrass in the city's history. Within one square mile of Brooklyn alone, you can find dozens of the most artful, technically astonishing players on the planet. In the grand tradition of New York bluegrass, they're taking the old tunes to new places - combining them with jazz and classical; infusing them with everything from Radiohead to the Strokes to the fiddle tunes of Sweden and Galicia. The music they're making is as cosmopolitan as the city itself, and as utterly American.
The Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash brings together the two halves of this history. It's a meeting of "the old Turks and the new Turks," as organizer Michael Daves puts it. Tony Trischka, who was nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for Double Banjo Spectacular, will be joined by the great Kenny Kosek on fiddle and Jen Larson on vocals. Andy Statman, who recently won a National Heritage Award - the country's highest honor for a folk musician - will play a set of elegantly klezmer-inflected bluegrass with his trio. They'll be followed by an all-star line-up of younger artists whom they've inspired: Chris Thile, Noam Pikelny, and Chris Eldridge of the Punch Brothers; Aofie O'Donovan of Crooked Still and Goat Rodeo; Kristin Andreassen of Uncle Earl; and Daves himself, whose duo album with Thile was nominated for a Grammy this year. It may be the greatest gathering of bluegrass musicians in New York in a generation. And roofs will be raised.
2pm: doors open
2:15pm: [FRONTIER ROOM] The Calamity Janes
3pm: [MAIN STAGE] Tony Trischka and Territory feat. Kenny Kosek and Jen Larson
3:45pm: [FRONTIER ROOM] Kristin Andreassen and Friends
4pm: [MAIN STAGE] Andy Statman Trio
5pm: [FRONTIER ROOM] Bilger Family
5:15pm: [MAIN STAGE] Aoife O'Donovan, Noam Pikelny, and Chris Eldridge
6:15pm: [MAIN STAGE] Chris Thile & Michael Daves