Variety and Authenticity Highlight Brooklyn Americana Music Festival

October 12, 2017 by

There were many standout performances at this year’s Brooklyn Americana Music Festival (September 22-24). Festival Founder Jan Bell, whose own band, The Maybelles, played at the opening night gala at Jalopy, gave Brooklyn Roads her impression of three of them.

On Friday evening, she especially enjoyed “my old pals from New Orleans, Truckstop Honeymoon. They have an incredible canon of original, often funny and politically charged songs,” she says.

Queen Esther-archway_photo by Howard B. Leibowitz

Queen Esther Performs in The Archway / photo by Howard B. Leibowitz / courtesy of B.L.Howard Productions

Queen Esther, singing timeless classic soul blues in the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO [on Saturday], was brilliant. I can see why she was asked to play the Kennedy Center last New Year’s Eve.”

The Chapin Sisters (nieces of Brooklyn music legend Harry Chapin), who played on Sunday on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier, were “so honest and simple and powerful,” Bell tells us. “[They] referenced the athletes getting down on one knee. Then they sang their own song ‘We Will Not Stop Singing,’ which includes a verse ‘We will not stop marching.’ It’s a sing-along and I welled up when the audience joined in.”

Chapin Sisters 1 (© Alexa Hoyer)-courtesy of Go Go PR

The Chapin Sisters Perform at Brooklyn Bridge Park / photo by Alexa Hoyer / courtesy of Go Go PR

Speaking for herself and her bandmates, Bobtown’s Katherine Etzel tells Brooklyn Roads that, “Before and after our own set [on Saturday], we rushed between the two DUMBO stages at the Archway and 68 Jay Street Bar to catch shows by The Ukuladies (witty and tons of fun), Abby Hollander (impressive, classic country songwriting), Warren Byrom (thoughtful and engaging storytelling), Queen Esther (Americana from a black perspective), Will Scott (wow, just…wow), Megan Palmer (great Americana writing and performance) and Rench (with his signature combination of genres).”

Bobtown3-David K. Moseder

Bobtown Performs in The Archway /photo by David K. Moseder

Etzel adds, “Of all the festivals we play, this one stands out as a highlight for us. It’s a true labor of love by the organizer, Jan Bell, whose focus is not on corporate sponsorship, but on community support, both financially and musician-wise.”

Bobtown’s own performance was certainly a highlight for us at Brooklyn Roads. Epitomizing the superb musicianship, sweet harmonies and blend of folk, bluegrass and gospel (and even a bit of yodeling) that are the hallmarks of Americana music, the band’s nine-song set included five songs from their most recent album, A History of Ghosts, most notably “Across the River,” “Girl in Blue” and “Stitch in Time.”