Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Washington Square Park Folk Festival

Hello all - be sure to check out the Down Hill Strugglers at the Washington Square Park Folk Festival, here in New York this Sunday afternoon! for details...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

August Tour Dates...

Hello everybody -

  The Down Hill Strugglers has a few tour dates in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana coming up in August, including an appearance at the Whispering Beard Folk Festival, about which we have heard great things.  Look out!

Thursday, August 21st - Casa Nueva
6 W State St.
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 592-2016

Friday, August 22nd - Clovene
203 Pope St.
Louisville, KY
No cover

Saturday, August 23 - Whispering Beard Folk Festival
1st St. and Friendship Rd.
Friendship, IN

We have a longer tour planned for the Fall, stay tuned for more dates...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Remembering Henrietta Yurchenco on WNYC Radio

[Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly]

Hello everybody - Last week Down Hill Struggler Eli Smith appeared on WNYC's Sound Check radio program to remember the great ethnomusicologist Henrietta Yurchenco, with whom he worked for several years. In 1940 Henrietta Yurchenco had her own show on WNYC and was also the producer of Leadbelly's WNYC radio show. In 2007 a very rare transcription disc was discovered of one such program, with Woody Guthrie as Leadbelly's guest - What a broadcast!  Eli retrieved a copy of the recording from the WNYC archives and he and Henrietta played it on their podcast, Down Home Radio with commentary by Henrietta. 

On this episode of Sound Check Eli speaks about his work with Henrietta Yurchenco in the last years of her life and plays excerpts of the Leadbelly - Guthrie broadcast. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Brooklyn Folk Festival's Comin' Up...

Hello everybody -

Look out for the Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers) appearing on Saturday, April 19th at 9:45pm at the Brooklyn Folk Festival.  It's gonna be a great event!  The whole festival takes place over the course of 3 days, April 18th - 20th and will feature 30 different bands, workshops, films screenings, a square dance and a banjo throwing contest called the "Banjo Toss."

This year the festival prominently features Old Time string band music - including a number of our friends and very favorite performers from New York and all around the country.  Including Frank Fairfield, Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton, Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Gevalt, the Stone Mountain Wobblers, Dom Flemons and Hubby Jenkins (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), the Tillers, the Blueridge Entertainers, the Whiskey Spitters, Walker & Jay, the Drunken Catfish Ramblers, Nathan Godfrey and the East River String Band featuring R. Crumb.  These are many of our favorite old time string bands in the world!  Its quite a collection and gonna be a great festival.  There will also be jug band music, Balkan, Andean and Indonesian music, songwriters, blues and a Pete Seeger tribute.  Look out!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring "Mud Season" Tour Dates

Hello everybody,

Here's a list of the Down Hill Strugglers upcoming Spring, "Mud Season" tour dates:

March Dates:

All of the below concerts and events in March are the DHS with John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers and country blues and old time musician Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton.

Friday, March 21st - Calvert Street House Concert - Baltimore, MD
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
Contact nadia.ramlagan at for details

Saturday, March 22nd - House Concert - Charlottesville, VA
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
Contact houseconcerts434 at for details.
5:30-6:15 talk--John Cohen discusses Pete Seeger; then all discuss old time music and play a few tunes.
6:30 -7:15 pot luck
7:30-9:30 concert

Sunday March 23rd - UNC Fed-Ex Global auditorium
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
7-9:30pm - Discussion of Old Time Music and then Concert
301 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, NC, 27516

Monday, March 24th - TBA

Tuesday, March 25th - Belk Library, Boone, NC
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
218 College St.
Boone, NC 28608
2 – 3:15pm / Discussion and Music: Jewish Cultural and Progressive influences on Traditional Old Time Music
6 – 7pm / Discussion: Discussion of old time traditional music and a few tunes.
7:15 – 9:30pm  / Concert, Reception

Wednesday, March 26 - Boone, NC
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
4pm / Workshop at Jones House ($20)
7 – 9:30pm Concert and Discussion at Jones House ($20)

Thursday, March 27th - House Concert at Woodcrest Farm, Hillsborough, NC. 
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen and Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
Suggested donation is $20
5604 Dairyland Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278

Sponsors: Black & Global Roots of the Banjo Concerts & National Endowment for the Arts

April Dates:

Saturday, April 19th - The Brooklyn Folk Festival
Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen
9:45pm @The Bell House
149 7th St between 2nd and 3rd ave.

Fri. & Sat. April 25th + 26th - Hillbilly Days Festival
Pikeville, KY

Sunday, April 27th - Cincinnati, OH
The Northside Tavern (back room)
Doors: 8pm
Show: 9pm
Opening for The Tillers
4163 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, Ohio

Tuesday, April 29th - Louisville, KY
Venue: Clovene
Address: 203 Pope St.
Start time: 7:30 
No cover

The rest of the week we will be busking at the Kentucky Derby...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" Soundtrack

Hello everybody,

  We are very pleased to announce that the Down Hill Strugglers has a song on the soundtrack to the new film by the Coen Brothers, "Inside Llewyn Davis."  Its track #8 on the soundtrack album, a great old folk song called "The Roving Gambler" that we first recorded a couple of years ago for our Folkways record.  We are joined on this song by our great friend, mentor and ofttimes bandmate John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers). 

  The film is really good.  It's set in the Greenwich Village folk music scene in 1961 and is loosely based on parts of the autobiography of the great folk and blues singer Dave van Ronk.  (If you look closely in the film you can see a photograph of our bandmate Jackson Lynch hanging on the wall in the background of a scene in a music promoters office!)  Its great to see the Coen Brothers do another folk music based movie as a kind of followup to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" although the films are very different.

  We are honored that our song was included on this collection, which is set for release on Nov. 11th.  The film itself comes out in mid December.  Other musicians on the album include the amazing and versatile Punch Brothers, Marcus Mumford (without his Sons) and noted folk singer Justin Timberlake.  The album was recorded and produced by T Bone Burnett.

  More information is available at the Nonesuch Records website.

  If you are interested in what's going on in the New York City folk music scene today, the heart of the scene is centered at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn.  Come down on a Wednesday night for the "Roots n Ruckus" show.  Its free, they pass the hat for the musicians.  Its the best place to see the current folk music scene at work.  Also check out the Brooklyn Folk Festival and Washington Square Park Folk Festival, both organized by Down Hill Strugglers band member Eli Smith.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Interview on Brooklyn Based

Here is a very nice article from the "Brooklyn Based" blog about Down Hill Struggler Eli Smith.  Please visit their website, for the complete article including all links, audio, etc.

The Down Hill Strugglers Revive Old-Time Folk For a New Generation
The Down Hill Strugglers (Down Home Radio)
The Down Hill Strugglers Photo: Down Home Radio

It seems like 31-year-old banjo player Eli Smith was destined to play old-time folk music. He grew up in Greenwich Village–the epicenter of the 1960s folk revival boom. His parents–who are left-wing political activists–exposed him to the folk sounds of giants like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. But it wasn’t until he listened to music by the likes of bluesman Mississippi John Hurt and The New Lost City Ramblers, an old-time string band,  as a teenager that he started to seek the sources behind that old-time roots sound.

“It was the first music that really spoke to me,” he says. “I never heard any folk music on the radio and never saw it on TV. But when I started to finally find it for myself and hear the authentic sound of the vanished rural American music, that was the sound that really spoke to me, the feeling that I was looking for. That was the music that I loved.”

Smith is one of the members of the Brooklyn old-time string group, the Down Hill Strugglers, along with fellow multi-instrumentalists Walker Shepard and Jackson Lynch. Formerly known as the Dust Busters, the Down Hill Strugglers perform traditional authentic roots music. Their latest album, Show Me the Way To Go Home, was released in October; and their performance of the traditional folk tune, “The Roving Gambler,” appears on the soundtrack of the new Joel and Ethan Coen film, Inside Llewyn Davis.

“I’m personally hoping to reform the notion of folk music,” says Smith. “I think it’s become very corrupt where people think folk music is just singer-songwriters or somebody idly strumming on a guitar. So what I want to bring people [is] some culture that really has deep roots and is very rich and diverse.”

If the music on Show Me the Way to Go Home sounds authentically rustic as if it was coming from a 78