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, brooklynbased.com 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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some Upcoming Shows

Hello everybody,

Happy Holidays and New Years to you!

The Down Hill Strugglers have a few shows coming up in the New Year:

Wed. Jan. 22nd
Roots n Ruckus @
The Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Fri. Feb. 7th
Brooklyn Rod and Gun Club
Kent. Ave btwn N. 10th and 11th

Wed. Feb 19th:
Opening for Steve Earle
The City Winery
155 Varick St, New York, NY 10013

Sat. March 8th:
Brooklyn Folk Festival Preview/Benefit Concert
w/ Windham Baird and Piedmont Bluz
The Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Starts at 9pm, we go on at 11pm.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Album and CD Release Show Announced!

Hello everybody,

We are very pleased to announce the release of our new CD "Show Me the Way to Go Home" which we recorded with our good friend Pat Conte of the Canebrake Ratters, the Secret Museum of Mankind, etc. 

This CD is the second volume of our "Home Recordings" series. Like so many of our favorite "field recordings" of the past, it was recorded informally and totally live around 2 good mics, it came out great and we are very proud!  To hear samples from the new record, go to: www.soundcloud.com

We will be playing a "CD release" show with Pat Conte at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, NY on Sunday Nov. 17th at 8pm. Come if you can! Eva Salina will open the show, she is an amazing balkan singer!

Sunday Nov. 17th at 8pm
Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

See below for liner notes...

The CD is available for download at: www.cdbaby.com, on iTunes and Amazon.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Show Me the Way to Go Home" Liner Notes

Here's some liner notes for our new album, "Show Me the Way to Go Home," including who plays what on each song and where applicable some artists whose historic recordings have been inspirations and sources for our own versions. This album was recorded in a “field recording” style somewhere in Brooklyn in the Spring of 2013. Recorded by Eli Smith.

1. Forked Deer
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - banjo
Inspirational source recordings by Taylor’s Kentucky Boys and Sidna Myers

2. Arkansas Pullet
Walker - fiddle, vocal
Jackson - guitar
Eli - pump organ
Pat - percussion
Inspirational source recording by Reeve’s White County Ramblers

3. Fate of Santa Barbara
Walker - banjo-guitar, vocal
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - pump organ
Inspirational source recording by Bascom Lamar Lunsford

4. Goodbye My Honey
Walker - fiddle, vocal
Jackson - fiddle, vocal
Eli - banjo-uke, vocal
Pat - banjo, lead vocal
Inspirational source recording by Booth Campbell

5. Molly Hare
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - fiddle
Pat - guitar, vocal
Eli - guitar
Inspirational source recording by The Carter Brothers & Son (just the style, not the song)

6. New Bright Land
Walker - banjo, lead vocal
Jackson - guitar, vocal
Eli - pump organ
Inspirational source recording by Lethia Eller, “The Heavenly Light Is Shining On Me”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sept. - Oct. Touring...

Hello everybody,

The Down Hill Strugglers are taking to the road again this Fall. Look out for us in the Eastern half of the United States!

Also, a quick note to say we have a new album out, "Show Me the Way to Go Home," more information about that brand new release soon, including our CD release concert - but meanwhile it is available for purchase at: www.cdbaby.com
The Down Hill Strugglers | Show Me the Way to Go Home

Here's the tour dates:

Tues. Sept. 24th - Bowling Green, OH
The Happy Badger
331 North Main St.
Show time: 7-9pm
They serve food, but BYOB/Wine.

Thurs. Sept. 26th - Louisville, KY
The Greenhaus
2227 South Preston St.
Showtime: 8pm, opener TBA

Fri. Sept. 27th - Champaign, IL
Techline Studios
307 South Locust St. Champaign, IL 61820
7pm opener - Flatville Ditch, we go on at 7:45pm.


Sat. Sept. 28th
- St. Louis, MO
St. Louis Folk & Roots Festival
Urban Chestnut Stage 1-2pm
Grandel Theater Square Dance 4-6pm
See: www.folkandrootsfestival.com for tickets. Ralph Stanley headlines.

Sun. Sept. 29th
- Eureka Springs, AR
Chelsea's Corner Cafe
10 Mountain Street
2 sets 7-10pm
No cover!

Thurs. Oct. 3rd - New Orleans, LA
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp St.
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lobby Atrium of The Ogden Museum of Southern Art's Stephen Goldring Hall

Sat. Oct. 5th - New Orleans, LA
Allways Lounge
2240 Saint Claude Ave.
with Yes Ma'am and the Drunken Catfish Ramblers

Wed. Oct. 9th - Athens, GA
The Globe
199 N. Lumpkin St.
Showtime TBA
Opener TBA

Thurs. Oct. 10th - Carrboro, NC
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
8pm - Hushpuppies open
9pm - we go on
$6 member advance, $10 advance, $14 day of show

Sat. Oct. 12th - Baltimore, MD
Creative Alliance - us with John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers).
8pm with opening set by Walker and Jay

"John Cohen joins this talented young band to perform old time music...while excerpting his documentary films on Appalachian music..."
$20, $15 mbrs & stus.
Maryland State Arts Council's Cliff Murphy hosts a Q & A.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jack and John Recorded by the 78 Project

John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers and oft times of the Down Hill Strugglers) plays "Danville Girl" for the 78 Project, recorded live at the 2013 Brooklyn Folk Festival.

The 78 Project is an amazing thing that's going on right now; they are traveling around with a 1930's Presto Disc Cutter and appropriate microphone, cutting modern shellac 78rpm records, similar to those made by Lomax and even commercial recordings in the 1930's. Its is amazing to hear modern performances through that medium, and is an important step in making those old recordings come alive for us now, and forcing us to accept our own music as a genuinely akin to happened way back...

Its amazing to hear John and Jackson (see below post) play their songs and then hear them played back off the brand new ancient sounding, modern sounding 78rpm disc. A big thanks to the 78 Project for doing this! 

Jackson Lynch of the Down Hill Strugglers performs "the Roving Cowboy" for the 78 Project, recorded live on stage at the 2013 Brooklyn Folk Festival! Check out their website: www.the78Project.com, where you can hear the play back of Jack's recording - and also see videos and hear the audio of the many other great recordings they have done.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Bell House and Allentown PA

We're looking forward to several upcoming performances!


Saturday June 15th
Art in the Park Festival
W. Turner St. Allentown, PA
4:15pm (And don't forget to check out the Four o'Clock Flowers at 3:15pm)

Monday, June 17th
We're at the Bell House on bill with Jan Bell, The Wiyos and Johnny Society - We're on at 8pm.
The Bell House
149 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 643-6510

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Harry Smith 90th Birthday Tribute Show

Look out for the Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen at a 90th birthday tribute to artist, record collector and compiler of the famous "Anthology of American Folk Music, Harry Smith!  The show is on Wednesday, May 29th, we play at 8:30pm.  20 W. 29th St. NY, NY, NY.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Down Hill Strugglers on Mountain Stage!

The Down Hill Strugglers on stage at the Paramount Theater, Bristol, TN.
Photo: Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Listen to our complete appearance on Mountain Stage at:

We recently appeared on the Mountain Stage radio program, a wonderful NPR show out of West Virginia.  This particular broadcast was recorded at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, TN/VA where we were privileged to be a part of it through the fine folks at the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance.

Bristol, TN/VA is the "Birthplace of Country Music" as it was the home of the first great recording sessions in the field of Country Music/Old Time Music back in 1927 and '28 when the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Alfred Karnes, B.F. Shelton,  J.P. Nestor and so many others first recorded.  We play 5 tunes including "Train on the Island" by J.P. Nestor from the original Bristol Sessions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Few NYC Dates in May...

Got a few shows coming up right here in NYC through the month of May:

Saturday May 18th
Caskey's Tavern
6869 Fresh Pond Rd, Ridgewood, Queens, NY 11385
with Booth and Lucas and Feral Foster
No cover!

Wednesday May 22nd
Roots n Ruckus show at the Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY
No cover!

Wednesday May 29th
Harry Smith 90th Birthday Tribute
Ace Hotel
20 W 29th St.
New York, NY 10001 
Time TBA

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New York + North East Spring Dates

The Down Hill Strugglers are excited to be performing at the 2013 Brooklyn Folk Festival!  We will be performing at 8:30pm on Saturday April 20th.  Information and tickets at: www.brooklynfolkfest.com.

Other Upcoming Performances:

Tuesday, April 23rd - Rodeo Bar, NYC
375 3rd Ave New York, NY 10016
(212) 683-6500

Friday, May 3rd - Premier Monthly show @ the Brooklyn Rod n Gun Club
59 Kent Ave (between 13th St & Franklin St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Saturday, May 4th - Square Dance in MA.
The Grange
34 Main St.
Montague, MA.

Sunday, May 5th - The Jalopy Theatre
The Down Hill Strugglers opening for Mac Benford of the Highwoods String Band.
315 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY
We go on at 7:30pm, followed by Mac.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

North Carolina!

Well, we are taking to the road again.  This time we set out for North Carolina, with a bunch of shows in the Chapel Hill area and in Boone! We will be joined on this tour by John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers!  Also with us is Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton.

All confirmed dates will be announced soon.

Monday April 8th: Chapel Hill, NC
The Nightlight
405 1/2 West Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516

Tuesday April 9th: Concert at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

Thursday April 13th: Carrboro, NC
The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen
Jerron "Blindboy" Paxton
The ArtsCenter
300 E Main St

Friday April 12th: Hillsborough, NC
The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers.

House concert at Woodcrest Farm - a great old farmhouse out in the country!
5604 Dairyland Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278
info@woodcrestfarmnc.com for reservations
(suggested donation: $15-20)
P.S. Jerron Paxton is not on this show.

Saturday April 13th: Baltimore, MD
The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen
Hidden Harvest Farm - Community garden show.
1825 N. Calvert St.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saturday Feb. 9th at the Jalopy Theatre

Hey everybody,

  Please join as at the Jalopy Theatre on Saturday Feb. 9th for our CD release show for our new album, Home Recordings: Vol. 1!  The show starts at 9pm with an opening set by the 4 O'clock Flowers - a excellent folk/blues duet.  Not to be missed!  Then we will take to the stage.

   Samples from the record can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/downhillstrugglers.

Hope to see you there!

The show:
Saturday, Feb 9th
Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St. btwn Woodhull and Hamilton
Brooklyn, NY

Mountain Stage Radio Show March 10th...

We are very pleased to be appearing on the Mountain Stage radio program on Sunday, March 10th.  Check it out on your local radio station, see the Mountain Stage website for the podcast and broadcast schedule!

We'd like to thank the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance for bringing us to Bristol, TN for this broadcast.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Check out our Folkways record..!

Hey everybody - don't forget to check out the album that we released in August of last year, in the previous incarnation of our band, "the Dust Busters," on the Smithsonian Folkways label!

To quote the Folkways website:

On Old Man Below, The Dust Busters point the way for a new generation of old-time music devotees. Standing squarely in the lineage of the New Lost City Ramblers, their reverence for tradition runs deep while their interpretations bring fresh meaning and a sense that their music is as contemporary as any other. Dust Busters mentor and Ramblers elder John Cohen joins Eli Smith, Walker Shepard, and Craig Judelman in this solidly grounded, future-looking album of classic melodies that makes the legacy of yesterday the sound of today. 60 minutes, 36-page booklet with photos and extensive notes.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Home Recordings Vol. 1 Liner Notes

Here are the liner notes for the Down Hill Strugglers album "Home Recordings: Volume 1."

This album was recorded around a single microphone over the course of 2 days while we were staying in a house on the former site of Sodom, KY.  At present it is only available for purchase at our live shows.

The songs are listed below along with information on who played what and one or two of the source recordings that inspired our own version.

Cover drawing by Walker Shepard.

1. Colored Aristocracy
Source: The Rich Family - Recorded by Charles Seeger during the Arthurdale Festival, Arthurdale, W.V., Archive of folk Culture, Library of Congress, 1936.
Walker - banjo
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - mandolin

2. All Gone Now
Source: Georgia Yellow Hammers/Clyde Evans Band - Columbia Records 1929 
Walker - guitar, harmony voice
Jackson - fiddle, lead voice
Eli - mandolin
John - banjo

3. In the Good Old Summer Time
Source: Uncle Dave Macon - Vocalion Records 1926
Walker - guitar
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - banjo, voice

4. Eighth of January
Source: The Arkansas Barefoot Boys - Okeh Records 1928
Walker - banjo
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - guitar, harmonica

5. Ain't Gonna Lay My Armour Down
Source: McVay and Johnson - Columbia Records 1928
Walker - fiddle, voice
Jackson - guitar, harmony voice
Eli - banjo

6. Four Cent Cotton
Source: Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers - Columbia Records 1931
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - fiddle, voice
Eli - guitar
John - mandolin

7. Sugar in the Gourd
Source: Marcus Martin - Recorded for the Library of Congress by Margot Mayo 1946
Jackson - lead fiddle
Walker - backing fiddle
Eli - harmonica

8. Leaning on the Everlasting Arm
Source: Cogar and McGhee - Gennett Records 1928 
Walker - fiddle, harmony voice
Jackson - fiddle, lead voice
Eli - guitar, whistling

9. Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
Source: Fiddlin' John Carson - Okeh Records 1928
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - guitar 
Eli - harmonica, voice
John - banjo

10.  Ladies on the Steamboat
Source: Burnett & Rutherford - Columbia Records 1927, Clyde Davenport - Field Records Collective Vol. 1 Released 2005
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - guitar
Eli - banjo

11. Way Out West in Kansas
Source: Nimrod Workman - "The Land of Yahoe" (Rounder Records 1996), Vernon Dalhart - Edison 1924
Walker - fiddle
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - guitar, voice

12. Johnson Boys
Source: Grant Brothers - Columbia Records 1928
Walker - banjo, voice
Jackson - fiddle
Eli - mandolin

13. Likes Likker Better Than Me
Source: Woodie Brothers - Victor Records 1931
Walker - banjo
Jackson - guitar, voice
Eli - harmonica

14. Goodbye My Honey I'm Gone
Source: Grant Brothers - Columbia Records 1928
Walker - guitar, harmonica
Jackson - fiddle, voice
Eli - mandolin

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Greetings.  This is a brand new website, look out for more information coming soon about New York City based Old Time string band the Down Hill Strugglers - including music, tour dates, photos and video, etc...  Check back soon!