Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Remembering John Cohen

[John Cohen at the Jalopy Theatre. Photo by Eli Smith]

Dear Friends,

We are very sorry to announce the passing of our dear friend and bandmate John Cohen (1932 - 2019). John passed away peacefully on Monday evening at his home in Putnam Valley, NY.

John Cohen was one of the last of the first. His life and work spanned the arc of the “folk song” movement and movement towards traditional music, which he helped to create, here in New York and around the country. His breadth of knowledge and experience will not be seen again and his acuity of thought was remarkable and singular. 

[John Cohen with the Down Hill Strugglers at the 2019 Brooklyn Folk Festival.  Photo by Brian Geltner]

Here is an obituary from the New York Times with more information about John’s life and work. 

Through his work as a founder of the seminal string band the New Lost City Ramblers, his beautiful photography, films and field recordings and work as a record and concert producer, John Cohen had an indelible impact on American culture. It was not something that was supported by the music industry, and did not happen over night. Rather, the meaning and reach of John’s work continued to build over a long period of time, starting in the mid 1950’s and going up until the present time. His effect cannot be quantified. John’s work and ideas operated at a deep level and were revelatory for a great number of people. 

John Cohen had a feeling and an idea about music, visual art and culture that he followed for his entire life. He advocated for that idea relentlessly across various disciplines for 70 years. If you knew John, you knew that he had a very strong will. His work meant a great deal to him and he was tireless in that work. He also had a seemingly endless supply of great, mostly corny jokes and was always ready for a pun. Oh lord. 

We met John at the home of our mutual friend and musical collaborator Peter Stampfel in 2007.  In 2008 we started working with John and we became close friends. He toured the country with us as part of our string band, we played countless shows together. He was a teacher to us as well as a bandmate. We recorded three albums together, and he and Eli worked to produce two albums of historical reissues. 

[Warming up with John before playing at the 2019 Brooklyn Folk Festival. Photo by Brian Geltner]

Playing music and simply talking with John was a great pleasure. He raised the level of any project he worked on and taught us so much about how to hear, play and think about music. 

We will always remember cooking with him in his old kitchen at his house, having band practices there, listening to music and to his stories and learning from John.

We played with John at every Brooklyn Folk Festival since the beginning, as well as at every Washington Square Park Folk Festival, many shows here at the Jalopy Theatre and many more all across the country, including at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the Newport Folk Festival and more.

[The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen at the Washington Square Park Folk Festival]

John helped shape the ideas about music and culture that we are working with today.  Without John’s work and work by the NLCR and associates such Ralph Rinzler, Izzy Young and others, as well as his work with the Beat Generation poets and writers and more - we would not be doing what we are doing now. We would never have even thought of it.

John meant a great deal to us as an artist, cultural worker and as a friend. We will miss him very much and continue in the spirit of his work.

We send our love to his family and many friends around the world.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Spring, Summer + Fall Tour Dates

The Down Hill Strugglers are taking to the road once again 2019!  More dates TBA...

April 7th
Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Folk Festival
With the Down Hill Strugglers & John Cohen
Full schedule and tix:

June 13th
Buckhannon, WV
Square Dance!
Details TBA

June 15th
Hancock Shaker Village, MA
Northeast Fiddlers Convention
With the Down Hill Strugglers & John Cohen

June 23nd
Brooklyn, NY
with the Calamity Janes
Janes at 7pm, Strugglers at 8pm
Jalopy Theatre
315 Columbia St.

July 27th
Newport Folk Festival
John Cohen with the Down Hill Strugglers
For info and tickets:

September 6th & 7th
North Hillsdale, NY
Oldtone Roots Music Festival
With the Down Hill Strugglers & John Cohen
See website for set times and tix:

September 11th
The Public Option
Doors: 6:30pm
Show: 7:30pm  
1601 Rhode Island Ave NE,
Washington, DC

September 14th
Tompkins Corners Cultural Center
729 Peekskill Hollow Rd
Putnam Valley, NY

September 21st
Brooklyn Americana Music Festival
Power House Arena
Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


The Down Hill Strugglers are very excited to let people know that 3 of our songs have been included in the beautiful new film, "Dreamland."

Dreamland is an 2019 film, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte from a screenplay by Nicolaas Zwart. It stars Margot Robbie, Travis Fimmel, Garrett Hedlund, Kerry Condon, Finn Cole and Darby Camp.

The film is set in the dustbowl era of the 1930's in the American South-West and follows two fugitives on the run to Mexico - and it is definitely dreamlike.

Thank you to Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Patrick Higgings and all for including us in this project.