Must-see music acts at the Brooklyn Folk Festival

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton is returning to the festival this year.
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton is returning to the festival this year. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

While summer may be the time of year when chart-topping popular artists descend on the city for festivals and major concerts, spring is the season to catch some true virtuosos with the Brooklyn Folk Festival. Every year, phenomenal acts come from near and far to take over St. Ann’s church for three days of blues, ragtime, jazz, country, world music, and more. Presented by the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, the festival boasts leading musicians that span the expansive folk-umbrella — here are just a few of the must-see acts performing next weekend.

Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues

This Brooklyn-based collective keeps the tradition of country blues jug-band music alive by performing both old-timey classics as well as contemporary songs. The result is a laid-back, fun performance, perfect for shooting the breeze in the afternoon. Sat. at 12:50 p.m.

The Mammals

Known for their high energy shows, this band hailing from the Hudson Valley combines acoustic rock, vintage pop sounds, and the folk music of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie for a rollicking good time. Sat. at 2:30 p.m.

Amythyst Kiah

With a raw and powerful voice that could rival some of the country vocalists from the mid-20th century that inspire her, Kiah is an emerging Southern Gothic blues artist to watch. Sat. at 5:50 p.m.

Frank Fairfield & Meredith Axelrod

A true treasure for music history lovers, both musicians are well versed in 19th and 20th century American styles from ragtime and pop standards to boogie-woogie and jug band music. Together, they bring the past to new audiences in an unforgettable way. Sat. at 7:50 p.m.

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton

Proficient at playing the banjo, guitar, violin and piano, Paxton brings the soulful blues music of the early 20th century to the contemporary stage. As a singer who oozes with charisma and talent, it’s no wonder Paxton is a returning favorite. Sat. at 8:40 p.m.

The Braincloud

If you love to dance, don’t miss The Braincloud’s set of Western Swing. Led by multiinstrumentalist Dennis Lichtman and vocalist Tamar Korn, this group has been pleasing audiences at Park Slope’s Barbès with their Monday night residency for years. Sat. at 10:20 p.m.

Baby Gramps

Seattle’s legendary performer Baby Gramps has enchanted audiences for decades with his mix of influences. His sea shanties are particular crowd pleasers because of his distinctive voice that is very reminiscent of Popeye the Sailor, in the best way possible. Sun. at 5 p.m.

Joan Shelley with Nathan Salsburg

Kentucky-based singer-songwriter Shelley has received rave reviews from NPR for her soothing modern country-folk music. She’s accompanied this time with Salsburg, a guitarist who shares Shelley’s melodic sensibilities. Sun. at 8:30 p.m.

Yacouba Sissoko

Considered one of the best kora players in the world, Yacouba uses the 21-stringed instrument to play traditional African songs as well as to accompany jazz, Latin and R&B musicians. Sun. at 9:15 p.m.

Brooklyn Folk Festival runs Friday-Sunday at St. Ann’s Church, 157 Montague St., Brooklyn Heights, Ticket and full event details at brooklynfolkfest.com

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