Tag Archives: Frank Fairfield

Meet Me at Jalopy

I’m as surprised as many of my friends are that I’ve been haunting the Jalopy Theater in Red Hook over the past couple months. I first heard of the place through my friend Leslie Henkel, whose boyfriend Don was recording a coterie of the neo-folk and pre-prewar pickers who take the stage each Wednesday for the popular Roots & Ruckus series, and my first inclination was to decline. It just wasn’t my thing.

They, along with my friend Glenn Robinson, persisted and I eventually made it to the theater/music school on a Wednesday night last spring. I can’t recall the exact lineup, but the performers were gloriously diverse, approaching old time music from every conceivable direction.  Blues picker Hubby Jenkins drew me in with dulcet guitar tones and honeyed vocals, but it was his preternatural, laconic delivery that made me a true believer. This wasn’t hipster posturing or studied naivete. Though the talent can be mixed, the best performers, like Jenkins, and Jalopy regulars Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and Craig Judelman, transcend their archaic material by connecting with the audience on a purely performative level.  “I don’t care too much for thinking about the past,” remarked multi-instrumentalist Frank Fairfield in a feature in LA Weekly last fall. “The truth is just another story. You can remember it any way you want; it’s never gonna’ be the same twice.” And it never is at Jalopy, despite the fact that Fairfield and Paxton — who performed together there last Tuesday — play, dress, act, and speak like apparitions from a nearly-forgotten past.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Salvatore Geloso — a Jalopy regular when he’s not riding the rails or hitchhiking to the west coast — sees the old-time tradition in more post-modern light. “I never want to stop ascending the staircase,” he remarked, explaining the origin of his band’s name, “Up Up We Go!”. “I want to draw from the well of previous things that have died and decomposed, and still go back and fill our cups up, rekindling the old because it resonates with so many people, but my goal is to keep going different places with the style.” Somewhere in the course of my interview with Geloso, his bandmate Eli Dworkin and their friends — who were all busy decorating paper cd sleeves for Up Up We Go!’s self-produced debut — the term gypsy punk emerged to describe the restless, gutteral, but decidedly melodic and lilting music on their eponymous record. The term is probably as close as you’ll get to pigeonholing Geloso’s slippery music, which combines elements of punk, funk, noise, eastern European folk music, caberet, and opera into a deeply unconventional whole.

In the coming month, I hope to transcribe the interviews I have done with Jalopy musicians and share them here. I will also be profiling some of the great musicians I have met there over the course of the last six months, so keep checking back.

July 17th Listings

Saturday – Hip hop and spoken-word artist TK Wonder will perform at Central Park Summerstage with a band featuring drummer Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing orchestra and saxophonist Michael Blake. The show starts at around 1pm.

Sunday – For decades, Trio 3 — comprised of alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Andrew Cyrille — has proven that an avant-garde all-star group can be more than the sum of its considerable parts.Tonight, the bassist Mark Helias will sub for Workman, at 8pm at the Museum of Modern Art in midtown.

Monday – Drummer Scott Neumann bring his Trio Sante — featuring saxophonist Michael Blake — a master of the trio setting — and the propulsive Mark Heliasto Small’s in the west village.

Tuesday – The Brooklyn-based bluegrass group, The Dustbusters, take the stage at The Jalopy Theater in Red Hook for their only performance in NYC this summer. If you haven’t been to Jalopy, this is the perfect opportunity to hear the new generation of pickers and singers that have made Brooklyn home in the past few years. In addition to fiddler Craig Judleman and multi-instrumentalist Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton — two Brooklyn-based phenoms — the group will also be joined by Frank Fairfield, a twenty-something bluegrass wonder from Los Angeles.

Wednesday – I’ve listed The Jalopy Theater’s weekly Roots & Ruckus series before, but it deserves another shout-out this week, for the inclusion of multi-instrumentalist and singer Salvatore Geloso, whose bracing falsetto and lyrical double entendres defy categorization. Rumor has it that Geloso is skipping town for the west coast by August, so catch him here, while you can.

Thursday – It’s safe to say  that the komungo, a zither-like instrument from Korea, hasn’t yet found it’s place in the jazz pantheon, but Jin Hi Kim has made significant inroads in introducing the evocative instrument to American audiences in the last decade  with the likes of Billy Bang and William Parker. Tonight, she will join drummer Gerry Hemingway for a duo performace at The Stone.

Friday – An undisputed master of prepared piano — an endless variety of techniques for manipulating the piano’s stings to produce otherworldy sounds — Denman Maroney will perform in a duo with French cellist and composer Emmanuel Cremer at I-Beam in Brooklyn.