Thursday, September 10, 2009

Line up for line dancing and lots of country

By Meredith Deliso

Break out the cowboy hats and plaid.

From September 17-19, the Brooklyn Country Music Festival returns to Southpaw, for three days of original music, dancing and yee-hawing.

“Southpaw is a really good space for dancing,” says Alex Battles, a Park Slope musician who started the annual festival six years ago, then at Freddy’s in Prospect Heights, to highlight the untapped community of local songwriting talent. “People have really responded to Southpaw. It seems people love to go there and have a good time. Other places, people walk into it and they love their fun. Southpaw is the opposite.”

About 700 people got moving to Brooklyn’s country beat at least year’s festival, and even more can be expected at the Park Slope venue.

“It seems to get more popular every year,” says Battles, whose own country rock band, The Whiskey Rebellion, will be one of the main headlining acts, taking to the stage closing night, September 19.

Other headliners of the three-day festival include The Defibulators, playing soulful Delta blues Thursday, September 17, and The Woes, playing their meld of bluegrass rockabilly, dixieland and punk on Friday, September 18.

“We all say country music but we all take that title very loosely, incorporating all different types of music into our music,” says Battles of The Woes. “That’s one of the things I like about them, and something I try to do in my own music.”

Up-and-comers in the New York City country scene will also be on the menu, including The Woes, in their first year in the festival, as well as the Brooklyn-based acts Alana Amram & the Rough Gems and Roosevelt Dime, both playing Thursday night, and Brooklyn’s The Havens on that Friday.

“I’m always trying to find out who the new kids are, who the young guns are,” says Battle.

Battles also takes a chance on people who’ve reached out to him to be a part of the festival, as long as they’ve got the right vibe.

“People that I book for the show are usually high-energy bands. You can’t really do quiet music at Southpaw,” says Battles, who also produces the popular Johnny Cash Birthday Bash there very year in February. “It’s kind of a rocking venue.”

It’s also important to Battles to book local bands that aren’t just covering the latest Kenny Chesney, something that’s “near and dear” to him as a songwriter himself, and none of the bands cross the Mason-Dixon for this festival, with the farthest band come from Jersey City.

“I’m definitely excited we get to have this many bands on the main stage, and we get to showcase this many local artists,” says Battles. “It’s just this homegrown festival that’s grown over the years. It will be exciting to see where it takes us this year.”

The Brooklyn Country Music Festival is September 17-19 at Southpaw (125 Fifth Avenue). Tickets are $10 per day, and are available at for advance purchase, which is highly suggested. Limited three-day passes for $25 are also available there.

For more information, call 718-230-0236.


Unknown September 10, 2009 at 3:30 PM  

Can't wait to do some line dancing. It won't be a straight line. That I can promise. It's gonna rock.

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