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PREVIEW: Second annual Down County Jump Festival comes to Race Brook Lodge, June 28 and 29

Prepare for "two days of jubilant spirit-lifty feet-tappity fun," featuring "Gypsy Waltz, Swamp-Pop, Son Jarocho, Olde Time Rags, Hawaiian Hapa Haole, post-war New Orleans R&B," and more.

Sheffield — The second annual Down County Jump festival takes place on June 28 and 29 at Race Brook Lodge in cooperation with Brooklyn’s Jalopy Theatre and School of Music. At first glance, it would appear that highly savvy curators assembled this year’s eclectic lineup, and on second glance, there can be no doubt. But Jump is not a folk festival, and if you want audible proof, then listen to Jackson and the Janks’ “Stumblin’.”

Organizers describe the festival’s musical offerings as “Gypsy Waltz, Swamp-Pop, Son Jarocho, Olde Time Rags, Hawaiian Hapa Haole, and post-war New Orleans R&B.” Plus, there will be a shape-note-singing performance by Tim Eriksen and “the most danceable shuffles this side of the civil war.” They describe their festival as “a daylong musical odyssey dedicated to a very particular sound: A grainy, warm, spirited Voodoo vibrato that pulses with soul and sass through decade after decade of music from the Americas and their surrounding ports of call.” Grainy? Yes, that is one of the words we use to describe both the lost and the timeless.

In order of appearance, artists of the Down County Jump Festival are:

Tim Eriksen is known for his interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel, and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. T Bone Burnett calls him “one of the best singers in music.”

Jackson and the Janks are a “rock and roll and rhythm and blues garage gospel band.” The group recorded their self-titled debut album, a mix of originals and classics, in New Orleans between 2016 and 2018, and the record has a timeless feel, which you heard for yourself at the link above. This band likes to make people dance, as their festival performance will demonstrate.

Having grown up in Boston under the wing of Jim Kweskin, a practitioner of folk and jug-band music, Samoa Wilson is well rooted in North American folk traditions. Her two duos, the Four O’Clock Flowers and Fatboy Wilson & Old Viejo Bones, are known to the New York City folk music community, along with her vintage jazz trio. The New York Times calls Wilson’s voice “sweet, effortless, old-timey.”

Pulso De Barro comprises Kingston-based Mexican American musicians Maria Puente Flores, Mateo Cano, Víctor Lizabeth, and Oviedo Horta Jr. Members of the group draw on their varied heritages—Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican—playing jarana, leona, quijada, cajon, maracas, and marimba. They also dance and sing folk and original compositions called versadas. As you can see, they are not a mariachi band.

Jenny Parrott’s debut album deals with themes of parenthood: “I want to grow, help other people grow, give people faith, hope, inspiration, liberation for all.” While living in Austin, Parrott hosted monthly “femme jams,” where women and non-binary folks could safely jam and explore music.

Phil Saylor’s album “Distant” won the 2021 Wammie Award for Best Folk Album. Playing guitar and mountain banjo, Phil is known for a sound that combines Piedmont blues, bluegrass, and psychedelic country (an actual thing).

Based in western Massachusetts, Les Taiauts plays Cajun dancehall music rooted in southwest Louisiana: two-steps, waltzes, “French-language take-offs of obscure mid-century rockabilly songs,” and more. The group plays accordion, fiddle, and steel guitar, backed by a rhythm section. Their music is intended for dancing, and they will provide real-time instruction in Cajun dancing and “Honky Tonk Two-Stepping.”

Steel guitarist Isaac Stanford founded the Philadelphia-based Slowey and The Boats in 2012. The group specializes in “obscure and overlooked melodies from far and wide,” their music encompassing everything from traditional Hawaiian melodies to Argentinian tangos and classics of the American Songbook. In addition to Stanford on the steel guitar, the quintet comprises David Streim on the Wurlitzer or Fender Rhodes, Mike Hlatky on upright bass, Fred Berman on drums, and Brennen Ernst on guitar.

Race Book Lodge has been providing food, drink, lodging, and entertainment to Berkshire County visitors and locals since the time of Noah. It is located in a truly magical setting at the edge of one of the most biodiverse tracts of land in Massachusetts. Nearby hiking trails are destinations unto themselves.

The Jalopy Theatre and School of Music produces the Brooklyn Folk Festival. The school describes itself as a “multi-faceted arts space showcasing evolving folk and traditional music and art from New York City, the Americas, and the world.”

The second annual Down County Jump festival will be held in the Barnspace at Race Brook Lodge, 864 S. Undermountain Rd. (AKA Rt. 41), Sheffield, MA, 01257, on Friday and Saturday, June 28 and 29. Tickets are available here, and you can book a room at the lodge here. (Rooms are available only for guests attending the concerts.)

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