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On one of my first nights visiting Brooklyn, my brother took me to a little bar in Red Hook called Sunny’s--it was here that I discovered the spontaneous, joyful way live music in this borough could work. After sitting in the front room sipping on whiskey for an hour or so, a fiddler, a guitarist and a percussionist ambled into the center of the bar and began playing a set of classic folk, jazz,...
“I’m not a big believer in things that are new or original,” says Eli Smith. “I think that’s usually pretty bullshit.” We’re sitting in the Jalopy Tavern, in a quiet section of Red Hook, Brooklyn, figuring out what to call the music Eli plays with his string band, The Down Hill Strugglers. Eli is rubbing his forehead with one hand and gesturing with the other and staring out over his formidable beard at a...

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