The Down Hill Strugglers
||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (August 2012)|
|The Down Hill Strugglers|
|Origin||Brooklyn, New York|
|Fiddle, Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Harmonica, Pump Organ, Autoharp|
'The Down Hill Strugglers', previously known as the Dust Busters, is an old-time string band trio from Brookyln, New York. Forming in 2008, they are influenced by the music that came out of rural America, including Appalachian traditions, music from the Deep South, and the Western States. They combine the feeling of the old music that can be heard on commercially recorded 78 RPM records (largely of the pre-WWII era) and field recordings made throughout the 20th century. The band was originally made up of Craig Judelman, Eli Smith, and Walker Shepard. In 2012 Craig Judelman left the Dust Busters and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist Jackson Lynch. At that time, the band changed its name to The Down Hill Strugglers.
Although The Down Hill Strugglers come from different areas of the world, they identify themselves as a New York Band. Eli Smith is originally from Greenwich Village. Craig Judelman was born in South Africa but grew up in Seattle, Washington and Walker Shepard is from Virginia and Minnesota. Walker and Craig met one another during their college years where they both attended Bard College in upstate New York. The three met as a group while playing in a larger band called the Ether Frolic Mob alongside folk musicians Peter Stampfel of The Holy Modal Rounders and John Cohen of The New Lost City Ramblers, which began at Peter’s Thanksgiving parties.
Eli Smith produces his own internet radio show and blog called “Down Home Radio” which is dedicated to the sounds of folk music. He has also founded two festivals to promote old-time music in New York City: The Brooklyn Folk Festival is in its fourth year and The Washington Square Park Folk Festival is in its second year. At both festivals, local and some national musicians are showcased for their musical talents, and the Dust Busters have been show cased every year. He also teaches banjo to individuals and to classes at the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Brooklyn. While giving lessons to his students, he was interviewed on "Caught in the Act," on Brooklyn Independent Television on techniques for five string banjo players.
Walker Shepard developed a love for old-time music by listening to past voices such as Roscoe Holcomb, Gaither Carlton, Fiddlin' John Carson, and B.F. Shelton. By listening to past musicians, he has developed a personal style that fits into old-time music, but also allows younger generations to relate and connect to the music.
Craig Judelman was the front fiddler for the Dust Busters. Through his music he endeavors to create a sense of community by working with the Bread and Puppet Theater and connecting New Yorkers to the farmers who grow their food.
Style and influence
Their style of music is influenced by rural old time traditions of Appalachia, the Deep South, and the Western States. They are influenced by the folk musicians who have played before them and strive to introduce this style of music to a younger generation. They do this by keeping a strong sense of tradition in every tune. They often visit their elders to seek out their knowledge and play as they do. They have met with individuals such as banjo player, Pat Conte, Alice Gerrard, Clyde Davenport, the late fiddler Joe Thompson.
Over the course of their career, they have toured across the United States and Europe and have appeared at numerous festivals that encourage the preservation of folk life and music. In 2010, they received special invitation from the US Embassy in Sofia to represent American folk music at the Bourgas International Folklore Festival and also be showcased at the Apollonia Festival of the Arts in Sozopol. They have also performed at film festivals such as the Woodstock Film Festival alongside John Cohen while he was screening his latest documentary “Roscoe Holcomb: From Daisy Kentucky.” In 2010 they played at the Dock Boggs festival in Norton, Virginia and where asked back for a repeat performance at the 2011 festival.
They have been featured on radio shows such as WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour and are still archived on the WoodSongs website for listening. The band also has been featured on KEXP 90.3 FM Radio alongside John Cohen.
The Dust Busters released three albums: a self-titled album (2009), Prohibition is a Failure (2010), featuring John Cohen, and Old Man Below (2012).
- Walker Shepard: Vocals, Guitar, Banjo Bantar, Fiddle
- Craig Judelman: Vocals, Fiddle, Pump Organ
- Eli Smith: Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Manjo, Bantar, Harmonica, Autoharp
- The Dust Busters (2009)
- Prohibition is a Failure (2010)
- Old Man Below (2012, Smithsonian Folkways)
- "About The Down Hill Strugglers", http://downhillstrugglers.blogspot.com/p/press.html.
- John Cohen with the Dust Busters: Two Generations Together
- Caught In The Act: 2011 Archive :: BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn
- American Bluegrass band The Dust Busters to tour Bulgaria - Bulgaria - The Sofia Echo
- Woodstock Film Festival
- Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour - Show Information Details
- KEXP 90.3 FM - Live Performance: John Cohen and The Dust Busters on 3/16/2011
- "Old Man Below," http://www.folkways.si.edu/dust-brothers-john-cohen/old-man-below/old-time-american-folk/music/album/smithsonian.
- "12th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced!" Independent Music Awards, 11 June 2013. Retrieved on 4 Sept. 2013.