The banjo is twanging on the streets of Brooklyn.
Alternative country music band Roosevelt Dime is out to show that the old-timey instrument is alive and well. The group got their start performing in public places, forming a sound that seamlessly straddles bluegrass, jazz and second-line.
“With the Avett Brothers and even Mumford and Sons, the banjo is in vogue right now,” said bassist Eben Pariser, who along with the rest of Roosevelt Dime will headline the latest installment of the Brooklyn County Fair on Feb. 9 at the Bell House in Gowanus. “There are a lot of bands that have been working on bringing it more into the mainstream. It’s a sound we like and it doesn’t to be associated with just bluegrass or country.”
Pariser formed Roosevelt Dime four years ago along with banjo player Andrew Green and drummer Tony Montalbano. They brought in new members by playing on the streets of Brooklyn and seeing what got passerbys most excited.
“The rymthm section was bringing in the old blues and the army blues and the gospel and the brass brought in the old time hot jazz and New Orleans sounds. We threw it all together and it grew from there,” said Pariser. “The horns bring an intensity and a firepower.”
Once they got the sound they wanted, they created a new genre: steamboat soul. It’s reminicent of Dr. Dog or Delta Spirit, but also harkens back to acts including Dr. John and Jelly Roll.
J.D. Duarte, who has organized a couple of dozen Brooklyn County Fairs over the past five years, said he was excited to book Roosevelt Dime, especially since they’ve gained such a big following over the past few years.
“They throw a bunch of sounds together and it comes out sounding great,” said Duarte.
Brooklyn County Fair at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues, (718) 643–6510, brooklyncountry.com]. Feb. 9, 8 pm, $10.Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@c