The Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash with David Bromberg and Peter Sarsgaard

Raise the roof! Bluegrass musicians hold concert to save church ceiling

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Call it a blue-grass-roots effort.

A cohort the city’s best bluegrass musicians will pull some strings to raise money for a historic Park Slope church at the third annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash at the Bell House on Oct. 26. The organizer — himself a picker and parishioner at the borough’s oldest church — said he wanted to give voice to the county’s bluegrass bona fides while doing some good.

“Brooklyn is the hottest spot outside of Nashville for bluegrass musicians, and I wanted to showcase scene, but I felt a deep responsibility to do what could to help with restoration effort,” said guitarist Michael Daves, who lives near Green-Wood Cemetery.

The Old First Reformed Church, located on Carroll Street at Seventh Avenue, traces its roots to the 1600s and Dutch settler Peter Stuyvessant. In 2011, part of the ceiling collapsed, and church number-crunchers estimate they needs between $700,000 and $1.5 million to restore it.

Parishioners have raised about $250,000, and the band of bluegrass bards raised about one-fifth of that total through bashes in 2012 and 2013, Daves said.

There are two acts to look out for at this year’s concert — aside from Daves’ own genre-bending super trio, he said. First, is the so-called “father of Americana,” David Bromberg.

“A lot of people in Brooklyn aren’t familiar with him but he’s a huge treasure, and we can’t believe that he’s performing,” Daves said. “It’s going to be a revelation, especially for younger audiences.”

And keep your ears open for upstart fiddler Brittany Haas, who incorporates her classical and jazz background into tradition-steeped tunes.

“They represent these two generations of bluegrass,” Daves said of Bromberg and Haas.

Actor Peter Sarsgaard will emcee the event. Daves and Sarsgaard met when the musician was hired to give the actor mandolin lessons for a never-filmed biopic about bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe, Daves said. The “Garden State” alum lives in Park Slope and occasionally sings at the church with his wife Maggie Gyllenhaal and their kids, Daves said.

“He loves music, and his family very musical so he stayed on ever since, taking lessons and supporting the restoration campaign,” he said. “They’re great friends of the church.”

The Third Annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash at the Bell House [149 Seventh Street between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus,, (718) 643–6510]. Oct. 26 at 3 pm. $50 advance, $60 at door, $35 kids 12 and under.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeg‌er@cn‌gloca‌ or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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