Push open the door to the Red Hook venue and you might find a gaggle of kids leaving their instrumental lessons, just in time for the stage to be turned over for that evening’s raucous performance (the Jalopy boasts live music six nights a week, excluding Mondays). Red velvet curtains drape the wooden stage while the floor bears deep carvings borne from furniture movement — evidence of the venue’s history of accommodating almost every type of performance. At any time, though, it’s a space that beckons you to kick back with a friend, discover local talent and order some late night treats from the bar.
To kick off the summer, the Jalopy is hosting its 4th annual Brooklyn International Music Festival on June 14 and June 15. The two-day event includes performances from Yva Las Vegas, Yacouba Cissoko, Peter Stan & Friends, Julia Patinella and more. We corresponded with musician and concert curator Feral Foster about the what attendees can expect and what he hopes for the future of the eclectic festival.
Tell us about the International Music Festival.
The Brooklyn International Music Festival is an event we hold at the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, a recently non-profit music school and venue. Our mission is to preserve traditional music and arts. The Brooklyn International Music Fest gathers musicians to share and teach the art and music of their cultures and others.
Over the span of two days, we feature workshops and performances from these artists. This year the festival includes music as diverse as New York City itself — representing traditions from as far flung as Venezuela, Serbia, Nepal, Mali, China, Haiti and more!
How did this festival start?
The Brooklyn International Music Festival is an offshoot of the Brooklyn Folk Festival, which Jalopy has been presenting for years. New York City has a plethora of musical scenes, representing cultures from all over the world. There are many different festivals focusing on one culture’s music or musical family, but I wanted to put together a festival that demonstrates the intense and beautiful diversity that makes NYC what it is.
Why is it important to feature these artists?
More and more we hear about how our differences distance us from each other. New York City’s diversity is its strength — and identity. It is easy to live here your whole life and stay in your niche or rut. It’s amazing how many people aren’t even aware that such amazing music is out there in NYC because it may be played somewhere they otherwise would never go. This festival seeks to bridge that divide.
What are you looking forward to for the future of this festival?
To expand! The more musicians and artists we can get on board, the fuller and more bewildering the experience will be for everyone involved.
What’s the best part of the festival for you?
Watching the reactions of folks who are taken by surprise by the power and beauty of some of these performances. The intimate theater setting of Jalopy can make some of these performances transformative.
This interview has been lightly edited.
Top Image: Interior of the Jalopy.