Tossing Banjos in the Canal?

Seventh annual Banjo Toss of the Brooklyn Folk Festival

Tossing Banjos in the Canal?

Brooklyn Heights
Red Hook

The 7th annual Banjo Toss into the Gowanus Canal is one of my favorite events sponsored by Jalopy Theater as part of the Brooklyn Folk Festival.

The 10th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival took place April 6 to 8, 2018, at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn Heights. With over 40 bands, workshops, jam sessions, square dance, salsa dance, fiddle contest, film screenings and the Return of the Famous Banjo Toss Competition, it was a remarkable weekend with something for nearly every musical taste. And the fun of watching a Banjo fly.


Check out the competitors:

Jarrad Morris competes in the Banjo Toss into the Gowanus Canal, part of the Brooklyn Folk Festival on April 8, 2018. ©Mark D Phillips


Maybe a grimace will make the Banjo fly further into the Superfund waterway. ©Mark D Phillips


Let's reach the other side of the Gowanus Canal. ©Mark D Phillips


The Banjo Toss of the Brooklyn Folk Festival 2018. ©Mark D Phillips




This year the festival brought home many favorite performers from its decade long history, along with exciting new underground-grassroots folk and traditional groups from New York City and around the nation. The 10th annual Festival featured Jerron “Blindboy” Paxton, R. Crumb with The East River String Band, Spirit Family Reunion and folk music legend John Cohen with the Down Hill Strugglers. The festival also includes Indian Classical Music from the Women’s Raga Massive, old time string band music from Bruce Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, a performance for children by Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz, celebrating the release of their new Smithsonian Folkways album, and Grammy nominated Moroccan band Innov Gnawa.


The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen "Leaving Home"


In addition to musical performances, the festival featured the NYC premiere of the documentary “Linefork,” about living legend Kentucky banjo player Lee Sexton, “How They Got Over” about the golden age of Black gospel quartets and a 50th anniversary screening of counter-cultural cult classic film “Gold” with rare Q&A with the director.


Linefork Trailer


The venue, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1844. An important example of Gothic Revival architecture in America, the richly ornamented church is notable for its elaborately vaulted roof and window tracery. Before it was removed in 1906, its spire was the most visible landmark in Brooklyn and was used by ship captains to navigate the harbor. The Festival will take place in the main hall of the church, with workshops, film screenings and the square dance in the side hall and upstairs rooms. Food, drink and retail vendors will be on site.


The Banjo Toss took place at the Gownaus Dredgers location on the canal
The Banjo Toss took place at the Gownaus Dredgers location on the canal