Oh, Park Slope. Land of baby strollers, brownstone owners, literary types and … booze-fueled country music hoedowns? Yes, apparently the Park Slope country scene is alive and well. In fact country is thriving throughout the outer boroughs, at least according to this week’s cover story in The Village Voice.
Looming condos notwithstanding, the outer- borough country scene is alive, well, and spread out in all directions. The New York Metropolitan Country Music Association has hosted hoedowns for the last 25 years and now holds weekly line dances at the Glendale Memorial Building in Queens; the band, Nashville Attitude, hails from Staten Island. Meanwhile, ersatz honky-tonks are sprouting in Brooklyn’s boondocks, including the funky 74-seat Jalopy Theatre near Red Hook, and salty saloons with names like Sunny’s or Red Hook Bait & Tackle in the isolated neighborhood proper.
Unlike in touristy Manhattan, once the site of Garth Brooks’s Central Park lark, Brooklyn twang is as organic as fertilizer. No poseurs or irony here, or at least not too much: Most participants tend to be talented, intellectual, and eccentric, though not necessarily in that order. The number of trad and alt-country bands whose canon of one-name influences include Hank, Johnny, Woody, and Bob ranges from 50 to 100.
But uh-oh! Old man gentrification comes a-knocking. The article reports that “real-estate realities are creating an uncertain future for … down-home dives in brownstone Brooklyn” like Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, a Prospect Heights mainstay in the Atlantic Yards footprint that’s currently on the eminent domain chopping block; and the 100-year-old Hank’s Saloon on the corner of Third and Atlantic. Lured by the smell of condos, its new owners are planning to either develop the site or put it on the market with a $2.2 million price tag. Yee-haw!
But the die-hards quoted in the article insist that Brooklyn’s country scene isn’t going anywhere, despite the development onslaught. As one of them puts it: “If you can’t stand country, you can’t stand reality.”
Click “play” on the video above to watch the Flanks performing “Shake Sugaree” at Freddy’s in November 2007.