Folk Across the Street Opening 2018 Season With a ‘Barn Fest’

Three Acts, Two Evenings, One Heck of a Lot of Fun
May 14, 2018
Goodnight Moonshine

After a long winter hiatus, Folk Across the Street is back in a big way.

Folk Across the Street’s Roland Hagan typically promotes folk/bluegrass/Americana shows with a single solo performer or band in his barn located at 288 North St. in West Creek. Over the past several years, he’s sprinkled in a few evenings featuring a couple of acts. But he’s going all out this year, kicking off his 2018 season with a two-day barn fest.

On Sunday, May 20, he’ll be bringing two acts, Goodnight Moonshine and Roosevelt Dime, into town for a show set to begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance – they may be reserved by calling 609-296-9150 – or $40 at the door if the limited-seating venue is not sold out. The very next evening at 7, the musical entertainment will be provided by The Way Down Wanderers. Tickets for that show are $20 in advance or $25 at the door – again, if not sold out.

Both evenings’ fun will begin at 6 p.m. with a potluck dinner – bring a tasty entrée and your own adult beverages of choice. And if you really want to see what West Creek is all about, show up either day from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for some “Crik style kayaking.” You can bring your own boat, borrow one or rent from Bel Haven Paddlesports.

Goodnight Moonshine consists of the wife and husband team of Molly Venter and Eben Pariser. The couple co-writes many of their songs, using the creative process to explore a healthy, authentic relationship. “Both wholesome and irreverent, they sing of grief and joy in equal measure.”

Venter is better known as one-third of the all-female group Red Molly, a folk circuit favorite. Her voice can go from a sweet moan to a gritty shout back into a playful run in the space of a few bars and, according to American Songwriter Magazine, “it all goes down like silk … few singers turn first time listeners into eternal fanatics as effortlessly as Molly Venter.”

Pariser, for his part, is the cofounder, lead singer, and electric guitar and harmonica player for Roosevelt Dime. The Brooklyn-based band, which also features co-founder Andrew Green on five-string banjo and back-up vocals, Tony Montalbano on drums and back-ups and Craig Akin on upright bass, picked its name carefully. The Roosevelt dime was first minted in 1946, and the name pays homage to the musical styles – blues, bluegrass, New Orleans juke joint rhythm and blues – that started mixing in that era, eventually becoming rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll. They note that their music has “a strong cultural component to it. It is like going deep into a river. You contribute to a transcendent history of art that inspires and moves people.”

The Way Down Wanderers will be wandering all the way to West Creek from their base in Chicago. OK, they’re actually performing a concert the previous afternoon in Philadelphia, but they sure do get around. Between May 17 and the end of the month they’ll be playing in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, Connecticut and upstate New York. Then, in the next two weeks, they’ll be visiting their home state before heading to Nebraska, then doing four shows in Colorado followed by a trip to Tennessee followed by …. You get the idea – they are a popular draw.

The band consists of co-founders Austin Thompson and Collin Krause, the former on guitar and harmony vocals and the latter on mandolin, fiddle and lead vocals, drummer-percussionist John Merikoski, upright bassist and singer John Williams and fiddle and banjo player Travis Kowalsky.

“The Way Down Wanderers combines folk with boy-band appeal: a quintet with gorgeous vocals, instrumentals, some dreads and a whole bunch of youthful energy,” wrote a reviewer for That Music Mag. opined that the band has “a polished sound filled with strong vocals and fantastic harmonizing, made all the better with vivid lyrics and powerful instrumentation.”

Both concerts will benefit the Stacy Moore Hagan Memorial Undergraduate Estuarine Science Internship Program, helping to pay for the registration and travel of seven Stockton University scholars who will present their research at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting from Aug. 19 to 23 in Atlantic City. Hagan, who is a lab researcher and coordinator of operations at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station in Tuckerton, established the program in honor of his wife, a marine scientist who graduated from Stockton. His program has awarded $52,000 in scholarships to 21 students.

Folk Across the Street sure is bringing a ton of cutting-edge music to Southern Ocean County, and it’s only May. Makes you wonder what Hagan can possibly do for an encore.

— Rick Mellerup

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