With a reputation as the epicenter for “NYC’s unexpected contemporary folk revival” (Wondering Sound), the Jalopy Theatre occupies a tiny corner of Brooklyn, an unshakable nod to New York’s past that recently gained notoriety from the Coen Brother’s film Inside Llewyn Davis. At the center of the Jalopy’s new folk revival is popular New York banjoist (and Jalopy instructor), Hilary Hawke and her collaborative musical partner, Brian Geltner. Their old-timey duo, DUBL HANDI, (pronounced “double-handy”) appropriately named after an old washboard company out of Columbus, OH, is releasing their second album, Morning in a New Machine. Setting rhythmic grooves to traditional, well-loved songs, Dubl Handi’s revitalized roots music has been drawing in new audiences with their upbeat, danceable arrangements that focus on the interplay between Hawke’s renowned banjo playing and Geltner’s diverse talents as a percussionist.
“We take old-time, bluegrass and folk tunes that we love,” Hawke explains, “the ones that we can envision people dancing to or feeling in their bones, and we make them meaningful to us by sometimes adding lyrics, changing the feel, and playing our hearts out”. Yet, Hawke and Geltner are doing more than repurposing old songs; they are also adding originals, like the lazy lullaby waltz “No Sleep” and tenacious train song “Drive Away the Blues,” to the mix, and radically re-envisioning the arrangements of the older songs. Dubl Handi experience roots music as a vehicle for creative expression and robust playfulness. By marrying Hilary Hawke’s bracingly rhythmic banjo and Brian Geltner’s percussive multi-instrumentation, the duo nod to the roots of the banjo’s percussive history in American roots music. With their new album, Morning in a New Machine, Dubl Handi set the ever-changing landscape of folk music in modern tones.