The Down Hill Strugglers Revive Old-Time Folk For a New Generation
The Down Hill Strugglers Photo: Down Home Radio It seems like 31-year-old banjo player Eli Smith was destined to play old-time folk music. He grew up in Greenwich Village--the epicenter of the 1960s folk revival boom. His parents–who are left-wing political activists--exposed him to the folk sounds of giants like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. But it wasn't until he listened to music by the likes of bluesman Mississippi John Hurt and The New Lost City Ramblers, an old-time string band, as a teenager that he started to seek the sources behind that old-time roots sound. "It was the first music that really spoke to me," he says. "I never heard any folk music on the radio and never saw it on TV. But when I started to finally find it for myself and hear the authentic sound of the vanished rural American music, that was the sound that really spoke to me, the feeling that I was looking for. That was the music that I loved." Smith is one of the members of the Brooklyn old-time string group,