News & Rambling

News & Rambling

The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree, First Thursday of Every Month at Freddy’s

The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree, First Thursday of Every Month at Freddy's Bar


The first Thursday of every month at Freddy’s Bar, friends gather for The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree, a sing and stomp-along to the classic country songbook. Patrons are welcome to bring an instrument along and pick from the crowd, or learn the words to an old country song to sing from stage or from your seat.

Alex Battles started The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree as a jam for folks looking to play, old, popular country songs together. The first CasHank was the final event of the 1st Brooklyn Country Music Festival at Freddy’s in 2004. From July 2004 – September 2009, Buttermilk was the home of the CasHank. During this time, the CasHank grew to resemble the band of regulars  who re-lit the fire at Freddy’s Bar in November 2011. Gary Keenan, an original CasHank-er from 2004, now hosts the evening, with assistance from Alan Lee Backer, Glenn Spivak, The Old Perfesser, Diego Britt, and Alex Battles.

At it’s best, the CasHank is a group of friends gathered around a jukebox created from the simplest ingredients, memorable songs and easy chords.

The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree

First Thursday of Every Month

Freddy’s Bar

627 5th Avenue., Brooklyn, NY

February 5, 2015 / March 5, 2015 / April 2, 2015 / May 7, 2015

June 4, 2015 / July 2, 2015 / August 6, 2015 / September 3, 2015

October 1, 2015 / November 5, 2015 / December 3, 2015 / January 7, 2016

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The “wood block” song & The NPR Tiny Desk Contest. #tinydeskcontest

NPR has just informed me that my song “wood block” is an official entrant into Tiny Desk Contest. I am obviously thrilled to be involved. They have asked that I post a little more about the song. I am glad to oblige here.

In December, I received a message from a friend telling me about the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I promised to do her proud. I set about recording various new songs I’ve written this year, just to test them out and see how they’d sound. At the end of the session, I decided to try out “wood block”, a song I’d been working on for awhile, but never performed or recorded in it’s entirety.

I started writing “wood block” because it just seems so unnecessary that people still kill each other in this day and age. It frustrated me that it was so hard to write a song that would just chill everyone out and say, hey, that’s not nice. Let’s be nice. We’re all just people, and in some way, we all really like each other. We’re all being shown a million things every day that promise to make our lives better. For some reason, the thought just popped into my head, “What if everyone just needs a wood block?”

I write songs in various ways. Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to write three verses and a chorus in one shot and be done with it. But, in many cases, I find a translation which occurs between the head and the pen, where the head’s honesty fights the pen’s cleverness for the truth of the song. I always try to focus on that fact that I write songs because I want to remember something about that moment in time. What I remember of what I’ve written is what matters. That’s what ends up becoming the song. I often like to think of songs as pieces of pottery in the kiln of your heart. You fire them, you glaze them, you fire them again, then one day you’re drinking coffee out of them. When they’re useful, they’re songs.

“Wood block” took shape over two months. For awhile, it was just a little melody I’d find myself singing. Then I’d share bits of it with friends. It was such a personal song, that I didn’t even want to write any of it down until I was sure I knew where it was headed. I wanted to let my memory write the song, because my memory would be on the hook for singing it again if anyone were to ask.

After reviewing my footage from the day’s recording, I found the “wood block” song had the most I wanted to say and remember about being a part of the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. There was only one problem. Since I hadn’t dreamed I’d be using the take, I’d left my unsightly bedhead showing. Through the magic of the Ken Burns effect on iMovie, I was able crop out most of it and still pan down to show the desk where my typewriter sits. I’m very glad it was accepted into the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I would like to thank my friend Susanna for telling me about the contest and the folks at NPR for helping me to get this song out to the world.

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The Johnny Cash 83rd Birthday Bash, March 6, 7, & 8, 2015 at Bell House

Johnny Cash Birthday Bash banner by LJ Lindhurst

The Johnny Cash 83rd Birthday Bash returns to The Bell House on March 6, 7, & 8, 2015. A Brooklyn tradition since 2005, all shows feature Alex Battles & The Whisky Rebellion performing dozens of Cash favorites such as “I Walk The Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Big River,” “Jackson,”  “I Still Miss Someone,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and many more, duets with crowd favorite Linda Hill, Carter Family songs performed by The Calamity Janes, painted backdrops by LJ Lindhurst, and classic country from DJ General Buell.

This year’s three-day installment adds the first-ever Sunday afternoon all-ages Johnny Cash Birthday Bash commencing with hymn sing of Cash’s favorite spirituals from album “My Mother’s Hymn Book” followed by Kristin Andreassen calling square dances with The Calamity Janes and Alex Battles & The Whisky Rebellion performing dozens of Johnny Cash songs.

Friday, March 6, 2015 & Saturday, March 7, 2015

8pm Doors open, DJ General Buell spins classic country

830 Greetings from Alex Battles & Linda Hill

845 The Calamity Janes play old-time fiddle tunes and Carter Family songs

930 Alex Battles & The Whisky Rebellion play Johnny Cash songs

Sunday, March 8, 2015 – All Ages!

2pm Doors open, DJ General Buell spins classic gospel

230pm Alex Battles & Friends sing hymns from “My Mother’s Hymn Book”

3pm Square Dances with The Calamity Janes & Kristin Andreassen

4pm Alex Battles & The Whisky Rebellion play Johnny Cash songs

Friday, March 6, 2015   /   Saturday, March 7, 2015   /   Sunday, March 8, 2015

A limited number of two-night passes for Friday and Saturday night’s shows are also available.

What is your favorite Johnny Cash song? Let us know in the comments!

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Copyright 2014 Alex Battles.