Monday, October 08, 2007

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

This past weekend, I spent all day Saturday and Sunday at Golden Gate Park for the seventh annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and somebody now needs to come and slap the pickin' and grinnin' off my face, because I'm still pretty blissed out. Five stages, six or seven acts per stage per day, and it's all free.

I forgot my camera on Saturday and so have nothing recorded from that day, but I did remember to bring it Sunday. Musically, Saturday may have been the stronger day (though more Hardly Strictly than actual Bluegrass), what with the acts I watched at the Star Stage alone. It started with the Subdudes, followed by the Knitters and then John Prine. All three acts killed, and after a bit of a lull with Keller Williams and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, ended strong with a mighty set by Los Lobos.

Sunday, my pal Marty and I moved around a bit from stage to stage, and caught Earl Scruggs, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, Poor Man's Whiskey, The Sadies and a number of others. I got there early enough to check out Emmylou Harris' sound check on the Banjo Stage an hour before the regular show started. It was, of course, delicious.

Beautiful weather, great music, good crowds... we brought chairs and blankets and food and water and beer, and couldn't have been happier. HSB is probably the best music festival going anywhere, regardless of genre. You can't beat the location or the price or the variety of acts presented. Kudos to local rich guy Warren Hellman, who has put this show on with his own money for seven years now, and I hope he never stops.

Anyway, here are a few pedestrian shots from Sunday, nothing to write home about, but they should give you a bit of an idea of how beautiful it was out there all weekend.

Way up above the Banjo Stage, listening to Emmylou Harris and her band doing an almost complete set as her sound check.
Poor Man's Whiskey in their Oktoberfest costumes, playing and tossing big pretzels to the crowd.
Plenty of musicians show up, and you can often find impromptu jam sessions tucked away in little corners of the park between stages.
Early morning crowd at the Star Stage.
The Sadies performing.
Some people come just to hang out...
...while other people like to dance to the music.
The view is spectacular. You couldn't ask for a nicer setting for this affair.
Not that you can tell, but this is Earl Scruggs at the Banjo Stage, hours after Emmylou's sound check.
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