Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Saturday Oct 4

My posse and I started the day with Samantha Robichaud at the Porch Stage.  The Porch is my favorite stage at Hardly Strictly.  It's the smallest, least crowded, most intimate, with a nicely sloped hill from which you can see the stage well.  And it was sunny on the hill.  Samantha is a wonderfully talented fiddle player with an engaging personality.  She is only 20 according to the guide, but looked much older, wearing lots of makeup; really, when you're only 20, you will look much better without it.  You're already young and beautiful.  I've always been baffled by this phenomena of irony of young women wearing too much makeup.  Makeup, historically speaking, has been used to imitate the flush of youth.  In any case, she had a vibrancy and a fluency on her instrument which was quite captivating.  

Next, we stopped in at the Arrow Stage for some of the Bad Livers.  "Austin punk-rock" ?  Hardly.  Not quite what we expected from the program.  It was nice enough though.  No drums, "but they have tattoos" said one of my posse.

Next, Richard Thompson on the Star Stage.  We were far back.  He was a tiny speck on the stage.  We could hear him very well though, and his singing and guitar playing was beautiful.  Some comments about doing shanties and the difficulty of updating a shanty in the age of cruise ships were quite amusing.  He is a real talent.  

We stopped by Nick Lowe at the Rooster Stage but were not sufficiently engaged to brave the crowd.  

Fleeing Rooster we went back to Arrow to catch the tail end of the Gourds, billed as "alternative country."  They did not make a huge impression either way, but we'd had a lot of sun by then.  We were at Arrow really to see Jerry Jeff Walker, as one of our posse is a huge fan of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Jerry Jeff was billed as a similar "outlaw" country performer.  It was good, but didn't really measure up to a Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings show.  Then again, you know, the sound is different, it's in a park, it's a different vibe.

Last, we went to the Banjo stage to hear Odetta.  She was quite good, but we were pretty beat by then, and left ahead of the mass exodus which was sure to shortly ensue.

What a crowd.  It's exciting being there among all the people and performers in Golden Gate Park.  It seemed even less bluegrass than last year, but maybe that's because of the acts we happened to catch.  We didn't really plan it carefully, and wandered around off the cuff a bit, which I think is a fair way to do the festival.  It really is one of the coolest free things around San Francisco.

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