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Monday, October 6, 2008

Bluegrass Baby

When I woke up this morning, I seriously thought it was Saturday. It took me a solid minute before I figured out what day it was. You can imagine the disappointment. I'm sure you've done that too.

Perhaps I just wanted another day like Sunday... a fine day full of sunshine and fresh air and fantastic music. And free!

If you have not been to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, please mark your calendar for it next year. I cannot tell you how totally fun and cool it was. So many people! Such great music! Honestly, it was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done here in the city.

This photo of the bicycles in particular was really an amazing phenomenon to me. I can tell you that this was just a tiny portion of the wild thicket of bicycles that were stacked like cordwood outside the venue. Do you think you could have found your bicycle after the shows? Wow.

There was every type of person at this festival...and everyone was loving the music. I was intrigued by so many interesting faces.

Next time, I'll endulge in the food too.

That roasted corn looked so good, but I didn't want to stand in the line to get it. Smells of barbeque meat filled the air as well as pungent whiffs of cannabis. It smelled like a giant picnic.

There were five stages, drawing thousands of people in some of the venues. But there were musicians scattered about the enormous grounds in Golden Gate Park, playing their music for the people passing by.

I was trying to find my friend Gypsy Girl, who was over where Elvis Costello was going to play. But I never found her in the crowd. (Sorry honey!)

So I made it back over to the Banjo Stage, which was where I really wanted to be.

Bluegrass music is like audible sunshine.

Of course you can see I was nowhere near the stage...

except when I zoomed in with my camera.

The fellow in the red shirt is my other crush besides Joe Biden. His name is Ralph Stanley, and you may have first discovered his unique and wonderful banjo playing and singing style if you saw the movie O Brother Where Art Thou? His music brought that movie to life.

Hearing him and his band up on stage was joyous. I wished I could have recorded it in a way for that you that did him justice, but I did find a youtube clip which has the same feeling and I hope you'll enjoy it:

And then I saw this clip and that's when I decided I had a crush on him:

I also saw the legendary Earl Scruggs who, just having celebrated his 84th birthday, played some fierce banjo with his son and their band. I tell you, when you hear musicians like this, you understand immediately why they are great.


I could only sit on the ground for so long before my back started giving me little messages that it was time to move on. So I'll be back for sure next year, with a lawn chair and an empty tummy and maybe even a cowboy hat.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy my poster (which I think is very fine) and listen to some CDs.

Hope you can make it, too!


willow October 6, 2008 at 2:43 PM  

This looks like so much fun! Wish I weren't quite so far away!!

Red Shoes October 6, 2008 at 3:24 PM  

You'll be pleased to know the gentleman we were discussing at lunch the other day was there to see Earl Scruggs--upright and clean!

tangobaby October 6, 2008 at 3:43 PM  

Hi willow,

I really had no idea how awesome it was going to be, otherwise I would have been there Saturday, too and gotten out of the house early.

I could see from the youtube videos that these musicians play all over the country, so the odds of seeing them near you is probably pretty high. All of the musicians on the website have their own sites with their touring schedules, so take a peek and see if someone will be close to your home.

Hi red shoes,

Now THAT'S the best thing I've heard all day! Seriously. I'm super glad he was there.

Janice October 6, 2008 at 5:26 PM  

It's a great time and mellow crowd. And Aunt Nita's sweet potato pie is great. We went on Saturday and "discovered" a couple great groups. I never end up seeing the people I intend to, that's half the fun.

I'm also impressed by how many people biked and took the N.

tangobaby October 6, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

Hi Janice,

Oh, you're killing me about the pie. I was *this* close to getting some but I was going to a friend's for dinner and didn't want to spoil my appetite.

Did you see the gypsy bluegrass band? A friend was telling me about them (sorry, don't remember the name) and said they were fantastic.

Next year I will be sure to be prepared to be there both days and do my homework on who else to see. I just thought it was a great event. Yes, mellow cool people and lots of fun.

Could you BELIEVE those bikes? That just impressed the heck out of me. The fact that people could find their bikes, unlock them and get home is incredible.

Janice October 6, 2008 at 6:37 PM  

Nope, I missed the gypsies.

And I meant Nita Bee's sweet potato pie, of course, in my previous comment. I have and aunt "Etta", so I got confused.

If it wasn't for the young 'un I would have happily gone both days.

Mtnhighmama October 6, 2008 at 7:05 PM  

Wow! What a great lineup!

P October 6, 2008 at 7:07 PM  

Oh, how amazing. Fantastic shots. And I love your description of bluegrass music: audible sunshine.

Phivos Nicolaides October 6, 2008 at 8:29 PM  

Amazing pictures indeed!

Johanna October 6, 2008 at 8:36 PM  

I LOVE bluegrass. I cannot fathom how anyone can play the banjo. We had the great fortune of seeing Vince Gil, and Amy Grant and Company at the Greek this summer, and I think Earl was there as well. Amazing.

A Cuban In London October 7, 2008 at 2:11 AM  

(looking over his shoulder) Is that you there, TB?

I can't believe that the first (second, actually) post I read on your blog is to do with bluegrass music, having uploaded Mr Bob Brozman on my blog last night as part of my weekly session Killer Opening Songs.

I enjoyed your post so much. I love slide guitar and I was watching Seasick Steve the other day on the telly (he was over here promoting his latest record) and the guy is the real deal!

Thanks so much for your article and photos.

Greetings from London.

julochka October 7, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

i went to a bluegrass festival once. by accident. drove 2 hours from phoenix to what we thought was a BLUES festival. we were a bit disappointed, what with expecting the blues and getting bluegrass. as i recall, we didn't really stay that long...maybe we should have.

paris parfait October 7, 2008 at 8:43 AM  

Sounds like such fun - and those bicycles! How on earth did anyone ever find his after the concert??!! I am not a fan of bluegrass, although I do admire Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs - and banjo music! xoxox

Christina October 7, 2008 at 9:13 AM  

I SO want a funnel cake now. I love this post.

Bring an extra lawn chair for me. I'll bring my empty tummy.
; )

tangobaby October 7, 2008 at 2:47 PM  

Hi janice,

I knew what kind of pie you meant. I could feel it.

Perhaps next year the young'un can come too, so you can stay longer?

Hi mtnhighmama,

I didn't know all of the musicians (this was just one of five stages, so you can imagine) but I just had a feeling that all of them were exceptional in their own way.

I felt especially privileged to see the two gentlemen I mentioned, obviously their ages won't let them tour and perform forever and I really felt grateful to see such masters of their music.

Hi p,

Audible sunshine, that's what first came to mind. Because it does give you that feeling when the sun is shining down on you...that happy, easy sense that all is good.

Hi phivos,

Thank you. I ended up putting the camera away and just enjoying the music.

Hi johanna,

I remember you mentioning that. I don't know too much about bluegrass and banjo music, but these performances definitely made me want to find more music to listen to.

A couple of years ago we went to see Bela Fleck and he was awesome too.

Hi a cuban in london,

I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I tell you, for a music fiend such as yourself, you would have been in heaven to see it all. Maybe next year?

I hope you got to take a look at those steel guitar photos I sent to you. That fellow has the coolest guitar in San Francisco.

Hi julochka,

Next time...if there is a next time, stay. You'll love it.

But I can see where if you had your heart set on one thing, the contrast would be disappointing.

Hi paris parfait,

Honestly, I have NO idea how people found their bikes, and if they did, how they unlocked them and got them free of the tangle. I am not exaggerating, the photo I took was about 1/4 of the bikes I could see.

Hi christina,

I'll roll out the red carpet for you and buy you your own funnel cake. Next year?


Relyn October 7, 2008 at 5:09 PM  

What a wonderful time you had!! I love all the pictures and the virtual trip you took us on. That is a wonderful poster! Plus, I am dying over the tie-dye guy and the guy you indulged in, instead of food. Or, was that an unintended pun?

tangobaby October 7, 2008 at 10:28 PM  

LOL! Relyn! I am such a dork!

No, I did not mean that but now you are cracking me up. That is hilarious. I guess I was indulging.


koolricky October 8, 2008 at 7:01 AM  

You made me reminesce to a few years ago when I shared a flat with a banjo player. I remember coming home and hearing it from the streets! (I remember also telling him at some point that playing banko at 4am when coming drunk from a club wasn't cool). :oD
He lives in SanFran and has a band, maybe you saw him! Did "Belle Monroe and her breglass boys"play?

mrs. sarah ott October 9, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

i saw Ralph Stanley at the alaska state fair this year too. what an exciting festival you were at though, i love the picture of the bikes, crazy! did you see emmylou harris?

tangobaby October 10, 2008 at 7:03 AM  

Sarah! Wasn't Ralph Stanley the best? I just adored him. I'm so excited you got to see him, too.

Yeah, those bikes were so crazy. And that was just a small portion of them! Can you believe it?