It’s Tuesday and I’m still lit up from spending Friday and Saturday at San Francisco’s biggest music party, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free festival hosted by the late, great Warren Hellman estate.
We love this wonderful free festival in Golden Gate Park. I’m always impressed with how well organized it is, from the stages to the graphics to the mobile app; it’s top notch. Over the years, we’ve developed a drill—arrive early while it’s still uncrowded and comprised almost exclusively of old futs like us. I always feel buoyant then as I anticipate the promise of the day’s events.
Friday’s lineup mostly featured bands that were new to us but I’d prepped by previewing them online. Jake Blount’s group played at the friendliest locale, the Bandwagon: an RV outfitted to serve as a stage. The group was smokin’ hot and I experienced the first of many perfect moments as someone blew bubbles through the audience, shrouded in fog.
Saturday started with another perfect moment as we arrived; Jerry Harrison’s roadies performed their sound check by playing one of the songs from Remain in Light. They executed the piece extremely well and before I knew it, I was dancing at the foot of that stage.
I further entertained myself by sketching some of the characters and styles at the festival. This guy with the eyebrows…
Other perfect moments
Randomly running into friends
Talking with the dad of Drive-by Truckers’ bassist from Alabama, who was happy to remark that the festival was so “wholesome.” Indeed, babies, toddlers and dogs roamed freely. This year seemed to be devoid of assholes and drunks.
Traveling light with our backrests to discover new acts; being delighted by Rayne Gellert and Kieran Kane who were great and funny and gob smacked by the appreciation of the audience.
Hearing Elvis Costello clear as a bell from way up the top of the ridge, above the din of concert-going talkers (the many conversations)
A little girl’s unicorn bubble machine showering me in hundreds of small bubbles
And THE highlight dancing madly with those young San Francisco pixies and leprechauns to the electrifying music of Talking Heads and the Remain in Light album, played by Jerry, Adrian Belew and their funky African rhythm band.
We’ll be back again next year. Thank you, Warren Hellman and family for throwing us this kick-ass party each year. You bring so much joy to the City that you loved. XOXOXO