ARCHIVES: Hardly strictly anything but cool

This pre-Franorama World post was from my MySpace blog July 5, 2009, 12:24 p.m. PDT. For the record: I went on the final day for the first time and saw bits of Booker T. & the Drive-By Truckers, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Aimee Mann, The Knitters and traditional festival-closer Emmylou Harris, and all of Marianne Faithfull’s set.

Just a heads-up, kids, even though it’s only three months away … and hopefully I’ll be living up in San Francisco — or a lot closer to there — by then …

Just went to the website for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the big bash that billionaire investor and bluegrass fanatic Warren Hellman puts on every year at Golden Gate Park. Five stages in the Speedway Meadow, a gazillion great artists over three days — and free admission. (Food and merch extra, of course). Of course, you have to work your way through three gazillion yuppies and their dogs and their high-end baby haulers to see what you want, but if you can hold your nose long enough, you’ll dig it.

This year’s event will take place Oct. 2-4, Friday-Sunday. Many of the usual suspects will be there — Emmylou Harris will close on Sunday, as always, while Steve Earle & the Bluegrass Dukes will close the main stage on Saturday, as per tradition. Regulars or semi-regulars returning also include Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John Prine, Nick Lowe, Dave Alvin (with The Guilty Women again this year), Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Marty Stuart, The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock), Robert Earl Keen, Laurie Lewis, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch and one of Jon Langford’s many incarnations (this time, with Rosie Flores and The Pine Valley Cosmonauts). Boz Scaggs isn’t a regular, but he’s a San Franciscan, so he’s no surprise, either.

But, as usual, there are names that raise eyebrows, or at least the heart rate. Last year’s biggies were Robert Plant & Alison Krauss on Friday afternoon, and if I knew I were gonna eventually get laid off from my job, I would’ve said fuck it and gone up for that, too.

This year, I’m hoping to see Booker T. & the Drive-By Truckers; if you didn’t hear it, Booker and the Truckers teamed for a killer album, “Potato Hole,” this past spring. Other names — some surprises, some not so — that raised my eyebrows: The Chieftains, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Morello, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, Marshall Crenshaw, Malo, Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Mavis Staples, The Knitters and The Old 97s. And that renowned roots musician from Oakland, MC Hammer, who did a Friday-morning program for kids last year, will be back again as well.

I’m just hoping it doesn’t conflict again with another of my favorite California events: the Pacific Pinball Expo at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, which has shared a calendar space with HSB its first two years. Have a feeling I’ll have to split my ticket again — Saturday at Golden Gate Park, Sunday bashing away at hundreds of table games in Marin. There are worse dilemmas, believe you me …


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