Last year I was in Tennessee at a wedding. This year I was able to check two days of the 2012 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. Unlike past years, I did not have any known friends who were doing early morning squatting, marking out terrain, so I would be flying solo, moving between stages and looking for good listening and viewing spots. I caught Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows. Overall, it seemed like the festival was extremely well attended and each day I ran into people who traveled to San Francisco specifically for the festival. Met some nice people from San Diego, LA and Denver.
For me the best show was DOUG SAHM’S PHANTOM PLAYBOYS featuring: dave ALVIN, steve EARLE, delbert McCLINTON, boz SCAGGS, jimmie VAUGHAN… and whoever the cat drags in.… The rhythm section was right in the pocket and the band played a lot of different grooves. It all seemed effortless. The horn section was outstanding. The guitar solos outstanding pieces of R&B soul. For this show, I listened by a tree, stage right and it turned out to be a great spot. You could see the band the acoustics were good. This show had great sound.
A few interesting acts I caught were “The Cowboy Junkies” who I had never heard of feature a decent harp player. I enjoyed the brooding lead female singer who was very different from some of the earlier acts I heard. I also caught Patti Smith whose music I did not know, but whose name is well known. She brought a decent young rock and roll band and her music has this powerful, self-empowering message. Very nice.
So much music. So little time. Another fine year at the 2012 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Next year, I really got to make it for Friday night too.