Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Day 3

Read about our third day at Hardly Strictly Blues festival 2013

Sunday in San Francisco.

The third and final day of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013.  I was determined to make the most of it.

Our usual walk up the hill and a coffee stop at our new favourite spot, Stanza.  Then a bus trip down Lincoln Street.  The buses here are regular and good value – $2 for two hours or so.  A relatively short walk from 19th avenue led us firstly passed the small and intimate Porch Stage where Deep Dark Woods were playing (we stopped for their opening song which sounded good), then past Mike Farris on the Banjo Stage.  Sandra, Trish and Jenny stopped there.


The Deep Dark Woods

I ventured to the Arrow Stage, intent of capturing Shovels and Rope.  I have written about my very positive feelings on this Charleston-based duo before.  I love their album O Be Joyful and enjoyed their one-song performance of “Birmingham” at the Americana Awards about two weeks back.

They did not disappoint – a shining light on the Americana scene with a unique blend of stomping, somewhat macabre ballads.  An unexpected cover of Springsteen’s “Johnny 99” was a treat.

They finished their set with a fuzz-laden, boisterous “Hail! Hail! Rock n’ Roll”.


Shovels and Rope

The day is off to a flyer.

Next a short walk to the Rooster Stage for Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin.

We managed to find a choice, central spot.  As the festival program stated, Kane, Welch and Kaplin are not into background music.  It needs to be absorbed for they are supreme songwriters and precise deliverers.  They’ve played every HSB since 2001. I’ve seen Kane in Go Jane Go and Kevin Welch solo, both this year, so seeing the three of them together (with Lucas Kane on percussion) was a treat to be savoured.  Kaplin’s violin evocative.

Welch’s “Anna Lise Please” and “Jersey Devil”, Kaplin’s instrumental “Little Egypt” and Kane’s “Eight More Miles” were highlights I recall.


Kaplin Welch Kane

Given our vantage point, we decided to stay on Rooster for Ryan Bingham.

During the music break, there was a tree break. A substantial pine tree limb fell off very close to people on the hill.  Luckily no one was hurt.

Ryan Bingham is now based in L.A.  His career is on a strong upward trajectory.  An Oscar-winning song for the movie “Crazy Heart”, the prestigious “Artist Of The Year” award from the Americana Music Association, as well as an impressive and growing discography.   Today it was Just him and a fiddle player which provided a nice variation as I had last seen him with a full band in Austin.

It was a slow and moving set – just the guitar, fiddle and harmonica.  He evoked the spirit of Woody Guthrie.  An excellent set, one which convinced me that he is a star in the making.


Ryan Bingham

Next up was a Kate McGarrigle tribute with Martha Wainwright and her aunt Sloan.  Martha and Sloan invited some friends and family to celebrate the music of Kate McGarrigle.  After a song each by the two Wainwrights, the star guests started streaming on to the stage – Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, Steve Earle, Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III.

All the gang joined in for a fitting finale.


The Stars Chat


Buddy Miller, Martha Wainright,Sloan Wainwright,Emmylou Harris


The McGarrigle Tribute Audience


The Great Steve Earle


Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson

The sun was beating down and we decided time to go.

On the way out, we espied Pieta Brown and Bo Ramsey.


Bo Ramsey and Pieta Brown

Trish and I grabbed a bus – this time the 71 down Lincoln and Haight to within a block and a bit of our digs.

Thanks Warren Hellman and the HSB administration – the Festival is a blast.

Three days of festival, two night gigs – time for a quiet night.


Read about our third day at Hardly Strictly Blues festival 2013

Read about our third day at Hardly Strictly Blues festival 2013

Read about our third day at Hardly Strictly Blues festival 2013



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Author: Rob Dickens

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  1. Hi Rob and crew,
    Thanks for your very enjoyable blog this past month,very detailed and important comments on good/bad coffee,food and of course music.Sounds like you have all had a great time in the USA. look forward to catching up at Basement some Friday down the track.Now Hit The Road Rob and safe journey home.

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    • Thanks Phillip great to hear from you – Sunday night here and the gang are sitting around chatting. We have a spare day tomorrow. we might go to Berkeley. Trish, Sandra and Richard head back Tues. Jen and I will go to Plymouth CA where Jen’s sister lives in a vineyard. Three nights there – peace and washing! Home next Sunday Melbourne time. Be great to be back. See you soon.

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