PREVIEW: Day One @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2011

Today marked the unofficial beginning to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the annual (and free) festival that brings thousands of people to Golden Gate Park each and every fall with tarps in tow and whiskey drinking on the brain. I say unofficial because really only MC Hammer played today as part of an educational outreach program, so tomorrow is really when the action begins.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival has become a cultural institution in the city and something that we music fans hardly take for granted (LULZ SEE WHAT I DID THERE). When a rich venture capitalist named Warren Helman decides to put aside a ton of money to bring a large scale music festival yearly and at no cost to the public full of great folk, Americana, blues, jazz, jamband and Buckethead fans, you know you’re in for a treat. And the fact that this happens annual and within an easy bike ride from my place in the Lower Haight, well it’s pretty clear that we’re spoiled here with festivals like this.

I’m heading down tomorrow morning after some coffee and a catch up on the news; read on for the artists I plan on seeing with some video previews of the action I’m likely to see. Who are you excited to see?!?

Friday, September 30th

Tomorrow starts off with THE King of Funky Drums, Zigaboo Modeliste, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Let’s hope the sun is out and shining bright when his funky grooves fill the air at the Star Stage…

From there I’ll hang out and wait for the South Memphis String Band, a trio composed of Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Alvin “Youngblood” Hart (Grammy-winning bluesman) and Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers). Uhm, yes please…

It’s odd the Mekons are playing, but not really when you consider that Southern Culture on the Skids and Thurston Moore play on the same stage following their set. I’ll definitely want to check some of this out.

From there I’d probably rock myself over to the Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band set. Those two powerhouses playing together is something I can keep missing and I’m glad they’ve been added to this year’s lineup at a good time.

After that, John Prine…who I’m really not all that attached to because my mom used to always listen to it and tell me it was the hot stuff. Because of that I think I inherently turned off on it and told myself it was not cool to like John Prine, so I’m hoping my attendance at this set will open back up my mind about his music. Obviously I know he’s a legend but so is Chris Isaak and he’s playing all the way over on the Star Stage…it’s going to depend on what grabs me, I guess.

I would NOT by any means want to miss the chance to see M. Ward for free…that would be a mistake.

To finish off my day I’m pretty sure I’ll be hustling over to see Thurston Moore for a few minutes then finish off with Robert Plant & the Band of Joy.

Wow, did I mention that all of this is going to be free? I’ll have my Flip camera with me capturing some of the action as I go along and it’d be rad if you want to meet up for a shot of whiskey and a hello. CAW CAW!

Check back tomorrow night for a preview of the six stages of artists to choose from Saturday and Sunday…we’ll help you navigate your way…