THOUGHTS: Day One @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2011

Yesterday was a fantastic day down in Golden Gate Park for the first official day at the 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and I got to take in a ton of music that I hadn’t ever seen before while enjoying a sunny day in the park. All for FREE. Side note: I love living in San Francisco.

My musical day started off with a run by the Banjo Stage for a quick gander at the David Bromberg Quartet before meeting with friends at the Rooster Stage to see Woods. This band absolutely blue me away.

Their music filled this absolutely needed space at this festival, and even got a special mention by the emcee after the set noting that this band put the “hardly strictly” in Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The set had a rockin’ but controlled psychedelic sound that really seemed to float over the park well. The Rooster Stage has some of the best sound at the festival if you decide to head up towards the front, which is what I did last year for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. At any rate, I loved this set and I’m definitely going to catch these guys when they roll through SF again sometime (hopefully) soon.

From there, we headed over by the Mekons to get some grub and caught this view.

We eventually found a spot on the hill for the Del McCoury Band with Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The sound was a bit of a problem where we were but at the same time, we had an amazing chill area away from the crowds with perches on the trees that allowed us to give our friends coordinates to find us. So the chill out factor yesterday was in high gear, and it was a beautiful sunny day to take it all in with an old timey background soundtrack that really provided me and crew wit a delightful afternoon.

John Prine followed and we finished the day with a rocking set by Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. But when I say rocking, I have to admit that it hardly did it for me even to hear classics like “Ramble On” being played. There was something about the vibe of playing Zeppelin tunes stripped down and acoustic that just make them completely lose all power to me. But maybe I was being jaded; it’s an amazing thing that I got to see him and I should have been more grateful for the experience. We all should be so lucky that he keeps on the road making new music anyway.

I’m running late for day two so I’m signing off for now. I’m bringing my camera for more photos today and stay on @LiveMusicBlog for updates from the sets I’m seeing. PEACE!