Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival takes place every October in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It's a fabulous event for a couple of reasons: it's free and a photographer has no restrictions about photography. It also draws some of the biggest names in music today. It's not fabulous for a couple of other reasons: It's free so a ginormous number of people attend and it can get claustrophobic. It's also difficult to find a place to park in San Francisco, and once you do, it's another 45 minute walk to one of the six stages where the music goes on continuously from 11 am to about 8 pm. This year I was only able to attend Sunday and so I got there early and staked out a place right near the stage, brought some crossword puzzles, a book and some excellent food. If you give up your place to walk to another stage, there's no guarantee you'll get it back. I saw only three acts, but one of them is in my pantheon of all-time greats, Richard Thompson. I was also able to see Billy Bragg, another Brit who, like Richard, has a devoted but not extremely large following. Enough to make a comfortable living but not with yachts and mansions. Richard, by the way, usually has his famous blue guitar, but made do this year with his red, white, and acoustic models. He performed with his stripped-down electric trio. I also really enjoyed Billy Bragg.

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