Any moderately warm, sunny day spent in San Franciscofs Golden Gate Park is bound to be a good day. This past weekend proved to be no exception to this general rule as people young and old packed the park for the 18th annual four day long Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Six stages were packed, often to capacity for the listening area, with varying amounts of people, from a few hundred to seemingly many thousand to listen to the music, visit with friends and family, drink whatever beverages they may have hauled through the park in coolers (since no alcohol was sold in the park), and even play catch with a human friend or fetch with a canine one. Friday on the Banjo Stage, Poor Manfs Whiskey played a short set, mixing between bluegrass ballads and spacey jams.@ Following them, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) played a surprisingly standard acoustic set, doing a very mellow rendition of Rage Against the Machine hit "Guerilla Radio" and Woodie Guthriefs "This Land is Your Land." The Banjofs lawn packed beyond capacity, as Steve Martin, dressed in a suit, played banjo with a very eold timeyf (if I may) bluegrass band.
Free music in the park is a uniquely San Franciscan experience. There are many other cities who offer music in their cityfs park, but Golden Gate Park, with itfs seemingly endless variety of trees and plants, open fields leading all the way to the ocean and the beautiful sunsets that occur over that view make the concerts held there that much more special. And, throughout the summer and fall, there are many free annual events similar to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival that happen in the park.@ The amount of great music that happens in San Francisco is astounding.
After spending my day in the park on Saturday, I attended the Dark Star Orchestra concert at the historic Fillmore Auditorium that evening. Dark Star Orchestra is strictly a cover band of San Francisco rock enf roll legends, The Grateful Dead. Most of the set lists they play are ones that were actually played by The Grateful Dead. This run of shows at the Fillmore marks the last shows John Kadlecik will play with the group before he leaves for tour with Phil Lesh and Bob Weirfs new incarnation of the Dead: Furthur.
The show was, for the most part mellow and psychedelic, but well played. The band was using the same lights that Furthur used at the Fox with ornate tie-dye tapestries draped as the back drop. As they meticulously played the old tunes to perfect imperfection, just as the Grateful Dead did, in the same building, many times throughout the years, my distinctly San Francisco day was capped off with the uniquely San Franciscan sound and feel of so many other glorious days gone by.