Skip to content

hardly strictly

October 5, 2009

Welcome to the festival!

Welcome to the festival!

I really love bluegrass music. And I live near San Francisco, where the generous Warren Hellman personally produces Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free, non commercial, three-day blugrass festival in Golden Gate Park, featuring five stages of the best musicians performing for three days. This has been going on for nine years and have I ever attended? No.

Now that I have a little kid, I really want to do these things. Last year Lukas was seriously too young for a huge burst of energy like that, but this year, I thought we should try it and see how he did at a festival. Wow, was he great!

Much to the surprise and happiness of my husband, I suggest we go to this show. I explain that anything could happen, that we might only stay an hour even and he readily agrees to everything. I call my friend Sacha and we arrange to stay at her house Saturday night so we can go Saturday and not have to drive back at night (plus we get to hang out with her, which is rare these days!) The day before, I plan our packing so I will be relaxed. I have diapers, snacks, etc all totally accessible and ready. We have a picnic lunch, the carrier and the collapsable stroller. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that I did an amazing job bringing every single thing we needed but not more so we were totally compact!

bikes in trees

bikes in trees

When we arrive, we park in a space that is only 2 hour parking so we are basically certain to get a ticket. Everyone is doing it, so we do too. I have been prepping Lukas for a day telling him about the music in the park and all the people we will be seeing so he is expecting something interesting to happen. Into the stroller, and off we go. The walk through Golden Gate park is gorgeous and the weather is perfect. We follow the crowd to the festival. As we approach there are bikes parked in trees on the sides of the path and a huge waterfall. “wawa.” says Lukas reverently, and then, pointing at the trees, “bikes”.

I can’t even believe how many people are at this event. In 2005 there were 300,000 and Scott said it was much more crowded this year so I imagine there are many more than that right now. We eventually head into the trees and off the path and try to figure out what to do about seating since it is completely packed already at 2:30pm. We can hear Steve Martin playing on the Banjo stage and the crowd is appreciative! Sitting on a log, we relax and have some applesauce and receive a call from Sacha who has just arrived too. We have been contemplating going to a museum instead since it is so crowded, even though I could have just as easily stayed on that log and enjoyed myself hearing the music from there. Sacha walks over to where we are and lets us know that her roommate has a blanket spread out at the Banjo stage and we are all going over there. So we go, and fold up the stroller and carry Lukie through the crowd to the blanket.

L is loving the fest

L is loving the fest

It is even crowded at the blanket but it is comfortable and we can see and hear great! We hear Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, I am feeding Lukas applesauce and pita bread and crackers and hummus and chips and he just keeps snacking away steadily and nursing steadily and sitting on my lap happily. Friends come and go on the blanket and beer and a flask emerge. Lukas is still happily hanging out on my lap when Gillian Welsh appears on sstage. After one song, I announce that even if we have to leave now, I will be happy. Really she is the only act I wanted to see. The others are a bonus and if we were childless, yes we would have seen her and wandered from stage to stage and stayed all three days and all, but one song and I am happy here.

With eternal gratitude, I find that Lukas is extremely content hanging out and listening to Gillian Welsh on my lap. After Gillian’s spirit-soaring, crowd-calming duet of Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby with Emmylou Harris, he even clapped, and this is after a few hours of being there! Wow, I have a cool little kid, I am thinking. So when dusk began to arrive and Steve Earle was coming on stage, I decided we should head back to Sacha’s so we could leave on a good note. I carry him in the carrier and he is happy still to be close with his mama and I am happy to be with him and Scott leads us out of the crowd to the path where I can’t help it I buy a $6 hot dog (kosher, grass-fed, Niman Ranch beef OK?) and it is absolutely delicious. We head toward a full moon away from cold ocean wind that is picking up now and sweeping over the park, where there used to be sand dunes.

One again I feel contentment at a sponsor-free event, no beer companies, only music, small local vendors and pretty happy people all around. How fortunate we are to have a philanthropist in the Bay Area that puts his love of music into action for his community. But, then again, San Francisco is famous for putting love into action. So many of its inhabitants are doing beautiful things with their lives: painting gorgeous inspiring murals; leading Sunday Streets; working for the Bike Coalition; even the creation of Golden Gate Park itself, transformed from the original sand dunes to the lush public gathering place it is today, and many many other inspirational actions, all stemming from an inner love of place and beauty.

We don’t even have a ticket on our car the next day.

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

the crowd goes crazy for R Skaggs

the crowd goes crazy for R Skaggs

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings sing into the ocean gale

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings sing into the ocean gale

the walk home

the walk home

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: