Updated: Jan 9
Every year at the beginning of fall in Northern California we have and amazing music festival called, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in the middle of beautiful San Francisco. No attendees pay a penny for admission and all the bands are paid. This all happens annually thanks to one guy, Warren Hellman. Although he passed away about a decade ago, he made provisions in his will for Hardly Strictly to continue on his dime! Yes all of it is paid with Warren Hellman money as stated in his will.
This event is always a happy place. I've never seen any altercations or fights breaking out and everyone is so nice to each other. Something we sadly see less and less of today. My friends Jeanie and Chuck have been attending for many years. Chuck has always been the emcee on the Rooster stage and will continue until he cant anymore. (It was in Warrens will). Chuck said something this weekend that describes the attendees so well, he said, the attendees at every HSB always get an A+ in citizenship! I couldn't have put it into words any better. People are courteous, and kind...even the people working as security were kind! It seems very well run on many levels. And even the artists onstage usually mention how they love to play this festival.
This year, when I looked at the schedule nothing really jumped out at me, but I am always open to new music of any kind. I love to be surprised with music I've never heard of or have never listened to, and this year provided me with many of those little surprises.
One was Warren Hellmans sons' band, The Wreckless Strangers. This band features, Mick Hellman on drums. Hellman is also from The Go To Hell Man Band. In the Wreckless Strangers are on vocals; Amber Morris Premier Bay Area vocalist and voice coach, members of Journey, and Eric Martin Band. On vocals; David Noble Poor Man's Whiskey, on lead guitar, and vocals; Joshua Zucker, The Jones Gang, Rowan Brothers, on bass; Austin de Lone - from Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Fabulous Thunderbirds on keys, vocals; and Rob Anderson repeat world champion cyclist on guitar. The Wreckless Strangers played the Porch Stage on Sunday, Oct 2nd at noon.
Wreckless Strangers released their debut album When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide earlier this year. The music is a fusion of rock, funk and slightly bluesy. I was impressed and stayed for nearly the whole set, as I liked the music so much.
Another fave of mine from the weekend was Adrian Belew and Jerry Harrison, from the Talking Heads, King Crimson, Bowie, Zappa and more. The band was tight and sounded great. They performed the entire Talking Heads, Remain in Light album, and this band got the entire crowd excited, happy and dancing. They were so good! I have been a Talking Heads fan for decades and I loved this set. And I saw many others that felt the same.
I also saw Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, and Mumford and Costello together, Jaime Wyatt, Lucious, Bela Fleck, Galactic, The Quitters, and many others throughout the weekend.
The musical highlight of my weekend, aside from the Talking Heads set was the last of the weekend, the Finale....Galactic. I've never seen them, and knew nothing about them. When I asked my friend that suggested I see this band, she told me that they have a really good drummer. So I asked her who is this drummer, and when she said, Stanton Moore is their drummer, thats all i needed to get my ass to this stage. I'm a big Stanton Moore fan. And if you've read The Music Soup before, or if you know me, you'd know that the drums are my go to. And I do have my favourite kind of drummers. I love big drummers that hit them hard. And Stanton Moore does not hold back. Which for me is a very good thing. As far as the band is concerned, Galactic is a band from New Orleans. Funk? Rock? I dont know where to put them in genre, but I do know that they were fantastic. A good solid vocalist, a great horn section, even a killer harp player...and on top of all these solid players, the completely badass drummer, Stanton Moore holding it all together.
I was shooting much of the set from the stage next to Stanton. My favourite place to be always is next to the drummer! And whilst I looked out into the audience, thousands strong....I saw literally the entire audience bobbing their heads and it almost looked like they were dancing in the air. So amazing to see. This set rocked! I know a drummer that told me that if the audience is bobbing their heads or dancing to the music, it means the drummer is good. And this was a stunning example of just that. And to finish this magical weekend was so appropriate and so welcomed. All the players in Galactic were great, so tight, and so incredibly pro, and Stanton Moore was brilliant! Thats how the weekend long, music festival finished for me....dancing on air to the beats of Stanton Moore and Galactic. Couldn't have ended any better!
Thank you once again to the Hellman Family for another great year of magical music, and thousands of well behaved, courteous, happy, music loving people.