Archive for October, 2008

Rooster Stage Blues

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

We spent most of the final day of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at the Rooster Stage, beginning with an outstanding performance by Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin.  I loved the driving rythym behind their great lyrics.   We went over to hear Alison Brown with Joe Craven (and pianist John R. Burr) perform a magnificent set on the Start Stage, and then returned to a perch on the hillside, with decent sight lines.  Greg Brown‘s set was too short for him to really get going, and the crowd was noisy and starting to fill up for Iron & Wine. The twenty-somethings were SRO for Samuel Beam’s big guitar and intricate lyrics, but he was clearly an immature performer, forgetting lyrics and music repeatedly.  Loudon Wainwright III followed with a retrospective set — this being his first performance in Golden Gate Park since 1967.  Aside from everybody’s favorite (from 30+ years ago) Dead Skunk, I really enjoyed his piano song in the Key of C about family and the previous tune about a normal day in London while Sarajevo was besieged.  It was hard to pass up Emmylou Harris, but having heard her yesterday and just a month ago, we decided to  close the festival at Rooster with Iris Dement.  She provided an hour of heartfelt songs on the piano, and was joined by Jimmie Dale Gilmore for an impromptu rendition of Hank Williams’ I Can’t Help It (if I’m still in love with you).

It was a beautiful day, but I found myself distracted and bothered by the very noisy crowd, which drank more than the bluegrass crowd at Banjo stage yesterday (though there was far less herb consumed).  Rooster Stage is also in a very crowded little vale, so there are always people moving around, over, and in front of you.  I wish I had gone over to Elvis Costello instead of staying for Greg Brown and Sam Bream.  But next year, I’ll stick to the main stage both days, where the crowd is a little more mellow. Of course, that depends on who gets booked.