Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Every year in Golden Gate Park, SF Bay Area residents are treated to a world class Folk, Country, and Bluegrass festival, free of charge and open to all comers. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass had it's tenth anniversary this year and it just happened to be the first time I have have gone to check it out. Many of my friends attend regularly and I always wanted to give it a whorl, and I am very happy that I finally did. I met some friends at their place in the avenues, within walking distance of the event for some lunch and a few beers before we made the trek into the park. There are 5 stages with music going all day at each so there's no way to see it all but we managed to catch a little of Joan Baez's set at the very packed Banjo Stage. I'm glad to have got a chance to see her for a bit as she is a legend and a virtuoso of folk music in this modern age. Unfortunately there was nowhere to sit and hardly a place to stand so we moseyed over to the more relaxed atmosphere of the Porch Stage and layed out a blanket with a great view of the acts.
The highlight for me was seeing an artist named Skip Gorman. He played guitar, fiddle and mandolin, all with a deft hand, and sung songs about cowboys and the frontier and open prairies that were sweet and sad and took me back to the ranching days of my youth. He seemed about as authentic as they come and was very pleasant to hear. I could feel an ache that is rare for me except when hearing old timey music like this that made me melancholy and yearning for my younger days on the range in New Mexico, roping and riding and going to the rodeo. I never listened to this kind of music when I was a boy so it's difficult to explain how it stirred up these memories, but something about Skip's songs made me see a place in my mind where the views are long, with sagebrush and mesas, green valleys and arroyos. A feeling of great freedom and intense loneliness, and the vast distances between men. Skip Gorman's music takes you back to a harder but simpler time, and there is a part of me that wishes I could be there. Life can be so complicated and furious sometimes, I often wish I could tack and saddle my horse and just head off in any direction to be alone for a bit, across this great country before there were so many fences.
Here's a quick bio and a sample of this talented man who for a while yesterday moved me across the years and the land, at least in my mind and heart...
FYI, that's Skip onstage in the background of the top pic...

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