Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Treasure hunting



Tuckered out from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass? Yeah, us too.

Thing is, October — that’s San Francisco’s summer, if you’re a newbie — is just getting started. Next up is Treasure Island Music Festival (Oct. 18-19), now in its eighth year, aka your annual opportunity to look out at the bay and the twinkling city in the distance, pull your hoodie tighter around yourself, and say “I should come out here more often.”

Even if it’s the only time of year you find yourself on the isle, it’s a damn good one. TIMF is a beauty of festival, design-wise: Two stages within shouting distance of each other plus staggered performances throughout the day mean you don’t get caught up in festival FOMO. And the visual art and DJs it attracts thanks to the Silent Frisco stage pump it up with a distinctly San Franciscan flair (in case, for example, you ingest so much of something that the temperature and skyline aren’t enough to help you remember where you are).

Here are our picks for the best of the fest.

TV on the Radio
Very few bands can accurately claim to sound like the future and the past at once, but these Brooklyn rockers — who have been teasing singles from their new release Seeds, out this November — zoom pretty effortlessly back and forth, with bass, synths, keys, and horns that come together for a damn good dance party.

Ana Tijoux
We first fell for the French-Chilean artist’s textured, colorful blend of Spanish language hip-hop with jazz and traditional South American instruments in 2006 — when her collaboration with Julieta Venegas was everywhere, and we didn’t even get sick of it. Since then she’s only grown more intriguing, and less like pretty much anything else happening in Latin music. Check out this year’s Vengo if you need convincing.

The Growlers
Psych-y surf-punk from Costa Mesa that can help you visualize beach weather, regardless of that middle-of-the-bay breeze cutting through your clothes.

This Icelandic folk-tronica phenom is only 22, but he’s already been buzzy (especially abroad) for a good chunk of his adult life. We’re curious to hear how the lush songs off his debut album translate live.



Oct. 18-19, $89.50-$295

Treasure Island


Live shots: A hot and sticky Hardly Strictly


In keeping with Hardly Strictly weekend weather of years gone by, this past weekend was the most summerlike the Bay Area’s been all year. Ooo-weee, it was hot out there.

While you’re chugging your coconut water and dabbing your sunburn with aloe vera, here are our photos and reviews of our favorite sets.

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams is about the only person I can think of who actually makes me wish I drove a car more often. Her music just sounds best while you’re moving — or maybe that’s because I associate it with long road trips, because it was on a road trip that I first became obsessed with her classic record Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Specifically, “Drunken Angel.” Blood spilled from the hole in your heart/over the strings of your guitar… As a completely non-religious person, watching her sing it — a little behind the beat, in that husky/warbly way Williams has where she doesn’t sound entirely sober ever, but also that’s kinda part of her schtick, in front of 1000 people as the 5pm sun bore down on us — felt something like church. (Emma Silvers)

Mavis Staples

During this 64th year musical of her career, songstress Mavis Staples belted out her tunes that fueled the civil rights movement on Saturday afternoon to a Hardly Strictly crowd full of avid fans, one man with nipple piercings dancing in a continuous flow, and several babies with adorable earmuffs. “Hardly Strictly is my favorite festival!” she bellowed to huge applause. “We wanna leave you feeling good.” She unleashed her soulful, resounding voice directly from her gut with a gravelly tone accumulated through decades of performance. In a flowing white blouse, surrounded by a guitarist, backup singers, and drummer also dressed in black and white, Staples kicked off the set with “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)” — preaching from the gospel of social justice with lyrics such as “No hatred/will be tolerated.” Although the band’s sound level was occasionally too low in the mix, Staples made up for it with her gospel singing style that brought the funk all on its own.

The band nailed covers such as “The Weight” and the protest song “For What It’s Worth,” with the drummer adding a groovy beat and dropping silent at “Stop children, what’s that sound?” On the old hit “Freedom Highway,” Staples credited her “Pops” with writing the song for their family band, The Staple Singers, and said, “I’m a living witness here…and I’m still fighting, and I’m still on the battlefield.” She soldiered on by ending the set with a ten-minute rendition of her family’s biggest hit, “I’ll Take You There,” that left the crowd in a chilled-out reverie. (Rebecca Huval)

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo is never going to be the flashiest kid in the room. Powered by Ira Kaplan’s voice and moody walls of freaked-out guitar, it’s a critic’s band, one that you almost forget you love until you hear those opening notes of “Sugarcube” (which they opened with). “Do you like being referred to as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass?” Kaplan wondered aloud, sounding, charmingly, every bit like a 22-year-old, cold-weather indie band that didn’t quite know what they were doing at a sunny outdoor festival full of girls in crop tops. “Like if we were to say ‘Hello, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass?’ You, sir, in the front, please speak for everyone.'” Toward the end of the set they brought out Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda to play keys, followed by (SF legends) the Flamin’ Groovies’ Roy Loney to sing. Ryan Adams was crooning his guts out about 100 yards away, but for half an hour or so, this was the old school cool kid section of the party for sure. (Silvers)


The 1972 “rowdy country group” from Lubbock, Texas returned to Hardly Strictly this year, wrapping up Saturday’s tunes with a spectacular performance on two acoustic and two electric guitars, as the sun set and a cool breeze blew on exhausted festival-goers. With an outlaw country feel, this group attracted an older generation of fans by far. Lead singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore had a voice similar to Willie Nelson himself, and his stark white shoulder-length hair glimmered with the lyrics “the stars in my life will stay in place” and “where a good guitar-picker makes more money than a cowboy,” (their first song laid down on tape) echoed across the swaying crowd in true bluegrass character. (Haley Brucato)

Rosanne Cash

Johnny Cash’s little girl is definitely keeping the legend alive. Daddy would be proud. But, she has made a name for herself and will undoubtedly be remembered as her own legend. She harmonized with the best of country, and flashed those pearly whites over the packed stage. Fans piled into grass and dirt areas, pushed up against the chain-link fences, and everywhere in between as they forced their way in to catch a glimpse of this Tennessee beauty. Her songs are intoxicating and, although I am not a country fan, I am now a fan of Rosanne Cash. You can’t ignore that talent. (Brucato)

Built to Spill

Nope, don’t care that I saw them two months ago at Slim’s. Built to Spill make me happy every time, every which way, whether it’s Doug Martsch’s raw vocals pushing high above a horde of people on “Time Trap” or the precision of a lilting guitar outro on “Stab.” That said — and I recall coming to a consensus about this with other BTS super-fans later Saturday night — there is something a little weird about sharing the emotional relationship that most Built to Spill fans have to Built to Spill songs with, well, other Built to Spill fans. And non-Built to Spill fans. In a situation that’s not the slightest bit depressing nor lonely whatsoever. It’s almost too raw. This may also be related to the amount of rosé I consumed during the set (come on, it was getting warm fast). “Thank you for listening and paying attention,” said Martsch at the set’s close. Doug. Doug! Anytime. (Silvers)


Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) has a unique family collab going on with this band. I was wondering why the drummer looked so much younger than the other band members, and then I’m told it’s lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s 18-year-old son, Spencer! Ah, that’s sweet. The Tweedys performed with a full band, but for the two that share the family name, they were performing songs from their debut record Sukierae (named after Tweedy’s wife and mother to their son, Spencer). The music is very simple, light,and enjoyable. I laid back on my blue and white blanket, stretched my legs, and relaxed during this set. People seemed happy to be here for this performance and vibes were going strong as the afternoon wore on.  (Brucato)

Social Distortion

Proving punk rock wasn’t and never will be just a fad, Social Distortion headlined the Towers of Gold stage in their 35th year of existence on Saturday. While the band’s Americana-inspired repertoire consists of ample crowd-pleasers, singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike Ness and crew also rewarded long-time fans with some deep cuts and variations on familiar tunes. Wasting no time on introductions, Social Distortion opened with “Through These Eyes,” an anthem that encapsulates their message of hard-earned hope in a cruel and capricious world.

With his sparkly gold-top Gretsch and signature wide stance (not to be confused with Larry Craig’s), Ness led the eager crowd through a veritable tour of the band’s past and present with recent hits like “Machine Gun Blues” and “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown” intertwined with eternal classics like “Ball and Chain” and “99 to Life.” Mid-set, bassist Brent Harding switched to an upright bass, and the band embarked on a slower, waltzy rendition of 1992’s “Cold Feelings” followed by an acoustic and accordion treatment of 2004’s “Reach for the Sky.” As Ness’s crimson T-shirt became consumed by sweat, he beckoned the audience to sing along to “Story of My Life,” the band’s most well-known and relatable song, and closed with “Ring of Fire,” a romantic Johnny Cash classic that coincidentally qualified the several mosh pits that had formed. That hot afternoon, Social Distortion gave us something to believe in. (Chung Leung)

Lake Street Dive

This talented, and young, quartet provides a stark contrast to the aged musicians scattering the lineup this year. The avant garde group hailing from Boston, MA put a creative spin on pop, jazz, folk, and soul, and it works. Rachael Price (lead singer) bellowed out an unexpected bluesy, sultry voice that eerily resembles the late Amy Winehouse. It’s a really neat combo of sounds with the giant upright bass, talented drummer and guitarist as well — all graduates from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. They expertly covered a Hall and Oates song, that got my head bobbing and foot tapping automatically. Lake Street Dive are a genuinely talented bunch and I’m hooked. (Brucato)

Chris Isaak

“When I first came to San Francisco, I used to come down to the park and play guitar here,” said Chris Isaak to an adoring throng of fans at around 6:30pm on Saturday evening. “Who’d have thought that 30 years later, I’d still be playing here for free?” Then he launched into the signature guitar sigh of “Wicked Game,” as the sunburned, stoned, blissed-out masses cheered and swayed and made out. Isaak is a Hardly Strictly veteran, so you’d think he couldn’t surprise you — but then he goes and coordinates dance moves with his band, shimmying side to side in his blue Johnny Cash-esque suit. A handful of Roy Orbison covers, a handful of songs that took the performance well past the official 7pm end time: He can do whatever he wants. Silly grin-inducing. (Silvers)

Bruce Cockburn

Wow. I didn’t expect that kind of guitar playing when I wandered down to the Star stage, exhausted and sunburnt, for the last performance on Sunday. Things were (sadly) winding down for 2014 HSB.  I looked on stage to see a small man fully clad in an army jacket with combat boots, small circular spectacles, standing alone. The swaying crowd could definitely feel the spirit of Warren Hellman hovering over the best festival on earth. Cockburn’s fingerpicking skills on his dark green guitar washed over onlookers. There he stood, with his eyes tightly closed for his entire set, bellowing out a surprisingly raspy voice. You could tell it’s the kind of voice that’s been around awhile, but one that has truly gotten better with age.

I looked behind me, and I could see others mimicking his meditation-like pose, closing their eyes too, and feeling only the music, deeply concentrated on the bluegrass sounds floating around them. It was magical, and it gave me goosebumps. I was just about to leave (after realizing I could barely remain upright after the draining weekend of music) when “Iris of the World” began playing, and something made me turn back and stay put. (Brucato)

Social Distortion digs up its roots


Although they got their start in the fast and loud world of the southern California punk rock scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Orange County rockers Social Distortion have long embraced American roots music, incorporating country, rockabilly, folk and blues influences into their songwriting and overall sound.

Founding member Mike Ness — who as the band’s singer, guitarist ,and chief songwriter has guided Social Distortion for 35 years now — can pinpoint an experience he had growing up to when he first made a connection with early 20th century American music.

“It was probably on those Smithsonian Folkways sets that we had around the house — but when I heard the Carter Family at about eight years old, there’s just something about those recordings from that period, the late ’20s, and ’30s,” says Ness over the phone from a tour stop in Oregon.

“Maybe I was internalizing their strife, it just resonated with me, we didn’t have much money growing up, and it just really hit home—and I didn’t really even know at the time.”

That sense of kinship with the pioneers of roots music went on to inform and influence Ness when he started Social Distortion and has continued to help shape the group as they have evolved over the years — a major reason that he is proud to be performing with his band at this weekend’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco (4:45 pm on Saturday at the Towers of Gold Stage).

“I’ve heard it’s just really cool and eclectic — and that it’s huge. I remember when we used to do the ‘Street Scene’ in San Diego and it was downtown, and feeling that the whole town was there, like how it must have been in the old days when you were peddling your elixirs and you had the whole city there in the town square.

“I imagine that’s how it will be there. I think it’s a pretty cool idea. Whenever you get to play in the city, and see the cityscape right there from the stage, or in the park, it’s a very cool feeling.”

In addition to taking cues from the classics when writing his own material, Ness has also made it a tradition to perform many of his favorite songs by other, older artists both live in concert and on records — in fact, he released an entire album of covers back in 1999, the excellent solo effort Under The Influences, in which he paid homage to singers and songwriters such as Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins, and Hank Williams.

While his fans enjoy Ness’ cover versions for having their own unique sound, the performer himself laughs when asked if he has a particular approach for shaping or crafting the songs to be a little different from the originals.

“It’s never been a conscious decision to change them to make it my own. Sometimes I kind of wish I had played in Top 40 bands just so I could have learned different stylistic things, because really, when I pick a cover song, I do pick it because I love it and it’s a personal favorite and I’ve been singing it in my living for a couple of years already — but it just comes out the only way I know how to do it!” Ness laughs.

A couple of other acts on the bill this weekend were artists that Ness went to see in concert while growing up and had a large impact on him, particularly Dave and Phil Alvin (who play Friday afternoon) and their band The Blasters.

“That period of time was just so neat. We were 17 years old, driving from Fullerton to Hollywood every night watching bands and going to these underground clubs, I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of that — I cut my teeth on that, and The Blasters were a big part of that.”

“These were bands that were already making that connection between punk and American roots music, whether it was rockabilly or folk music or blues. By the mid ‘80s, punk had really started to stereotype itself; a lot of the bands were all just starting to sound the same. We felt the need to separate and stand out, and that really helped me.”

Ness says that fans can expect Social Distortion to play some special tunes for their Hardly Strictly Bluegrass set.

“I definitely want to acknowledge the fact that it’s a roots festival, and pay homage, so we’ll be altering our set a little bit for the festival. Essentially, now Social Distortion is the Carter Family with Les Pauls, you know?” says Ness.

“It’s three chords, it’s the melody, it’s very simplistic. But it’s very honest and heartfelt writing.”


Social Distortion
Sat/4, 4:45pm, free
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Golden Gate Park, SF

Strictly speaking


LEFT OF THE DIAL When Slim’s booker Dawn Holliday first met with Warren Hellman in 2001, she had no way of knowing that the quaint little music festival the investor wanted to organize would grow to be one of San Francisco’s most fiercely cherished traditions.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which runs this Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5 (featuring this rather impressive lineup of bands, whose music you’ll find in the YouTube playlist below) is special for a number of reasons. It’s free, thanks to an endowment from the late sir Hellman. You can’t buy alcohol. You won’t find huge video screens projecting tweets about the festival in real time. To get distinctly San Francisco on you and use a word I generally avoid, its vibe — yes — is about a solar system away from certain other huge music festivals in Golden Gate Park that shall remain nameless. And it just couldn’t take place anywhere else.

Little story for ya: Four years ago this week, I moved back to the Bay Area from New York. I was unemployed and aimless and temporarily living with my parents again at 26, and the future was terrifying. I was regrouping, but I didn’t know if I was back here for good. The day after I landed — hungover, disoriented by the smells and sounds and lack of sensory overload of not-New York City — I headed to Hardly Strictly with a few old friends. I remember foraging our way into the park, just pushing toward the music, and literally stumbling out of a wall of shrubbery to find Patti Smith just starting her set.

The crowd was insane: people tightly packed in, drinking, passing joints, hollering, bundled in seven layers each, sitting on each other’s shoulders, stepping on each other’s army blankets full of microbrews and organic rice chips and apologizing as they tried to push up closer to the stage.

My eyes darted from the older woman with flowing batik-print pants, eyes closed, swaying joyously by herself, to the young couple with matching dreads who were tripping on god knows what, to the balding-but-ponytailed and potbellied man who seemed to be trying to get a hacky sack game going to the beat of “Because the Night.”

I don’t want to speak for all Bay Area kids, but I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about large groups of hippies — there’s just a saturation point when you grow up here. Unlike so many of my transplant friends, I have never found the remnants of the Summer of Love overly enchanting; this is what happens when you are forced to watch the documentary Berkeley In the Sixties in high school history classes. I am also, for what it’s worth, not the biggest fan of crowds.

I knew I’d been gone a while because I was in love. I’d never been so happy to see ridiculous, stoned, absolutely beside themselves weirdos all doing their own weird things next to each other and nobody caring. Little kids dancing with grandparents; teenagers making out. I felt like I’d stumbled onto some sort of magical island, one where nobody talked about the stock exchange and everyone was incredibly, almost purposefully unfashionable and the thought of waiting in line to get into a club was ludicrous. I wanted to live in this smelly pile of humanity forever, and that was a new one for me. I knew I’d been gone a while because I was seeing SF the way transplants see SF. And I also knew I was home.

That atmosphere, I learned while talking to Holliday last week, is absolutely by design.

“I think of it more as a gathering of music lovers than a festival, really,” says Holliday, who’s booked Hardly Strictly every year since its inception. “I think having no fences — you can walk away at any time — and not selling alcohol makes a huge difference in people’s attitudes.”

As for the task of putting together a lineup each year that appeals to everyone from teenagers to folks in their 70s and 80s — the announcement of Sun Kil Moon, Deltron 3030, the Apache Relay, Sharon Van Etten, and others had many pronouncing this the hippest (read: appealing to folks under 40) lineup in years — Holliday says she actually keeps it relatively simple.

“When it started, and I kind of still do this, it was just with Warren in mind,” she says. “I was thinking about what he hadn’t heard yet. I knew he didn’t start listening to music until later in life, so I wanted to book music that I thought he should be turned on to. As long as there was some kind of roots in it. The Blind Boys of Alabama, Gogol Bordello, all stuff that he would really love to hear, but he’d never go out and see because he went to bed at 9:30. That was my goal for 12 years. ‘What would blow Warren’s mind?'” She laughs, noting that Hellman’s early bedtime is also the reason for the festival ending not long after dark.

“I don’t think [my booking] has changed that much with his passing,” she says. “It’s still music that I feel doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. Nothing’s bigger than the Fillmore. A lot of the bands don’t fill our rooms [Great American Music Hall and Slim’s], so a lot of people get to hear music they’re not normally exposed to. The age range is all over the place. And with bands that usually are a higher ticket, it’s a an opportunity for fans to go see $60, $70 shows for free.”

The park itself also has a lot to do with how she books: “I walk through it and see what I hear,” she says. “The contours of the meadows at different times of the year speak differently to you. Sometimes when I walk down JFK, I still hear Alejandro Escovedo singing, and that was eight years ago now.”

She also has a long-running wish list of artists; Lucinda Williams and Yo La Tengo, both playing this year’s fest, have been on it for some time. And she’s especially looking forward to the annual tribute to those who’ve passed away, which happens Saturday afternoon at the banjo stage — Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, and the Ramones will all be honored this year.

“It’s the best gift,” she says. “I mean if someone were able to give us world peace, I’d say that was the best gift. But since no one’s going to — yep, this is the best.”

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is all day Fri/3 through Sun/5, for free, of course, in Golden Gate Park. Check www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com for set times, and visit our Noise blog at www.sfbg.com/noise for more coverage of the fest. Until then — we’ll see ya in the park.


Events Listings: sept. 17-23, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


“Black Widow Pulsars: Vengeful Star Corpses” Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Way, SF; www.randallmuseum.org. 7:30pm, free. Stanford University’s Dr. Roger Romani speaks — Gamma rays, black holes, neutron stars! — as part of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers’ 2014 lecture series.

Novella Carpenter Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; www.booksmith.com. 7:30pm, free. The author (Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer) reads from her latest memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Carpenter also talks Feral Sat/20, 5pm, Green Arcade, 1680 Market, SF; www.thegreenarcade.com.


“Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman” Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF; www.thecjm.org. Opens Thu/18, 11am-8pm. $5-12. Exhibit runs through Oct 2016 (daily except Wed, 11am-5pm; Thu, 11am-8pm). Celebrating the legacy of banker, philanthropist, musician, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival founder Hellman, who died in 2011. Exhibit contains footage from HSB’s archive of live performances, and personal objects like Hellman’s banjo.

“The Magic City: Treasure Island’s Golden Gate International Exposition” 2 Bryant, Suite 300, SF; www.sfheritage.org. 6pm, $15. San Francisco Heritage hosts this lecture with authors Anne Schnoebelen and Therese Poletti, who will discuss the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, themed “the Pageant of the Pacific,” and for which Treasure Island was constructed.

Jason Segal JCCSF, 3200 California, SF; www.jccsf.org/arts. 7pm. $15. The actor and comedian shares his new book for kids, Nightmares!


“Art/Act: Maya Lin” David Brower Center, 2150 Allston, Berk; www.browercenter.org. Opens Fri/19, 7-9pm. Free. Exhibit runs through Feb 4 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sun, 10am-1pm). The acclaimed sculptor, architectural designer, and environmentalist displays abstract works inspired by the Bay Area’s natural environments, including the interactive What is Missing? project.

Eat Real Festival Jack London Square, Oakl; www.eatrealfest.com. Fri/19, 1-9pm; Sat/20, 10:30am-9pm; Sun/21, 10:30am-5pm. Free. Billed as a combo “state fair, street-food festival, and block party,” this fest offers sustainable, regionally-sourced eats (BBQ, ice cream, curry, and more) costing eight bucks or less.

Oktoberfest by the Bay Pier 48, SF; www.oktoberfestbythebay.com. Fri/19, 5pm-midnight; Sat/20, 11am-5pm and 6pm-midnight; Sun/21, 11am-6pm. $25-75 (Sat/20-Sun/21 day session, kids 13-18, $5; must be accompanied by parent). The Chico Bavarian Band returns to add oompah to your eating and, more importantly, drinking experience. Prost!

“A Taste of Greece” Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia, SF; www.sfgreekfestival.org. Fri/19-Sat/20, noon-10pm; Sun/21, noon-8pm. Free. Greek-food connoisseurs won’t want to miss this annual festival, which rolls out spanakopita, gyros, wine, pastries, and other specialties, plus live music and dancing.


“Among Dreams” LGBT Center, 1800 Market, SF; www.amongdreams.com. Opens Sat/20, 6-9pm. Free. Exhibit runs through Nov 11. Chelsea Rae Klein presents photographic portraits, collages, and other works honoring LGBTQI veterans and active-duty military members, based on archival materials as well as interviews conducted since the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California” Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak, Oakl; www.museumca.org. Opens Sat/20, 10am-6pm. $6-15. Exhibit runs through April 12 (Wed-Thu, 11am-5pm; Fri, 11am-9pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-6pm). Oakland Museum of California and SFMOMA collaborate on this exhibition, which focuses on local history and social movements that shaped California art. Communities include the artists who worked with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in SF in the 1930s; painters and photographers from the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s and ’50s (Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn); UC Davis students and faculty in the 1960s and ’70s (Wayne Theibaud); and the “new Mission” artists of the 1990s (Barry McGee, Chris Johanson).

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival #58 Old Mill Park, 325 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; www.mvfaf.org. 10am-5pm, $5-10. Through Sun/21. Over 140 fine artists participate in this fair, which is held in a can’t-be-beat location (hi, majestic redwoods) and also features live music and children’s entertainment.

Sarah Waters Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; www.booksmith.com. 7:30pm, free. The award-winning novelist (Tipping the Velvet, Affinity) reads from her latest, The Paying Guests.


Folsom Street Fair Folsom between Eighth and 13th Sts, SF; www.folsomstreetfair.com. 11am-6pm, $10 donation requested (donation sticker entitles wearer to $2 off drinks). The leather and fetish fantasia returns with over 200 exhibitor booths, two giant dance floors, public play stations, erotic art, and more.


Patrick Hoffman Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; www.booksmith.com. 7:30pm, free. The author of The White Van discusses his work with Matt Gonzalez as part of the “New Voices, New Stories” series.


“Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool” Doc’s Lab, 124 Columbus, SF; www.citylights.com. 7pm, free (tickets required, must be picked up at the front counter of City Lights at 261 Columbus; call 415-362-8193 to inquire about availability). Primus’ Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, and others discuss Greg Prato’s new book, offering the definitive oral history of the band. *


A show a day: Your fall music calendar


What’s going on in Bay Area music these next three months? Glad you asked. 

Like a daily multivitamin wards off the sniffles, getting the SFBG’s official recommended dose of live shows is crucial to maintaining optimal mental health, fun levels, and skin tone, especially as the days get shorter and the weather turns ever-so-slightly cooler.

Here’s your musical agenda from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, with highlights from our favorite fall festivals (see this week’s issue for lots more).

Aug. 28 Black Cobra Vipers with French Cassettes The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Aug. 29 Blind Willies Viracocha, SF. www.viracochasf.com

Aug. 30 Mistah F.A.B. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic with The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, and more. Are you a late-thirties/early-forties punk rock guy or gal who can’t agree on much of anything with your 13-year-old these days? Doesn’t get much better than this lineup. Bonus points for screaming along to all the swearing on The Offspring’s “Bad Habit.” Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.theshorelineamphitheatre.com

Sept. 1 Hiero Day. Souls of Mischief, Del, and the rest of the guys have promised some pretty big guest stars at this week’s fest, but even without ’em — a free block party with beer from Linden Street Brewery and music from some of the Bay Area’s best underground rappers? Guests, schmests. Downtown Oakland, www.hieroday.com

Sept. 2 Ghost & Gale Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Sept. 3 Joey Cape Thee Parkside, SF. www.theeparkside.com

Sept. 4 Carletta Sue Kay Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Sept. 4-13 Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival. With a range of heavy hitters — from B. Hamilton and Bill Baird to Whiskerman — this is a showcase of the fertile ground that is Oakland’s indie rock scene right now, most with door prices you’re not likely to see from these bands again. Venues throughout Oakland,www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 5 Sam Chase with Rin Tin Tiger Uptown, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com

Sept. 6 Bart Davenport, Foxtails Brigade, more Block Party, downtown Oakland, www.mcofest.org

Sept. 7 Coheed and Cambria, Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 8 The Rentals Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 9 Wild Eyes Knockout, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com

Sept. 10 Kyrsten Bean New Parish, Oakl., www.thenewparish.com

Sept. 11 Sonny & The Sunsets Eagle Tavern, SF. www.sf-eagle.com

Sept. 11-14 Downtown Berkeley MusicFest. A range of bluesy, folky, dancey bands from all over the Bay — especially recommended: the First Person Singular presentation of Beck’s Song Reader Sept. 11 and The Parmesans at Jupiter Sept. 14. Venues all over Berkeley, www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org

Sept. 12-14, 15th Annual Electronic Music Festival Brava Theater Center, SF. www.sfemf.org

Sept. 13 The Breeders Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 13-14 Forever Never Land, “California’s only 21+ music festival,” Avila Beach Golf Resort, www.foreverneverland.us

Sept. 15 Vulfpeck Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortar.com

Sept. 16 Lil Dicky Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 17 Anais Mitchell The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 18 Silent Comedy and Strange Vine Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sept. 19 Blake Mills, The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 20 Old Crow Medicine Show The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Sept. 20-21 Berkeley World Music Festival All over Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

Sept. 20-21 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, with Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, more. www.russianriverfestivals.com

Sept. 21 Oakland Music Festival with The Coup, Kev Choice, more Downtown Oakland, www.oaklandmusicfestival.com.

Sept. 22 La Roux Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 23 Cello Joe The Chapel Bar, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 24 Skeletonwitch, Black Anvil DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Sept. 25-28 Philip Glass’ Days and Nights Festival Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur; Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.daysandnightsfestival.com

Sept. 26 Bob Mould Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 27 Wu-Tang Clan Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 27 Redwood City Sala Festival Courthouse Square, Redwood City, www.redwoodcity.org

Sept. 28 Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 29 Motown on Mondays Legionnaire Saloon, Oakl. www.legionnairesaloon.com

Sept. 30 Pixies The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 1 Rhymesayers presents Brother Ali, Bambu Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Oct. 2 Lorde Greek Theatre, Berk. www.thegreektheatreberkeley.com

Oct. 3-5 Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival Freight and Salvage, Berkl. www.thefreight.org.

Oct. 3-5 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

Oct 3-5 TBD Festival. Emerging Bay Area acts like 8th Grader mingle with the big kids (Blondie, Moby, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile) at this seventh annual celebration of “music, art, design, and food.” A low-key vibe and great chance to see some huge acts in a seemingly unlikely location. Riverfront, West Sacramento. www.tbdfest.com.

Oct. 4 Cibo Matto The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 5 Bombay Bicycle Club Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Oct. 6 The War on Drugs with Cass McCombs Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 7 Thurston Moore Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 8 The King Khan & BBQ Show Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 9 Imelda May Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 10 Too Short Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.shorelineamphitheatre.com

Oct. 11 Pomplamoose Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 12 Jack Beats Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 13 Mutual Benefit Independent, www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 14-15 Culture Collide. This new-to-the-Bay-Area party has been rocking LA for the past few years, but it seems to have taken on an appropriately Mission-esque flavor for its first Mission takeover: Local kids like Grmln alongside national acts like Cloud Nothings and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah alongside a whole host of buzzy Korean, Australian, and UK bands? Yeah, we’re there. Up and down Valencia in the Mission, with multiple stages including the Elbo Room. www.culturecollide.com

Oct. 15 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 16 Russian Red Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 17 Pup Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 18-19 Treasure Island Music Festival, with Outkast, Massive Attack, more Treasure Island. www.treasureislandfestival.com

Oct. 20 Kimbra Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 21 Melvins Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 22 Kat Edmonson Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 23 The Blank Tapes Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 24 Foxygen Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 25 Titan Ups and Carletta Sue Kay DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Oct. 26 Bridget Everett Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 27 Warpaint Regency Ballroom, SF. ww.theregencyballroom.com

Oct. 28 Broken Bells The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 29 King Tuff Great American Music Hall, SF. www. slimspresents.com

Oct. 30 Tycho Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Oct. 31 LIVE 105’s Spookfest with Chromeo, Alesso, more Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.live105.cbslocal.com

Nov. 1 Stone Foxes with Strange Vine The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 2 Citizen Cope Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 3 The Black Keys Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.coliseum.com

Nov. 4 Frankie Rose with Cold Beat Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 5 Finch, Maps & Atlases Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 6 Bleachers Independent, SF. www.theindependent.sf.com

Nov. 7 Slowdive Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Nov. 8 Shovels & Rope Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 9 Mirah Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 10 Psychedelic Furs, Lemonheads Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 11 Mac DeMarco Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 12 Shakey Graves Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 13 Generationals The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 14 Deltron 3030 Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 15 J. Mascis Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 16 Hot Water Music Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 17 Culture Club Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Nov. 18 The 1975 The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Nov. 19 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 20 Minus the Bear Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 21 Seu Jorge Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. www.bimbos365club.com

Nov. 22 Peanut Butter Wolf Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Nov. 23 Lucero Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

A show a day: Your fall music calendar


FALL ARTS What’s going on in Bay Area music these next three months? Glad you asked.

Here’s your musical agenda from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, with highlights from our favorite fall festivals.

Aug. 27 Terry Malts Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickand-mortarmusic.com

Aug. 28 Black Cobra Vipers with French Cassettes The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Aug. 29 Blind Willies Viracocha, SF. www.viracochasf.com

Aug. 30 Mistah F.A.B. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic with The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, and more. Are you a late-thirties/early-forties punk rock guy or gal who can’t agree on much of anything with your 13-year-old these days? Doesn’t get much better than this lineup. Bonus points for screaming along to all the swearing on The Offspring’s “Bad Habit.” Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.theshorelineamphitheatre.com

Sept. 1 Hiero Day. Souls of Mischief, Del, and the rest of the guys have promised some pretty big guest stars at this week’s fest, but even without ’em — a free block party with beer from Linden Street Brewery and music from some of the Bay Area’s best underground rappers? Guests, schmests. Downtown Oakland, www.hieroday.com

Sept. 2 Ghost & Gale Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Sept. 3 Joey Cape Thee Parkside, SF. www.theeparkside.com

Sept. 4 Carletta Sue Kay Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Sept. 4-13 Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival. With a range of heavy hitters — from B. Hamilton and Bill Baird to Whiskerman — this is a showcase of the fertile ground that is Oakland’s indie rock scene right now, most with door prices you’re not likely to see from these bands again. Venues throughout Oakland, www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 5 Sam Chase with Rin Tin Tiger Uptown, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com

Sept. 6 Bart Davenport, Foxtails Brigade, more Block Party, downtown Oakland, www.mcofest.org

Sept. 7 Coheed and Cambria, Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 8 The Rentals Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 9 Wild Eyes Knockout, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com

Sept. 10 Kyrsten Bean New Parish, Oakl., www.thenewparish.com

Sept. 11 Sonny & The Sunsets Eagle Tavern, SF. www.sf-eagle.com

Sept. 11-14 Downtown Berkeley MusicFest. A range of bluesy, folky, dancey bands from all over the Bay — especially recommended: the First Person Singular presentation of Beck’s Song Reader Sept. 11 and The Parmesans at Jupiter Sept. 14. Venues all over Berkeley, www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org

Sept. 12-14, 15th Annual Electronic Music Festival Brava Theater Center, SF. www.sfemf.org

Sept. 13 The Breeders Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 13-14 Forever Never Land, “California’s only 21+ music festival,” Avila Beach Golf Resort, www.foreverneverland.us

Sept. 15 Vulfpeck Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortar.com

Sept. 16 Lil Dicky Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 17 Anais Mitchell The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 18 Silent Comedy and Strange Vine Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sept. 19 Blake Mills, The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 20 Old Crow Medicine Show The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Sept. 20-21 Berkeley World Music Festival All over Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

Sept. 20-21 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, with Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, more. www.russianriverfestivals.com

Sept. 21 Oakland Music Festival with The Coup, Kev Choice, more Downtown Oakland, www.oaklandmusicfestival.com.

Sept. 22 La Roux Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 23 Cello Joe The Chapel Bar, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 24 Skeletonwitch, Black Anvil DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Sept. 25-28 Philip Glass’ Days and Nights Festival Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur; Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.daysandnightsfestival.com

Sept. 26 Bob Mould Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 27 Wu-Tang Clan Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 27 Redwood City Sala Festival Courthouse Square, Redwood City, www.redwoodcity.org

Sept. 28 Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 29 Motown on Mondays Legionnaire Saloon, Oakl. www.legionnairesaloon.com

Sept. 30 Pixies The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 1 Rhymesayers presents Brother Ali, Bambu Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Oct. 2 Lorde Greek Theatre, Berk. www.thegreektheatreberkeley.com

Oct. 3-5 Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival Freight and Salvage, Berkl. www.thefreight.org.

Oct. 3-5 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

Oct 3-5 TBD Festival, Riverfront, West Sacramento. Emerging Bay Area acts like 8th Grader mingle with the big kids (Blondie, Moby, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile) at this seventh annual celebration of “music, art, design, and food.” A low-key vibe and great chance to see some huge acts in a seemingly unlikely location. www.tbdfest.com.

Oct. 4 Cibo Matto The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 5 Bombay Bicycle Club Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Oct. 6 The War on Drugs with Cass McCombs Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 7 Thurston Moore Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 8 The King Khan & BBQ Show Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 9 Imelda May Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 10 Too Short Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.shorelineamphitheatre.com

Oct. 11 Pomplamoose Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 12 Jack Beats Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 13 Mutual Benefit Independent, www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 14-15 Culture Collide. This new-to-the-Bay-Area party has been rocking LA for the past few years, but it seems to have taken on an appropriately Mission-esque flavor for its first Mission takeover: Local kids like Grmln alongside national acts like Cloud Nothings and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah alongside a whole host of buzzy Korean, Australian, and UK bands? Yeah, we’re there. Up and down Valencia in the Mission, with multiple stages including the Elbo Room. www.culturecollide.com

Oct. 15 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 16 Russian Red Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 17 Pup Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 18-19 Treasure Island Music Festival

Oct. 20 Kimbra Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 21 Melvins Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 22 Kat Edmonson Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 23 The Blank Tapes Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 24 Foxygen Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 25 Titan Ups and Carletta Sue Kay DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Oct. 26 Bridget Everett Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 27 Warpaint Regency Ballroom, SF. ww.theregencyballroom.com

Oct. 28 Broken Bells The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 29 King Tuff Great American Music Hall, SF. www. slimspresents.com

Oct. 30 Tycho Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Oct. 31 LIVE 105’s Spookfest with Chromeo, Alesso, more Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.live105.cbslocal.com

Nov. 1 Stone Foxes with Strange Vine The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 2 Citizen Cope Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 3 The Black Keys Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.coliseum.com

Nov. 4 Frankie Rose with Cold Beat Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 5 Finch, Maps & Atlases Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 6 Bleachers Independent, SF. www.theindependent.sf.com

Nov. 7 Slowdive Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Nov. 8 Shovels & Rope Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 9 Mirah Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 10 Psychedelic Furs, Lemonheads Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 11 Mac DeMarco Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 12 Shakey Graves Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 13 Generationals The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 14 Deltron 3030 Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 15 J. Mascis Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 16 Hot Water Music Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 17 Culture Club Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Nov. 18 The 1975 The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Nov. 19 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 20 Minus the Bear Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 21 Seu Jorge Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. www.bimbos365club.com

Nov. 22 Peanut Butter Wolf Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Nov. 23 Lucero Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Your official Hardly Strictly Bluegrass lineup is here


Ah, fall in San Francisco. The kids go back to school, the pumpkin beers and lattes make their first appearances, the leaves…um, mostly stay the same color, and the weather usually gets a little warmer.

OK, so maybe we don’t really do fall the way most of the country does fall. You know which part we do really well, though? Music. Art. Festivals. Excuses to drink pumpkin beers outside while taking in a live performance. Pick up this week’s big Fall Arts preview issue (on stands now!) for a guide to the best the Bay Area has to offer these next few months in music, theater, film, dance, visual art, and more.

If you want an easy tip, though? The jewel in the Pumpkin IPA Excuse crown is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, now in its 14th year and free as ever, thanks to the legacy of one mister Warren Hellman. After a month of teaser medleys, the folks from the Slim’s/Great American Music Hall family (who book HSB) announced the full lineup today for this year’s party in Golden Gate Park, which runs Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5.

At first glance we’re seeing a lot of big-name veterans (Emmylou, of course, plus the irreplaceable Chris Isaak, Mavis Staples, and more) alongside a number of unexpected but very welcome newcomers, like Sun Kil Moon and LA punk legends X. Other top-shelf indie-folk young’uns adding fresh blood to the scene: Dawes, The Apache Relay, Sharon Van Etten, Waxahatchee. And we’ll never complain about seeing Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Yo La Tengo, or Deltron for free.

We’ll have more to come in the weeks leading up to the fest, but for now — make sure you know where that cooler is. We’re gonna put on some Lucinda Williams. See you in the park.


Emmylou Harris

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

The Apache Relay

The Time Jumpers Featuring Vince Gill

Kenny Sears

Dawn Sears and Ranger Doug Green

Blackie and The Rodeo Kings

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

X Acoustic

Mavis Staples

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down


Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas

Reckless Kelly

Willie Watso

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

Carlene Carter

The Go To Hell Man Clan

Kevin Welch

Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin

Sarah Jarosz

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones

Chris Smither

Justin Townes Earle

Lake Street Dive

Dave Rawlings Machine

Buddy Miller’s Cavalcade of Stars: Kate York

Striking Matches

Nikki Lane

Shawn Colvin

Tony Joe White

Buddy Miller & Friends

Poor Man’s Whiskey (Friday morning middle school program)

Chris Isaak

Robert Earl Keen

Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys

Holler Down The Hollow: A Hardly Strictly Salute To the Masters (Dickens, Hellman, Reed, Scruggs, Seeger, Watson & Winchester)

Built To Spill

John Prine

Ryan Adams

Buckwheat Zydeco

Dry Branch Fire Squad

The McCrary Sisters



Hot Rize Featuring Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers

Jerry Douglas Presents Earls of Leicester

The Flatlanders Featuring Joe Ely

Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock

Rising Appalachia

The Mastersons

Peter Rowan’s Twang An’ Groove

Dwight Yoakam

Red Baraat

Bad Luck Jonathan

Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express ‘Strings In The Temple’

Jesse DeNatale

The Waybacks

The Felice Brothers

Caitlin Rose

Shelly Colvin

Bruce Cockburn

Alison Brown Quintet

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Blue Rodeo

Lucinda Williams

The Lone Bellow

Steve Earle & The Dukes

Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun

Malawi Mouse Boys

Parker Millsap

Rosanne Cash

Deltron 3030 with The 3030 Orchestra

Conor Brings Friends For Friday Featuring: Waxahatchee

The Good Life

Jonathan Wilson

Sharon Van Etten


Conor Oberst

Sun Kil Moon

Chuck Cannon


Rose’s Pawn Shop

The Sam Chase

T Bone Burnett

Social Distortion

The High Bar Gang

The Aquabats! (Friday morning middle school program)

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands

Cibo Matto

Jason Isbell

Robbie Fulks

Yo La Tengo

Evolfo Doofeht


Happy Hour: The week in music


Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to August. We’re only about a month away from summer weather!

As happy hour draws closer, here’s a look back at the best music and music news we heard and saw this past week:

Sharon Van Etten shone in a free, intimate (though packed-to-the-gills), Pandora-presented evening at The Chapel on Tuesday night [July 29]. “I wrote this song while living in my parents’ basement…I was 26,” she said with a laugh in her voice. “How many of you have ever tried to move back in with your parents’ when you were in your twenties?” [Loud whooping from most of the room.]

“I think that just usually means you’re trying to figure out who you are, that you’re still finding your path, you know?” she continued. “I mean, if you really knew who you were by the time you were 20, fuck you. No, sorry, that’s great. Anyway, this song is about trying to get your shit together.” Millennial anthem for the ages?

— New for this year at Outside Lands: an entire stage devoted to food events, called “GastroMagic.” Some of said events are paired somewhat hilariously with accompanying musical acts, like the “Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia and Brenda’s French Soul Food,” in which audience members who answer the Queen of Bounce’s call to twerk will be “awarded with beignets.” No word on the distribution method, exactly, but we pictured t-shirt cannons?


This NPR piece on why band photos look the way they do is relevant to our interests. Specifically, if any banjo-laden alt-country/Americana band ever sends us an EPK that includes a photo shoot in an alley full of burning crash cans, we will run it.

Speaking of Americana: This is a fun piece from the Bay Bridged about the boys of Goodnight, Texas, who make it work despite being in what amounts to a four-way long-distance relationship. Are there Cosmo tips for that yet? Get with it, lady mags. Anyway, GN,TX’s new album Uncle John Farquhar drops Aug. 5, and it’s rather good.

Here’s a smart essay at Ebony about the shitstorm that ensued this week from Nicki Minaj’s new album, um, art for Anaconda.

Like much of the music-related Internet, we too got obsessed with a little-known Canadian singer-songwriter named Tobias Jesso Jr., who by all appearances is a young reincarnation of Harry Nilsson mixed with shades of Joe Jackson and who hasn’t even put out an album yet, but damn does he need to hurry up (quick, while Stereogum, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, your local PTA president, etc., are addicted to this song):

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass keeps dropping hints about this year’s lineup. Listen here and tell us your guesses.

Andrew Bird is a self-deprecating sweetheart in addition to being very good at songwriting and whistling, as you can see in this SFist interview, and he’s playing Stern Grove for free this Sunday at 2pm.


There is too much going on this weekend: The Congress, Not Dead Yet Fest, and more


Y’all ever have that thing where a week or two will go by without a show you’re particularly stoked on, and then all of a sudden there’s one weekend where you want to go to everything? But you can’t, because you’re human, and science is too busy ensuring you’ll have nightmares of outstanding proportions tonight to get on that teleportation thing, so you have to make all these god-awful decisions?

Yeah, me too. This is one of those weekends. Here we go:


The Congress with Andy Allo and Wil West at the Great American Music Hall:

A self-described Army brat who moved around for much of his youth, composer-singer- trumpeter Marcus Cohen grew up on gospel music in church, with a magnet arts school in Philadelphia nurturing his obvious talent at a young age. That explains the unmistakable soul coursing through the veins of The Congress, the 10-piece purveyors of a very danceable funk-soul-hip-hop-R&B stew, who’ll bring their unique sound to the GAMH Friday.

“I tend to write when I’m in transit — on planes, subways,” says Cohen, who recently moved to LA after nine years in SF. We can forgive him the wanderlust if it keeps producing songs like those on last August’s Conversations. Since then, Cohen has been working on new material, adjusting the band’s lineup, and singing more — the record he’s begun writing over the past year sounds more like where he’s at right now, he says. This show should be a good, sweaty dance party, and a good chance to hear some new tunes.


French Cassettes with Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony at Awaken Cafe in Oakland: Because nothing says First Friday like a local two-fer, featuring crazy-nerdy-glam-rock-costumed-piano-funk (fresh off a spot at BottleRock) followed by danceably infectious indie pop hooks from these SF scene darlings (fresh from the Locals Stage at BFD). All of it for the low price of zero dollars!


Scraper with Midnite Snaxx and So What at Hemlock: Classically and somehow reassuringly misanthropic punk rock with a sense of humor. Yes please.


Oakland’s own tUne-yArDs with dream-team electro-funk-pop East Bay openers (and Goldie winners) The Seshen at The Fillmore: Duh.

Not Dead Yet Fest with Strange Vine, Cellar Doors, Annie Girl & the Flight, Ash Reiter, and tons more at Thee Parkside: Don’t believe the hype — not every single SF musician is deserting for more affordable pastures. It was with that in mind that the Bay Bridged organized this one-day fest, with a nice, diverse lineup of local indie kids. Fresno’s Strange Vine in particular put on a weirdly alluring psychedelic shitshow of a good time.

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang with Reformed Whores at Great American: Music writer and lady with good taste Haley Zaremba says: Les Claypool has an amazing eye for weirdness. His band Primus has made a decades-long career out of defying every possible genre classification, wearing monkey masks onstage, and naming their albums things like Pork Soda and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Now Claypool is going the opposite direction, creating the most minimalist, deconstructed music possible, with one vocal, one bass, one guitar, and one makeshift percussion tool — but don’t worry, it’s still bizarre.
In his Duo De Twang, which was originally organized as a one-off for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Claypool teams up with longtime buddy and collaborator Bryan Kehoe to play originals and tasty twang covers (including the Bee Gees and Alice in Chains). The show promises down-to-earth, intimate weirdness, plus seriously incredible musicianship.

Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble at The Chapel: How often do you get to see a 17-piece afrobeat ensemble in a room like the Chapel’s? Led by Geoffrey OMadhebo, these musicians will temporarily make you forget exactly what decade and continent you currently inhabit, in a good way.

This Week’s Picks: June 4 – 10, 2014





‘Mr. Irresistible’

Multifaceted showman and irrepressible art-dragster D’Arcy Drollinger, the brains and falsies behind such contemporary camp classics as Shit & Champagne and Sex and the City Live!, is poised to deliver on his biggest project since Project: Lohan, or even 2010’s cutting-edge Scalpel!: A sci-fi musical comedy about love and robots and office work entitled Mr. Irresistible. First produced in workshop form last year at New York’s La Mama E.T.C., the Aesop-inspired story of unpopular Eileen Morchinsky and her titular mechanical friend (purchased from a magazine ad and destined to turn her life right around) sails into the fairly exotic Alcazar Theatre for a limited run, aloft on a score by Christopher Winslow, book and lyrics by Drollinger, and some big-wig talent. (Robert Avila)

Through June 8, 8pm; Sun. 7pm only, $25

Alcatraz Theatre

650 Geary, SF

(415) 766-4588




The Damned

Remember, kid: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Yes, we’re talking about THE Damned. Formed in 1976, The Damned were the first punk band in the UK to release a single, a record, or tour the United States. They cut their teeth opening for bands like the Sex Pistols and T. Rex, and are still going strong. Not only were they punk rock pioneers, they also were some of the frontrunners of the goth scene in the ’80s, and now, nearly into their fourth decade, The Damned are still going strong. With an ever-changing lineup and an incredible repertoire of revolutionary tunes, these dudes are incredible at evolving and even better at performing. They’re not to be missed tonight at Slim’s. (Haley Zaremba)

With Koffin Kats, Stellar Corpses

9pm, $30


333 11th St, SF

(415) 225-0333







XV: St. James Infirmary 15-Year Anniversary Party

Lost in the outpouring of accolades in the wake of the great Maya Angelou’s passing last week was her crucial time as a sex worker, which she chronicled, unashamed, in her 1974 book Gather Together in My Name. It’s indicative of the stigma sex workers still face when even the well-documented past of the nation’s literary godmother is scrubbed free of any reference. San Francisco’s own groundbreaking St. James Infirmary, the first occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers in the United States, deals with the damage of that stigma by offering non-judgmental medical and social services. The organization also knows how to celebrate: This huge party and fundraiser boasts one of the city’s best house DJs, David Harness, as well as porn-star-turned-DJ Ricky Sinz, movers and shakers from the international sex workers rights movement, sexy pole dancing, a Kink.com demonstration dungeon, and oodles more. The whole joint will be singin’ and swingin’ and getting’ merry like Christmas. (Marke B.)

9pm-3am, $20 ($40 includes free lapdance)


540 Howard, SF




Urban Air Market Summer Night Block Party

Urban Air Market’s newest addition to its community-enriched neighborhood events around the city begins tonight. Head on over to Fern Alley — a hidden walkway located between Polk and Larkin Streets — for this one-night affair. In partnership with the Lower Polk Art Walk, Urban Air Market is hosting a summer night block party of sustainable art, fashion, food, and live music at this unassuming Tenderloin location. While occasionally occupied by a small farmers’ market, tonight Fern Alley will be bustling with food trucks, henna tattooing, face painting, interactive fashion film installations, live bands, and countless booths from sustainable and local brands: Oaklandish, Synergy Organic Clothing, Indosole, and Skunkfunk USA to name a few. (Laura B. Childs)

6pm, free

Fern Alley (Fern St. between Polk and Larkin St.)




Nature For Sale

For the past few years, Bolivian-born artist Javier Rocabado has been producing stunning, icon-like portraits of famed gays like RuPaul, early AIDS activists, and local beauties. All these figures have been posed with gold halos against Rocabado’s signature dollar-bill background, glowing with symbolic meaning. (Rocabado paints only the backside of the dollar.) His new series turns to nature: Beautiful bird specimens, frogs, and weeping monkeys take on aspects of holy saints. “I want to point out the universally ridiculous thinking of ‘economics is first’ under Capitalism. Through this new series of paintings, I strive to create images of animals that allow the viewers to experience the false pride in human civilization to conquer nature and profit from it,” he says. Dark spirits of Chevron, BP, and other disaster-fueling multinationals hover at the borders of his exquisite new works, but their sheer gorgeousness radiates hope as well as guilt. (Marke B.)

Through July 1, opening party 8-11pm, free

Public Barber Salon

571 Geary, SF








Test is not great, but it’s a beautiful, honest film that evokes the mid-’80s, when AIDS was ravaging San Francisco’s gay community, a time when a test had become available but no cure was in sight. The film follows a naïve young man’s coming of age (a splendid Scott Marlow of LEVY Dance) as a gay man and as dancer in a local modern dance company. The film excellently captures what it meant living at the edge of uncertainty, when nothing could be taken for granted and yet, despite of it all, everything seemed possible. Test includes extensive and fine dance sequences choreographed by the remarkable Sidra Bell. Fun to see was just how many other local dancers were involved in this small, but big-hearted movie. (Rita Felciano)

Opens June 6, times vary

Presidio Theater

2340 Chestnut, SF

(415) 776-2388


Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

2966 College, Berk.

(510) 433-9730



The Buzzcocks

It must be punk rock royalty week at Slim’s, because just two days after The Damned grace the SoMa stage the Buzzcocks are coming to town. Part of the Holy Trinity that also includes the Clash and the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks are a crucial piece of UK punk history. Bringing the world such killer tunes as “Ever Fallen in Love” and “What Do I Get,” challenging British radio with songs like “Orgasm Addict” and confronting the punk community with an open and serious examination of homosexuality, the Buzzcocks are a tireless and fearless force of nature. Plus, 38 years into their career, they’re still touring regularly and have a new record out this year. Is there anything more punk than refusing to succumb to gray hair or body fat? (Zaremba)

With Doug Gillard, Images

8pm, $35


333 11th St, SF

(415) 225-0333






Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang

Les Claypool has an amazing eye for weirdness. His band Primus has made a decades-long career out of defying every possible genre classification, wearing monkey masks onstage, and naming their albums things like Pork Soda and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Now Claypool is going the opposite direction, creating the most minimalist, deconstructed music possible, with one vocal, one bass, one guitar, and one makeshift percussion tool — but don’t worry, it’s still bizarre. In his Duo De Twang, which was originally organized as a one-off for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Claypool teams up with longtime buddy and collaborator Bryan Kehoe to play originals and tasty twang covers (including the Bee Gees and Alice in Chains). The show promises down-to-earth, intimate weirdness, plus seriously incredible musicianship. (Zaremba)

With Reformed Whores

9pm, $38

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750





What a difference five years makes: Merrill Garbus moved to the Bay around that time, as word quickly spread about the undeniable force of her musical vision, one that draws from African, folk, and electro-acoustic quarters, and her visceral one-woman performances. Since her maiden tUnE-yArDs outing, BiRd-BrAiNs, she’s put out the album that every critic could agree on in 2011, whokill, which scored her the coveted top spot in that year’s Pazz and Jop poll. Her third full-length, Nikki Nack, takes tUnE-yArDs further, into Garbus’s fascination with Haitian artistic traditions, as she turned to the country’s boula drum to lay the groundwork for the recording’s intoxicating call and response. (Kimberly Chun)

With the Seshen

9pm, $26

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000



Silent Frisco Beats on Ocean Beach

Summertime throwdowns are the types of shows the brilliant Silent Frisco have made their niche — take a pristine outdoor environment, add groovin’ music and people, let fun ensue. “Scene Not Heard” as the Silent team puts it. The key to making these public shows possible is ditching speakers and substituting wireless headphones, removing complaint-inducing noise, and leaving the amusingly awesome sight of befuddled onlookers observing limbs gyrating to what appears to be silence. For this event, two channels allow movers and shakers to select from a rotation of California electronic music talent throughout the day. Fresh off touring with The Glitch Mob, Ana Sia will bring big, bouncy, driving bass, while Dutch grandmasters Kraak & Smaak headline with two hours of their lush, disco-tinged sound. (Kevin Lee)

With Kraak & Smaak, Ana Sia, Pumpkin, JLabs, Motion Potion, and more

11am, $20; kids and dogs free (all-ages show)

Ocean Beach Great Highway at Balboa Ave, SF



Tom Robbins

“If Tibetan Peach Pie doesn’t read like a normal memoir, that may be because I haven’t exactly led what most normal people would consider a normal life,” forewarns writer Tom Robbins in the preface of his first nonfiction book. With that on readers’ minds, Robbins reflects on his colorful adventures, from an accident laden-youth in Depression-era North Carolina in which his mother dubbed him “Tommy Rotten,” to an established literary career in Washington state. Along the way, Robbins studies the weather in Korea, experiments with acid, embarks on international religious journeys, tangos with Hollywood, and discovers some love. Tibetan Peach Pie‘s 41 succinct tall tales crackle with a Robbins’ rare blend of warmth, wisdom, and wit. (Lee)

In conversation with Isabel Duffy

7:30pm, $27

Nourse Theatre

275 Hayes, SF

(415) 392-4400


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Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week


We hear a certain sporting team lost a football match of sorts over the weekend — at least, this is what we understand to be the reason for the even-more-morose-than-usual drinking our friends seem to have been doing for the last 48 hours. If you want to try switching things up, may we suggest going to a venue where people are playing live music and drinking there instead, with other people, possibly while moving your feet? A handful of options:


As the wild frontman for The Legendary Shack Shakers, Col. J.D. Wilkes brought together a wide array of blues-infused and swampy sounding rock n’ roll, earning them the admiration of fans and invitations to tour with noted performers such as Robert Plant. Wilkes — a bonafide Kentucky colonel, hence his title — formed The Dirt Daubers in 2009 with his wife, Jessica, and added guitarist Rod Hamdallah and drummer Preston Corn for the band’s most recent album, Wild Moon (Plowboy Records). Produced by iconic punk rocker Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys), the album finds them back in the vein of mixing traditional sounds with an infectious rock attitude and approach. — Sean McCourt
8pm, $10-$12
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011


What do you call the darlings of the San Francisco psych-rock scene when half the band migrates to Portland? Wooden Shjips is what you call ’em, and as much as it pains us to admit it, the move was just what the doctor ordered if the calm, confident, melodic landscapes of last fall’s Back to Land are any indication. The record is as dreamy yet cohesive as they’ve ever sounded, with acoustic guitar adding a new layer of warm haze, but there’s still plenty of distortion and unexpected riffs, and drawn-out organ licks that somehow bear no resemblance to anything you’ve ever heard in a rock song. You can pout that they left, but you’re not gonna not catch them on home turf.
With Carlton Melton and Golden Void
9pm, $14-$16
777 Valencia, SF
(415) 551-5157


Over three albums, Dent May has been a bit of a indie pop chameleon. Take the fabulous lounge kitsch of The Good Feeling Music Of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele. Or the drum machine disco revival on Do Things. And May’s latest, Warm Blanket, is predictably unpredictable: See the Bowie styled “Let’s Dance” intro that quickly upshifts into an afrobeat groove on “Let Them Talk.” Still, one thing May shares with his label bosses Animal Collective is a shared affinity for Brian Wilson, and it’s the biggest referent, with a track like “Corner Piece” sounding like it could have spun off of Pet Sounds, and it’s the perfect opportunity for May to get increasingly open-hearted and romantic.Ryan Prendiville
With Chris Cohen, Jack Name
9pm, $12
333 11th St., SF
(415) 255-0333


Nicki Bluhm has had a big few months. She’s been Bay Area Americana royalty for several years now, but when her self-titled album with the Gramblers dropped last August, it took the bluesy-folk songstress to a new level, adding appearances on Conan and the like to her staple appearances at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and, you know, in viral videos covering Hall and Oates songs in a van. The band’s live show has only gotten tighter and somehow simutaneously more playful as a result. Bonus: Hometown openers Goodnight, Texas, who sing foot-stomping songs about Civil War-era romance and coal mine disasters with a musicianship and joyful sophistication that seem much older than their (20-something) years.
9pm, $25
1805 Geary, SF
(415) 346-3000

Also Sat/25

We’ve seen a major resurgence of UK-based R&B-circa-’89 over the past few years, but while songstresses like Jessie Ware tackle those Lisa Stansfield-ish stylings with showy emotivity, Canada’s Jessy Lanza takes a borderline-shoegaze approach to her vocals, filtering ambiguous yearnings and half-confessions through delay and echo until they’re just another instrument in the mix, as stark and percussive as they are ethereal and melodic. Released on the much-fetishized Hyperdub imprint, and produced/co-written by Junior Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan, Lanza’s icy, prickly, spacious debut LP, Pull My Hair Back (2013), updates a flashy throwback genre for introverted, LCD-immersed times, in which the people can’t quite be trusted to say what they mean, or vice versa. This Saturday’s Popscene-curated show marks Lanza’s second-ever West Coast appearance, and might elucidate a persona that, similarly to those of labelmates Hype Williams and Laurel Halo, remains well concealed. — Taylor Kaplan
With Running in the Fog
9pm, $10
853 Valencia, SF
(415) 970-0012

Live Shots: Treasure Island Music Festival 2013


Maybe people just don’t know how to party anymore, but I didn’t come across vomit once at the Treasure Island Music Festival. The crowd’s vibe was more or less well-behaved all weekend — pretty chill considering how many people were clustered on the island for the fests’ seventh successful installment.

The organizers rely on big names, the unique setting, a variety of vendors, and plenty of distracting flash (including the nearly iconic 60-foot Ferris wheel you can ride at $5 a pop) in order to keep this thing a destination. 

It was my first TIMF experience and I’ll admit the lineup wasn’t exactly the selling point for me. I thought at least I could get nostalgic over Beck, while Detroit-duo ADULT. still holds a degree of allure. I figured I’d spend most of my time milling around (highly recommended for optimal people watching; plenty of fur) and hoped to stuff my face with tons of good food (the mac and cheese hit the spot, the fish and chips got too cold too fast, but the chicken and shrimp paella was a winner).

Kudos to the show’s producers, Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop Industries, in their efforts at keeping this ship running tight on many levels. It’s often noted that concertgoers won’t experience any scheduling conflicts between the two stages at this event (Outside Lands, you’ve been one-upped in this category). Plus the purchase of your ticket, which could have cost up to $150 for two-day general admission or $275 for VIP (depending on how you roll) entitled you to a free ride on their massive fleet of shuttle buses that ran back and forth from the island to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium drop off/pick-up point.

Even the Porta-Potty situation wasn’t anything near the bladder-punishing clusterfuck I’ve experienced at the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park (that’s free vs. a couple hundred bucks for ya). Entire sections of what resembled fairgrounds were dedicated to ample, underused, and very clean johns. So clean I didn’t think twice about picking up a wadded $20 bill that had another inside of it!

That may sound questionable, but I was too busy enjoying the warmth of my makeshift shelter since the temperature seemed to drop by more than 20 degrees on the island during Night One. Thom Yorke complained during his Atoms for Peace headlining set when he mentioned how he came to the Cali sun to get away from the British cold and gloom. No such luck for the rock star. The winds were relentless. Sunday seemed to grow even colder, and the winds whipped up even earlier than the day before. 

From a curator’s standpoint, the musical difference between days one and two were notable. Saturday was much heavier on the electronic and hip-hop side. That day’s lineup included a ridiculous hype-filled set by duo Major Lazer, which passed out party whistles as soon as it hit the stage, shot t-shirts from a handheld air cannon, and at one point, a member (maybe Diplo?) ran on top of the crowd inside a giant-inflatable ball that resembled a hamster’s toy. It all seemed like an over-budgeted high-school pep rally, but the crowd ate it up. Indeed, it was an impressive spectacle.

Sunday seemed less druggy (the day before, the same man somehow managed to ask me twice at different locations of the largely anonymous-feeling fest, where he could get some “MDMA”) less attended, and more laid back in tone. Children and adults alike ran through a trippy bubble display put on by a carnie-type vendor. Acts like Japandroids, Sleigh Bells, and Animal Collective provided respective returns to rock, power pop, and instrumental intensive sets with a global flare.

Beck’s set relied heavily on post-Midnite Vultures material, but I was happy to hear him sing about those old “hotwax residues.” He brought Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss on stage with him just as I was heading back to the shuttle busses. Apparently I missed the cover of MJ’s “Billie Jean.”  Instead, I rode in luxury through a thick wall of fog to the mainland where a treasure of a local music scene lies waiting, markedly untapped this year. 

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: A rookie recap


By Kaylen Baker

“This,” said a friend, turning and surveying a backlit crowd, bopping and blazing under an unlikely October sun, “is the real San Francisco.”

I’m new to this city, and its croaking cables, faddish food trends, steep hills, all-aboard attitude, and free bluegrass festival have captivated me.
I was stuck in the largest forested mob I’d ever seen, between the nubby hills that form Hellman’s Hollow. To my left a drunk woman shouted into her cell on the shoulders of a drunk man, to my right a bare-chested beer-bellied man flapped his arms above his head,  and ahead, the String Cheese Incident spread a bluesy beach jam over this valley of ears.

Back up to day one of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

The air smelled rich, sweet; Napa was burning, wafting blue oak and pine smoke into the ripe pungency of weed and optimism and sunscreen. I joined friends at the Banjo stage, where they had set up beach chairs and a folding cooler-come-table. Plastic wine glasses were drained and refilled.

Seldom Scene stood 15 feet away. Dudley Connell rounded off “Muddy Waters” with a long sustained “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” just as a skein of geese zigzagged overhead.


“This is really good bluegrass,” someone near me said, as the 42-year-old band began “Darling Corey.” Melding guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass, and dobro, the musicians read each others’ minds. “It’s like soul music from the mountains,” someone else said. “It’s very spiritual.”

Lou Reid had a voice slipperier than a slide on a string. “Pretty woman have gone to my head,” he sang. I could hear a river in the strings, and I felt a vastness, a simple kind of longing. There’s something curiously curing about hearing lovesick, lonely bluegrass — strictly bluegrass — in an open field.

Hardly came later, at the Arrow stage. Father John Misty’s soulful, sexy voice sprawled out over a younger crowd. The artist (formerly known as Fleet Foxes’ J.Tillman) sat alone with his guitar, legs crossed, sandal-footed, behind a giant cut-out iPhone. Words from a new song — “policy and families, the golden era of TV”— made the crowd laugh.

As Tillman sang, a kid ran onstage, tackled shortly by security. “Yeah!” Tillman said, “I support your freedom.” Let loose, the kid made yet another ill-fated run. Still playing, Tillman called, “Let’s all settle down, it’s just acoustic guitar.”

Despite the laughs, something cutting emerged below Tillman’s smooth, ironic voice. He was a dark joker, righteously pissed when the crowd missed jokes, too busy snapping Instagram photos on real iPhones. 

The most ironic part about Tillman wasn’t his commentary on our disengaged generation, but that by not singing about his broken heart or yellow bird (see Conor Oberst over at the Rooster stage), he became even more of an emotional presence onstage.

Finishing a song with absolutely no ado, Tillman added, “Thank you, good night,” and walked away.

By late afternoon the heat rolled away and the smell of caramel corn drifted through the moist grass. I grabbed an under-spiced falafel and people-watched — bearded, feathered, tattooed, uninhibited, high, dripping youth, as well as T-shirted, dancing, drinking, laid-back old timers. They drifted towards stages where hidden musicians tuned up for the night’s last show.

Bonnie Raitt’s voice magnetized the dense crowd, and I only managed to jot “soft, lovely, and worn, like an old velvet dress,” before I was pulled in myself. Listening to “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” I had to assume there would be something seriously wrong with the world if someone didn’t love this graceful, wise redhead.


I missed Saturday’s concert due to work; Sunday was madness. I descended the hills into a writhing mass of bodies. Somewhere east, a deep twang grew out of the Devil Makes Three, who made a hell of a lot of moody noise playing “Graveyard.”

Giant noodles, flags, pineapples, aliens, and a unicorn bobbed above a crowd so thick that people climbed trees to see above a dirty breeze. Along the way I lost my friends and met up with new ones. By the time Pete Bernhard belted “Black Irish,” I couldn’t agree more: “I don’t want this night to ever turn into day.”

By evening, every band become a mush of wailing fiddles.

Last up, the String Cheese Incident (SCI). The psychedelic, peppy mood swings didn’t really do enough for me, when suddenly, a song started up unlike anything I’d ever heard, tribal and springy and sobbing. It was “BollyMunster.” Michael Kang’s western violin swerved and ducked between epic eastern Bollywood electronics. It sounded like it was coming from our own primeval selves.

As the sunset turned majestic, SCI pronounced Hardly Strictly “one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever played.” I agreed, and then I was dancing, because “Rosie” had a beat that made me jump and holler.


Ain’t nobody who can sing — or bring the progressive fire — like Billy Bragg


During his set yesterday at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, iconic British singer/songwriter Billy Bragg said he doesn’t understand why he was booked for an event devoted to Americana, although he did note that it was Brits like the Beatles and Rolling Stones that first popularized African American roots music for white Americans.

Yet in the spirit of legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose songs Bragg covered with Wilco on the amazing Mermaid Avenue albums, Bragg yesterday unleashed a righteous lefty diatribe against US political powers who were willing to shut down the government and default on its debts rather than offer universal healthcare to its citizens.

“Health care is the Jim Crow issue of the 21st Century,” Bragg said, also calling healthcare reform the “civil rights issue of this time” and calling for “free health care for every American.”

After closing his set with a rousing rendition of Guthrie’s “All you Fascists Bound to Lose,” he implored the young audience to rise up and “just get true.” Apparently his messages resonated with both the audience and organizers, who allowed him back on stage for an encore and some more fearless truth-talking.

“Socialism is organized compassion,” Bragg said, urging Americans to drop their irrational fears of socialized medicine (not to mention the far more insurance-based Obamacare), before playing his anthem, “There is Power in a Union.”

Bragg closed by saying that our enemy in this struggle isn’t the right-wing crazies shutting down our government, it is our own apprehensions about what can be done in this country, and the fear of advocating for what needs to be done.

“The enemy is cynism,” Bragg said, “and the only antidote to your cyncism is your activism.”

I and others left the show with our political fires stirred, as Sup. John Avalos also confirmed when I ran into him after the show, traipsing through the woods of Golden Gate Park toward the next stage. And I thought about what Hardly Strictly founder Warren Hellmen told me about this festival and form of music when I interviewed him for a profile that ran as a Guardian cover story in 2007.

“I feel very strongly that an important part of our culture is built on the type of music and type of performance that goes on at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass,” Hellman told me. From parables set to music to songs of struggle and the old union standards, “that kind of music is the conscience of our country.”

He considered bluegrass a vital and historically important form of political communication, more so than many of the upscale art forms that he and other rich people have tended to sponsor in San Francisco.

“I’m glad that we have first-rate opera, but it’s equally important that we foster the kind of music, lyrics, etc., that support all this,” he said. “Somebody once said that most of the great Western philosophy is buried in the words of country songs. And that’s closer to the truth than most people think. A big passion of mine is to try to help — and people have defined it too narrowly — the kinds of music that I think have a hell of a lot to do with the good parts of our society.”

And that was something that it took a fiery Brit to remind of us of this weekend.

Weekly Picks: October 2 – 8, 2013


Among the undead.



“How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse”

Who hasn’t thought about who they would want on their zombie apocalypse team, how they would escape the city, or where they would go if they got out? But that’s just the first 24 hours. What about some oh, 28 days later? What about 28 weeks? What about doing more than just surviving? The collection of workshops offered by Curiosity Atlas this fall could be the key to your happy post-apocalypse. Join Curiosity Atlas on opening night to preview such workshops as “Defending Against Multiple Attackers,” “MacGyver Night,” “DIY Herbal Apothecary,” “Aging and Collecting Beer,” “Apocalypse Baking,” and other essential skills for living the good life among the undead. The night will feature hands-on demonstrations, live performances, and human-friendly refreshments. (Nina Glasov)

7-10pm, $10

Verdi Club

2424 Mariposa, SF




The Drunken Botanist

For most drinkers, the word “booze” ignites cerebral images of fluorescently-lit bars and the night, however wild or relaxing, to follow. But for Amy Stewart, author of 2013 New York Times bestseller The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin Books), the sloppy story begins much earlier, as the plants involved evolve, grow, reproduce, ferment, and distill in the days, weeks, and even millennia leading up to liquor’s transformation. Amid overhanging vines and tropic air in the Conservatory of Flowers, Stewart will discuss these diverse herbs, flowers, fungi, and fruit that end up our cups, as well as global drinking practices, comical anecdotes, gardening tips, and some of her favorite razzed recipes. After grabbing cocktails mixed by Amanda Victoria of Lillet and Mark Stoddard of Hendrick’s Gin, don’t leave the event wasted — get your own signed copy of The Drunken Bontanist. (Kaylen Baker)

7pm, $35–$40

Conservatory of Flowers

100 John F Kennedy, SF

(415) 831-2090




Father John Misty

It’s easy for musicians to hide behind personas, but when Joshua Tillman (formerly of Fleet Foxes) stopped recording under his real name and released an album — last year’s Fear Fun — as Father John Misty, it was a moment of revelation. Contrary to the faux-sincerity that has made the revivalist strain of folk rock damn near unlistenable in the last few years, Misty embraces a vivid self-awareness that avoids the usual mix of solemn preciousness and vain humility, humorously detailing his own mushroom tripping genesis (“I’m Writing a Novel”) and possible legacy (“Now I’m Learning to Love the War”). This solo show, with support from comedian Kate Berlant, should showcase the real Father John Misty. (Ryan Prendiville)

9pm, $25–$30


333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333




The Wicker Man

Just to get it out of the way: Yeah, the 40th anniversary “definitive new restoration” of British cult-horror classic The Wicker Man (1973) — we shall not speak of the 2006 bee-laden remake — owes its crisp clarity to digital projection. But if the not-on-actual-film tradeoff means seeing the movie uncut, as director Robin Hardy intended, perhaps it’s worth it. A stodgy, Jesus-loving Scottish cop (Edward Woodward) is in for the shock of his life when he travels to pagan stronghold Summerisle, with residents including Christopher Lee (as flamboyant Lord Summerisle) and sexy-dancin’ Britt Ekland. The eerie folk-song soundtrack, which will presumably sound better than ever, is reason enough to catch this DCP event. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Sat/5, 7 and 9:30pm (also Sat/5, 4:30pm), $8.50–$11

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF




WestWave Festival

Balancing ingredients and flavors is a good way to plan a menu. It seems to work in dance as well. At least that’s what the five-member panel, which chose the artists to be commissioned for the second of this year’s West Wave programs, seems to have had in mind. All the choreographers are women but they bring a huge range of tastes to their practice. Moving here after 20 years in the other dance capital, modern dancer Anne-René Petrarca is creating a quartet about the power of female energy. Anandha Ray calls her fusion piece “tribal belly dance,” remembering its birthplace in India. Gorgeous Flamenco artist Holly Shaw is translating her passion into choreography that considers the figure of the outsider. And finally, ballet dancer Casey Lee Thorne is using the kinetic power of light in her contemporary vision of an old language. Bon appétit everyone. (Rita Felciano)

8pm, $15–$20

West Wave Dance Festival

ODC Dance Commons, Studio B

351 Shotwell, SF




It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman

42nd Street Moon kicks off its 2013-2014 season in celebration of 75 years of the Man of Steel. From the songwriters of Bye Bye Birdie and Annie comes the 1966 musical It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman, opening this month at the Eureka Theatre. Starring Lucas Coleman as the man himself, Jen Brooks as Lois Lane, and Darlene Popovic as Dr. Agnes Sedgwick, the show follows Clark Kent/Superman as he juggles heroics and romance. With such lively tunes as “You’ve Got Possibilities” and “Pow! Bam! Zonk!” audiences are in for some riotous fun featuring one of the most prolific superheroes of all time. (Kirstie Haruta)

Through Oct. 20 (Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm), $21–$75

Eureka Theatre

215 Jackson, SF

(415) 255-8207




Billy Bragg

British folk-punk rocker Billy Bragg’s debut album, Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy, came out 30 years ago. If anything, time has only strengthened his writing and resolve, as well as his social activism bent, as evidenced on the troubadour’s latest release, Tooth and Nail, on Essential Music. Fans have two chances to see Bragg this weekend in the city, one at the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park — and for others who prefer to skip the crowds and dust, you can see him up close and personal tonight, appearing with his friend Jon Langford. (Sean McCourt)

9pm, $35

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750




“Bikes to Books”

You admired the artful, informative “Bikes to Books” map, created by Bay Guardian contributor Nicole Gluckstern and local-history buff Burrito Justice, in our Sept. 11 issue. Now comes the map’s official release party. Begin with a group bike tour that visits all 12 San Francisco streets named for notable artists and authors (Jacks London and Kerouac, Isadora Duncan, etc.) with local ties. And since City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti helped mastermind the street-naming project back in 1988, it’s fitting that the party portion of the day (complete with literary reading hosted by Evan Karp) takes place in Jack Kerouac Alley, just outside the famed bookstore. (Eddy)

Bike tour: 10:30am-2pm, free

Meet at Jack London (north side) and South Park, SF

Reading: 2-4pm, free

Jack Kerouac Alley (near Broadway and Columbus), SF




Iconic Hair Movie Night

When you think of memorable ‘dos in classic horror films, who else but Elsa Lanchester comes to mind? To honor her famous style, Morphic Salon is screening Bride of Frankenstein for free as part of its Iconic Hair Movie Nights series. Watch as Dr. Frankenstein, revealed to be alive by Mary Shelley, builds a bride for his first monstrous creation. And while you’re at it, perhaps you’ll be inspired to get a shock of white in your own hair to match the leading lady! RSVP for this event at info@morphicbeauty.com. (Haruta)

Free, 7 p.m.

Morphic Salon

660 Market, SF

(415) 789-6682




Tom Odell

Singer-songwriter Tom Odell tends to capture powerful if fleeting feelings of young love and wistfulness, yet with a cheerful energy. Perhaps thanks to bouncy piano chords and Odell’s robust vocals, the British singer’s performances manage to escape the deep, tormented-soul identity adapted by many young acoustic soloists. His 2013 debut album A Long Way Down reached No. 1 on the UK Official Chart earlier this year. And the musician hit an even higher note last month when he reimagined Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” at the annual BRITs awards program to honor John as the first ever recipient of the BRITs’ Icon Award. This charming singer makes his way to the Chapel tonight, where he’ll share the stage with Australian Vance Joy. (Hillary Smith)

9pm, $15


777 Valencia, SF




Fucked Up

Toronto-based hardcore punk outfit Fucked Up has made a career of being unapologetically over-the-top. Look no further than its borderline-corny name (how can it be the first punk band to come up with that one?), its insanely ambitious concept albums, and the unparalleled insanity of its live shows. Always on the verge of taking things too far, Fucked Up flirts with that fine line between insanity and brilliance, and occupies the space between with authority. No other band can create high-minded, multi-instrumental rock operas of this magnitude and get away with it (although Titus Andronicus is sure trying). As if its fervent, fearless creativity wasn’t cause enough to go see this band (co-headlining with Terror) also know that frontperson Damian Abraham is seriously the nicest dude in the entire world. (Haley Zaremba)

With Power Trip, Code Orange Kids

7pm, $16

Oakland Metro Operahouse

630 Third St, Oakl.

(510) 763-1146




La Tigre e la Neve

Somehow, Italian screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami always succeeded in capturing beauty in his films, through the highs as well as the lowest lows of life. The third and final screening of the IIC’s series “A tribute to Vincenzo Cerami,” features actor Roberto Benigni in Cerami’s La Tigre e la Neve (2005) as Attilio de Giovanni, a besotted Italian poetry teacher. Though Giovanni’s children and students adore him, the woman of his heart, Vittoria, spurns him, leaving Italy with another poet for Iraq. When the second Gulf War erupts and Giovanni hears that Vittoria has been injured, he chases after in an attempt to bring Vittoria to safety. Expect hope, despair, laughs, and underlining it all, a sense of utter, expanding beauty. (Baker)

6:30pm, free

Italian Cultural Institute

814 Montgomery, SF

(415) 788-7142




The Babies

The Babies have been pegged as a super-band of sorts from the start, with Cassie Ramone from Vivian Girls on guitar and Kevin Morby from Woods on bass. In their latest release, 2012’s Our House on the Hill, the Babies strive to break free from their lo-fi attachments in previous bands and experiment more with country, blues, and folk elements. The Babies aren’t a side project, as much as an entirely new entity with something different to offer. San Francisco’s Tony Molina, hardcore frontperson turned “punky” indie act also plays this show. His newest record, Dissed and Dismissed, released by Melters this year, is impressive. Loaded with undeniably catchy, fuzzy tunes, the album at times harkens back to an era when bands like Guided by Voices and Pavement were king. Get some drinks and get fuzzed out in more ways than one at the Hemlock Tavern tonight. (Erin Dage)

With Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

8:30pm, $8

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923


The big Hardly Strictly roster reveal


After weeks of teasers, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass released its full 2013 lineup this week, and it boasts some fresh young artists and a great many cross-generational acts.

The free weekend-long festival in Golden Gate Park will feature appearances by Nick Lowe, Conor Oberst and friends (including First Aid Kit), Gogol Bordello, Natalie Maines, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Bettye LaVette, Allah-Las, Father John Misty, Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers (featuring Edie Brickell), and Bonnie Raitt, among dozens of others.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass takes place Oct. 4-6 in Golden Gate Park, SF.

Here’s the full roster:

Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue

The Brothers Comatose

Mike Scott & Steve Wickham of The Waterboys

Loudon Wainwright III

The Handsome Family

Jesse Dee

The Jerry Douglas Band

Alison Brown

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside

Justin Townes Earle

The String Cheese Incident

Sonny & The Sunsets

Buddy Miller

The Deep Dark Woods

Pieta Brown

The Flatlanders featuring Joe Ely

Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock

Shovels & Rope


Gogol Bordello

Mark Lanegan

Steve Earle & The Dukes


Natalie Maines

Evolfo Doofeht


Robert Ellis

Chris Isaak

Conor Brings Friends For Friday Featuring: Whispertown, The Cave Singers, The Felice Brothers, The Evens, First Aid Kit, Conor Oberst

Nick Lowe


The Warren Hood Band

Della Mae

Martha Wainwright

Robert Earl Keen

Holler Down the Hollow: A Hardly Strictly Salute to the Masters

Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin

Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale

Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

The Time Jumpers featuring Brad Albin, Larry Franklin, Paul Franklin, Vince Gill, “Ranger Doug” Green, Andy Reiss, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, Joe Spivey, Jeff Taylor & Billy Thomas

Spirit Family Reunion

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell

Poor Man’s Whiskey (Friday morning middle school program)

Trampled By Turtles

G. Love & Special Sauce

Ryan Bingham

Patty Griffin

The Devil Makes Three

Kat Edmonson

Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band featuring Yungchen Lhamo

Paul Kelly

Dry Branch Fire Squad

Bonnie Raitt

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands

Boz Scaggs

Seldom Scene

Tumbleweed Wanderers

Manchester Orchestra

Elvin Bishop

The Go To Hell Man Clan

Richard Thompson

Tift Merritt

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard acoustic / FREAKONS

Father John Misty

Billy Bragg

Bettye LaVette


Tim O’Brien with Bryan Sutton & Mike Bub

Sturgill Simpson


Dave Alvin with Greg Leisz


MC Hammer (Friday morning middle school program)

The Forest Rangers with Katey Sagal

The Wood Brothers

Los Lobos Disconnected

Kate McGarrigle Tribute with Martha & Sloan Wainwright & Special Guests

Jesse DeNatale

Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott

Joy Kills Sorrow

For more info, see www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.

Get to the show, weirdos


FALL ARTS There are so many things competing for your precious time: long lines for pricey gourmet coffee, civic responsibilities and volunteer work, actual work, glazed fake cronuts or whatever the kids are into these days. Make live music a priority as well — your days will float by on a pink cloud of fuzzy, hangover-fueled memories.

As we’re lucky enough to live in a region stuffed with musicians and venues that take in touring acts, the options for every week are damn near endless. Here are some shows to take note of this season, one for (nearly) every day of the upcoming months. (Note that dates and locations are subject to change, so always check the venue site.)


Plug them in to your Google Calendar. Better yet, stick this list to your wall with chewed-up bubblegum. Either way, impress your friends with superior show knowledge:

Aug. 30 [UPDATE: postponed due to illness] Icona Pop: As silly as it’s always been, bubbly Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop is in the running for the arbitrary media-hyped “song of the summer” (or as Slate puts it, the yearly “Summer Song–Industrial Complex”) thanks to party track, “I Love It,” featuring fellow up-and-comer Charli XCX. And, get this, the album from which “Love It” springs, This Is… (Record Company Ten/Big Beat Records), isn’t even out until Sept. 24. Squeeze out the last bits of this very poppy season and hold out for the recorded versions by taking in this live set. Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Aug. 31 [Here’s another to make up for that cancellation above] Rin Tin Tiger, French Cassettes Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 Sonny and the Sunsets, Shannon and the Clams Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 2 Ty Segall Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 3 Superchunk and Mikal Cronin Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 4 Zomby (live) Public Works, SF. www.publicsf.com.

Sept. 5-6 “UnderCover Presents Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited:” For this event, the UnderCover Presents collective dives deep into the introspective, folk-rock world of Bob Dylan’s ’65 gem (which gave us “Like a Rolling Stone”) with covers by Carletta Sue Kay, Quinn DeVeaux, Whiskerman, Beth Lisick, and guest music director Karina Denike, among others. Freight & Salvage. www.thefreight.org. Also Sept. 8, Contemporary Jewish Museum. www.cjm.org.

Sept. 6 Mission Creek Oakland: The month-long fall music and arts festival packs a punch with dozens of local bands playing 15 East Bay venues, including the Uptown, the Stork Club, and Children’s Fairyland (!). It kicks off with a free opening party tonight at the Uptown with Naytronix, Clipd Beaks, YNGBMS, and Safeword. Various venues, Oakl. www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 7 Push the Feeling with Exray’s Underground SF, www.undergroundsf.com

Sept. 8 Lil Bub book signing with Nobunny: So Lil Bub is this famous Internet cat and Nobunny is the infamous IRL punky masked Bunny-Man; together they’ll claw through the Rickshaw Stop all day and night. This multipart Burger Bub Mini-Fest includes a Lil Bub book signing and doc film screening, plus live sets by Nobunny, Colleen Green, the Monster Women, and the Shanghais. Paws up, everyone. Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept. 9 Sex Snobs Elbo Room, SF. www.elbo.com

Sept. 10 Bleeding Rainbow Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept. 11 Moving Units DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com.

Sept. 12 Julie Holter Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Sept. 13 120 minutes presents Death in June Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 14 Rock the Bells: the annual touring hip-hop fest returns, headlined by Kid Cudi, A$AP Mob. feat. A$AP Rocky, E-40, and Too $hort, Common, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on Sept. 14; Wu-Tang Clan, Black Hippy feat. Kendrick Lamar, and Deltron 3000 on Sept. 15. Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mtn View. www.livenation.com.

Sept. 16 Kate Boy Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept 17 Julie Ruin: Kathleen Hanna returns to her pre-Le Tigre output but beefs it up with a full band including fellow Bikini Kill bandmate Kathi Wilcox and is set to release bouncy feminist dancepop record Run Fast Sept. 3. A few weeks later the Brooklyn band lands in SF. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Sept. 18 Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Various venues, Berk. www.berkeleyoldtimemusic.org

Sept. 19 Hard Skin 1-2-3-4 Go!, Oakl. 1234gorecords.com.

Sept. 20 Foxygen Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 21 Tape Deck Mountain and Battlehooch El Rio, SF. www.elriosf.com.

Sept. 22 “Radio Silence presents: Doe Eye performing Arcade Fire” Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Sept. 24 Wax Tailor Mezzanine. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 26 Zola Jesus Palace of Fine Arts, SF. www.palaceoffinearts.org.

Sept. 27 Peter Hook and the Light Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 28 “Station to Station:” This train-travelin’ art and music experiment, organized by artist Doug Aitken, pulls a stop in Oakland with live performances by Dan Deacon, Savages, No Age, Sun Araw and the Congos, Twin Shadow, and more. And the train itself is designed as a moving kinetic light sculpture, so expect a bright show. 16th St. Station, Oakl. www.stationtostation.com.

Sept. 30 Chelsea Wolfe Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 1 Peach Kelli Pop Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.

Oct. 3Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Oct. 4-6 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Bonnie Raitt, Bettye LaVette, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Devil Makes Three, Chris Isaak, Mark Lanegan, First Aid Kit, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. As the free annual fest releases lineup names in glorious song medleys, this is who we know for sure will fill GG Park with folk-country-hardly-strictly-bluegrass notes this year, as of press time. There will be more added in the coming weeks, so check the site. Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.

Oct. 5 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com.

Oct. 7 No Joy Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Oct. 8 Fucked Up Terror Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Oct. 9 Iceage Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Oct. 10 Thee Oh Sees Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 11 Extra Action Marching Band Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 12 Marky Ramone with Andrew W.K.: Is this pairing crazy enough that it just might work? While Joey Ramone has sadly passed on to punk rock heaven (lots of leather and skinny jeans), drummer Marky Ramone is carrying on the legacy by enlisting pizza guitar-having party rocker Andrew W.K. as his frontperson. The band known as Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg performs classic Ramones songs. Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com.

Oct. 13 Legendary Pink Dots DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com.

Oct. 14 Langhorne Slim Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 15 Tim Kasher Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Oct. 16 Dustin Wong Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Oct. 17 CHVRCHES Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com.

Oct. 18 Robert Glasper Experiment SFJazz Center, SF. www.sfjazz.org.

Oct. 19 Treasure Island Music Festival: the forward-thinking two-day fest out on windswept Treasure Island includes Atoms for Peace, Beck, Major Lazer, Little Dragon, Animal Collective, James Blake, Holy Ghost!, Sleigh Bells, and more. Giraffage, and Antwon are the locals on the bill. Treasure Island, SF. www.treasureislandfestival.com.

Oct. 20 Goblin Warfield Theatre, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Oct. 21 Hunx & His Punx Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Oct. 22 Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck Paramount Theater, Oakl. www.paramounttheatre.com.

Oct. 23 Oh Land Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com.

Oct. 24 Woodkid Regency Ballroom, SF. www.theregencyballroom.com.

Oct. 25 The Blow Bottom of the Hill. www.bottomofthehill.com.

Oct. 26 Airfield Broadcasts: For this large-scale event, composer Lisa Bielawa will turn Chrissy Field into a giant “musical canvas” in which listeners can interact with broad sounds floating through the area with the help of nearly a thousand professional and student musicians including orchestras, choruses, bands, and experimental new groups. The musicians will begin in the center of the field then slowly move outwards, playing Bielawa’s original score. Chrissy Field, SF. www.airfieldbroadcasts.org.

Oct. 29 The Jazz Coffin Emergency Ensemble El Rio, SF. www.elriosf.com.

Oct. 30 Save Ferris Regency Ballroom, SF. www.theregencyballroom.com.

Oct. 31 Danzig Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Nov. 1 Janelle Monáe: Futurist soul crooner Janelle Monáe has had a big year, releasing “Q.U.E.E.N.” with Erykah Badu in the spring, and more recently she fired off Miguel duet “PrimeTime.” The last time the pompodoured singer made it to SF she was dancing down the aisles at the SF Symphony’s Spring Gala (earlier this year), but a darkened venue is much more her speed. Think she’ll be wearing black and white? Warfield Theatre, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Nov. 7 Wanda Jackson: The stylish rockabilly queen, and former real life Elvis paramour — and crackling vocalist behind tracks like “Fujiyama Mama” and “Let’s Have a Party” — is still brash and still touring at age 75. And she’s still putting out new tunes too, with her own 2012 LP Unfinished Business, and just before that a collaboration with Jack White on The Party Ain’t Over (2011). Yes, the party continues. Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Nov. 8 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Nov. 13 Those Darlins Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Nov. 14 Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Bahrami Fard SFJazz Center, SF. www.sfjazz.org.

Nov. 16 Melt Banana Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Nov. 17 Rhys Chatham: This is vastly bigger than your average rock concert. See, avant-punk composer Rhys Chatham will perform the West Coast premiere of his “A Secret Rose” with an orchestra of 100 electric guitars. That’s right, 100-times the shred. The Other Minds-presented hourlong performance will include musicians from Guided By Voices, Akron/Family, Tristeza, and more. Craneway Pavilion, Richmond. www.brownpapertickets.com.

Nov. 18 Misfits Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Nov. 22 Kate Nash Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com.


Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week


Yes, Outside Lands is back this weekend in Golden Gate Park. So that’s a given, especially if you’ve already got tickets to the sold-out festival. But there’s also night shows plus unrelated evenings out with White Fence, King Tuff, Glass Candy, Icky Boyfriends, Paige & the Thousand, and Lightning Dust with Louise Burns and Spells. So be sure to check those out as well, you over-committers.

Also this week, the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass guess-the-lineup game came buzzing back to the web. Listen here to make your guesses.

Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:

Lightning Dust, Louise Burns, and Spells
There seems to be an uptick in occult fascination lately, or am I just now really paying attention? This whole lineup — a free show through Wood Shoppe — has the witchy vibe, with Vancouver’s Lightning Dust and Louise Burns, and SF’s own Spells. Lightning Dust’s Amber Webber (of Black Mountain) and Josh Wells began as a whispery folk duo in 2007. However, their spooky third LP, June’s Fantasy (Jagjaguwar), is said to be inspired more by “skeletal synth pop, modern R&B beats, the films of John Carpenter and…absolute minimalism.” Louise Burns has that chilled ’80s darkwave thing down. And Spells, the newest project from songwriter Jennifer Marie, incorporates synth and vintage organs into eerie, lovely nightmarescapes (check locally appropriate “Fog”).
Tue/6, 8pm, free
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF

MC Chris
“MC Chris marches to the beat of his own drum machine. The pint-sized Chicago-area rapper is technically a hip-hop artist, but this is likely not the kind of hip-hop you’ve heard before. In his characteristic chipmunk chirp, MC Chris raps about Star Wars, DQ Blizzards, and lots of computer geek nerdiness. In addition to being the world’s unlikeliest rapper, he has also worked as an animator, voice actor, and songwriter for a handful of Cartoon Network Adult Swim shows, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In his free time (ha) MC Chris is working on a recently Kickstarted comic and acts as an advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He and his hyper-dedicated fans have raised over $100,000 for the cause.” — Haley Zaremba
With Dr. Awkward, Jesse Dangerously, Tribe One
Tue/6, 8pm, $15
333 11th St., SF

White Fence

Listen to White Fence’s psych-folk track “To The Boy I Jumped In The Hemlock Alley,” off the spring-released full-length Cyclops Reap, and it may renew your faith in classic songwriting. Or at least make you feel like you’re listening to the Beatles for the first time on acid. The woozy tune has a consistently mellow flow sliced through with glistening pysch riffs that sound like a flaming saw singeing through campfire wood. The album picks up quicker elsewhere, in blistering, boiling Nuggets-fashion on electrifying “Pink Gorilla.” But this much is now expected from LA/SF songwriter-guitarist Tim Presley — he’s the main force of White Fence — a consistently compelling and inventive musician, and frequent collaborator with the likes of Ty Segall. The show tonight includes essential openers like local singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt and Foxygen’s Bob Dylan-esque singer Jonathan Rado performing his solo work, Law and Order.
Wed/7, 8pm, $12
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011

Icky Boyfriends
Ew, gross, Icky Boyfriends are back. JK, each successive grave-rise from the trashy ’90s-born Bay Area “noisefuck” band is worth mentioning because the local band is just that entertaining live. To get the full lo-fi freakout inherent in the Icky Boyfriends experience, listen to 2005’s 61-track career retrospective A Love Obscene, which features tracks such as “Burrito,” “Passion Assassin,” “Kids in Fresno,” and “King of Zeitgeist.” You might also note the band features current Hemlock booker/guitarist-singer of Hank IV, Anthony Bedard, on drums. Also, I’ve recently uncovered the fact that Bedard and burlesque legend Dixie Evans once went on the talk show Maury, for the episode “My Sexy Lover Is My Complete Opposite.” YouTube it, immediately.
With Wet Illustrated, Violent Change
Thu/8, 9pm, $8
Eagle Tavern
3981 12th St., SF

Rotfest IV with 3 Stoned Men, Cameltoe, UKE Band
Sat/10, 5pm, $10
Hemlock Tavern
1131 Polk, SF

Paige & the Thousand
Paige & the Thousand has roots similar to Lindsay Paige Garfield’s previous seven-piece band Or, the Whale but now solo, she also travels to different offshoots of twangy folk, country, and Americana, even dipping into Celtic traditions, and showing similar chord progressions to her own rich history of Jewish music, which she long ago sang in synagogue choir as a child. (For more on Paige & the Thousand, see this week’s paper.)
With Robb Benson & the Shelk, EarlyBizrd & the Bees
Fri/9, 8pm, $7
Awaken Café
1429 Broadway, Oakl.

Glass Candy
The synth-heavy, electro-punk group that is Glass Candy returns to San Francisco this weekend, fresh off a jarring slot at that oh-so-hip Pitchfork Music Festival. The broader crowds still, after all these years, seem not quite sure what to make of the amorphous, experimental, and ever-evolving duo. And that’s precisely what keeps it interesting. Producer Johnny Jewel (also of Chromatics, and co-owner of dance label Italians Do It Better) and casual, Nico-esque vocalist Ida No have been doing this whole Glass Candy gig since ’96, yet each tour, each new release (2003’s Love Love Love, 2007’s B/E/A/T/B/O/X) brings some different flavor of stimulating Italo-disco glitter cut with speed and Kraut. This is also why those who’ve fallen in line behind the duo have long been itching for a new record, the promised Body Work, which is purportedly coming out soon, after a teaser single of “Halloween” released on Oct. 31, 2011.
With Omar Perez, Stanley Frank, Bus Station John
Fri/9, 9pm, $20
444 Jessie, SF
(415) 625-8800

King Tuff
“King Tuff, the man, the myth, the guy with the “sun medallion” is coming along with his pals and bandmates to play at Brick and Mortar Music Hall the day before his Outside Lands performance. Mixing glam and garage rock, King Tuff crafts music that makes you want to shuffle on the dance floor. He’s come into success with career milestones such as being added to the lineup at OSL — he’s usually known for playing smaller fests like Burger Record’s Burgerama and 1-2-3-4 Go! Records’ Go! Go! Fest. The artist has also reached #8 in Billboard’s Heatseeker Albums with Was Dead, after its late May reissue on Burger Records. In short, come see this animal before it disappears into the vast expanse known as Golden Gate Park (for Outside Lands, duh)!” — Erin Dage
With the Men, Twin Peaks
Sat/10, 10pm, $20
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF
(415) 371-1631

Will John C. Reilly be the secret guest at Lavender Diamond’s Chapel show?


You know Lavender Diamond, right? The whimsical LA-based electro-folk band fronted by crystal-clear vocalist/tree fairy Becky Stark? The group plays SF’s newest venue, the Chapel, Tues/11. Turns out, there’s a super-secret surprise guest set to appear, and I’ve got a solid guess now we can announce who it is: John C. Reilly.

The rumored surprise guest (Reilly) is, of course, best known as the curly-haired character actor with a wide range (Magnolia to Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, Boogie Nights to Chicago to Step-Brothers). But he’s also a pretty solid singer and musician, who played Bimbo’s earlier this year alongside Lavender Diamond’s Stark as John Reilly and Friends.

The duo previously collaborated on a duet covering  “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me),” made famous by Ray Price, for Jack White’s Third Man Records, and have played together since. Reilly and Friends also popped up at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass this year.


If you hadn’t already guessed, we’re big fans of the actor-musician.

But we’re also fans of Lavender Diamond, so either way, the show should be a good one. The band released its second full-length, Incorruptible Heart, in September, and a small batch was pressed on lavender vinyl. Amazing. It’s a lush break-up record full of subtle melancholy, torch songs, and chamber pop, with contributions from M. Ward and the Calder Quartet on strings.


Plus, local wonder Jessica Pratt was recently added to the bill.


Alright, here’s one more of Stark and John C. Reilly together from when Reilly recently stopped by Stark’s web series, We Can Do It.


Again, it’s rumored he’ll show up. Oh, he’ll be there!

Lavender Diamond
With Jessica Pratt
Tue/11, 9pm, $10-$12
777 Valencia, SF