On the first day at this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest in San Francisco I spent the entire time at the Rooster Stage where Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and other projects had the distinct honor of curating the line up for the day. It's not normal proceedings for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, letting one artist select all of the acts leading up to their own performance. It was also the most adventurous collection of bands at the three day fest.
I arrived at Golden Gate Park at 5am and set up a tarp on the ground about 30 feet from the center of the stage then went back to my friend's condo to sleep some more. Shortly before 11am I headed back to Rooster stage to begin my day of musical discovery.
Many of the acts Oberst had chosen had similar traits. They were rooted in folk music with a decidedly experimental, psychedelic edge and an ethereal sound. As I've always professed, I'm not a critic so I'm not going to give you a thumbs up or down but instead want to give you an opportunity to explore these artists on your own. I think you'll be in for quite a treat.
The first artist was Jonathan Wilson and his band from Los Angeles.
Next up was Simon Joyner.
Then came New York based band Woods
From Philadelphia we were next entertained by Kurt Vile And The Violators
Now the previous four acts were all new to me the remainder I'm quite familiar with. That includes what was possibly my favorite performance at the fest by The Felice Brothers from Catskills, New York.
Warming up for the headliner was M Ward who's living in Portland these days.
Finally, Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes hit the stage to close out the day in what some say may be the last tour for Bright Eyes.
Photos of Woods, Kurt Vile, The Felice Brothers and M Ward taken at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2011 courtesy of The LeFort Report which, by the way, has many great shots from the fest.