The crowds were large an estimated 750,000 – more than Coachella, Lollapalooza and All Points West combined – urbane, hippies, street buskers and hipsters all in Golden Gate Park and under mostly warm Indian Summer skies. The bill on all 6 stages (one more added this year) were all impressive and walking from stage to stage through the huge crowd to stave off any regrets of missing something can wear you out.
On top of the advertised bill there were some cool surprises – Robert Plant and Emmylou Harris made an appearance with Buddy Miller on Saturday morning. Steve Earle and Allison Moore joined Tom Morello (in his acoustic Nightwatchman persona) for a rousing version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is your Land. John Prine joining Lyle Lovett onsatge for a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s Loretta. Emmylou Harris joined Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for a rendition of Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack and then they were joined by Old Crow Medicine Show for a rousing cover of The Band’s The Weight. Emmylou Harris also received an honorary doctorate of music from the Berklee College of Music at her close out the festival on Sunday night. Dr Harris performed at the very first HSB headliner back in 2001.
Highlights for me – Lyle Lovett, Hayes Carll, The Flatlanders, Rosie Flores, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Kee, Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell keeping Texas proud. Seeing Booker T with the mighty Drive By Truckers. Neko Case, Gillian Welch, Elizabeth Cook and Aimee Mann – four of my favorite female singers. A chilly day, chili and corn bread lunch serenaded by Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs on the Banjo Stage. Dave Alvin dedicating a song to his recently deceased band mate Amy Ferris. The big one for me was meeting my hero Texas legend Billy Joe Shaver.
Disapointments – Turing around at the Elizabeth Cook Porch Stage performance and finding Steve Earle standing right behind me with a YANKEES CAP! C’mon dude, you’re killing me!
A tip of the Ranch Twang hat to banjo player, creator and benefactor of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Warren Hellman for picking up the tab for this extraordinary free event!