Los Lobos at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass


The last weekend in October usually means the beginning of fall weather in the Bay area. This year the days were sunny and bright but Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the only-in-San Francisco free music festival, arrived right on time for the thirteenth year.

Bonnie Raitt seemed to be as excited to be performing at HSB as the audience was to have her there. She couldn't stop telling us how she hoped to be back in the future, and I can't imagine any reason why she wouldn't be invited back. She was the closing act on Friday night at the Banjo Stage. Fronting a very tight band composed of George Marinelli, Hutch Hutchinson, Mike Finnegan, & Ricky Fataar, she sounded as good if not better then I remembered from the 70's.

Early on she recited a few lines of 'When I'm 64' informing us that she would be there in a few weeks. Imagine that. Her set consisted of a mixture of songs from her current cd, others from the Capital years, and a few from way back when. Her third & final encore song was a very high energy, rock n roll version of 'Burning Love' that brought the house down if that's possible in an open air setting.

Perhaps the high point of the weekend for me was the 3 songs of the Los Lobos set that included a guest appearance from Boz Scaggs who just a few minutes earlier had finished his own show. Boz sang the lead on 'What's Going On'. The answer to that question was clearly that these guys can play just about anything. Next the Boz Scaggs augmented band did an extended instrumental, perhaps something from the Los Lobos catalogue that I didn't recognize. It was one of those arrangements that meanders and slows down almost to a full stop before moving on up, in this case, to Peter Green's "Rattlesnake Shake" with David Hidalgo singing lead. What's not to like about an old Fleetwood Mac song featuring Boz Scaggs & David Hidalgo trading off on the guitar solos with the rest of Los Lobos rocking behind them.

I was also looking forward to seeing Patty Griffin because her current CD, American Kid, is one of the best releases of the year. Her songs have been covered by everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Solomon Burke and she was part of Robert Plant's Band of Joy. From where I was sitting, way up and off to the side of the Rooster Stage, the sound was not so good, but I can't think of too many places I would rather be on an early October Saturday in the park than with Patty Griffin.

Patty Griffin at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013