The Best of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013: Billy Bragg, Bettye LaVette, the Devil Makes Three, and More

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Christopher Victorio
Bet you saw a lot of this over the weekend...
Quick takes on the best of what we saw at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 13. Skip straight to Saturday or Sunday.

Friday, Oct. 4

Low
We gave the Duluth, Minn., outfit even odds in translating its gothic rock into the bright environs of a Friday afternoon in Golden Gate Park. Looking like a band of art-room kids who got locked out in the sunlight ("What a beautiful day -- I know you get a lot of beautiful days, but in Duluth we get about three and a half," said Alan Sparhawk), Low's quieter moments sometimes got lost in the ever-present din of conversation and the echoes from the Banjo stage up the way. But the band mostly pulled it off: "Holy Ghost" and "Witches" proved appropriately haunting, and Low made a cover of Rihanna's fantastic "Stay" seem like its own song. The second half of the spacious set was filled out with help from Duluth pals Trampled by Turtles, who filigreed a banjo-and-fiddle lightness onto Low's heavy-lidded dirges. "Sorry about all the dark songs," Sparhawk muttered toward the end. He didn't need to be. Ian S. Port

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Christopher Victorio
Low

First Aid Kit
Playing on the Rooster stage with Saddle Creek friends like Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis, Sweden's Söderberg sisters sounded bright and energetic during the penultimate set of the day. They showed off a bunch of new songs, which sounded promising, but the highlights were twofold: A memorable, harmony-laden take on Simon and Garfunkel's "America," plus a set-closing rendition of the rousing "King of the World," with Conor Oberst coming out onstage to sing his verse. One of the big themes of Hardly Strictly is stripped-down performances -- lots of performers go onstage armed with just their voice and a guitar, which can work well. But as this closing tune illustrated with guitar, keyboard, drums, mandolin, and even a little trumpet, sometimes more really is better. ISP


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Christopher Victorio
Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt
Requisite quip about how it smells good out there. Requisite shock of white hair. Requisite Brownie strat. Requisite "Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About." Requisite husky humanity in her voice. But Raitt's slide guitar playing sounded somehow shocking, the electric banter of gods. "Have a Heart" pushed her set past 7 p.m., and spellbound everyone who was paying attention. ISP


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87 comments
Mark Plevin
Mark Plevin

Gail, thanks to you and Tim for dragging me out to Billy Bragg on Sunday!

Crystal Lee
Crystal Lee

Mark Lanegan's voice is unreal! Also, loved Emmylou's honky tonk sound, and got all teary eyed over hearing Ralph Stanley sing.

Mary Anne Voss
Mary Anne Voss

Mine was Boz Scaggs, saw him on Saturday, had a great time can't wait to go again next year.....

Jack Blakley
Jack Blakley

I had the best time,see ya next year for sure...

Mary Jurey
Mary Jurey

Alison Krauss singing "Don't Leave Me This Way" was killer great. Devil Makes Three, The Brothers Comatose, First Aid Kit, Bonnie, Patty.....It's all good really!

Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly

Jong langford, Lp, Dave Alvin, Boz and Los Lobos thanks Warren and all the volunteers 10th year for me. I appreciate it!

Michelle Cherry
Michelle Cherry

Emmy Lou Harris, of course, String Cheese, Devil Males Three, Boz Scaggs, Steve Earle, Ralph stanley & Crew.....so much GREAT music!!

Mike Witten
Mike Witten

When did you grow the beard Kornbred?

Chris Hock
Chris Hock

Loved seeing Calexico, love that The Handsome Family got to play (long time favorite), missed not having Robyn Hitchcock here this year, but other than that, great, great weekend.

Thomas Scott
Thomas Scott

I'd never heard the Devil Makes Three and have never seen a female stand-up bass player get so into it! String Cheese Incident comfirmed what I'd heard of their recordings: seamlessly tight instrumentals but with kinda blah vocals and lyrics--they could really kill with a passionate vocalist on the same caliber as their musicianship...but, hey....that fiddle-player with Steve Martin- yikes- who was that?

Tyra Taylor
Tyra Taylor

I remember him from last year. Good times

Barb Berry
Barb Berry

Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers!

Beate Brühl
Beate Brühl

Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller, at a relaxed time of 12:00 noon. If I only see them I go home happy.

Sissy Hula
Sissy Hula

G.Love & Special Sauce; they are the most favorite by new & old fans, standing room only always!!!! The Arrow Stage was the place, thanks again HSBG13/Warren

Donald Lathbury
Donald Lathbury

This year was the best-sounding festival I've ever heard, from all angles. The sound team did a phenomenal job. Favorite? The Devil Makes Three. The band I saw that probably made the most number of new fans? The Brothers Comatose.

Leah Knight
Leah Knight

The Time Jumpers were by far my favorite. The surprise set by Alison Krauss was also great. Thank you!

Talia Smith
Talia Smith

Ryan Bingham acoustic was my favorite set. Sturgill Simpson also put on a great set Saturday night at the Porch Stage! Got the whole crowd dancing!

Meg Wurld Wyde Webb
Meg Wurld Wyde Webb

any videos or photos taken of the buskers sunday night under the bridge that started a riot, please email them to me! i was the violinist and we need some footage so we can sue the police! WE WERE SHOVED AND STRIPPED OF PERSONAL PROPERTY WITHOUT CONSENT BECAUSE OF MUSIC. HELP US WIN THE BATTLE. xoxo

Jamie Brust
Jamie Brust

Where is the archive video of Richard Thompson's set? I really want to turn some people on to that.

Joe Campagna
Joe Campagna

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers and The Brothers Comatose

marcysantana
marcysantana

The dancer in the first picture is Primo Santana. 


Leni Liakos
Leni Liakos

Mike Farris was a lovely surprise on Sunday morning. Steve Martin and Edie gave the best show, but seeing Dr. Ralph was so very very special. As this festival gets more and more "hardly" it was a sweet reminder of why Warren started it all.

Cindy Pegues
Cindy Pegues

Texas people--Natalie Maines and the Flatlanders!

Helen Grice Russo
Helen Grice Russo

As for favorites - geeze. That really is hard. Spirit Family Reunion, The Brothers Comatose, Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Review were all new favorites. Chris Isaak sounded fantastic. We had to miss some bands to hear others :( The Time Jumpers, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Emmie Lou, Steve Earle, Laurie Lewis,...all old favorites. The Holler down the Hollow special dedicate to all those gone before was special and wonderful too. Besides The Time Jumpers our other MOST Favorite time of the day was The Jerry Douglas Band with the SURPRISE - Alison Krauss on set. Woot!

Jeff Ellis
Jeff Ellis

Sound check with LP when the crowd began to recognize what a small few already knew--she is a major talent. Then, after the show, she hung out and signed for fans for at least 30 minutes. Great performer, great person.

Patti Martin
Patti Martin

Della Mae was wonderful....Well worth the trek from the Star Stage to the Porch Stage!! I'd love to see them again!!!

Gigi Gertridge Noa
Gigi Gertridge Noa

Missed the Flatlanders so watched them online and they were great as well!

Janna Barkin
Janna Barkin

I cannot say enough about how much fun String Cheese Incident was to close the Fest. For me, this was a celebration of the great vibes, beautiful folks, incredible talent, and entrainment that happens at HSBF. I danced so hard, but not as hard as the naked couple right in front of us! Oh and I loved Calexico , Richard Thompson, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Betty LaVette, Los Lobos, Low, Devil Makes Three, Trampled By Turtles, Natalie Maine's version of Pink Floyd's Mother and her solos version of Not Ready to Make Nice, And a nod to the Ah Lah La's who played early Sunday on Tower Stage....they should have their guitar player throw down a few more solos and stretch out their jams and they will rise fast. Oh yeah and new Fest crush goes to Father John Misty

Paige Sawyer
Paige Sawyer

G love and special sauce totally rocked the house. I didn't know anything about them, but was completely blown away. Have the say that they were may favorite new group that I discovered this year. The arrow stage was on fire both days, but a little dangerous in the afternoon on Sunday. Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm review were the perfect start to Sunday morning.

Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis

Sat; LP and Boz. Sun: Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Richard Thompson, and Gogol Brodello. All played very good sets.

Emily Teitsworth
Emily Teitsworth

natalie maines, trampled by turtles, patty griffin, mike farris & the rrr, and gogol bordello!!

Jody Tims
Jody Tims

Umm, I don't know, how about CONOR! And First aide kit!

Ross G. Bielanski
Ross G. Bielanski

I wasn't there in person but Golgo Bordelo looked like the heat on the broadcast!

Jessica Mantoani
Jessica Mantoani

LP is the one I'm still talking about! Natalie Maines was awesome as well. Oh, and Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

Ramona Rey
Ramona Rey

Best: 1) Kate McGarrigle Tribute 2) Buddy Miller 3) Dave Alvin and honorable mention to the newbies: Tumbleweed Wanderers and the Wood Brothers. Great #13! Onward!

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