The free 3-day music festival, "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" is such an amazing gift. Five or six simultaneous acts - each in their own meadow area in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.....folk rock, blues, and even bluegrass. Lots of iconic performers and lots of lesser knowns. A zillion food booths; 5,000 Grateful Dead t-shirts sort of covering bulging bellies; a few million tattoos; hula-hoopers; ganja cookie sellers; beautiful youngsters in ecstasy-fueled eyeball-to-eyeball embraces; lots of young parents with little ones on their shoulders or in little bonnets and earplugs on their blankets; a 100,000 dogs of every size and color, 20,000 barrels for compost, recyclables, and trash - that everyone - even the grungiest street-people amongst us seem to use conscientiously.
And somehow it happens without any entry gates; without anybody checking through the backpacks that most people carry in with them. And with close to a million people together in very close quarters over three days, I haven't heard of any violence. What would the normal crime rates be over three days in a city of several hundred thousand? Thank you Mr. Warren Hellman for making this happen the past 11 years.
This year Sally and I only went to acts we knew....Allison Brown, Gillian Welch, Ruthie Foster, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Civil Wars, Steve Earle, and Blind Boys of Alabama. All absolutely wonderful. I'll post photos on my flickr site before long.
While walking out of the park on Saturday night, a man asked desperately if any of us had seen a six year old red-headed boy with glasses. Immediately, about a dozen of us started calling out the boy's name, back-tracking or walking up ahead - determined to find him. The dad was holding the hand of the 8 year old sister who was crying her eyes out with worry. Within five minutes a young man approached and asked the man if he'd lost his little boy. The little boy had made it to Lincoln Street on the edge of the park and was looking up at the faces of all the adults leaving the park to find his dad. We all walked up toward the street and when the sister and brother saw each other, they both ran into each other's arms - hugging for dear life. It was so heartwarming.