A Few Music Notes: Strictly Free Bluegrass & Young Jazz Cats


You need a plan for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. If you have one, you’re as golden as the tuning pegs on Ralph Stanley’s banjo.

The festival takes place Oct. 1-3 at Golden Gate Park. It’s an incredible lineup of artists and the entire festival is free. You don’t need a ticket. You just need to think warm thoughts about banjo player Warren Hellman, a billionaire who gifts the city with the event every year.

The rest of San Francisco, however, is not free.

Here’s the plan I’ve employed, which — if I do say so myself — is a solid one.

Find a place to stay fairly early. Call up those old friends that still live in the city. Or book a hotel room now (it’s possible to nab something decent for around $100).

When the daily schedule comes out (probably in a few weeks), pick a stage with the most artists you want to see and get there early — around 8 to 9 a.m. You’ll find a good spot to lay down a blanket and call it home base for the day. If you want to freelance and move around to other stages, you still can. But as the day progresses, there are thousands and thousands of people pouring into the park.

Why go to all this trouble? It’s a pretty incredible lineup, which you can check here.

Here are a few of the names coming this year: Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Earl Scruggs, Joan Baez and Randy Newman.

There’s a lot for the young hipsters as well. Here are some other intriguing artists that will perform: Patty Griffin, Jackie Greene, Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin, James McMurtry, Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, Trombone Shorty, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Fountains of Wayne, Justin Townes Earle, Railroad Earth, The Avett Brothers, The Flatlanders, Umphrey’s McGee and Buddy Miller. It’s a pretty nice lineup.


I know Wolfgang’s Vault has been around awhile, but the last few days I’ve been doing some serious exploring. Several hours have bit the dust as I’ve listened to excellent live concert recordings of The Rolling Stones, John Lennon, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dylan and the Band, the Grateful Dead, Wilco and many others.

It’s one of those situations where I’m looking at the clock in the corner of my computer screen and thinking, “Ok, only one more hour of this, then I go to bed.”

I love to hear what bands produce in a live setting. It can be pretty revealing, especially if you’re just used to listening to artists from their studio albums. There’s nothing like live.


What a pleasure to listen to a group of young jazz players in The Jazz Republic, which played last Thursday night at the Vintage Wine Bar and Restaurant. I know that Shasta High’s Anthony Polcari was playing bass. Here are the first names of others: Aaron (sax), Aman (trumpet), Connor (keyboard), and Khari (drums).

Maybe someone can help me fill in the first names?

What a ton of musical talent these young jazz cats possess.

In a section of Thelonious Monk’s notes I read recently, he wrote “When you’re swingin’, swing some more!” Those are wise words, which these young men heeded well.

(The best thing I’ve seen in awhile was these guys counting their gig money. Man were they thrilled!)

jim-dyar-125Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

Jim Dyar

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com

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