Giant Giant Sand stole the show at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last weekend (please comment below if you feel like arguing!). The lawn was pretty full by 11am Sunday when the elusive Howe Gelb took the stage. His latest incarnation, Giant Giant Sand, included a breathtaking trumpet solo and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on mandolin.

Howe moved from guitar to piano as only he can. The set included brand new material from his 2012 album, Tuscon, as well as tasty oldies from his staggering 50 album career. The set closed with what else but a fairly obscure Peruvian cumbia entitled “Carinito” written in 1978 by Los Hijos del Sol. If you don’t have 2007′s Roots of Chicha: Pychedelic Cumbias from Peru, well get ye’ to the ol’ record store!

New Orleans’ brass maniacs Soul Rebels made it look so easy as they brought some much needed booty shaking to Golden Gate Park. They closed their set with a complete re-invention of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Despite all the years of torture the Eurythmics have caused me, it was like hearing that song for the first time, enjoying it immensely and singing along?!! Can I get a witness!??

Robyn Hitchcock packed the lawn at the little Porch stage, and also managed to secure the John Paul Jones. After perfect classics like “Balloon Man” and “Ole! Tarantula,” Hitchcock pulled out a sweet cover of Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue.” If you lost your car keys at this set, do contact HSB (I turned them in).

Not sure if Australian instrumental band Dirty Three did any covers. Not sure what they were doing up there, but it sounded really fucking good.

The Chieftans formed in Dublin in 1962. The have done it all, played with everyone and their set was a little of everything! Bagpipes, traditional dances, and I do believe there was a brilliant Dylan cover. The Mickey’s Tall Boys were kicking in and all I could focus on was the image of Jon Langford on the backdrop of the banjo stage (you can see his eye and ear just under the hair of the dancer in pink).

Sadly I have not a-one photo of Jon this year. His shows with the Sadies on Friday at the festival (and that evening at Cafe Du Nord) are now the stuff of legend. This year he brought Roger Knox all the way from Australia (despite Amerikkka’s best effort to keep him out). Insurgent aboriginal music. Check it out.

Shameless advertising with The Daves! Everyone should have some Daves. Hey Bay Bridged maybe next year I can get a press pass?

Not pictured: Patti Smith playing Van Morrison’s “G-L-O-R-I-A,” Steve Earle playing “Mendocino” from the Sir Douglas Quintet, Dwight Yoakam doin’ Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally,” Emmylou Harris singing Gram Parsons’ “Wheels,” Jon Langford and Sally Timms with the Sadies playing the Mekons’ “Memphis, Egypt,” etc.

Have a taste. Play loud. Sing-a-long.

“Memphis, Egypt”

destroy your safe and happy lives before it is too late,
the battles we fought were long and hard,
just not to be consumed by rock n’ roll…
capitalismos, favorite boy child, we must apologise,
up in the rafters a rope is danglin’,
spots before the eyes of rock n’ roll…
we know the devil and we have shaken him by the hand,
embraced him and thought his foul (stinking) breath was fine perfume
just like rock n’ roll…
east berlin can’t buy a thing, there’s nothing they can sell me,
walk through the wall no pain at all
i’m born inside the belly of rock n’ roll…
it’s something to sell your labor for when hair sprouts out below,
i’m a microscope on that secret place where
we all want to go, it’s rock n’ roll.

Thank you Warren Hellman!!!! If only there were a few more rich people 1/10th as cool as you.

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