kat edmonson

Welcome back ya’ll! I do hope you enjoyed Chapter 1. Chapter 2 begins bright and early on Saturday, back at the Arrow stage with Kat Edmonson. Kat hails from Houston and has honed her craft via Austin and Brooklyn. Her voice is stunning. Accompanied only be a fine acoustic guitar player, she managed to conjure the feeling of a distant speakeasy in the wee hours (impressive given that it was 11am and my pants were melting to my legs under the searing sun).

sonny & the sunsets

Over at the Towers of Gold, local favorites Sonny & the Sunsets were playing a fine version of “Mutilator”. Sonny’s latest record Antenna to the Afterworld just came out in June. Sonny heads to Australia in November for several shows including a stop for Melbourne Music Week with The Bats.

handsome family

I ran out on Sonny a little early. It seemed like the right time to take a short cut through the wild underbrush of the park. Lost in the tangled vines, I stumbled upon some pot fairies. With their help I emerged anew on the wrong side of the Arrow stage fence. Hopping the misplaced barrier, I was one with Handsome Family. This is another band I grew up with in Chicago. They have since moved to Albuquerque but continue churning out unique songs of snakes and whiskey (“My Sister’s Tiny Hands”); dark humor that could only come from 200 years of marriage. Catch them November 12th at Cafe Du Nord!

a very happy Sally Timms

Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard split their slot with Freakons (a combo of Freakwater and Mekons). Except for a much happier Sally, the show varied little from Friday night’s Chapel performance of coal mining song and dance plus tales of Richard Burton (please refer to yesterday’s report).

bettye lavette

Bettye LaVette is celebrating her 50th anniversary in the biz. She is nearing 70 years old and “doesn’t care what you think.” Regardless, she sure knew how to excite the crowd at the Towers of Gold stage. An incredible reworking of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” was followed by “Heart of Gold” (a little known treasure that she recorded just days after Neil did). 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise came up a few times. A record of covers all written by women, Bettye played a powerful rap version of Lucinda Williams’ “Joy,” as well as Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow”. Lucinda, she says is the only possible woman who can out-drink her…possibly. For more stories, check out her autobiography A Woman Like Me that just came out last year.

dave alvin
Dave Alvin with Greg Leisz

loudon wainwright III

Hoofing over to the Rooster stage, Loudon Wainwright III gave a confusing, hilarious, tearjerker of a set. “My Meds” covered everything from Cialis, to Ambien and Lexapro. “Half Fist” is a story of his drinking, smoking, abusive grandpa. He dedicated “I Knew Your Mother” (Loudon’s first wife, Kate McGarrigle) to his daughter Martha Wainwright, but maybe only because she was also playing the festival, or perhaps there is a rift with son Rufus? He did dedicate one song to his ‘obedient son,’ his dog, called “Man with a Dog in the City”. The set ended with a memorized recital of a long article his father wrote for Life Magazine about putting the family dog to sleep.

Not caught on film: Nick Lowe‘s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” a HSB standard. Do check out the other photos from Day 2 and 3 of the festival.

Los lobos
Los Lobos. “Will the Wolf Survive?” See them at the Fillmore December 20 or 21!

martha wainwright

At the Porch stage, Martha Wainwright played “Proserpina” off her 2012 recording, Come Home to Mama. The song was written by her mother, Kate McGarrigle shortly before her death in 2010. On the last day of the festival, Martha took part in a tribute to Kate.

steve earle

Steve Earle was joined by Will Rigby (of dB’s fame) on drums. He played “Copperhead Road,” “Galway Girl” and, for the encore, a tribute to Levon Helm with The Band’s “Rag Mama Rag.” Please note the left eye of Jon Langford that seems to get into my photos every year!

Jacco Gardner
Jacco Gardner

light fantastic
Light Fantastic


Once again faced with too many late night choices, I slept-walked back to The Chapel where LA’s Allah-Las channeled the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Amsterdam’s Jacco Gardner played intricate harpsichord to a slew of originals that leave off where “Being for The Benefit of Mr. Kite!” began and SF’s Light Fantastic managed to hold their own amidst the hazy psychedelia.

See ya’ll tomorrow for Chapter 3, the FINAL DAY of Hardly Strictly 2013!