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Calendar, Night&Day Keillor Comfort

Keillor Comfort

Flipping through the radio dial and landing on A Prairie Home Companion without the proper context can be an interesting experience. Garrison Keillor's quirky live radio broadcast could feature just about anything. One minute, it might be a skit…
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Music, How to Do Hardly Strictly: Four Ways to Approach the Massive Music Festival

How to Do Hardly Strictly: Four Ways to Approach the Massive Music Festival

You can't just go into a festival with more than 80 acts on the lineup willy-nilly. You need a plan, a strategy, a set of reasonable goals. But given the sprawling stages, and the musical variety at hand, how should…
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Music, All Shook Down She & Him Coat the Greek Theatre in Sweetness, 6/22/13

She & Him Coat the Greek Theatre in Sweetness, 6/22/13

She & Him Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell Tilly and the Wall Saturday, June 22, 2013 The Greek Theatre, Berkeley Better than: Necking with Bobby against the jukebox; Zooey's boring foray into the blogosphere. If life is like a box…
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Music, All Shook Down Sunday at Hardly Strictly: Gomez, Justin Townes Earle, and Bela Fleck Help Fuel the Good Vibes

Sunday at Hardly Strictly: Gomez, Justin Townes Earle, and Bela Fleck Help Fuel the Good Vibes

Gomez Justin Townes Earle Zakir Hussein, Bela Fleck, and Edgar Meyer Devil Makes Three The Swanson Family Band October 2, 2010 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Better than: Smuggling vodka into Outside Lands. "This is so much better than Outside Lands!"…
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Calendar, Night&Day Suzanne Took Us Down

Suzanne Took Us Down

The last time we saw the all-male a capella Leonard Cohen choir, the musical director of the Conspiracy of Beards lost his patience with amplification. At his gesture, the large group of suit-and-hat-wearing men calmly stepped from the stage onto…
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Music, All Shook Down Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: 10 Bands You Should Not Miss

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: 10 Bands You Should Not Miss

San Francisco's annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. You could pick any number of themes to select the acts you want to see -- old punk pioneers, roots music up-and-comers, etc.-- and follow one…
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Music, Warren Hellman talks about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Warren Hellman talks about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

"The closest I'll ever get to heaven" is how the 76-year-old investment banker and bluegrass fanatic Warren Hellman describes his annual free music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which turns 10 this weekend. Begun as an actual bluegrass festival in Golden…
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Calendar, Night&Day Not Really Only Punk

Not Really Only Punk

Yes, we know. It's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass weekend. That's great. In case you hate bluegrass or can't take the mellow, though, it's also AIDS Wolf weekend. You don't have to hate bluegrass, it's just that we can't imagine a big…
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Calendar, Night&Day Powerful Backup

Powerful Backup

Rarely has a great songwriter, a man who is an icon and a joy to behold, been very nearly outclassed by his backup singers. The only other example we know is the early work of Gram Parsons and his tiny…
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Calendar, Night&Day Set Frazer to Stun

Set Frazer to Stun

People (okay, Pitchfork) say the same dumb shit about Paula Frazer as they say about Penelope Houston — essentially, "she used to be punk and now her music is easy-listening since it's not punk anymore." People, duh. Frazer is a…
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Music, Carolina Chocolate Drops: A Treat from S.F.'s  Bluegrass & Old-Time Fest

Carolina Chocolate Drops: A Treat from S.F.'s Bluegrass & Old-Time Fest

Bluegrass music was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, but it has found a home away from home in San Francisco. Each October, zillionaire financier Warren Hellman hosts 100,000 of his closest friends in Golden Gate Park at…
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Music, Reviewed Frank Black

Frank Black

Anyone hoping Frank Black would revisit the quirky frenzy of the Pixies or the power-pop of his solo debut, Teenager of the Year, will be nonplussed by his rootsy Honeycomb. But Black isn't going altcountry on us, even though this…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

Old Crow Medicine Show is not your average bluegrass band. While the high-lonesome vocals and fleet-fingered string-pickin' suggest a Southern-fried musical education, the players didn't meet in some backwater town in ol' Caroline but in New York. Not one of…
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Music, Reviewed Steve Earle

Steve Earle

It's almost as if Steve Earle's 12th studio recording has been issued as an antidote to this season's abundance of carefully worded stumping. All but two of the 11 songs were recorded within 24 hours of conception, in a frenzied…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

Given bluegrass' fondness for quick-fingered chops on acoustic string instruments like fiddle, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and gee-tar, one could argue that the genre is a kind of backwoods jazz that raced down from the hill country to romp in…
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Music, Reviewed Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt

Even without a single hit under his own name, the late Townes Van Zandt remains firmly ensconced in the songwriters' hall of fame. Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson had major successes with his songs ("If I Needed You" and "Pancho…
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Music, Reviewed Buddy Miller

Buddy Miller

In country music, as in rock, the dividing line between commercial and alternative has become fuzzy in recent years, as indie-oriented artists found Nashville hungry for good new songs and smaller labels strove to grab talent on its way up.…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

No other contemporary artists do downtempo Americana better than Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. On last year's Grammy-nominated CD Time (The Revelator) -- as well as the pair's first two albums -- their extreme slow-motion style draws listeners into a…
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Music, Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

It's remarkable to hear so powerful and potent an artist as Lucinda Williams sounding as victimized and forlorn as she does on her sixth album. Essence is a perplexing record, partly because of its foray into the sleek, high-tech musical…
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Music,

Recordings

Ass Ponys The Known Universe (A&M) On 1994's Electric Rock Music, Ass Ponys vocalist/lyricist Chuck Cleaver sang of spontaneous combustion, microcephalics, and protagonists born -- literally -- spineless on the same day as a UFO sighting. In keeping with this…
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