The lineup this year is interesting, it's a bit smaller — no more Thursday shows — but heavy on seriously disparate musicians such as Dwight Yoakam and Jenny Lewis and actor-bluegrass enthusiast John Reilly, and Cowboy Junkies, along with Giant Giant Sand (Howe Gelb's hour-long opera) and a handful of younger acts such as Beachwood Sparks, the Civil Wars, and the Head and the Heart, along with the fest pillars like Emmylou Harris, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle. Sternberg says Gary West is gathering a "greatest hits" of the festival to pay tribute to Hellman, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson, all of whom died last year, in a set called "The Founding Fathers." It's kind of the theme of this year as well. That tribute will likely be kicked off with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band doing a second line.
I asked Buck if it was hard to nab artists from Hardly Strictly to play an unknown, nearly unfinished venue like the Chapel and she claims it was the opposite: "They were really eager. I think it's just exciting to finally have a venue opening — rather than closing."
While bone-rattling noise has its very important place in my heart, there's something to be said for warm cooing and surreal lyrics. For that, you can crawl up the grand staircase of the Swedish American and opera clap for English folk plucker Laura Marling. Her honest lilt and fluttering riffs have gained her comparisons to Joni Mitchell, but she has a distinctly British affect to these American ears. She played Grace Cathedral earlier this year and returns this week on her "Working Holiday Tour" to play from her most recent album A Creature I Don't Know (Ribbon Music, 2011) at this far more intimate venue.
Wed/3, 8pm, $25. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF; www.cafedunord.com.
NOM DE GUERRE
Best band name of the week goes to members of San Francisco's Butt Problems: Fuck You Cop, You Fucking Cop opens for Street Justice at the Knockout.
Thu/4, 10pm, $7. 3223 Mission, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com.
TOYS THAT KILL
Here's to Recess Records — the independent punk label formed in 1989 and thriving in the current web-and-micro record shop musical landscape — and its friendly kingpin, Todd Congelliere. The snot-nosed singer-guitarist-label owner, who also fronted F.Y.P. and Underground Railroad to Candyland, returned this year to his early Aughts punk outfit, Toys That Kill. Todd and the Toys That Kill gang released its first new album in six years — the energetic and well-received Fambly 42 (Recess Records, 2012) — earlier this summer and have sparingly journeyed up the coast from their mythic Sunken City homebase of San Pedro, Calif. to play it live. Fambly 42 might have taken so long to get here because Todd (jokingly?) told me that good bands only put out three albums then quit to form new ones. With Pins of Light, Elephant Rifle.
Fri/5, 9:30pm, $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF; www.hemlocktavern.com.