Music Features

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Emmylou Harris

Myth America
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Emmylou Harris tends to overwhelm with her beauty in flesh and in voice, so it's instructive to look to her new rarities collection, Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems (Rhino), for reminders of earthly frailty. From the get-go, the recording reveals that even she has feet of clay. Harris can be derivative — exhibit A: disc one's "Clocks." This early song displays her in warbly thrush mode. She sounds like a Judy Collins also-ran, and this is a good thing. Read more »

Smokin' grass

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival: Our guide to this weekend's best free pluckin' in the sun
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San Francisco's biggest - and likely best - free outdoor music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, returns for year seven, boasting such performers as Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, T Bone Burnett and friends like John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Gillian Welch, the Knitters, Nick Lowe, Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band, the Flatlanders, Teddy Thompson, Hazel Dickens, the Mother Hips, Heartless Bastards, Steve Earle - the list goes on. Read more »

Moving out ...

... and making music with White Williams
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Imagine this: You're enrolled in an educational program that requires you to move around from city to city, taking short-term jobs related to your field. Within a span of two years, you bump around between New York, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, subletting rooms and taking on bizarro living arrangements, never staying in one place long enough ever to feel settled in. Due to these circumstances, you rarely have a moment's peace. Amid all the bustling, your number-one goal remains the same: record an entire album by yourself at home — wherever that may be. Read more »

Right place, blues time

Robert Randolph and Allen Toussaint crown the San Francisco Blues Festival lineups
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There are two performers, among others, you really need to see at the San Francisco Blues Festival this time around. The first, headliner Robert Randolph, along with his Family Band, has been blowing minds since his debut, Live at the Wetlands (Dare/Warner Bros.), came out in 2002. Critics proceeded to freak out, big shots like Eric Clapton started taking him on tour, and Randolph began freeing the minds of white pothead kids with jam-blues purveyors the North Mississippi All-Stars. Read more »

Hotpants wildfires

A fortnight of special-sounding queer dance events
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PART-TIME PUNKS

Honey Soundsystem rocks out, hosting an appearance by Los Angeles's current DJ queens of the no wave revival. Fri/28, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., $5. Transfer, 198 Church, SF. (415) 861-7499, www.honeysoundsystem.com

CHARLIE HORSE KICKS FOLSOM OFF

A special trash-punk, leather-and-lace "Fuck you" from this weekly drag club as the world's biggest fetish weekend launches. Fridays, 10 p.m.–2 a.m., free. Cinch, 1723 Polk, SF. Read more »

Gayest. Music. Ever.

The death of circuit, Energy 92.7 FM, and the new queer dance floor diaspora
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marke@sfbg.com

Something horrible happened.

The promo package, marked Special, arrived on my desk in May from Ultra Records in New York City. Hastily, I tore the envelope open and yanked out the CD within, letting squiggles of packing confetti fall where they may. A bronze and glistening, near-naked, possibly underage Brazilian boy stared fiercely from the cover. His bulging genitalia were not quite stuffed into a Gummi-red Speedo. His hair dripped with viscous product. Read more »

Ride the dark horse

The graceful fury of the Besnard Lakes
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Is there a single animal on God's once-green Earth that is as closely equated with drama and pageantry as the mighty horse? Powerful, elegant, showy as all hell — it's no wonder we've cultivated such a fascination for them, particularly when it comes to using them as signifiers. Equus, anyone? Or how about Patti Smith? When she torched the rock 'n' roll playbook with her revolution more than 30 years ago, which animals did she pick to lead the charge? Lions? Bears? Squirrels? Read more »

Positive hardcore attitude

The punk power and the glory — and the secret — of Bad Brains
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duncan@sfbg.com

Despite their Rasta affiliation, dub jams, and dread heads, Bad Brains are perhaps the greatest hardcore band of all time — black, white, or indifferent. Make a top three list in your head. You can quibble about the order, and you can shuffle bands in and out, but you know damned well that the Brains have to anchor the whole thing. Insert Black Flag or Minor Threat, and you realize the debt that both bands owe H.R., Dr. Read more »

New haunts

Jake Mann brings his low-watt singer-songwriter rock to town
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When Jake Mann ponders his recent move from Davis to San Francisco, he puts it in terms of a song. "Left behind the right things I know / How does this one go?" Mann muses on "Beat the Drum," as though making your way in a new scene were like playing a tune whose chords you haven't quite learned. That SF has scenes at all was part of Mann's concern. "People are specific about their genres here," he notes. "I've always felt spread across a lot of sounds."

This is borne out on Mann's new LP, Daytime Ghost (Crossbill). Read more »

Hispanics go hyphy

Mission entrepreneur reps Latin rap on Thizz Entertainment offshoot
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Latinos rarely receive credit for all they've brought to the rap game. After all, it was primarily Puerto Ricans who authored those boogaloo break-dance moves in the Bronx. And what would Cali hip-hop be without the laid-back style of Chicano cholos and their "low lows"?

Currently, a contingent of local Latino rap artists is pushing hard for recognition. Its members are on the Thizz Latin label, an imprint of Mac Dre's Thizz Entertainment group. Read more »