Music Features

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: The Sadies

Good to go
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On the horn from his native Toronto, Sadies vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Dallas Good sounds as courtly and old-world as any immaculately suited and Stetsoned gentleman picker doing time in Boys bands that go by the name of Blue Grass or Foggy Mountain. Read more »

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: John Prine

The great and the really great
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Although he has never made it commercially, John Prine has been considered one of the premier songwriters in Americana and folk since his first album, John Prine (Atlantic), came out in 1971. "Sam Stone," the story of a Vietnam vet turned junkie, "Hello in There," made a hit by Joan Baez, and the monumental "Angel from Montgomery" were instantly and forever pasted on the American psyche, even if Prine has never reached household-name status.

Prine released records steadily through the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, without a drop-off in quality. Read more »

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: The Mekons

The love of The Mekons
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I used to think this was such a self-deprecating title — The Curse of The Mekons — but over the years I've come to a much different conclusion about the declaration being made by these punk–post-punk–posteverything spark plugs on their landmark 1991 Blast First album. Now celebrating their third decade together as a band, the Mekons do indeed suffer from a curse: their ability to switch effortlessly from style to style, sometimes even within the same song, without a single slip. Oh, affliction of afflictions! Read more »

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Charlie Louvin

O Brother
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A duet is a delicate thing, often recognized as romantic exhibitionism, rapport spilling forth. In classic Americana arrangements, in which verses are traded back and forth and choruses framed by intricate harmonies, the duet possesses a trippy if not schizophrenic grace: a singer begins the story, then it's suddenly someone else's. Read more »

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 »