Everything old is new again, there's nothing new under the sun, yadda yadda yadda. In the case of old-timey music, the explosion of DIY production has something to do with it. Every time a teenage punk rocker goes into a music store and says, "I want to record in my kitchen," the vastly overeducated store clerk's bound to say, "You know who did that? Hillbillies. That's why they call it front-porch music." One result is a barrage of young people interested in the traditional music those folks made, most famously in the form of Jack White of the White Stripes recording his idol Loretta Lynn's new but old-fashioned album.
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is three days of complete immersion in unpretentious, simple-sounding musical acts. Some of them are really famous, like Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle; some are what's called "newgrass," like Darol Anger; and most are virtuoso performers who'll make your head spin -- hardly simple. Expect to see some youngsters out there, too, including local acts like Red Meat and the Crooked Jades. The tunes begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday (11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) in Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow, JFK & 28th Avenue, S.F. Admission is free; visit www.strictlybluegrass.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
State of Apathy
Theater of the absurd
With clowns to the left and jokers to the right, the political situation of our grand nation has become akin to a three-ring circus, many of us onlookers doubling as a dumbed-down audience of beer-swilling, trapeze-gawking, apathetic doughnut-eaters. Are we becoming zombies, numbed to what's happening around us? Robert C. Barker's new play, Persistent Vegetative State, explores this idea of personal and political inertia. It takes place in California and New Hampshire during the Democratic primaries of 2008, when three women -- Sophie, Kat, and Jade -- ponder their roles in a careless society, try to effect change, and wonder what positive things they can do in a world that, they learn, physicists have deemed to be made up of 95 percent "dark energy." Persistent Vegetative State opens Friday at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 20) at the Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Sixth Street), S.F. Tickets are $12-25; call (510) 235-3168.
-- Karen Macklin
Addicted to acting?
Probably the worst thing I've ever been addicted to is Chap Stick. It sucks when you can't immediately get your paws on your citrus-infused lavender lip balm, but I'll acknowledge that there are worse addictions -- and Mark Lundholm has had them all. We're talking everything from drugs to alcohol to the Internet, not to mention shopping, chocolate, and golf. In Addicted, his autobiographical one-man show, the Bay Area native takes you through the whirlwind of his existence, and he's likely to leave you jonesing for more. This "comedy of substance" begins previews at 2 p.m. on Saturday (and runs through Oct. 17) at the Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Tickets are $20-40; call 771-6900 or visit www.marinesmemorialtheatre.com.
-- Karen Macklin
Whole Lotta Love
Using electronic music as "both cause and expression" (according to its Web site) and touting ideals like tolerance and community, the Love Parade holds to the motto "Unity by diversity." Even if you think that sounds like a pseudo-political excuse to party in the streets, the Parade is a phenomenon embraced by hundreds of thousands of beautiful people in Tel Aviv, Mexico City, and its native Berlin. Our version starts at 1 p.m. at Mission and Beale streets, S.F. Admission is free; visit www.loveparadesf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser