Warren Hellman Public Celebration
February 19, 2012
Better than: Watching the live stream at home on your laptop.
Some of the nation's top roots musicians gathered together yesterday with Bay Area music fans to celebrate Warren Hellman, the billionaire bluegrassman who founded San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival as a gift to the city. Hardly Strictly is a must-see event that draws more than half a million people to Golden Gate Park every October for performances by world-class artists like John Doe, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Emmylou Harris. These artists were also among the dozen acts who came to Ocean Beach yesterday as a tribute to Hellman, who passed away in December. An extraordinary individual who valued family, music, philanthropy, and independent spirit above all else, the banjo-picking financier was a true California pioneer.
At the Banjo Stage, Buddy Miller busted out his huge-sounding country blues with an intimate combo that featured an upright bass. Miller's a curious talent: His sound marries a kind of post-Skynyrd Southern rock with old-school country. His roots are raw, and his guitar-playing is rich with emotion. A number of concertgoers reflected on his epic jams at last fall's Hardly Strictly with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, a festival highlight.