Robert Plant Highlights San Francisco’s ‘Hardly Strictly Bluegrass’ Festival
Rock and roll legend Robert Plant delivered, and received, a whole lotta love at this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. Golden Gate Park, the home of many a tribal gathering back in the pre-digital days, proved the perfect setting for this modern day pow wow.
The aptly named festival certainly lived up to it's moniker with shining lights courtesy of such luminaries as Steve Earle, Bob Mould, new soul hipsters Fitz & The Tantrums and the ever so legendary Dr. John. But perhaps none shone quite as bright during the 72 hour romp as one Robert Plant.
Plant, who used to front the beat combo Led Zeppelin, has recently found his home nestled deep within the roots of American music, a place he has always longed to hang his hat. As Rolling Stone reports, the three day festival was attended by 600,000 people and was, just like in the old days, free to one and all! (well all but billionaire venture capitalist Warren Hellman who picked up the tab for the 3 day hoedown).
Plant and his Band Of Joy tore through an colorful set that included songs from his most recent album alongside fresh takes on Zep classics like 'Black Dog,' 'Thank You,' 'Ramble On' and 'Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp' to name a few. Making no secret of his love for American music, he showed that love full on with a pair of country standards 'Satisfied Mind' and 'Sea Of Heartbreak', the latter featuring some help from Buddy Miller, who he called "the savior of my legitimate career."
Set this in contrast to another of Plant's latest endeavors, recording a duet of the Tim Buckley classic 'Song To The Siren' with English opera star Alfie Boe, and it paints a picture of a warhorse who is far from ready to settle or be pinned down! He has certainly made his own path outside of Led Zep and for that we applaud him!
The HSB event actually began life as the Strictly Bluegrass festival in 2001, but has since branched out to cover an ever widening scope of music. This year alone included sounds ranging from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore to country legend Merle Haggard. Something tells me Jerry Garcia would be proud!