Travie McCoy may want to be a billionaire so he can end up on the cover of Forbes Magazine (what up, Oprah?) but I have a different plan. When I’m a billionaire, which should be soon, I’m following in Big Daddy Hellman’s footsteps. That’s Warren Hellman, San Francisco private equity investor, philanthropist, and banjo aficionado.
Seems about nine years ago Warren decided he’d like to do a little banjo jamming. But when you’re a rich guy, “jam session” takes on a slightly different aura.
Hellman basically rented Golden Gate Park and threw the inaugural Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival. Now in its tenth year, it’s a generous gift from Mr. Hellman to the city and to roots musicians everywhere. Six stages in Golden Gate Park and wide open to the public, not even a penny to attend to see artists like: Elvis Costello, the Indigo Girls, Richard Thompson, Patti Smith, Jenny and Johnny, T-Bone Burnett, Conor Oberst, Trombone Shorty, and Jackie Greene. Mr. Hellman takes the stage himself on Saturday morning with his band, The Wronglers; here’s hoping he gets the heartiest round of applause all weekend.
As for me and my people, we’re going Sunday. I’ve got a tentative agenda scheduled, some emerging artists, some banjo, some rockabilly…but the last slot on Sunday night is killin’ me, Warren! Everyone I wanted to see most is playing at the same time! Do I hit The Avett Brothers, of “Kick Drum Heart” and “I and Love and You” fame? Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings? Or Emmylou, who probably has the most recognizable voice in the entire music industry (and for whom, Hellman has said, the festival was created)?
Choices, choices. In the meantime – let’s enjoy Ms. Sharon and her band from a live performance in France. She is sassy, she can belt it, and my goodness, but she has her priorities straight. Let ‘em knock on your door this weekend, friends -