Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Reveals Our Inner Appalachian

↑ Medley of songs performed at last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Left Coast culture combines many elements from our ancestors. One unique and particularly fertile combination is the cultural gene splicing of Yankee intellectualism with wild Appalachia.

To find Appalachian culture here, look no further than our annual, free, three-day Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. In the video below, HSB attendees read “The Rebels” by Jack Kerouac.

↓ People read “The Rebels” by Jack Kerouac at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

The merging of Appalachian and Yankee culture (and other cultures) does produce something distinctly different from Appalachia, though. To get a sense of that difference, watch Old Crow Medicine Show sing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at the HSB festival.

↓ Old Crow Medicine Show sings “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a gift made in perpetuity by Warren Hellman. As with the festival itself, Hellman’s memorial remains a beautiful window into who we are on the Left Coast.

Taking the stage at the service, Emmylou Harris tells the story of how the word “Hardly” became part of the festival name and sings a song about West Virginia. Diane Feinstein reads the lyrics to one of Hellman’s songs, “The Big ‘Twang’ Theory.” These lyrics are another example of the fusion of Yankee intellectualism and the Appalachian free spirit that defines us.

“The Big ‘Twang’ Theory”
Lyrics by Warren Hellman

We were drifting in eternal darkness
Free from joy or pain
When someone plucked a banjo
And the universe began

The single note it amplified
Then sparked and formed our sun
From which burst forth the planets
One by one by one

Pickers, pluckers, plonkers born
To strum, perchance to croon
Drifting through the cosmos
Playing out of tune

↓ Watch Warren Hellman’s Memorial.

Since Warren didn’t get to speak at his memorial, we’ll give the last word to him. In this video, he tells us that life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it spins.

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