The HSBGF is a gift to the city from Warren Hellman, a wealthy financier who loves bluegrass. It is on several stages in the Park on Saturday and Sunday and it is free to anyone who wants to go. The show for the kids is a couple of hours on Friday. Maggie is in a class for 6th, 7th and 8th graders, and the class stays together, so she’s been able to go for three years in a row.
The first year Maggie was completely freaked out by the loud sound and the large number of kids. She looked sort of terrified throughout the concert and then cried for an hour when we got home. Last year she was just out of the hospital, and hadn’t attended school in a few weeks. We went to the concert from home for a short stint. Maggie was so happy to see her classmates and dance with her teacher that she wasn’t freaked out at all. This year she loved it. Maturity, experience, whatever. She’s into it now.
San Francisco and Bluegrass are two concepts that do not generally share the same sentence. That is especially true for the very ethnically and culturally diverse population of San Francisco middle schoolers. But the kids love it on Friday and the weekend concerts are packed, so Mr. Helllman’s generosity is very appreciated.
This year the kids had a very special guest at their show. After the young blue grass artist Ruby Jane played to the screaming kids, the show changed. The headliner for the kids show was M.C. Hammer. Not exactly a name in bluegrass. He came on and announced “I don’t “DO bluegrass – it’s HammerTime.” It was like 1992 all over again. He invited a bunch of kids onto the stage and they were dancing widly. None of these kids were alive for his first blast onto the scene and they probably don’t even know what Hammer pants are. But none of that mattered. When he sang “U Can’t Touch This”…the kids went wild. So, bluegrass may be making some inroads but the school kids were delighted with the old rapper. Even if his lyrics are clean.
It really was “Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass” with the emphasis on HARDLY.