'Hardly Strictly Bluegrass' kicks off in SF

September 30, 2011 6:15:28 PM PDT
The free concert that takes over San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is in full swing. Among those performing at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is a blues music legend.

Charlie Musselwhite brings the Memphis sound to whatever he plays.

"I like any kind of music that is from the heart," Musselwhite says, "and blues and bluegrass are definitely from the heart."

He grew up as a kid playing the harmonica, and as he got older he started sitting in with bands.

"I didn't know at the time that I was preparing myself for a career," Musselwhite said. "I would have paid a lot more attention -- I was just having a good time."

Musselwhite moved to San Francisco in the 1960s and convinced John Lee Hooker to move here too. Today, he's still playing.

"I never had a plan," Musselwhite said. "I still don't. I just get up every day with the best possible attitude."

Musselwhite doesn't live in San Francisco anymore, but Zigaboo Modeliste does. The legendary original drummer from The Meters, Zigaboo lives in Contra Costa County and does his own thing with his son on vocals.

Modeliste said he loves performing in front of his hometown crowd.

"I wish we had a lot more venues that people actually go to and enjoy more music," Modeslite said. "I think that brings the crime down and makes us have a little more harmonious community."

Modeslite has a new CD out called "New Life." He's still keeping it going, just like the festival.

After 11 years, the festival is a huge success, bankrolled by financier Warren Hellman.

"I put on a festival for 92 bands, and with all of the other expenses just so I can play the banjo," said Hellman.

The free music festival continues at Golden Gate Park until Sunday.

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