It was another step up on another big stage. Last Saturday, Hurray for the Riff Raff—my son Yosi, resident fiddler—performed at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Carolyn and I were among the few seniors in a sold-out venue of 70,000 youthful partygoers. Here’s my report.
The more I see and hear, the more I appreciate the quality and integrity of Hurray for the Riff Raff. Alynda Lee Segarra, the band’s singer/songwriter, creates music that entertains while being socially conscious and thought provoking.
The band’s set went well. They opened performances at Sutro Stage at twelve-twenty. A good crowd assembled and had a great time, singing along and dancing. Of course, Carolyn and I were right up front. Note: Yosi changed bows during the performance. He explained later that wood bows often don’t do well outdoors; carbon fiber bows resist the weather.
After the performance, Carolyn and I, along with our son Aaron and son-in-law Jeremy went to the VIP hospitality pavilion overlooking the Polo Field. A tent at least 150 feet long, it offered tables and chairs, and other seating with a view of the Land’s End stage where Sir Elton John closed the festival Sunday night.
I ordered a beer. I was “carded.” I was required to get a green wristband proving I was 21. Well, I was—50 years ago. A young woman asked for ID. The man with her laughed and informed her that I really was old enough to drink. But who knows? Soon I might have to show ID to prove I’m not too old. Beer in hand, I listened to a band whose female singer strutted the stage a la Mick Jagger. She was better looking, but I knew this only from the giant TV screens flanking the stage. From the VIP tent, performers were specks. Fortunately, the sound system was good.
Drinks consumed, we wandered a bit. The crowd swelled. By two o’clock, getting from place to place over the large area fenced off for the festival proved time consuming. Lines at the port-a-potties—there were many—stood 12 deep. The festival map offered a reasonable approximation of various venues and highlights—food, drinks, merchandise, a beauty bar—but was a bit fuzzy on detail. We tried to get into a comedy show but couldn’t. I left at three, my mission accomplished—almost.
As it happened, the band’s Airbnb accommodations were in a dicey neighborhood. As band members checked the place out on Friday after driving up from Los Angeles where they played the Skirball Center, they saw drug deals going down right outside. Yosi called. Could the band stay at our house? The band camped out for two nights. We provided breakfasts. By Sunday, all but Yosi remained.
What’s next? The Riff Raff will record a new CD in Nashville. In November, they’ll play the Fox Theater in Oakland, opening on tour for City and Colour (Dallas Green.). They’ll also perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall on January 29.
Am I proud? Believe it. Do I take credit? No way. Hurray for the Riff Raff keeps moving up thanks to hard work and dedication. Alynda, Yosi and the band have paid their dues. And it never hurts to make great music.
Read the first two chapters of FLIGHT OF THE SPUMONIS here at www.davidperlstein.com. You can get a signed copy from me or order a soft cover or e-book at Amazon.com.
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