Performing at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival!
Hi friends! We just got back from our super-fun trip to San Francisco, and are happy to be in one place for a minute! We have a pretty calm week ahead, which is a good thing...because next week is what we've been working so hard for. That's right, our debut, self-titled album will be released in only 8 days! We can't believe it's finally time for the public to get their hands on it, and we are so proud of everything that our team has done leading up to this special day.
So now let's talk about gorgeous San Francisco. This was our first visit to the beautiful, foggy, COLD city. We had no idea it would be so chilly there, so of course, we were slightly unprepared. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and crashed hard that night after a long day of travel. Wednesday we met up with Karen Elson, the Punch Brothers, and T Bone Burnett for rehearsals. The two of us had no idea what the format of our performance would be, so upon arriving at the rehearsal space, we were told that the Punch Brothers would actually be the band backing everyone else up! How cool! We have been Chris Thile (mandolin player for the Punch Bros., and former member of Nickel Creek) fans for years now, and to meet him and watch him play was so surreal for us! He and the other musicians are blessed with absolutely miraculous talent... watching them play their instruments completely blew our minds! When those fellas play, it's like their instruments are just an extension of their bodies...they know their instruments the way normal people know the details of their hands, fingers, feet, etc. And of course, beautiful Karen Elson was there, who we had spent some time with once before...and she has the voice of an angel. Go listen to her right now.
So rehearsals were entirely too much fun, and we worked out a bluegrass version of our Johnny Cash cover, 'Big River,' along with a lovely, haunting rendition of 'The One I Love Is Gone.' We also jumped in to help with background vocals for a couple of Karen's songs, as well as two songs that T Bone performed.
The next day was spent exploring San Fran with Karen, followed by a few more run-throughs of our songs for the show.
Friday rolled around, and we got up and started fixing our hair and makeup (quite a task) for the show. We headed to the festival around 3 that afternoon, and were so impressed with the location and the size of the festival. The stages were placed in the most scenic spots, ours being in a small valley surrounded by huge trees. When we pulled in, Jenny and Johnny were on the stage performing. Now this was another big deal, because we have idolized Jenny Lewis forever! Getting to meet her in person afterwards was even more special! We also got to meet Peter Sarsgaard and Kirsten Dunst..both so unbelievably nice! Then it was time for T Bone and friends to perform... ah! We were nervous, it was freezing, but after the Punch Brothers and T Bone performed a few songs, we jumped up there and kicked it off with 'Big River.' The crowd was INSANE! They were all smiling, and yelling, dancing, singing, cheering...so friendly and receptive to us newcomers! We then launched into 'The One I Love Is Gone,' and you could tell everyone was loving it. I heard a mysterious instrument come in at one point, so I followed the sound and discovered that Jerry Douglas, the world's best dobro player, was also on stage, performing with us! I cannot accurately describe what it felt like to step on that stage and see people listening to us...as far as we could see, there were people paying attention to us. It is SO humbling to have the attention of a crowd that size, and we adored every person in that audience for letting us share our music with them.
Karen's set was gorgeous, the Punch Brothers knocked everyone's socks off, the Americans (another amazing bluegrass band) killed it, Elvis Costello ruled the world, and T Bone rounded out the set with several of his own songs. The last song of the evening was so much fun, because he called all of his guests, including Jenny and Johnny, up on stage to sing it together. The crowd was singing along, we were sharing a mic with Jenny Lewis, and it was the absolute perfect ending to a wonderful night. Afterwards, we got to see our first batch of Secret Sisters t-shirts...our very first bit of merch... and that really made reality set in. This is our job now! It's so exciting to finally be reaching the point where we have a record, and a fanbase, and merchandise! We cannot wait to get out there and meet the real fans...real people who just love the music... and to all of you who were at our first San Francisco performance, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for making a beautiful memory with us