The test is harder than it looks... Master Lee takes them through a grueling workout session before testing on forms and techniques. Simon accepted the challenge to attend sparring class before his test... so he could be "burly".

Tom Scharff had just flown in from Wisconsin and contributed most of the pictures so I could videotape. Someday I'll edit that.

They are shrinking the groceries and keeping prices the same. Keep track of the offenders at The Consumerist. Meanwhile... I am long agricultural commodities (just entertainment, I am not a financial advisor!!)

The artist lineup for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival #8 has been revealed. Of course, the biggest news for this year's fest is the reunion appearance of BAD LIVERS (featuring Danny Barnes). The biggest news for everybody else is Robert Plant & Allison Krauss featuring T-Bone Burnett. That's one big show we'll have to squeeze into, for sure!

Here is Rob Brown's latest short film called "Leap of Faith." Rob is an old school chum who now lives in Nashville. Please enjoy...

Peter and Catherine have a new baby girl! Sasha Eleanor Boeger was born June 26, 2008 at 5:10 a.m. in Seattle. She weighed 8 1/2 lb's, 20 1/2 long, and came quickly. Everyone is happy and healthy... pictures (hopefully) coming soon. Update: Pics are here!

Our friend Josh stopped by last night in a Tesla -- one of those newfangled electric cars that will retail for $100,000. He's a designer at their headquarters down in San Carlos and every now and then he gets to bring one home.

So he took me for a spin and wwhhhhoooooaaaaaaa, what a ride! I think we went from zero to XXX in about 5 seconds. Really feel those G's!! The car rides so low to the ground it could probably slide underneath a Yukon.

I made it in to San Francisco the other night to see Howe Gelb (known as Giant Sand Man in our house) play at Cafe Du Nord. For those who don't know, Cafe Du Nord is a fancy old speakeasy on upper Market St. My friend Paul K. was up for it, albeit apprehensive because of how we all got burned by that awful Giant Sand show about 7 years ago,,, when they finally started their show at 11:30 pm on a Sunday night, all of us having to work in the a.m. and we had to endure the most miserable opening bands in the history of my concert-attending history.

Alameda's Progressives have a history here in Alameda. In the 50's, "progress" meant surrounding The Island City w/ landfill, ranch homes, and a giant shopping plaza. These days, density is all the rage and Alameda progressives are blogging overtime for ways to "improve" Alameda and its inhabitants. After all, that 50's mentality has got to go!

Many old guard Alamedans fret w/ the threat of unrelenting, true-believing world improvers right here in A-town. Hell, it's True Believers that are the most dangerous (more-so than the bought-and-paid for shakers)... because it's conviction that drives them! Che and Mao and Bush all know they were right, and look at how they improved things for so many!

But back to Alameda's True Believers for Density, or shall we call them the Tool Believers (for Big Development?) There is no need to worry about them much anymore... at least for now. Sorry to be The Bearer, all of you well-meaning Tool Believers and your dreamy improvements for us all, but you have a major obstacle in front of you. And I offer you a solution where you can even make a BETTER difference and help more people than you ever imagined!!

The phrase "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" must have been inspired by the 90's Austin, Texas band Bad Livers. They broke up in 2000 just before Warren Hellman launched his awesome free festival in 2001.