Pig Out in the Park, now in its 36th year, has become one of the more bittersweet signposts of the season: It’s still the best annual event specializing in cheap food and free live music, but its occurrence every year signals that summer is about to wane.
Browsing the full six-day music lineup, you’ll see some of the names that turn up every year – Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Sammy Eubanks, Men in the Making, Trailer Park Girls – as well as an eclectic mix of local talent, from the Flying Spiders to Quarter Monkey to B-Radicals.
And in terms of headliners, Pig Out has always nabbed impressive names: Performers from the last few years include baroque pop legends the Zombies, ’90s hitmakers Spin Doctors and Tex-Mex rockers Los Lobos. Here’s some information on this year’s three big headliners, all of whom perform at the Clocktower Stage at 9 p.m. on their respective dates.
Friday, Sept. 4: Junior Brown (pictured top, right) – The gruff-voiced alt-country singer is probably best known for his custom double neck guitar, an eye-catching Frankenstein’s monster that’s part electric, part lap steel guitar. You might also know him as the voice behind the theme song to the “Breaking Bad” spinoff series “Better Call Saul.” Brown has been releasing throwback country songs since the early ’80s, and although he’s never been a mainstream radio staple, he’s built a cult following among genre devotees. His latest EP, 2012’s “Volume Ten,” is a collection of songs that are straightforward, catchy and curmudgeonly, and it combines the classic twang of Hank Williams with the orneriness of Merle Haggard.
Saturday, Sept. 5: Big Brother and the Holding Company (pictured bottom, right) – When this legendary San Francisco band first formed, it was merely another group in the city’s burgeoning psychedelic rock scene. It wasn’t until the addition of lead singer Janis Joplin that the band really took off. Their blend of blues, soul and rock proved influential, and the band’s 1968 LP “Cheap Thrills,” which included the classic single “Piece of My Heart,” is still one of the most significant releases of the era: It topped the Billboard charts back in ’68 and would later be named as one of the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. Joplin only had a two-year stint with the Holding Company, which broke up shortly after her death in 1970. The group later reformed in 1987 with most of its original members, and bassist Peter Albin and drummer Dave Getz are still in the lineup. Although Joplin’s shoes are impossible to fill, Big Brother and the Holding Company has found a new lead singer in Darby Gould, who previously toured with Jefferson Starship and is an impressive blues vocalist in her own right.
Sunday, Sept. 6: Matt Butler and the Everyone Orchestra – No matter how many times you see the Everyone Orchestra, you’re never going to see the same show twice. Conducted by San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist Matt Butler, the group, which ranges in size depending on the performance, improvises whatever music they play on the spot. Butler is typically adorned in jackets and top hats that can best be described as kaleidoscopic – he looks almost like a cross between the Mad Hatter and something from an Alice Cooper stage show – and he tends to create unpredictable, high energy shows. The band takes its name seriously, too: The audience sometimes becomes a part of the performance, with Butler directing the crowd to shout, sing, clap or stomp at designated moments.
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