Joy for Free


“Joy for Free” is dedicated to Warren Hellman and his wonderful festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. In the spirit of the festival, I’m making this song available as a free download. If you liked “Joy for Free,” please consider sharing the joy, by making a donation to the Daniel Pearl Foundation World Music Days, as part of Hardly Strictly’s special Friday program.

The Making of “Joy for Free”

October, 2006, Carol McComb’s songwriting class at Gryphon Instruments, Palo Alto:

Joy for Free started as a set of lyrics, in fulfillment of a class assignment. It was about my and my husband Matt’s first attendance at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, an acoustic music lover’s—and songwriter’s-- paradise.

At Hardly Strictly, images, sounds and smells zoom, waft, confront, and invite you at every turn. And then there’s the music, the glorious music; 5 stages worth, without one corporate logo to be seen. The kicker? It’s all free. Come as you are. I found out one financially gifted man was behind it all. How could anyone look upon this scene of a half million happy congregants among the beautiful backdrop of Golden Gate Park, and not be filled with a sense of gratitude?

After presenting the lyrics in class, I figured my job was done. However, in a case of 2 degrees of separation, another class member had a friend, a banjo aficionado, who would be meeting Warren for lunch, and would it be OK if he passed the lyrics on to him, in the off chance Warren would see them?

Shortly thereafter, I got an email. It was Warren, who told me he really liked the lyrics and wanted to know if they were set to music.

Well, that could be arranged…

I wrote the music, and we began the 2 year-long process of arranging parts, recording,  layering and fusing dozens of tracks from several different studios.

Many artists contributed to “Joy for Free”, not just because they are generous, gifted and creative folk who love doing music together, although that has surely been a very gratifying aspect for me. I knew everyone from Gryphon or California Coast Music Camp, a community that nurtures people and their love of acoustic music. HSBG is well loved throughout this community, and the desire to give something back to it and Warren also infuses this project. To one and all, my deepest thanks.

For her deft coordination of the many phases of the song, and endless hours of dedication in her studio, I thank my producer and friend, Anne Stern. I also want to express my gratitude to Carol McComb, whose enthusiasm and guidance for my songwriting has given me adventures and rewards I could never have foreseen. And to my husband Matt: without your loving support, this project could not have happened.

Oh, yes-- I did recently send ”Joy for Free” to Warren, now that it’s finished. I’m happy to report he liked it very much. See the links above for reports of what transpired.

I hope our song might make you smile. More importantly I hope you can come experience HSBG for yourself, and support live acoustic music wherever it is played.

“Joy for free in the park abounds…”

Download Music:
    Joy For Free        Lyrics    The CFS Blues    Lyrics Lyrics.html shapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3
Joy For Free Artists:
Kathy Goll-Derstine - Words/Music/Lead &                                  Chorus Vocals
Carol McComb - Guitar/Vocals
Keith Little - Banjo/Mandolin/Vocals
Ed Johnson - Vocals/Choir arrangement
Jennifer Scott - Vocals
Rene Worst- Bass
Autumn Hancock - Fiddle
Mike Simpson - Vocals
Liz Brimhall - Vocals
Anne Stern- Producer/Mixing/Vocals/Co-arrangement shapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5
Joy for Free in the News:
Joy for Free got mentioned in Joel Selvin’s September 26th San Francisco Chronicle column!

Music webzine No Depression features substantial coverage of HSBG. Click here to see Adam Machado's article on Saturday's offerings, including Joy for Free!

Jan Sluizer logged this article on Voice of America, featuring interviews and great background on Warren Hellman, and an affectionate nod to Joy for Free. Read or listen shapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2shapeimage_5_link_3