Bluegrassing with Glen Hansard

By Alicja Mielczarek on October 23, 2012

Last Sunday I attended the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival for the second time in my life.

I only recognized one performer, as I am not a very Bluegrass-y person – that person was Glen Hansard, most widely known for his role in the amazing movie Once was playing and I couldn’t resist going to see him.

I remember seeing Once for the first time. My mom actually dragged me to see it as she thought she could identify with the Eastern-European female lead. We saw the movie in a little independent theater next to a mall, sitting in old and uncomfortable seats with stuffiness in the air. As the movie came on screen I realized that this is the exact way it was meant to be seen, not in a new and modern movie theater with huge screens and 3-D effects. As I watched Glen Hansard, who played the male lead, chase a man through the streets of Dublin I was momentarily transported to Ireland and as the film went on I fell in love with the characters, with the music and with the country. The first thing I did after returning home was to order the soundtrack. I’ve listened to it a million times now and know all the songs by heart. I spread the love around after the film came out on DVD, I showed it to my friends and family and I’ve yet to meet a person who seen the movie and didn’t like it.

When “Once” won an Oscar for best music I felt incredibly proud, as they deserved the recognition like no other. Then one summer I actually got to go to Dublin. As I walked its main streets I couldn’t help but think how this is the place Glen Hansard played his hole-y guitar (the man has played it for so long that it actually has a hole…) and that this is the street his co-star, Marketa Irglova, dragged a vacuum through. Actually being there was an amazing experience and it made me want to watch Once for the hundredth time. Then Hansard and Irglova teamed up yet again as The Swell Season and released a marvelous album, which I bought instantly.

Through the years I felt a deep connection to Once and to its stars and to their music. Seeing Glen Hansard, an Oscar winning actor/musician was such a great experience, and the fact that I could do it for free right in the city was amazing as well. The fact that I can see and meet amazing people who I have admired for years and never thought meeting them was possible… That is one of the reasons I love San Francisco so much.

And if you haven’t seen Once, you absolutely should. It is one of the greatest movies I’ve seen and it has the power to change your life – it certainly changed mine. Let me leave you with a song: Falling Slowly by Hansard and Irglova.

What do you think?

I am a Polish girl currently studying Communication and Marketing at San Francisco State. I love to read and write and watch movies. My favorite pass time is hanging out with friends and watching TV shows. I also enjoy playing tennis, sailing and swimming.

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