If you’re going to San Francisco…
San Francisco just gave you another reason to visit: the 9th installment of the city’s beloved Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a free music festival held at San Francisco’s Golden Gate park for the past eight years.
This year, the hilly city welcomes a wide range of acts, sure to please porch pickin’ old timers and shade wearing hipsters alike. Warren Hellman, a philanthropic billionaire investment banker with a fondness for bluegrass music (he’s also a member of his own bluegrass band), is to thank for one of San Francisco’s most coveted music events. Each subsequent year, Hellman and the rest of the folks in charge of the free event manage to bring even more diversity to the bill. In its ninth year, this is hardly strictly a bluegrass festival, as the name implies (it was originally called the Strictly Bluegrass Festival). From October 2nd to the 4th, artists like Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Okkervil River, Neko Case, Old 97’s, and even a banjo wielding Steve Martin will take the multiple stages of Golden Gate Park’s Speedway Meadow.
Here is the initial lineup in all its short but sweet glory:
Aimee Mann, World Party, The Wronglers, Dr. Dog, Allen Toussaint, Booker T. & the DBTs, Earl Scruggs, Old 97’s, Doc Watson, John Prine, Hazel Dickens, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gillian Welch, Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers, Okkervil River, Little Feat, Billy Bragg, Neko Case, Richie Havens, The Chieftains, Marianne Faithfull, The Del McCoury Band, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Mavis Staples.
But this is just the beginning, as the fest’s website reminds us: “Many many more soon to be announced.” On the website, images of various artists surround the current list of players. One can make out Tim O’Brien to the lineup’s left, Robyn Hitchcock to the right, and the Flatlanders up top. While these could be images of past performers (The Flatlanders and Tim O’Brien have shown their faces in the park in previous years), Robyn Hitchcock, who has never participated, has confirmed the date on his MySpace page, and the Flatlanders tour dates include a stop there as well. Take a look at some of the other images for other lineup addition hints. In the past, the likes of Jeff Tweedy and Elvis Costello have played acoustic sets on the event’s first night, so also expect some big name additions to the already stellar lineup in the coming weeks.
Not bad for an entirely free music festival in one of the country’s coolest cities. Not bad at all.
– Drew LItowitz