No Longer Strictly Bluegrass
What some describe as the “best festival of the year,” Warren Hellman’s gift to San Francisco, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, rolled back into town this weekend for its 10th annual rendition.
This year’s lineup of artists was as eclectic as Hellman’s interests. From Bay Area native MC Hammer starting things off on Friday afternoon, all the way to perennial closer Emmylou Harris finishing on Sunday evening, the festival offered a wide array of musical genres. While the less-than-ideal weather — as well as the Giants’ torturous three-game baseball series against San Diego — may have kept some people away from Golden Gate Park this weekend, those who did make their way to Hardly Strictly were treated to a great time.
Peter Mull, an Ocean Beach resident and self-described Deadhead, called the annual festival “the best music experience one could ever imagine.”
“Where else can you get a smorgasbord of unbelievable talent at one venue, for free?” Mull asked.
Whether they caught the 7 Walkers doing their version of the Grateful Dead’s “Lovelight,” or Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue playing “Something Beautiful,” people at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass became part of a gathering that included some of the greatest musicians in the business today while calling to mind the legends.
Personally, my experience this year was more subdued. A popular move is to camp out in front of one particular stage all weekend, but I opted to arm myself with the official HSB iPhone app, and mapped out my entire weekend. Jumping from the Buddy Miller show on the Star Stage and over to the Towers of Gold Stage to catch Jackie Greene, my clockwork approach paid off and I can proudly claim to have seen all the shows I so carefully selected the week before.
Altogether, it was a great weekend out here on the western edge, and the estimated 600,000 others at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass probably would agree. The music was good, the people were happy and the fog never looked better.