Some of my fondest memories of my 5 years in San Francisco was attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass roots music festival. The first weekend in October would roll around and me, my daughter and friends would pack blankets, food and plenty of water and head our to Golden Gate Park to witness some of American’s greatest legends and boldest newcomers perform under the Blue Gum Eucalyptus during a brief Indian Summer. And I could hardly believe the entire event was free! (Thank you, Warren Hellman!)
But times have changed and so must HSB.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is launching its new global and community-driven initiative “Let the Music Play On…” to bring the spirit of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to backyards and living rooms all over the world with a global broadcast taking place the weekend of October 2nd. In compliance with safety concerns and California’s statewide mandate against large public gatherings, the festival will not be taking place in its traditional setting of Golden Gate Park.
The festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, was founded by Warren Hellman on ten pillars: community, joy, creativity, collaboration, freedom, peace, love, respect, gratitude, and spirituality. It was Hellman’s gift to the City of San Francisco, offering a free outdoor festival in the historic Golden Gate Park that is a celebration of American roots music.
The October broadcast will feature new performances from the expansive range of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass artists that include first-time performers to legends of American Roots music, along with archival footage from the festival’s past two decades and memories from fans, performers, and staff and priceless gems from the festival’s rich history. The HSB community is what gives the festival life, so fans are encouraged to send their favorite memories via stories, videos, and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. All contributions are welcome and appreciated, and will be considered for the broadcast in October.
“While we know we can’t replace the feeling of being together physically, the safety of our attendees, artists, volunteers, and staff are our highest priority and our team has been hard at work creating a vibrant broadcast in line with what attendees have come to expect from HSB: community, discovery, and the all-time best in roots music, ” says festival advisor Mick Hellman. “We’re excited to share parts of HSB that aren’t feasible in a festival environment such as screening archival footage, sharing memories, and shining a spotlight on our non-profit partners.”
This year the festival has launched Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area, a $1.5M charitable initiative to support the local music community during the COVID-19 pandemic. American roots musicians living in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Sonoma Counties are invited to apply for one-time, unrestricted support grants up to $2,000. The fund is also open to Bay Area music venues with a track record of presenting and supporting roots music of all kinds. Venues are encouraged to nominate themselves for the grant opportunity. From those nominations, a select number of venues will be invited to submit a formal application for up to $200,000 in grant funding for operating expenses, capacity building, or planning related to reopening, and must include funds dedicated to front-of-house and back-of-house staff.
For more information on the grant opportunities visit hardlystrictlybluegrass.com