The upcoming Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the 12th annual and the first after the passing of benefactor and spiritual leader Warren Hellman, continues a practice it began last year by teasing us with audio hints to reveal it’s roster.
It’s a fun undertaking that social media helps to uncover the more obscure performers. Once the audio mystery has been solved you find HSB 12, as as it has in recent years, offers a stellar roster of roots and Americana performers with the occasional current rock favorites (Heartless Bastards) and baby boom indy darlings (Patti Smith, Nick Lowe.)
These latter, I’m assured when bemoaning the Americana acts that could have filled the slots, put the “Hardly Strictly” in Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Personally I’d put
The White Buffalo (The White Buffalo is now on the bill!) or Corb Lund in any of their places.
As mentioned HSB 12 is the first Hardly Strictly since the festival benefactor Warren Hellman passed away December of last year. Hellman made his bones in private equity investing and, in the truest form of benevolence and love of music (that I share) funded the free festival out of his own pocket every year since its inception, I’ve been told that his will has provided for the event’s continued funding for at least a decade after his death.
The beautiful stretch of Golden Gate Park where the festival’s 5 stages are erected had it’s name changed from Speedway Meadow to Hellman Hollow in tribute.
The festival’s being a free event has led to serious overcrowding the last few years to the point where moving from stage to stage has become a chore and, on hotter days, a risky endeavor. Most of my my friends pick=jk a stage with the roster they most prefer and settle in with a blanket and cooler.
I spend the day braving the crowds and visiting these friends. After all, as an Americana music blogger it will not do to lay in the grass while Ralph Stanley or Buddy Miller echos from a distant stage.
Remember bring water, stay upwind from the weed, and leave your young children and pets at home, Especially on warmer days they don’t deserve the self-inflicted torture of the crowds.
Here’s to great music and here’s to Warren Hellman, a man I met briefly (and fittingly at the Ryman Theater in Nashville.) He was warm and gracious and his love for this music poured from him. Bless you Mr. Hellman and the legacy have left San Francisco. If you haven’t see it take a look at the archived Hellman tribute concert from Ocean Beach,
Here’s my best guess at the bill so far; Emmylou Harris has not been mentioned yet but as the sole performer that has been on the bill since the first HSB look for her addition.
Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, The Head and the Heart, Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, Dwight Yoakam, The Lumineers, Nick Lowe, Heartless Bastards, Robert Earl Keen, Son Volt, Ralph Stanley, Lloyd Cole, Les Claypool, Todd Snider, Dirty Three, Dave Alvin, Rubblebucket, Sara Watkins, Buddy Miller, Jerry Douglas, The Milk Carton Kids, Del Mccoury, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Peter Rowan, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Laurie Lewis, Red Baraat, Giant Giant Sand, Little Green Cars, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Tiny Television, The Wandering, Laurie Lewis And The Right Hands, Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys, Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue, Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys, Tim O’brien Party of Seven, Time Jumper, Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses), The Go to Hell Man Clan, Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers, Old Crow Medicine Show