Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Is One Of The Last Free Festivals Around

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Is One Of The Last Free Festivals Around

Photo by Ken Friedman

One of the last truly free festivals around, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is set to take place in San Francisco’s
Golden Gate Park, September 30-October 2.

So far they have rolled out 3 rounds of artist announcements with the final one coming next week. The lineup is full of amazing musicians, so much so it is almost a double take that it is free! Take a look at the line-up announcements so far here: https://www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com/.

And on the off chance you need a few recomendations we are highlighting a few hardly strictly bluegrass acts to add to your list:

Antibalas the New York based afro-beat collective

Danielle Ponder the New York based artist is due to release her debut album on Sept. 16 ahead of the festival performance. Watch her video for “Some Of Us Are Brave”:

Las Cafeteras hail from LA and create music rooted in Latin Music both from modern music and folk music traditions. Watch a newer video from “Oaxaca Love Song No2” that incorporates both

MEKLIT is a singer and songwriter based in SF who incorporates her East African influences into her jazzy, folk and soul signature sound. Watch her video for “Supernova”

the renowned Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi released “Calling Me Home”:

the very popular Waxahatchee and the video for “Fire”:

and of course, Béla Fleck My Bluegrass Heart which is iconically strictly bluegrass, watch his live video of “Wheels Up”:

HSB released the “Out Of The Park” lineup of nighttime, post-festival shows, but there are some documentary showings taking place too, check it out:

9/30 Sweetwater Music Hall-The Waco Brothers & Bob Schneider and Hazel Dickens Documentary screening
9/30 Little Saint-Aoife O’Donovan
10/1 Sweetwater Music Hall-Antibalas
10/1 Little Saint-Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
10/1 The Fillmore-Marcus Mumford w/ Danielle Ponder
10/1 Alcatraz Theatre-Hyde St. Studios 40th Anniversary F: Jimmie Dale Gilmore
10/2 Palace of Fine Arts-Bonny Light Horseman
10/4 The Chapel-Moonalice and “Summer of Soul” screening

The ticket sales for the “Out Of The Park” events will go to the HSB partner and a Bay Area non-profit, Music in Schools Today (MUST). All venues have promised to donate $1.00 from every ticket sold at the “Out Of The Park” shows. MUST develops and delivers music education programs that increase student academic achievement and emotional well-being.

The festival also has released its tips and tricks on what to expect from the festival and given SF is a very COVID aware city I highly recommend reading through those here: https://www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com/info/.  But they left off a few things and I will fill you in as a SF native & also a former resident of the Richmond District – the part of the city where the event takes palce.

Wear layers including a sweatshirt or similar (warm with long sleeves) and a stash some gloves, a scarf, and a knitted hat. People who don’t live in either Richmond or Sunset districts are going to tell the out of towners “oh Oct is the best weather in SF!” But it is not the case at Golden Gate Park, literally everywhere in SF but there will have spectacular weather.  So be prepared because you might see some nice days – blue sky for an hour or two, but the night will be cold, wet and welp cold and foggy or if you are lucky the marine layer will roll in to keep everything a balmy 55 degrees.

The other recommendation I have is to plan your meals. Golden Gate park is large, it runs over 50 Avenues from the start at Haight Ashbery to the beach. And it is banked on both sides by residential areas where the restaurants are clustered and may require a 20+ minute walk and at times can be up those huge hills – especially on the Richmond side. And lastly, take the bus. The parking is a nightmare and most of the streets are zoned for permit parking only.  The buses are reliable and depending on where you are coming from can be fast.

And if you have some time to wander around check out the buffalos near the festival, they are magnificent!

By Mercedes Romana