Simply put, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is one of the most interesting festivals on the West Coast, if not North America. Always free, HSB strives to present a mixture of bands and artists, from Elvis Costello to Umphrey’s McGee to Patti Smith to Emmylou Harris. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?
Founded in 2001 by venture capitalist F. Warren Hellman as strictly a bluegrass festival, by 2004 the event was hosting artists from several different genres, eventually resulting in organizers tacking the word “Hardly” onto the moniker.
One thing you should remember is that the first day, Friday, Oct. 1, is the shortest day of the festival, running from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. For Oct. 2 and 3 (Saturday and Sunday), the festival begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m.
Friday’s lineup includes Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, Blue Highway, The Subdudes, Jenny And Johnny feat. Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice, Patty Griffin, Jerry Douglas with Omar Hakim and Viktor Krauss, T Bone Burnett with the Punch Brothers, The Dukes Of September Rhythm Revue (Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald), and 7 Walkers Featuring Bill Kreutzmann, George Porter, Jr., Papa Mali and Matt Hubbard.
Saturday includes a performance by The Kinkster, aka Kinky Friedman, Richard Thompson, Fountains Of Wayne, The Magnolia Sisters, Conor Oberst, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Buddy Miller, Exene, Joan Baez, Robert Earl Keen, Jonathan Richman feat. Tommy Larkins, Band Of Heathens, Carolyn Wonderland, Justin Townes Earle, Dry Branch Fire Squad, David Grisman Quintet and Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs.
For Sunday, HSB has slotted Umphrey’s McGee, Elvis Costello, The Avett Brothers, Railroad Earth, Patti Smith, Randy Newman, Indigo Girls, The Del McCoury Band, Martin Sexton, Nick Low, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women and The Felice Brothers. As always, Emmylou Harris closes.
But the bands and artists listed above is just a taste of what HSB has in store for you this year, and you need to scope out each and every day to get the most bang for your free admission. Just click here for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass website.