News & Reviews: Events

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

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Images from the annual roots music pilgrimage to Golden Gate Park.

by Dan Gabel
October 04, 2014
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The first weekend in October brings some of the biggest names in roots music to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Now in its 14th year, Hardly Strictly is the late Warren Hellman’s gift to the city and homage to the music he loved. Hellman, a successful private equity investor and a passionate banjo player, passed away nearly three years ago, but the festival continues thanks to a trust that he created to ensure that the faithful could continue to gather at “Hellman Hollow” each year to celebrate and share all kinds of music.

And gather they do. Performers during the three-day festival include Hardly Strictly veterans Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Peter Rowan, the Flatlanders, Tim O'Brien (this year with Hot Rize), and many others. The hundreds of thousands of festival-goers will also be able to catch Sarah Jarosz, Willie Watson, Robbie Fulks, and Jason Isbell, among other acts.

As long as you can deal with crowds, Hardly Strictly is a dream come true for roots music fans. There is amazing talent on seven stages spread throughout one of the most beautiful urban parks in the country, and the site of a whole lot of music history. I've attended the festival every year and have watched it grow from a relatively modest three stages and few thousand guests to the huge production and draw it is now. While some may grouse about who the "real" fans are, I think it's a great sign that folks come from all over to catch glimpses of legendary folk acts and up-and-coming roots-rock acts, celebrating authentic roots music together. I'll be back for the 15th outing next year!

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