Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2011 [Preview]

San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is in its 11th year, and with such a consistently impressive 3-day lineup, it’s truly amazing that this festival is still completely free. Even folks who can’t dig bluegrass tunes will find something at HSB to get excited about. Just as the name suggests, the festival offers an armful of great bluegrass bands, as well as a good amount of folk, rock and country music. The festival kicks off at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park on Thursday, September 29th with MC Hammer’s Children’s Program. I wonder if he’ll be sporting those famous pants.

On Friday, the festival introduces indie sensation Conor Oberst, who performed at last year’s HSB. This year, Oberst is in charge of Friday’s Rooster stage, bringing some friends along with him like his band, Bright Eyes, which is sure to draw a flurry of dedicated fans. I was fortunate enough to see Bright Eyes play at Coachella this spring and let’s just say that their streak of artistic genius was showing. Oberst also brings M. Ward of Monsters of Folk and the “him” of She & Him, as well as Kurt Vile & the Violators, among others.  Other incredible acts on Friday include Chris Isaak (Wicked Game, anyone?), Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and Robert Plant & the Band of Joy. Starting to forget that this festival is FREE of charge? Yeah, me too.

Can’t make it to the park on Friday because you’re stuck somewhere you’d rather not be? Saturday will be just as epic with huge bands like Broken Social Scene making appearances. R&B and soul musician Otis Clay will play with Chick Rodgers, and you can also catch his Sunday in-store performance at Amoeba Music on Haight Street. You’ll see some folk classics like Earl Scuggs and Kris Kristofferson with Merle Haggard, as well as some newbies to the fest like Hugh Laurie (yes, the Brit behind the infamous Dr. House) who shows off impressive versatility with his new folk album Let Them Talk. Another infamous character will play on Saturday, the multi-genre Buckethead who wears an empty KFC bucket on his head. Buckethead’s fictional morbid back story includes being raised on an evil farm in a chicken coop by chickens who scratched his face off, leading him to wear a spooky Halloween-esque white mask.

Sunday is the third and final day of the festival. HSB regular Emmylou Harris is featured in the Sunday lineup, as well as another big name in folk music, Bob Mould. A free festival in Golden Gate Park wouldn’t be complete without a Grateful Dead tribute band, and Dark Star Orchestra fits the bill. Moonalice is another jam band worth checking out. British indie rock band Elbow will also be playing, so Hugh Laurie won’t be the only Brit at this Americana festival.

Folk-punk band The Devil Makes Three is among the newer bands playing HSB this year, and their high energy acoustic sound is definitely worth listening to. Another band I recently discovered is also one of my personal favorites for the weekend, Those Darlins. Comprised of a lady trio with a male drummer, Those Darlins produce Southern garage rock infused with cheeky lyrics. An even newer indie band to watch out for is Fitz and The Tantrums, who released their debut album in 2010 and are best known for their hit single, “Moneygrabber.”

HSB gates open at 10am, and the show begins each day at 11am, running until 7pm. A tip from the wise: arrive early! A free 3-day festival with a lineup of this caliber is certain to draw big crowds. There will be over 50 food vendors selling a great variety of festival food, and free water will be available. No alcohol will be sold at the festival, but park rules say feel free to BYOB and BYO-food. Recycling and compost bins will be provided, so use them. Lastly, this is a family friendly event, so bring the whole family: the kids, leashed dogs, pet iguana, or what you will.


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Official Website

Let us know who you’re going to see at  Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on eventseekr.com. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for updates on what we’re covering. You can stay on top of exciting events from around the world by downloading the eventseekr app for Android, iPhone and Ovi.


About Katie Kopacz
Blog Intern. Creative Writing student at San Francisco State University. When she's not busy with one of the aforementioned occupations, Katie can be found geeking out over good music, good food, conspiracy theories, cats, and well-written words.

4 Responses to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2011 [Preview]

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  3. Pingback: SF Weekly Dish 2011 [Review] « eventseekr

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