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.

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