Come On Out to San Francisco

Elizabeth Cook at Hardly Strictly 2009.

Buddy Miller. Rosanne Cash. Earl Scruggs. Kelly Willis. The Flatlanders. Jerry Jeff Walker. Emmylou Harris. Justin Townes Earle and Steve Earle & the Dukes.

The best music festival you’ll ever attend is also the most affordable: just drive, fly or hitchhike your way to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on October 1-3 and you’ll get your choice of 80 or so top-notch roots-related acts on six different stages… for free.

The event is put on by billionaire investment banker and bluegrass nut Warren Hellman, who foots the bill every year as his gift to music fans in the city, or pretty much anyone else who cares to take him up on the offer.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the announcement of this year’s line-up, and now most of the list is up at the event website. Here are the performers announced so far, with the ones I’m most excited about in bold.

Jonathan Richman, Buddy Miller, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Railroad Earth, Bonnie Prince Billy & the Cairo Gang, Carolyn Wonderland, Peter Himmelman, The Felice Brothers, Robert Earl Keen, Holly Golighty and the Brokeoffs, Fountains of Wayne, Nathaniel Rateliff, Umphrey’s McGee, Evie Ladin, Citigrass, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Kinky Friedman, Rosanne Cash, Lucero, Justin Townes Earle, Kelly Willis, Doc Watson & David Holt, The Band of Heathens, Anderson Family Bluegrass, Wendy Bird, Jenny & Johnny featuring Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Rice, Randy Newman, The Magnolia Sisters, Jon Langford, Martin Sexton, The Wronglers, Hot Tuna Electric, Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys, The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald & Boz Scaggs, David Olney & Sergio Webb, The Del McCoury Band, Hazel Dickens, Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Earl Scruggs, Gillian Welch, The Avett Brothers, Patty Griffin, Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, Emmylou Harris, Nick Lowe, Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, The Ebony Hillbillies, Mondo Cane, The Flatlanders featuring Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Skip Gorman, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Blue Highway, James McMurtry, Yonder Mountain String Band, Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Richard Thompson, Jackie Greene, Joan Baez, T Bone Burnett and Friends, David Grisman Quintet, Moonalice, the subdudes, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Keller & the Keels, Dry Branch Fire Squad

Pretty impressive, right? Still a couple months away, so book your hotels and such now. You know you want to see San Francisco sometime before you die anyway, so this is the time to do it.

Miss out if you must, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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About C.M. Wilcox

A freelance writer and humorist with an abiding love of country music, C.M. Wilcox's cutting, clear-eyed take on the genre has drawn the attention of Country Weekly, The Washington Post, and The Tennessean in the years since this site began. C.M. lives near Sacramento and can be reached by email at CMW (at)

Things People Are Saying

  1. Karen says:

    As always, the issue will be deciding which stage to be at when . . .

  2. Rick says:

    WOW, how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to drive to “Sodom By The Sea” to attend a concert at the “Golden Gate Gomorrah Park” surrounded by tens of thousands of Obamavoters while artists are performing on six separate stages simultaneously?…(lol)

  3. Michael A. says:

    Ah, I see that Rick is back at it. I hadn’t seen any of his political trolling for awhile and kind of just assumed the site mediators (here, at the9513, etc.) had contacted him and told him to keep his comments relevant to the topic of country music. Oh, well. Even if they had, we should have known it wouldn’t have lasted very long.

  4. Sam G. says:

    Most of your bold selections are the same ones I’d love to go see, too. It’s nice to see Kelly Willis performing again, and the Avetts and Kane Welch Kaplin would be great shows too. Richard Thompson is way, way high up on my list of people I’d love to see in concert

  5. courtney says:

    This is the first time I’m happy to say that I live in the Bay Area. GoodNIGHT, what a line up! Thanks for the head’s up, C.M.! See you there!

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