More Than 80 Reasons (and Counting) to Come to San Francisco September 30 through October 2

I know, I know. San Francisco is a crowded metropolitan area (-1) with lots of hippies (-2) that’s probably a long way from where you live (-3), but once a year it becomes a country/bluegrass/roots music mecca that’s more than worth the pilgrimage.

This year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is set for the weekend of September 30 through October 2 at Golden Gate Park. What makes this festival different from others around the country is (a) that it features just about all the big names you’d want to see on several stages over the course of three days and (b) that it’s 100% free to anyone who cares to attend, the whole bill footed by one exceptionally generous bluegrass-loving investment banker. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the location is about as scenic as they come.

Much of this year’s lineup has just been posted on the event website, with more acts yet to be announced. Here’s the posted roster with some of (what I judge to be) the most notable acts in bold.

  • A.A. Bondy
  • Abigail Washburn
  • Alison Brown Quartet
  • AllofaSudden
  • The Band of Heathens
  • Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer
  • The Belle Brigade
  • Bill Kirchen
  • Bill Orcutt
  • Blame Sally
  • The Blind Boys of Alabama
  • Bob Mould
  • Bright Eyes
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Buckethead
  • Buddy Miller
  • Cass McCombs
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • Chris Isaak
  • The Civil Wars
  • Conspiracy of Beards
  • Dark Star Orchestra
  • David Bromberg Quartet
  • The Del McCoury Band & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • The Devil Makes Three
  • DeVotchKa
  • Dive Bar Dukes
  • Dr. John & the Lower 911
  • Dry Branch Fire Squad
  • Earl Scruggs
  • Elbow
  • Emmylou Harris
  • The Felice Brothers
  • Fitz & the Tantrums
  • The Flatlanders
  • Frank Fairfield
  • Gillian Welch
  • Gomez
  • Greensky Bluegrass
  • Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson
  • Hot Buttered Rum
  • Irma Thomas
  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
  • The Jayhawks
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield
  • Joe Purdy
  • John Prine
  • Jolie Holland
  • Jonathan Wilson
  • Justin Townes Earle
  • Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin
  • Kris Kristofferson & Merle Haggard
  • Kurt Vile & the Violators
  • Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands
  • The Low Anthem
  • M. Ward
  • MC Hammer
  • Mekons
  • Moonalice
  • The Mother Hips
  • Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally & Their All-Star Band
  • Ollabelle
  • Otis Clay with special guest Chick Rodgers
  • Over the Rhine
  • Patty Griffin
  • PMW
  • Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile
  • Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys
  • Reckless Kelly
  • Ricky Skaggs
  • River Whyless
  • Robert Earl Keen
  • Robert Plant & the Band of Joy
  • Robyn Hitchcock
  • Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses
  • Seamus Kennedy
  • Seldom Scene
  • Simon Joyner
  • South Memphis String Band
  • Southern Culture on the Skids
  • Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer
  • The Swanson Family Band
  • The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore
  • Those Darlins
  • Thurston Moore
  • Wendy Bird
  • Woods

See you there? I’ll be the guy in the Brantley Gilbert T-shirt.

SHARE Twitter | Facebook + SUBSCRIBE Email | RSS

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. Jeremy Dylan says:

    Holy Jesus Christ.

  2. ChurchsChicken says:

    I see that MC Hammer will be there. He is from Oakland, not too far away, I guess. He was one of my favorites as a kid. The video for “Pumps and a Bump” with him in a zebra speedo is hilarious. Will the Funky Headhunter be doing a bluegrass version of that song? Cuz if so, I might make the trek out there.

    • Karen says:

      PMW (Poor Man’s Whiskey) & MC Hammer will be doing the Thursday children’s program, a lot of fun. They typically take something current off the charts and ‘bluegrassisize” it, something that’s always a major hit with the crowd, kids & elders alike

  3. Karen says:

    You beat me by mere minutes – I’ve been working on my preliminary HSB ‘must see’ list tonight – our lists are practically identical (why does that not surprise me?) — think the only on yours not on mine is Ricky Skaggs (I’ve seen him numerous times)

    My #1 – 2 ABSOLUTES are Emmylou (always) and Ryan Bingham – he’s been #2 on my ‘must see live’ list for a number of years now (right after Merle – and I’m still hoping that the Merle rumors play out) Jimmie Dale with anybody he decides to appear with and Kevin Welch are also absolute musts for me, and I’m a major Jayhawks fan :)

    Will be missing Hazel :(

    (I know HSB has a reputation for anything goes, but the BG tee might be pushing the envelope . . .)

    • Karen says:

      MERLE!!!!!!!! Somehow read right past him listed there with Kris – I think I’d better get new glasses before HSB :D

  4. Michael A. says:

    What day does Emmylou play? I’ll definitely stop by the park for her show. I’ve never seen her perform live.

    • Karen says:

      Actual schedule of who plays when won’t be up for a bit yet, but Emmylou traditionally closes the weekend Sunday night on the Banjo stage. But one of the greatest things about HSB is that artists tend to just ‘show up’ at other stages when they’re not peforming themselves and join friends on stage :)

Speak Your Mind


Comment Policy: Just don't be too big of a jerk, okay? It's a pretty simple rule.

Believe in Country Music?

You're in the right place. Hundreds of people are already receiving fresh, free content
automatically each time we publish. Join their ranks and never miss a thing.