Well into the fall semester, unemployed students living off the Dining Center’s food and scraping away the leftovers from their financial aid checks may find themselves broke and bored, wishing they had somewhere to go. Luckily for the SF State student body, the cost- and commercial-free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival will return from Friday, Oct. 3 to Sunday, Oct. 5.
To many in San Francisco, the thought of dropping $200 on one of the many three-day music festivals throughout California may seem obscene. Thanks to the late local venture capitalist, banjo-picker and bluegrass-lover, Warren Hellman, the gigantic Festival, held in Hellman Hollow in Golden Gate Park, is entering its 14th year.Glen Hansard, singer/songwriter from Ireland graces the Rooster Stage with an energized performance that got the seated crowd off their blankets and lawn chairs into a singing and dancing frenzy for the upbeat songs and swaying and swooning to his heart-ached ballads at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Oct. 7, 2012. Photo by Adrian Rodriguez / Xpress
The annual celebration of bluegrass (and some not bluegrass) is one of the most sought after events in the Bay Area, drawing a crowd annually that exceeds the population of San Francisco according to Tracey Buck, a publicist for the Festival.
Hellman founded the “Strictly Bluegrass Festival” in 2001 with the intent to solely invite bluegrass musicians, but added “Hardly” to the name in 2004 after non-bluegrass artists asked to perform.
“I think it’s a combination of every possible genre – from gospel to rock – and everything in-between (that Festival-goers look forward too),” said Buck. “But everyone walks away having made a new discovery.”
Freshman Gabby Ramirez is “stoked to have somewhere free to go see music. I’m most excited for Carlene Carter’s performance and am going to try to get all of my family to come up to see her.” Ramirez explained how worried she was that she wouldn’t be able to go to any events in the city before moving up here from her hometown, because she’d always heard how expensive the city has become.
In addition to being admission-free, the Festival is commercial-free, meaning that from its foundation Hellman subsidised all costs of the Festival to remove any influence from sponsors. Various corporations approached Hellman over the years, offering to sponsor the event, but they were always turned away.
“When you go to a festival like Outside Lands you find yourself bombarded with in-your-face advertisements,” said Fabian Ramirez, who returns to Hardly Strictly every summer since his first experience in 2002. “It’s nice not having all of that nonsense in your face when you’re just trying to enjoy the music.”
This year, guests will get to enjoy a variety of tunes, from alternative hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030, to the alternative folk rock of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and the food-concerned lyrics of Cibo Matto.
Festival-goers are welcome to bring their own food and drink, but all will have the option to consume quality meals from over 50 vendors. Alcohol, however, will not be sold.
Hardly Strictly begins on Friday, Oct. 3 from noon to 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hellman Hollow and Lindley and Marx Meadows in Golden Gate Park.
2014 Line Up: