Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014: Three hot days of treating SF

HSB-October-03,-2014-5Photos by Pedro Paredes, Tom Dellinger & Benjamin Wallen // Written by Mike Frash //

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 3rd-5th, 2014 //

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is the best free music festival in the world. There are no security checkpoints, yet a quarter million people get along like old friends each day. You get to choose from seven different stages (a new one was added this year). And you can count on the sun to shine brightly come early October just about every year in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It’s just one of those SF laissez-faire weekends that works.

Warren Hellman’s event and ongoing gift is a real-life Choose Your Own Adventure for music heads while also setting the scene for a weekend-long picnic in the park.

The hottest day of the year in SF was on HSB Friday, so finding shade and a spot in close proximity to a stage was like getting a half-decent apartment rental price in this City — it was basically impossible.

Headliner choices to end the first day were a toss-up, and you really can’t go wrong when choosing between Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, Yo La Tengo and Lucinda Williams.

Ryan Adams headlining The Banjo Stage on Friday

Ryan Adams headlining The Banjo Stage on Friday.

The Banjo Stage was packed, yet restrained for Ryan Adams, who impressed with a set full of cuts from his remarkable self-titled album from this year. The over-heated audience finally let loose when the sun went down, and Adams, plus his band, delivered a goofy-fun, impromptu song (watch it here) that was made up on the spot. Hellman Hallow erupted in celebration of three (“No, it’s not three. It’s four fucking balloons.”) in the back of the park.

Conor Oberst once again curated the Rooster Stage for Friday, with Waxahatchee and Jonathan Wilson both showing early on why they keep growing more popular. Wilson offered one of the most eye-opening sets of the weekend — the segmented sections of energy connected like a mystery train heading toward infinity.

RELATED: View photos from Conor Oberst’s show at The Fillmore after Hardly Strictly.

If you like music, then you'll probably like Jonathan Wilson

If you like music, then you’ll probably like Jonathan Wilson. Marx Meadow perfectly matched the feel of his show.

Sharon Van Etten suffered from some early technical issues, and the sound output was less than half as strong as other shows in Marx Meadow throughout the weekend. But with every slow-building crescendo, the crowd would stop talking and take heed of one of the most powerful performers around.

The heat effected Van Etten's sound output and between-song banter, but there were still plenty of affecting moments

The staggering heat may have affected Van Etten’s between-song banter, but she still affected us.

Dawes has become that festival set I usually walk by on the way to another, but I’m completely in favor of making “When My Time Comes” the new National Anthem for the United States.

Mini-Boss Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes carries on the energy of Bruce Springsteen.

Mini-Boss Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes carries on the energy of Bruce Springsteen.

The Towers of Gold Stage on Saturday was a classic example of the “Hardly Strictly” side of this bluegrass-based fest. Red Baraat had us dancing, Deltron 3030 with the 3030 Orchestra (and Dan The Automator orchestrating) had us rhyming along, Built to Spill got collective head-bopping going and Social Distortion drew out the punk rock rage in many.

Then, capping the day by seeing Robert Earl Keen hold down Saturday evening duties at the Rooster Stage once again just felt right.

Year after year, the energy at Robert Earl Keen to end Saturday is undeniable.

Year after year, the energy at Robert Earl Keen’s set to end Saturday is undeniable.

SF-based singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek has had quite the year, creating one of the best albums of 2014 while making waves as of late. He bullies his audiences, and he’s directed his ire at The War on Drugs the past few weeks since WOD, one of the best live acts of 2014, overpowered Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon set during the Ottawa Folk Festival.

There was no sound-bleed during Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon set on Sunday, and he had a four-piece supporting him to rework some of his recent work. Songs were slowed down and vocals were turned up with extra echo, placing greater significance on words and phrasing. “Michelene” seemed more tragic, and “Gustavo” lingered in the air.

Kozelek seemed gracious and positive throughout, professing his love for San Francisco by saying “I’m gonna live here and die here”, and based on his 2014 record Benji, I believe him.

Chuck Prophet delivered a full sound with a supporting orchestra on Sunday.

Chuck Prophet during his part on Saturday at the “Holler Down the Hollow” set at the Banjo Stage.

Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express put on a delightful set with orchestral backing, Tweedy played a handful of Wilco songs solo acoustic (including “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”) and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead finished off the Arrow Stage on Sunday in usual jammy fashion, performing classic Grateful Dead tunes much better than anyone out there today, including Furthur.

What were your favorite sets of the weekend?

Steve Earle, Peter Rowan...

Steve Earle, Peter Rowan…

David Rawlings

David Rawlings

It was fucking hot (for SF)

It was fucking hot (for SF)

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones

A park legend

A park legend

The Lone Bellow

The Lone Bellow

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

Timeless couple

Timeless couple

HSB fills in nicely.

HSB fills in nicely.

The Mastersons

The Mastersons

Paul Janeway

Paul Janeway

Good times.

Good times.

Beer.

Beer.

Until next year...

Until next year…

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 daily schedule announced

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

Photos by Shawn Reiss // Written by Mike Frash //

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 3rd-5th, 2014 //

UPDATE: Full Stage Schedules have been announced!

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is coming up quickly, and the daily lineup has now been announced (but not the complete schedule). Take a look below at which artists are playing each day. Friday, as always, is stacked. If you haven’t put in for that day off yet, now is the time.

As you likely know by now, this is a free event in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park courtesy of the late Warren Hellman.

FRIDAY OCT 3 (10:30am – 7pm)
• Ryan Adams
• John Prine
• Conor Brings Friends For Friday Featuring: Waxahatchee, The Good Life, Jonathan Wilson, Sharon Van Etten, Dawes, Conor Oberst
• Lucinda Williams
• Yo La Tengo
• Cibo Matto with Nels Cline
• Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
• Hurray For The Riff Raff
• Poor Man’s Whiskey (Friday morning middle school program)
• The Aquabats! (Friday morning middle school program)
• Buckwheat Zydeco
• Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones
• The Waybacks
• Peter Rowan’s Twang An’ Groove
• Dry Branch Fire Squad
• Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun

SATURDAY OCT 4 (11am – 7:15pm)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes
• Robert Earl Keen
• Chris Isaak
• Holler Down The Hollow: A Hardly Strictly Salute To the Masters (Dickens, Hellman, Reed, Scruggs, Seeger, Watson & Winchester),
• Dave Rawlings Machine
• Social Distortion
• Built to Spill
• Deltron 3030 with The 3030 Orchestra
• Mavis Staples
• Red Baraat
• St. Paul & The Broken Bones
• Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
• Justin Townes Earle
• The Felice Brothers
• Jon Batiste and Stay Human
• Buddy Miller’s Cavalcade of Stars: Kate York, Striking Matches, Nikki Lane, Shawn Colvin, Tony Joe White, Buddy Miller & Friends with Doug Seegers, Sam Palladio & McCrary Sisters
• Willie Watson
• Chris Smither
• Evolfo
• Carlene Carter
• Reckless Kelly
• The Flatlanders Featuring Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock
• Johnnyswim
• The Mastersons
• Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
• Rose’s Pawn Shop
• Blue Rodeo
• Bad Luck Jonathan
• Horseshoe Hill
• Parker Millsap
• Alison Brown Quintet
• Heidi Clare
• The Time Jumpers Featuring Vince Gill, Kenny Sears, Dawn Sears and Ranger Doug Green
• McCrary Sisters
• Whograss

SUNDAY OCT 5 (11am – 7pm)
• Emmylou Harris
• Dwight Yoakam
• Tweedy
• Sun Kil Moon
• Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real
• Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
• Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands
• T Bone Burnett
• Rosanne Cash
• Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
• Lake Street Dive
• The Sam Chase
• Bruce Cockburn
• Malawi Mouse Boys
• Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin
• The Brothers Gibb
• The Lone Bellow
• Caitlin Rose
• Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
• Blackie and The Rodeo Kings
• Chuck Cannon
• The High Bar Gang
• JB Nimble
• Jerry Douglas Presents Earls of Leicester
• Rising Appalachia
• Shelly Colvin
• The Apache Relay
• Robbie Fulks
• Moonalice
• Jimmie Dale Gilmore
• Bonnie “Prince” Billy & The Cairo Gang featuring Dawn McCarthy
• Hot Rize Featuring Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers
• Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express ‘Strings In The Temple’
• The Go To Hell Man Clan
• Jason Isbell
• Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
• Jesse DeNatale
• Sarah Jarosz

HSB

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 complete lineup announced, and it’s incredible

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Photos by Shawn Reiss // Written by Mike Frash //

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 3rd-5th, 2014 //

The complete lineup for the 14th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has been announced, and feast your eyes on some of the highlights (we split acts into “Legend” and “Indie/Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” categories):

The Legends:
Emmylou Harris
Dwight Yoakam
Chris Isaak
Steve Earle & The Dukes
Rosanne Cash
Lucinda Williams
Dave Rawlings Machine
T Bone Burnett
Mavis Staples
Robert Earl Keen
John Prine
Holler Down the Hollow: A Hardly Strictly Salute to the Masters (Dickens, Hellman, Reed, Scruggs, Seeger, Watson & Winchester)
Many, Many More

Indie/Hardly Strictly Bluegrass…
Conor Brings Friends For Friday featuring Waxahatchee, The Good Life, Jonathan Wilson, Sharon Van Etten, Dawes, Conor Oberst
Ryan Adams
Tweedy
Built to Spill
Sun Kil Moon
Yo La Tengo
Social Distortion
Deltron 3030 with The 3030 Orchestra
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Hurray for the Riff Raff
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real
Lake Street Dive
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
Red Baraat
Cibo Matto
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
Justin Townes Earle
The Felice Brothers
The Lone Bellow
Malawi Mouse Boys
The Sam Chase
The Aquabats! (Friday morning middle school program)
Poor Man’s Whiskey (Friday morning middle school program)
And many, many more!

Daily schedules have not been announced, but we already know Ryan Adams will conflict with the “Conor Brings Friends For Friday” lineup on … Friday. So, that’s one tough one. Oberst has been touring with Dawes this year, and Dawes has been Conor Oberst’s backing band as well, so the Rooster Stage should be a treat this year to start the fest.

This is undoubtedly one of the best HSB lineups yet. Is it too early to camp out for a prime spot? For newcomers, this fest is free thanks to the amazing gift from the late, great Warren Hellman.

Who are you most excited to see? Tell us in the comments section.

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