Dance and sing along at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is a jamming free concert held at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park.  This 11-year tradition features four different stages and music from legends such as Robert Plant, Thurston Moore, Chris Isaak, Emmylou Harris and so many more. Photo: photo by Peter Donaldson

SAN FRANCISCO, September 30. 2011— San Francisco is home to many talented musicians and has a history of music and music venues.  From Bill Graham and The Fillmore where artist such as the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane first performed, creating the true San Francisco Sound.

Jefferson Airplane Fillmore poster, Feb 1966. The 1st non-benefit concert held at The Fillmore.

In the true spirit of the 1960s, the organizers of this concert have kept it free to the public.  The hippies would revel in the open air, dance in the grass and bend an ear to hear the melodies streaming from the stage.  Tuning in to hear the magical sounds ranging from jazz, blues, folk, rock, bluegrass and country. 

Artist like soul and blues legend Irma Thomas, jazz and bluegrass banjo extraordinaire Bela Fleck, storied blues harmonica man Charlie Musselwhite, old punk rocker Bob Mould, never a dull moment boogie woogie star Dr. John and alternative country rockers The Jayhawks.  There are so many choices at the 4 stages that it will be difficult to choose which musicians to see perform. 

Welcome to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Photo by Jon R. Luini.

The festival officially kicked off Thursday with some activities for kids.  But the real show starts on Friday, September 30 with a full line-up starting at 11am (gates open at 10am) and goes through 6:30pm.  There are three meadows in the park that are going to be filled with jamming bands, Speedway, Lindley and Marx Meadows.  Be sure to download a map so you know exactly who is where and when.

And if three  full days of incredible music aren’t enough for you, there are also evening shows to keep the party going.  Note that these are not free events, but should still bring the house down.  Artists are being featured on Thursday at The Great American Music Hall in an event they are calling “Peace Love & Twang” featuring a complete line-up.  Tickets are on sale now and start at $50. On Friday Slim’s is featuring The Jayhawks (all original line-up).  Tickets are $30 and you can buy them now.  And on Saturday The Victoria Theater (SFs oldest operating theatre) has a whole host of activities ranging from a wine reception to a screening of “How to Grow a Band.”  Tickets range from $15 to $25.

San Francisco - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Crowd dancing. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Insider info:

Plan your travel and getting home and back ahead of time.  JFK, Transverse and Middle West Drives will be closed to car traffic.  The park service will run their shuttle service. Be sure to check the map. Bike parking will also be available.

Pack a picnic and plan to stay for the day.  Outside food and drinks are allowed.  There will be vendors selling food and drinks if you’d rather travel light (but no alcohol for sale, so BYOB).

Bring blankets and short-back chairs for your comfort, although, I expect for many of these bands you are going to be on your feet dancing!

San Francisco Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Elvis Costello, Peter Rowan, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Warren Hellman, Del McCoury. Photo by Jay Blakesberg

San Francisco can be very cold one minute and hot the next, especially as far West at Golden Gate Park.  Bring a jacket.  Be sure to check the current weather.

Here is a schedule of all artists performing, including the date, time and stage they will be on.

For more on the history of San Francisco music and performing arts.

If you are taking public transportation, you can take MUNI buses and streetcars.  MUNI lines: 5 Fulton, 31 Balboa, 38 Geary, and N-Judah. The 5 Line will be adding supplemental service starting at 2pm and boarding at 30th and Fulton.  If you are coming from the East Bay, you can take BART and transfer to MUNI.  If you are coming from the South Bay, you can take CalTrain and transfer to MUNI.  From Marin, Golden Gate Transit buses.  To plan your trip with all available public transportation, click here.

San Francisco - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Boz Scaggs. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Columnist Sherrie Perkovich offers an insiders perspective of the very best San Francisco has to offer. Join her weekly to experience the best the City by the Bay has to offer - from parties to parks and everything in between. 

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her column, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco treats.  

Read more of Sherrie’s work at Out And About San Francisco in the Communities at the Washington Times.  Follow Out and About on Twitter and on Facebook for even more inside scoop. 

San Francisco - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Crowd. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.


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Sherrie Perkovich

Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences.  She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her columns,  for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.  


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