Leigh MichaelTuesday,8 October 2013

The Snap:

San Francisco was home to a lot of good music this weekend. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is an annual concert, held on the cusp of autumn in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Spanning three days, the event is peppered with big names — Calexico, MC Hammer, Bonnie Raitt, G. Love, Emmylou Harris, Gogol Bordello, the Wood Brothers, Devil Makes Three, and about three dozen other groups topped off the impressive list.

It is also completely free. The product of venture capitalist Warren Hellman, the festival is unique in that it has zero sponsors (Hellman has denied numerous offers from brands wanting to sponsor it, claiming, “I want to keep it entirely free and noncommercial”). Hellman passed away in 2011, but the festival continues on as he began it: chock full of talent, and completely free.

You can take a look at the lineup here and watch webcasts of the live performances here.

The Download:

Hardly Strictly featured a bunch of truly great artists, but these were a few memorable faces that deserve some play time on your speakers. Take a look below and prepare to queue them up:

Justin Townes Earle: The son of legend Steve Earle (who also played at Hardly Strictly), J.T.E. is a crazy talented singer-songwriter that manages to add a touch of the “dark side” to Americana music. Listen to: “Harlem River Blues

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers: It would seem that comedian/actor/writer/musician Steve Martin does it all. Armed with his awesome accompanying band, he conjures bluegrass that is truly music to the ears. Listen to: “Jubilation Day

Father John Misty: If you are a loyal TSD reader, then you’ll know that I am a big Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman) fan. Talent seeps from the lyrics and instrumentals of each song, and his live performances exude energy. Listen to: “I’m Writing a Novel

The Handsome Family: Comprised of husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks, this group’s music is at once unassuming and captivating. It’s quiet and reserved — perfect background music. But when you stop to really listen, it’s hard to tear yourself away. Listen to: “Weightless Again

Joy Kills Sorrow: This string band defies a genre, blending jazz, bluegrass, and blues to create a sound that seems like a refreshing take on traditional Americana music. Keep your eye out — they’re going places. Listen to: “Such Great Heights

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Image Credit: Flickr

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