Hardly Strictly Bluegrass announces the third round of musicians in this year’s Let The Music Play On, with HSB veterans Chuck Prophet, Patty Griffin, and first-time performers Birds of Chicago, Los Coast, and Shakey Graves. Let the Music Play On is a celebration of roots music, honoring the 20th Anniversary of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, airing the first weekend of October featuring new performance footage, archival sets, and fans’ festival memories from previous years.
In the 20 years since Hardly Strictly Bluegrass first brought fans together in Golden Gate Park, the festival continues to grow in size, with over 80 bands across six stages that attract over 750K music fans and continues to evolve with a diverse line up that encompasses the wide range of roots music genres. “As time marches on, what roots music is should change, ya know?” says Shakey Graves. “I think it’s just storytelling... a product of that time. I think that there’s something that is really pure to always go back to. I think that Hardly Strictly is doing it right in the sense that there will be a human experience within the music.”
As HSB has evolved over the years one thing has always remained the same is that the festival is completely free to attend. Founded by Warren and Chris Hellman as a gift to the city of San Francisco, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has always been free to the public, and void of any advertisers or corporate sponsorships. The focus is solely on the music and the sense of the community that the music creates. “The free part brings this incredible diversity to the crowds, so people will see you that would never think of seeing you,” says longtime HSB artist Patty Griffin. “Everybody is out mulling around, and they’ll hear something on a stage and they’ll just cruise down that way and suddenly they are meeting an Artist they never would have heard of. Because it’s free there’s this huge swath of humanity there, every continent on earth is represented, and largely Americans so that shows you how diverse America is and it’s really beautiful that way.”
The community of music fans is what gives the festival life, and this year to incorporate the human experience of HSB, the producers have asked fans and attendees to contribute their favorite memories from years past in the form of photos, videos, stories, sketches, etc. by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org., all of which will be considered for inclusion in October’s broadcast. Entries have come in from all over the world including incredible sketches from award-winning artist and illustrator, and regular HSB attendee Mark Urliksen. His submissions included illustrations, created in realtime of HSB sets over the years. His drawings captured so much of the spirit of the event that he was commissioned to create the official artwork for the line-up announcements for this year’s Hardly Strictly Broadcast. Urliksen is best known for his work with the New Yorker where he has been a regular contributor since 1993, with more than 55 magazine covers to his credit. He has been the illustrator for the San Francisco Jazz Festival, has created murals for companies such as United Airlines and the Chicago Bears that grace the walls of the United Club at Soldier Field. In 2006 his New Yorker parody cover of the film Brokeback Mountain was named the year’s top magazine news cover by the Magazine Publishers of America, and work is in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. More of Urliksen’s work can be viewed at https://markulriksen.com
More information on the broadcast and lineup will be announced in the coming weeks at www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com. To stay up-to-date, be sure to sign up for the newsletter, and follow HSB on social media.