We got back today from San Francisco, where we spent the weekend at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. It was about 65 degrees and sunny both days. So fun!
The festival is in Golden Gate Park and totally, completely FREE. About 40 bands perform, big and small, on 5 different stages. This years big acts were Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Del McCoury, and more. I thought I did a good job of not trying to see everything I wanted to see. A multiple-stage festival is much more fun when you just relax in one place, I've learned, especially when it's really claustro-crowded like this one.
Except for the fact that you have to fight your way forward to actually see the stage at times, I wasn't kidding when I said this festival is outrageously chill. For one thing, any ol' soul can just walk into the park and spread out a blanket. No ticket needed. For another thing, there is no beer garden or wristbands for drinking. In fact, they don't even sell alcohol, everyone brings their own and no one cares about it. No one gives a damn about smoking (well that's not true, there is a 'no tobacco' rule). The lack of law enforcment is pretty amazing in this day and age, considering the fact that this is a gathering of about 70,000 people.
Here is my one shot posing with the man of the weekend. Warren Hellman, the guest banjo player up on stage, puts on the entire festival. He happens to be a really nice billionaire and pays for it all out of his pocket. Just for fun! A gift from him to us. Thanks Warren! He doesn't do any commercial sponsorship, so there is no advertising anywhere. His name is often mentioned and everyone cheers. Wow. It must be rough. I mean, to have an endless pot of cash AND have everyone love you...
Hardly Strictly is a gem and I recommend it, no doubt. But get there early to get a good spot. This precious event is no longer a well-kept secret.