Forget the Hills, Head for the City – Strictly Bluegrass is Back

Peter Rowan, 2010

Every fall, San Francisco billionaire and banjo player Warren Hellman throws himself one heck of a shindig. His guests: the most distinguished bluegrass, country, rockabilly, and world music performers, plus the immediate world. Price of admission: good will, a peaceful spirit, and a love of music.

It’s time once again to find a tarp, put on your cleanest dirty jeans, and head to Golden Gate Park for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a three-day concert put on every year since 2000 courtesy of the private equity investor. Hellman famously said that he could either buy a Renoir or put on a concert, and music lovers from Northern California and beyond have thanked him for eleven years for choosing wisely. It might be said that Hellman is only acting in his own interests, since a condition of this festival is that he gets to play with his band the Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore – a price music lovers gladly pay for three blissful days of music.

The lineup so far, performing on five stages in Speedway Meadow (specific times yet to be arranged):

Friday, September 30: Bill Kirchen, Seldom Scene, David Bromberg Quartet, The Del McCoury Band & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, John Prine, Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Charlie Musselwhite, Zigaboo Modeliste – King of the Funky Drums, South Memphis String Band, Jolie Holland, Chris Isaak, Conor Brings Friends for Friday: Bright Eyes, M. Ward, The Felice Brothers, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Woods, Simon Joyner & Jonathan Wilson, Maxim Ludwig & the Santa Fe Seven, Blame Sally, Mekons, Southern Culture on the Skids, Thurston Moore

Steve Earle & Allison Moorer, 2010

Saturday, October 1: Greensky Bluegrass, Alison Brown Quartet, Otis Clay with Chick Rodgers, Earl Scruggs, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Steve Earle & the Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer, Cass McCombs Band, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Kris Kristofferson & Merle Haggard, Irma Thomas, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Hugh Laurie, Broken Social Scene, Buckethead, The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Robyn Hitchcock, Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson, Patty Griffin, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, Robert Earl Keen, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, The Band of Heathens, Ruthie Foster, Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses, Reckless Kelly, The Flatlanders featuring Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, River Whyless, AllofaSudden, Seamus Kennedy, Wendy Bird and her Band of Miscreants, A.A. Bondy , The Belle Brigade. Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally & Their All-Star Band.

Sunday, October 2: Dry Branch Fire Squad, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Emmylou Harris, The Low Anthem, Dr. John & the Lower 911, DeVotchKa, Elbow, Abigail Washburn, Buddy Miller, Bob Mould, Fitz & the Tantrums, Gomez, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin, The Civil Wars, Ollabelle, Justin Townes Earle, The Jayhawks, Joe Purdy, Moonalice, The Devil Makes Three, Hot Buttered Rum, The Mother Hips, Dark Star Orchestra, Conspiracy of Beards, Dive Bar Dukes, Those Darlins, Frank Fairfield, The Swanson Family Band, Over the Rhine, Bill Orcutt

A more precise schedule will be posted about one week before the event. See for more details.

Barbara Rice is a native Igonian. Upon discovering the Beatles at age 9, she picked up an atlas and figured out how far England was and how long it would take to get there (5,371 miles, 12 hours). Though gainfully employed, she regards work as a necessary evil to finance vacations. In her spare time she looks up cheap airfares and daydreams about her next trip. She never did meet Sir Paul, but she knows where his office is.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of

Barbara Rice

Barbara Rice is's administrative assistant. She grew up in Igo listening to the devil's music, hearing tales of WWII, and reading James Thurber and Mad Magazine while dreaming of travel to exotic lands. She graduated from Shasta High School, Shasta College, and San Francisco State University. After too many blistering Sacramento Valley summers, she's traded it all for the ocean breezes of Humboldt County. She's been told she's a bad influence and that makes her very happy. She tweets, travels, and spoils cats. There's a dance in the old dame yet.