Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Lets The Music Play On With A Stacked Broadcast, Streaming And New Charity Partner

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Jay Blakesburg
– Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Golden hour at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and The Halfgrass Dukes (featuring Tim O’Brien and Dennis Crouch), Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Jim Lauderdale, Alison Brown, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, John Doe and Chuck Prophet will lead the lineup of veterans and newcomers alike for “Let The Music Play On,” the reimagined Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 20th anniversary party streaming on YouTube, Facebook, Nugs.TV, Luck Reunion platforms, the festival’s website, and airing on Circle TV Oct. 3 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. PDT.

The lineup also includes returning artists Rhiannon Giddens, Fantastic Negrito, The War and Treaty, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Yola and first-time performers Black Banjo Reclamatipn Project, Ashley Monroe, Sierra Ferrell, Birds of Chicago, Los Coast, Amythyst Kiah. and Shakey Graves.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Earle and Harris have closed out the second and third days of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass for many years, so their inclusion in the Hardly Strictly Broadcast helps keep the traditional flavor of a decidedly nontraditional presentation, as does the involvement of Americana legend Buddy Miller – who has curated a Saturday stage at the festival for the last decade.

Like every other festival this COVID-plagued year, HSB is unable to draw its usual masses for three days at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park that would have taken place Oct. 2-4. But the show must go on and HSB organizers curated a lineup of archival and new performances, and will include fan reminiscences, photos and video to make the event unique.

Founded by philanthropists Warren and Chris Hellman in 2001, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has become an annual pilgrimage for music fans from all over the world. This year, HSB enlisted fans and staff to share memories from past years and is encouraging them to share their at-home set-ups for creating Let the Music Play On viewing space. The submissions have ranged from houses to dorm rooms, to backyards and living rooms.

“One of the great powers of this music [bluegrass] is the ability to bring people together,” says long time HSB performer Alison Brown. ”Not just people who are alike, but people who are different and who are from all different generations. It’s a really wonderful common denominator. I think, maybe, Warren understood that… but it’s no doubt that it’s just one of the best gifts that anyone ever gave anybody, is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. “

And because HSB has always been about community, it launched Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area, a $1.5 million charitable initiative to support the local music community (including American roots musicians living in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Sonoma Counties) during the COVID-19 pandemic.In addition to donating $1 million in immediate aid to musicians, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has selected Artist Relief as the charitable partner for this year’s festival.

Artist Relief has already distributed more than $13 million of emergency relief directly to artists. The fund has supported more than 2,600 artists with $5,000 grants at an average of 100 artists per week. With this donation, Artist Relief will be able to extend their grant program for musicians through the end of the year.  

The Hardly Strictly Broadcast livestream will include interactive fundraising features to engage the audience, share real-time donation information, and highlight the amount raised by the HSB community. Tax-deductible donations can be made via the the HSB page at the Artist Relief website; 100 percent of donations made through this link will be applied directly to aid for musicians.  

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which has always been a free event and without corporate sponsorship or advertising, has taken place in expansive Golden Gate Park the first weekend in October since 2001, when it debuted as “Strictly Bluegrass” on a single stage, expanded over the years to six stages and, at its peak, drawn upward of 750,000 fans over three days.