San Francisco's annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. You could pick any number of themes to select the acts you want to see — old punk pioneers, roots music up-and-comers, etc.– and follow one through all three day's lineups. You could also pick a stage to sit in front of, as festival founder Warren Hellman suggests, and simply be satisfied with whoever performs there. (Check that last link for an interview with Hellman, the local billionaire who puts on the free festival.)
We, however, suggest a different tack: spend a bit more energy and try to get a sample of the huge variety of music all on display for free in Golden Gate Park this weekend. Here then are 10 bands (plus a few more) that we suggest you make part of your Hardly Strictly Bluegrass adventure:
The Ebony Hillbillies (2 p.m., Banjo Stage): Kind of the deans of the New York City subway performance scene, this outfit has been playing old-time string-band music together for over a decade. They've also played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, so don't miss this chance to catch the Hillbillies for free on the West Coast.