BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The 19th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco saw over 80 diverse acts perform during a three-day concert over the weekend that drew over 300,000 people to Golden Gate Park.
A gift from the late Warren Hellman to music fans throughout the Bay Area and beyond, the concerts started out as a free festival devoted to bluegrass music but has evolved to include many different genre’s of sound as it’s grown into one of the largest free festivals in the country.
Hellman, a successful financier and philanthropist who was an amateur banjo player himself, passed away in 2011, but his parting gift was creating an endowment to cover the costs that would ensure that the festival would continue long after he was gone.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Grace Potter, Tanya Tucker, St.Paul & The Broken Bones, The Waterboys, Margo Price, Judy Collins and Joan Osborne were among the performers at this years festival.
While Harris has traditionally closed out the three day Festival, it was Plant’s Saturday evening performance at dusk that was the most transcendent. Playing to an overflow crowd that had Lindley Meadow bursting at the seams, the former Led Zeppelin lead singer and Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famer delivered an eclectic 75 minute set of solo and cover material along with a generous dose of choice Zeppelin cuts including “When the Levee Breaks,” “ Black Dog,” “Gallows Pole” and a curfew busting “Ramble On.”