After a period of careful consideration, the beloved roots music festival have unveiled their highly anticipated 2021 plans, which will be a free, virtual, livestreamed event. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2021 will feature 15 live-broadcast and 12 pre-recorded performances with three days of music to be broadcast via hardlystrictlybluegrass.com, facebook.com/hardlystrictlybluegrass and youtube.com/user/hsbfest on Friday October 1st, Saturday October 2nd and Sunday October 3rd. This year’s festival includes returning HSB legends Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Mavis Staples and Belá Fleck as well as first timers The Tallest Man On Earth and Las Cafeteras. The three day event will begin at 1pm each day.
Last year, unable to offer their much-loved multi-stage event in Golden Gate Park due to pandemic safety concerns, HSB instead produced a highly-acclaimed, three-hour filmed broadcast, Let The Music Play On. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Aidin Vaziri as a “…masterfully filmed on-line stream” that was “equal parts history lesson, surrealist story-telling, and highlights reel”, the production featured a rich and diverse array of major artists filmed in some of the country’s legendary music venues.
In early 2021, building on this success and uncertain as to what lay ahead with the pandemic, the HSB team embarked on another film project appropriately titled Come What May. They kept all options open, hoping and planning to celebrate in the park if at all possible while also ensuring that no matter what (come what may!) they would have something sensational to offer HSB fans in October of 2021.
Following recent discussions with San Francisco public health officials, and other expert Covid safety advisors, HSB made the difficult decision to withdraw plans to gather in Golden Gate Park. Recent pandemic developments have elevated safety concerns to unacceptable levels for a mega-event the size and nature of HSB, whose long history as a free and open festival allows multitudes to enter without tickets or limitations.
Instead, HSB will bring together an impressive line-up of over two dozen performances to be broadcast over three days as a livestream. As a result, this year’s festival will feature pre-recorded sets and interviews from artists in New Orleans & San Francisco alongside live performances happening in real time from a Covid-careful location in the Bay Area. The majority of this year’s performances will be broadcast live with just 12 of the sets being pre-recorded.
This hybrid plan allows for viewers to safely enjoy the performances of Lake Street Dive, Andy Shauf, Valerie June and others, in real time while also experiencing specially taped sets from the likes of Bob Mould w/ Fred Armisen as well as Seratones with Alynda Segarra.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass’ producer Sheri Sternberg says, “We did not come to the decision to withdraw our plans for Golden Gate Park lightly, but with the current information we have about the severity of the Delta variant, and given the history and mission of HSB as a free event open to all, we are taking these steps to protect our fans, artists and crew. We are thrilled with the line-up and excited that we are still able to offer fantastic sets from some of the greatest musicians in the world, available for everyone to watch no matter where they are!”
In addition to the livestreamed festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has announced the launch of HSBTV – a free, streaming app available via Apple TV and on Roku streaming players. The app will launch on Friday October 1st with HSB’s 2020 festival film Let The Music Play On plus full sets from artists captured on tape for 2021’s Come What May.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass also announces two Bay Area Covid-19 vaccination and testing events. “Community Immunity” is coming to the grounds of the Bay View Opera House on August 22nd and September 12th from 12.00 – 4.00pm. Vaccinations and testing are open to all, musicians and event staff are encouraged to participate. Performers include Spangalang Featuring Tony Lindsay, Skip The Needle & Nic Clark.