Preview: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Day 1

This weekend is a huge weekend in Fog City. It’s Fleet Week, MLB playoffs and of course Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is back. It’s one of those things that unites the city for a weekend with music and food and it’s all free, well except the food. We’re gonna be there on the ground in case you can’t be. We’ll be live tweeting the event (unless, like Outside Lands, it is impossible) and taking pictures of the scene. Here are the five bands we can’t wait to see from Day One (in no particular order):

Simone Felice – 12:00 – Rooster Stage

Simone Felice is a very intriguing artist for this festival as he is not anywhere near a Bluegrass artist, but that’s why it’s called Hardly Strictly isn’t it? He is extremely subtle with his vocals, in the same way Elliot Smith was and in that same vein musically. We’re very excited to see him live and to see what he brings to the Golden Gate Park stages. His new EP New York Times will be out digitally October 22nd.

John Reilly and Friends – 12:00 – Banjo Stage

Yes it is that John C. Reilly, the actor and HSB has a tradition of bringing actors turned musicians to their stages (see: Hugh Laurie). The only problem is he’s playing at the same time as Simone Felice. There’s an easy remedy to that. If you’re adamant about seeing Simone’s entire set, then you’re in luck as Reilly’s group will be playing 15 minutes past Felice’s end time. Enough time to at least see one or two songs.

Patterson Hood and the Downtown Ramblers – 3:20 – Arrow Stage

The Drive-by Truckers front man has a new album out called Heat Rumbles in the Distance and a new band. It’s a side of Patterson we haven’t seen before. It’s closer to Springsteen’s Ghost of Tom Joad than Nebraska, which is what I’ve heard it compared to a lot. Regardless, Friday is your chance to check him out in his natural habitat…a stage with an adoring audience.

Jenny Lewis – Rooster Stage – 4:25

Jenny Lewis, of Rilo Kiley pseudo-fame, Growing Pains, Troop Beverly Hills and the acclaimed series Just the Ten of Us, comes to grace us with her presence. This is one of the top five acts of the entire weekend as far as I’m concerned. I love Rilo Kiley and Lewis’ albums with the Watson Twins and her solo album were also favorites of mine. I didn’t love the Jenny and Jonny album, but it wasn’t because of the Jenny part of it.

Elvis Costello – 5:45 – Banjo Stage

Yeah he’s played the show once before, but still Elvis Costello has to be the highlight of the festival. A veteran performer with such hits as “Alison” and “Watching the Detectives”, but still relevant enough to command a headlining gig at one of the largest annual festivals in the country, Elvis is certainly a can’t miss. Last time he played HSB he didn’t get into some of his older stuff, but I’m guessing this year, on his own, he’ll delve deeper into his songbook.


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