Friday marks the kickoff of the 13th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, generously underwritten in perpetuity by the late Warren Hellman. Things kick off in Hellman Hollow in Golden Gate Park with a kids program in the morning, hosted by MC Hammer, and the concert begins at noon.

As per usual, it's all free. There will be food and drink for sale, but no alcohol, and you're allowed to bring beer and wine in only if it's in non-glass containers. Hard alcohol, should the SFPD see it/find it, will be confiscated, as will any glass wine or beer bottles.

You're allowed to bring in low-backed chairs, blankets, etc., and if you actually want a seat anywhere near any of the stages, you'd best arrive by dawn. We'd advise keeping your camp to a small number of people and committing to a spot by one of the stages with little sojourns elsewhere, because otherwise you may feel like a refugee carrying all your crap amid the throngs. It is very, very, very crowded. Because: free.

And for god's sake don't drive there. There is some paid parking in a few places which you can read about here, but the park is pretty accessible by bus, Muni metro, or bike.

Things kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and the shows all wrap up at 7 p.m. all three days.

Some highlights:


2:35 p.m. Low on the Arrow Stage

5:45 p.m. Bonnie Raitt on the Banjo Stage, Calexico on the Arrow Stage, and Conor Oberst on the Rooster Stage


2:45 p.m. Loudon Wainwright III on the Rooster Stage; and a tribute to the Masters of Hardly Strictly on the Banjo Stage

3:55 Boz Scaggs on the Star Stage

4:05 Patti Griffin on the Rooster Stage

4:50 Martha Wainwright on the Porch Stage

5:30 Robert Earl Keene on the Rooster Stage

5:45 Natalie Maines on the Star Stage; and Steve Earle and the Dukes on the Banjo Stage


1:25 Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell on the Banjo Stage

2:35 Kate McGarrigle Tribute with Martha & Sloan Wainwright & Special Guests on the Rooster Stage

4:00 Chris Isaak on the Star Stage

4:25 Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys on the Banjo Stage

5:45 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell on the Banjo Stage

5:50 Gogol Bordello on the Star Stage

Full schedule is here, and downloadable. And there is an iPhone and Android app you can download to help keep track of things.