Delta has done in this year’s in-person Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, but there will be a three-day livestream with festival favorites Mavis Staples and Emmylou Harris.
Back during those optimistic days of spring when Outside Lands announced its delayed return and tickets sold out in less than two hours, it seemed a surefire thing that our hot festie summer would be epic, and every festival would return according to plan. But the “My Fall Plans vs The Delta Variant” meme has scratched another major in-person event from the calendar. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival announced Thursday that they’re canceling this year’s in-person festival, though a three-day replacement livestream (Oct. 1-3) has some pretty impressive names.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass announces "Come What May - Hardly Strictly Everywhere 2021"— Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (@HSBFest) August 19, 2021
Check https://t.co/imKS7Hkjgg for details! #HardlyStrictlyBluegrass #HSB2021 #ComeWhatMay pic.twitter.com/B4E8y3QYzI
They put their best face on the announcement, calling the livestream “Come What May - Hardly Strictly Everywhere 2021,” and announcing they’ve booked Ani DiFranco, Belá Fleck, and Bob Mould (with Fred Armisen? Apparently he’s a musician?). They also got practically-every-year staples like Mavis Staples, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris, but it won’t be in-person, and it much of it won’t actually be live performances.
“After consultation with our team of COVID safety advisors, and in close communication with City Of San Francisco, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has reached the difficult conclusion that we are not able to hold the festival in Golden Gate Park this year,” organizers said in a statement. “We can’t waver from our mission of providing the safest and most magical musical environment, with all the care and consideration for our festivalgoers and artists, that has been at the heart of Hardly Strictly for over two decades.”
The livestream will roll Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that first weekend of October, the acts are announced but the scheduled performance times are not. Each day’s show runs from 1-4 p.m., and unlike last year’s pre-recorded (but very tastefully executed!) livestreamed bluegrass festival, some of it will actually be performed live. Organizers say in their statement that the prerecorded performances were “in production well in advance of the Delta variant’s surge,” so it sounds like they’ve maybe known for a while that this year’s festival in the park just was not happening.
As a nice addendum, though, they’re doing two “Free Music, Testing, and Vaccination” events at the Bayview Opera House. This Sunday, August 22, and again on Sunday, September 12, they'll have live music, walk-up testing and vaccination, and “Free festival merchandise with EVERY VAX while supplies last.”
Image: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass