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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Featuring Several Nonesuch Artists, Proves "Eclectic and Vital" (Rolling Stone)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2010: Punch Brothers

San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was teeming with hundreds of thousands of music fans this past weekend as the 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival got underway, featuring three days of great music, food, and fun, all funded by financier Warren Hellman. Among the scores of great performers taking to the free festival's stages and contributing to what Rolling Stone called an "eclectic and vital" event were a number of Nonesuch artists and friends, including T Bone Burnett and Punch Brothers (pictured at left), Carolina Chocolate Drops, Randy Newman, and HSB regular Emmylou Harris, whom the San Francisco Chronicle described as "the silver-haired poster girl for San Francisco's favorite annual live music event." The Nonesuch Journal was there; you can see several photos from these performances in a new photo gallery at

T Bone Burnett and Punch Brothers capped off the first day of performances on the Rooster Stage with a jamboree of sorts, all under Burnett's direction, Friday evening. In addition to performances by Burnett and the band, Featuring, as Rolling Stone described it, "a particularly lively and virtuosic mandolin player, Chris Thile," the set included music from Karen Elson and The Secret Sisters and brought out the stage's earlier performers, including Steve Earle, Jenny and Johnny, Elvis Costello, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, and Emmylou Harris for a rousing finish to the day's events. Harris had joined Griffin and Miller, her frequent touring partners, for Griffin's own set.

On Saturday, Carolina Chocolate Drops, whom San Francisco Weekly called "arguably the hottest group on the old-time circuit today," were featured in their own set on the festival's main stage, the Banjo Stage, performing songs from their Nonesuch debut album, Genuine Negro Jig, and stuck around off-stage to catch the next set, from folk legend Joan Baez. The band continued on in California, performing at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico last night.

On Sunday, the low-lying fog that had permeated Golden Gate Park for each of the previous two days finally lifted and the sun shone just as Randy Newman took the Towers of Gold Stage and played favorites from throughout his career.

Back at the Banjo Stage, Emmylou Harris, who has performed at the festival each year, closed out the weekend's festivities with her own set. Earlier in the week, she had "dazzled" the Napa Opera House, according to the Napa Valley Register, as she did to the many grateful Hardly Strictly Bluegrass fans in San Francisco on Sunday.

Remember to check out photos from the festival at


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