St. Paul and the Broken Bones perform to close out the Banjo Stage on day one of the 19th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival at Golden Gate Park on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. The festival will be held online in 2020 due to ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival to move online

Organizers announce charitable fund for musicians

The 20th year of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival will still take place Oct. 2 to 4, but not at its usual locations in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco as originally planned due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The festival, this year themed “Let the Music Play On” will instead consist of an online stream of “newly recorded performances, archival footage from fans and our archives, interviews, as well as the history of HSB,” organizers said on social media.

“We welcome you, the fans, to contribute to Let the Music Play On by sending us your favorite memories via written stories, videos, and photos in this form. All contributions are welcome and appreciated, and will be considered for inclusion in October’s broadcast,” organizers said on the event website,

Fans of the free annual event got a taste of what’s in store this year at a performance by the group Los Lobos that was streamed online on Saturday. Social distancing would have been impossible in the free event’s traditional form, which annually draws tens of thousands of celebrants who crowd into year at Hellman Hollow, Lindley Meadow and Marx Meadow, all in Golden Gate Park.

Event organizers also announced the launch of the Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area, described as a $1.5 million charitable initiative “to support our local music community during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The initiative is making grants of up to $2,000 available to American roots musicians living in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Sonoma counties who are eligible to apply for the one-time, unrestricted support.

“With this effort, we seek to recognize, appreciate, and care for the people who lend their creativity, heart, and hard work to the American roots music ecosystem in the Bay Area,” organizers said. An application will be online in August, they said.

A select number of music venues “with a track record of presenting American roots styles from across the Bay Area” will also be invited to apply for grants, with preference given to nonprofit operations. More details are available at

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