Battle of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Bands

For the second year in a row, The Steam Powered Hour show in New York City will partner with San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival for a bi-coastal bluegrass happening.

Hardly Strictly is a major cultural event in California’s Bay area, a free 3-day music festival held each October at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, subsidized by successful equity investor Warren Hellman. The first festival was held in 2001 as a bluegrass weekend, billed as the Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a gift to the city from Hellman, a bluegrass lover and banjo player. As folk, Americana, pop, and rhythm and blues acts were included over the years, the festival added “Hardly” to the name.

The 2010 fest drew an estimated 600,000 over the three days, bringing music lovers from all over the US to savor the varied offerings at multiple stages.

So what does a monthly live show in NYC have to do with a mega-fest in San Fran? Steam Powered host Matt Diffie is emceeing the second annual Battle of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Bands on February 19, at Theatre 80 in Manhattan’s East Village. 12 invited bands will compete for a performance slot at the 2011 Hardly Strictly festival, along with a cash award to help defray travel expenses.

Full competition rules can be found online, and all groups wishing to be considered must contact Diffie by email before January 20. Invited bands will be announced on the 21st.

Here’s a look at the 2010 winners, Citigrass.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.