The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Few Things in Life Are Hardly Strictly Free

(Kevin Hayes/The Inquirer 2010)

Music festivals are notoriously expensive. If you count ticket costs, food, and merchandise, taking out a second mortgage to pay for it all may not seem like such a bad idea. Well for the thrifty music fan, you’re in luck, because admission price for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is the low, low price of free.

About 900,000 people showed up to this year’s festival, held on the weekend of October 1 in Golden Gate Park. The festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, featured 84 bands over the course of the three-day event.

John Coulter, a 55-year-old from Santa Cruz, said he liked the event for its cost effectiveness.

“It’s a free party,” Coulter said. “[You] get the chance to see musicians you might never see otherwise.”

This was Coulter’s fourth consecutive year volunteering at the event. Because of the sheer number of bands involved in the event, he also appreciated seeing “different musicians collaborate together.” He referenced the previous year when Robert Plant made a guest appearance and played with Buddy Miller.

Aaron Walker, a 24-year-old attendee, says the free admission attracted him to the event. Walker, who moved to San Francisco from Monterey two months ago, was “couch surfing” at friends’ homes while saving money to get his own room. There was simply no way, he says, he can afford to go to an expensive concert on his current budget.

Free festivals, he says, are “the way it should be” since they “welcome anybody,” and not just people with money.

Another participant was Glenn Appell, a music professor from DVC, who attended Hardly Strictly Bluegrass the previous two years as well. He enjoyed his time there, he says, but had an issue with it being “way too crowded.” He says attendees should “negotiate it right” to fully take advantage of the event.

To future participants, he advises having a strong plan to take full advantage of the event.

“Target the acts you want to hear,” he said, “And get to the stages early.”

The event, he added, has “world-class music and a variety of styles.”

Appell’s favorite set at the show was by Patti Smith, whom he described as “phenomenal.” He says it was one of the best shows he has seen in the last 10 years and describes Smith as a “living legend.”

Hardly Strictly is an annual event, usually occurring at the beginning of October. If you wanted to go this year and didn’t, the show will be back in less than a year.


Contact Kevin Hayes at [email protected]

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Few Things in Life Are Hardly Strictly Free