10 Must-See Rock Bands at the 2015 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

By now you’ve probably heard that the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival didn’t always have “hardly” in its name.

Back in 2010, festival founder and benefactor Warren Hellman (R.I.P.) told Ian S. Port (“Warren Hellman talks about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass”):

The first two years it was called Strictly Bluegrass. The reason I called it Strictly Bluegrass is Emmylou Harris agreed to come. As you know, Emmylou Harris’ music has moved through different genres. I really like the Nash Ramblers [Harris’ onetime band], and I thought if we call it Strictly Bluegrass, maybe she’ll be shamed into doing strictly bluegrass. No way. Then we thought, it isn’t Strictly Bluegrass, because of course Emmy wasn’t singing bluegrass in those days, so we started adding nonbluegrass acts. We saw how popular they were. And then we just decided, let’s make it just a music festival.

I’ve been attending (and volunteering at) the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass for a decade now. If you love music and have never been, you’re really missing out.

In the spirit of the “hardly” part of the festival, here are 10 must-see rock* bands playing this year.


1:15 Monophonics (Banjo Stage)

2:35 Marty Willson Piper’s Acres of Space (Arrow Stage)

4:10 Punch Brothers (Banjo Stage)

5:45 Michael Franti and Spearhead (Banjo Stage)


3:05 Joe Jackson (Towers of Gold Stage)

3:55 Paul Weller (Swan Stage)

5:45 Flogging Molly (Swan Stage)


1:45 Poi Dog Pondering (Towers of Gold Stage)

4:05 Robyn Hitchcock & The Sadies (Rooster Stage)

5:00 Los Lobos (Towers of Gold Stage)

* Of course, Punch Brothers are not rock, but they’re not strictly bluegrass either. Their covers of Radiohead songs like 2+2=5 and Kid A are proof of that. And they rock in concert.

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