By its twelfth year, you'd be forgiven for taking the annual occurrence of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival for granted. The passing of founder Warren Hellman in December, however, brought with it a reminder that tens of thousands of people didn't always flock to Golden Gate Park for three free days of music each fall. In fact, when one takes all of those elements -- the large crowds, the no-cost attendance, the numerous off-the-dial performers -- into consideration, the festival's continued vitality seems less inevitable and far more astonishing.
True to its name, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 12 (October 5-7, 2012) includes artists from a range of genres, pulling together an eclectic mix of legends (Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Robyn Hitchcock, and Nick Lowe among them) and buzz bands (The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, The Civil Wars), with some locals (Chuck Prophet, Tiny Television) and compelling weirdos (Dirty Three, Giant Giant Sand) thrown in for good measure. If not every artist at HSB 12 is an indie rock fan's cup of tea, this mixtape makes the case that you would be plenty satisfied attending the festival even if you couldn't tell the difference between old-time music and neo-traditional country.
1. Beachwood Sparks -- "Sparks Fly Again"
2. Dirty Three -- "Rising below"
3. Nick Lowe -- "Checkout Time"
4. Giant Giant Sand -- "Forever and a Day"
5. Chuck Prophet -- "Castro Halloween"
6. Jon Langford -- "Sentimental Marching Song"
7. Robyn Hitchcock -- "Twitch 4 Sam Surfer"
8. Patterson Hood -- "Come Back Little Star"
9. The Lumineers -- "Big Parade"
10. Heartless Bastards -- "Parted Ways"
11. Tiny Television -- "Hallelujah"
12. The Head and the Heart -- "Lost in My Mind"