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10 Acts Not to Miss at Hardly Strictly 2019

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Mariachi Flor de Toloache perform during The New York Women's Foundation's 2016 celebration women's breakfast on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images for The New York Women's Foundation)

Hardly Strictly returns to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this year on Oct. 4–6, packed with country, bluegrass, folk, world music and more. With sounds from the Bay Area, New Orleans, Mexico, Ukraine and many places in between, the diverse lineup’s connecting thread is stellar musicianship that’s best experienced live.

Now in its 19th year, Hardly Strictly is free to attend as always. A few things are different at this year’s festival, though: festival organizers recently announced new safety precautions, as festivals around the country ramp up security measures in the wake of numerous mass shootings. Those new rules include four official entrances and exits—unlike the fully open, come-as-you-please atmosphere of past years—as well as a ban on coolers and a new policy that all bags must be transparent.

Aside from the big stars like Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Summer-of-Love jam band Hot Tuna Electric and rising country star Margo Price, here are 10 artists you should put on your Hardly Strictly itinerary.

Tanya Tucker
Banjo Stage
Oct. 4, 4:15pm


Known as the first lady of outlaw country, Tanya Tucker has had a wild journey in the music industry. A teen idol in the ’70s, she broke hearts (and climbed charts) with hits like “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone).” After overcoming many personal struggles that often come with childhood fame, she made a comeback in the ’90s, and again this year with her new album, While I’m Livin’, where she reclaims her story and celebrates her resilience.

Bandwagon Stage
Oct. 4, 5:10pm

Delicately strumming her acoustic guitar, Bedouine sings lyrics that contain quiet, profound meditations on solitude, love, war and migration. Born to Armenian parents in Syria, Bedouine lived in Saudi Arabia for a time before she and her family immigrated to Los Angeles. By day a music editor for film (her credits include Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick), her folk songs are minimal in composition but mighty in emotional weight.

Porch Stage
Oct. 5, 11am

Oakland quintet Whiskerman brings the dance party early to Hardly Strictly on Saturday with a high-energy roots rock set with notes of soul, psychedelic and folk. With fuzzed-out guitar solos, a powered-up rhythm section and Graham Patzner’s freewheeling vocals, Whiskerman’s music has a ’70s revivalist appeal.

Adia Victoria
Porch Stage
Oct. 5, 1:20pm

Nashville singer-songwriter Adia Victoria’s blues-inflected indie pop is dark and high-drama. She recently worked with producer and guitarist Aaron Dressner of The National on her album Silences, where her soft voice elastically bends from a near-whisper to a growl as she sings about heartbreak, facing her demons and finding herself.

Tank and the Bangas
Towers of Gold Stage
Oct. 5, 2:10pm

Tank and the Bangas’ playful music is a good reminder that a childlike sense of joy and wonder can reinvigorate anyone in the oft-depressing adult world. Hailing from New Orleans, the R&B, neo-soul and hip-hop ensemble fuses out-there, jazzy instrumentation with Tarriona Ball’s whimsical vocal style. Unafraid to get silly, she makes poetry out of the most mundane topics, turning them upside down and examining them completely anew.

Rooster Stage
Oct. 5, 3:25pm

Yola’s booming, soulful voice pairs gorgeously with sepia-toned, vintage country instrumentation, and the singer’s ruminations about love and loss have a way of sweeping listeners away into a sentimental reverie. Originally form the U.K., Yola worked with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on her most recent album, Walk Through Fire, and has a growing rep in Nashville as the “queen of country soul.”

Bandwagon Stage
Oct. 5, 3:10pm

Folk singer-songwriter Ismay’s bravery and curiosity about nature and environmental justice reverberate throughout her finger-picked tracks. At Hardly Strictly, she performs a storytelling-driven showcase called Songs and Stories from Sonoma Mountain, inspired by her seven years living and working on her family’s ranch. This is the latest suite of songs following her Songs of the Klamath project, inspired by a month-long journey on horseback along the Klamath River.

Porch Stage
Oct. 6, 1:20pm

Influenced by Ukrainian folk music tradition and surrealism in equal measure, DakhaBrakha sprung from an experimental theater troupe in Kyiv in 2004. Combining instruments like the garmoshka (accordion) and jaw harp with strings, percussion and experimental vocals in Ukrainian, they’ve won an audience stateside with their highly experimental approach.

Fantastic Negrito
Swan Stage
Oct. 6, 1:20

Fantastic Negrito started out busking on Oakland’s streets and went on to win two Grammy Awards for Contemporary Blues Album in 2017 and ’19. His high-energy roots music oozes with gritty guitar solos, bluesy organ and soul- and gospel-tinged backing vocals. The infectious rhythms inspire his audience to dance, and also offer poignant commentary on issues like gentrification and cultural erasure.

Flor de Toloache
Bandwagon Stage
Oct. 6, 3:10pm

Mariachi music has long been a vibrant part of cultural life in Mexican-American immigrant enclaves, and it’s slowly making its way into mainstream pop culture with artists like YG and Cuco collaborating with mariachi ensembles in recent years. The bilingual all-woman group Flor de Toloache bridges pop and mariachi sounds, and has a growing following for their lively stage shows and collaborations with pop stars like Miguel and John Legend.

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