Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at Golden Gate Park

Hardly Strictly a heady and sunny weekend in S.F.: Aidin Vaziri | Plenty of big names joined Emmylou Harris for her traditional closing night set at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival on Sunday, including Gillian Welch, Steve Earle and the concert’s benefactor, Warren Hellman. But after the all-star romp through the Carter Family standard “Hello Stranger,” the silver-haired singer left the beaming audience at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park with one name that was conspicuously absent: “Hazel!” Hazel Dickens, the no-nonsense festival fixture who found the unlikeliest of fans in millionaire financier Hellman, may have died in April, but her presence loomed large over Hardly Strictly’s 11th year. Her face was stamped on the programs, there were shrines where people could leave handwritten notes, and several artists paid tribute to her from the stage. “She was one of the great singers of our time,” Harris said. Banjo enthusiast Hellman, meanwhile, kicked things off Saturday morning by having Dickens’ longtime collaborator Ron Thomason sit in with the Wronglers for a cover of her signature song, “The Mannington Mine Disaster.” “We were very fond of each other but we couldn’t be two more opposite people,” Hellman said. “She’s probably looking down from heaven right now thinking, ‘How did that old bastard make it?’ ”
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