SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — COVID-19 has once again pulled the plug on the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival as a live event but, on Sunday, a handful of residents of San Francisco’s Bayview District got a chance to see what may be the only live, in-person performance of the event.
A rise in COVID cases may have the Bayview a bit depressed but Sunday afternoon there was rhythm to add to the blues.
The group “Spangalang,” featuring 11-time Grammy-winning singer Tony Lindsay, gave a pop-up concert on the stage behind the Bayview Opera House. Sponsored by Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which is once again virtual this year, the event was one of the few places people could watch a live HSB event.
“We didn’t realize that at first but then we were like, ‘awesome!’ — you know? Like, that’s really fantastic that it worked out!” said Ashley Smiley, program manager of the Bayview Opera House.
“Having anything—ANY live music—is like medicine for your soul, I guess. I know how important that is,” said Dr. Tricia Hellman Gibbs, a Hardly Strictly Bluegrass board member.
There was medicine for the body as well. Outside the Opera House, a free COVID testing and vaccination clinic drew a small group of people — not nearly as many as Bayview resident Dwight Brown would like to have seen.
“We were getting it under control and now look at it! It’s back rising again, almost back where we started from,” said Brown. “C’mon, give me a break, I have no understanding of that at all.”
COVID silenced live music for a year and a half and now the Delta variant has extended its run and those who make music for a living are looking forward to a time of “community immunity” so the crowds can return.
This year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass virtual offering will be mix of documentary video and live-streamed concert recordings. There’s more information at http://hardlystrictlybluegrass.com