Chronicle Searches for Hardly Strictly Flaws

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Josh Keppel

    It's the "Golden Child" of free music festivals, the largely-complaint free, alcohol free, and cost-free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

    What could ruin a rollicking good time for 750,000 people? The San Francisco Chronicle is looking for a way, and discovered this: it's just too perfect, and ergo, something foul is bound to happen.

    The festival is in its 11th year, financed by banjo-strumming billionaire Warren Hellman, who the newspaper dubbed "a saint." Yet Hardly Strictly could turn into "the festival that ate San Francisco," according to the Chronicle's C.W. Nevius. How?

    "If, God forbid, there was a stampede, or a melee in the crowd, it could ruin everything," writes Nevius, who in the past has suggested that perhaps the festival should take a year off, to avoid a gang of banjo-and-violin-crazed hooligans from doing something, he isn't sure what.

    Some have opined that the festival needs tweaking -- maybe the wrong word to use in relation to country music -- on Saturday, when two large acts compete for the crowd's attention on two stages, far away from one another. This means a crush of people going from one area to another, which in turn helps keep even more people away.

    So enjoy Robert Plant, Merle Haggard, Hugh Laurie, Patty Griffin, Dark Star Orchestra, Emmylou Harris and all the rest. Just keep in mind that if you have too much fun, *someone* will try to ruin it for you.