Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

Let Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Diversify Your Living Room

By Eryn Brothers, Staff Writer

We all miss live music. It’s a sad note that this year we cannot commune together and sling our arms around our friends while singing our favorite songs together. But the revered roots-Americana festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is looking to ameliorate that with “Let The Music Play On,” a special one-time-only broadcast on Saturday, October 3rd, from 2-5pm Pacific time.

Featuring some of our favorite country queers like Amythyst Kiah, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and guitarslinger Nina Gerber (supporting Laurie Lewis) alongside heavy-hitting allies like Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Chuck Prophet, Yola, and Bonnie Raitt, the SF-based festival is pulling every lever to bring us together. (For the full lineup, check the HSB website.)

On top of this prodigious streaming achievement, HSB has partnered with Artist Relief to dispense $1M to artists nationwide who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, in addition to the Hardly Strictly Relief Fund: Bay Area, a $1.5M initiative to support the Bay Area roots music community.

And in addition to that, HSB will be supporting the fantastic Black Banjo Reclamation Project. Led by artist Hannah Mayree, their mission is to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers in order to spread awareness and pass along stringed traditions. “We are pursuing ancestral healing and envision a world where the act of remembering gives us the power to shape our world,” says Mayree. Hannah and the Black Banjo Reclamation Project will also be performing at the virtual fest.

Susan Hubbard, a spokesperson for the festival, told us, “HSB was founded on ten pillars: community, joy, creativity, collaboration, freedom, peace, love, respect, gratitude, and spirituality. Diversity and inclusion are of the utmost importance, and we strive to feature artists on our stages that are from marginalized communities, veterans and newcomers alike. We’ve also launched an initiative to take care of our local roots community, with priority given to musicians from historically disadvantaged populations which are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, trans, and disabled communities.”

Plus, let’s be real: that lineup rules. I know that I, for one, am thrilled to be able to experience this incredible show from the safety and comfort of my home. Now we can all say that Amythyst Kiah and Aaron Lee Tasjan have played in our living rooms. I already got my outfit planned, y’all. 

So decorate your room! Get your festival outfit ready! Order takeout! Invent a cocktail, and let’s boogie, clap, yelp, sing, and annoy our neighbors together while apart.

Get yourself pumped with this playlist of some of our favorite picks:

“Let The Music Play On” will be broadcast free via Circle TV, streamed at and on October 3rd from 5pm-8pm ET.