R.I.P. Jimmy LaFave

Days after a grand, emotional goodbye with his sold-out Songwriter Rendezvous at the Paramount Theatre last Thursday, Austin songwriter Jimmy LaFave died Sunday, confirmed his label Music Road Records. He was 61. – Austin Chronicle    Read Article »

Our thoughts are with Jimmy LaFave’s family, friends & fans. Thank you for so many years of beautiful music. We will miss you.

Chris Hellman Day Today!

The City of San Francisco has proudly declared today, April 18th (Chris Hellman’s birthday), as Chris Hellman Day! We miss you & love you, Chris!


2017 Dates Announced!

We are pleased to announce that the 2017 dates for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass are Friday October 6th – Sunday October 8th

In Loving Memory of Patricia Christina “Chris” Hellman

We are saddened to announce that Patricia Christina “Chris” Hellman – artist, ballerina, philanthropist and wife of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass founder Warren Hellman – passed away on Saturday, February 4th. Chris was a passionate supporter of the arts and that love came through in all aspects of her life. She was an avid painter and a tireless supporter of the San Francisco Ballet.

Born in London in 1933, Chris had a successful career as a prima ballerina with the London Festival Ballet before marrying Warren. They were together for 56 years before his death in 2011. Chris was the perfect foil for Warren in many ways but they both enjoyed a great sense of humor. She was often seen at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, on the stage wings or wandering among the throngs, with a twinkle in her eyes and smile on her face. When Warren picked up the banjo again in his mid-60s and put together bluegrass band the Wronglers, she was happy to sit in and sing on the occasional song. Chris and Warren’s love of philanthropy – especially programs promoting the arts, education and social equality – inspired the Hellman Foundation’s giving, which has awarded more than $25M since its founding in 2011.

In 2015, festival organizers discussed with the four adult Hellman children how to best pay tribute to Chris. The Star Stage was renamed the Swan Stage in honor of Chris and her successful ballet past, and her beautiful artwork was featured at the festival. Chris’ daughter, Tricia Hellman Gibbs, noted “We wanted to bring in a reminder of Mom’s spirit, beauty, artistry, and zany humor as a living presence at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The many photos and the renaming of one of the stages after one of the great ballets Mom performed created just the perfect acknowledgement of her central place at the festival, and in the hearts of the many, many people who love her.” Her watercolors depicting botanicals at the height of their bloom seemed right at home in Golden Gate Park. The Swan stage has continued to be one of the most popular, hosting the likes of Cyndi Lauper & Kris Kristofferson this past year.

Now in its 17th year, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass will continue to honor the traditions set forth by the generosity of Warren & Chris Hellman. This year the celebration will be held on October 6-8, 2017.

Among her many contributions to San Francisco arts and culture, Chris was Chair Emeritus of San Francisco Ballet; Chair of the San Francisco Arts Organization’s Task Force; a Board Member of the San Francisco Free Clinic – founded by her daughter and son-in-law, Drs. Tricia and Richard Gibbs; Trustee Emeritus for the Princess Grace Foundation – USA; a sustaining member of the Junior League; and a member of the San Francisco Symphony League.

Chris Hellman has four children, twelve grandchildren, and four great grandchildren who will miss her dearly.

Donations in Chris Hellman’s name may be made to the San Francisco Ballet ( or the San Francisco Free Clinic (


Chris + Warren Chris and Warren Chris and Warren high-five Chris & Warren Hellman and Robert Earl Keen Chris and Warren wedding photo Hellman family Gladiola Chris Hellman and Emmylou Harris - photo credit is Mike Melnyk ChrisBallet2 BirdOfParadise Chris, Hazel, Warren Red and White Lilly w bud resized The Wronglers The Wronglers at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 8

Listen to Chris with The Wronglers perform “Gold Watch and Chain” below.


Sharon Jones (1956-2016)

Here’s a glimpse at just one song from an amazing set of music in the park that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings gifted us with back in 2010.

We shall miss Sharon and her energy, dedication and spirit.

HSB16 Merchandise Available

Feeling nostalgiac about your weekend in the park with us? Or maybe you couldn’t make it but want to show your love from afar?  Get your HSB gear on – available now in our merch store!


Relive the weekend by watching the webcast archives and reading our daily reports.

Contribute to our social wall!

#HSB16 is the hashtag! We will be posting and also selecting some of our favorite of yours, so tag away!
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