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The Twang Spectrum

Annie Tittiger | October 3, 2014 | Story Music

Our annual free music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, is back for its 14th year with a lineup that, as usual, runs the gamut from full-blooded bluegrass to bands that you'd never affiliate with the genre—like rap trio Deltron 3030.

Here, our list of not-to-miss performers appearing this year, rated on a scale of relative banjo abundance. Oct. 3—5.

Parker Millsap
This Oklahoma native has a fiddle, an upright bass, lyrics about God and the Devil and meth houses, and a twangy voice reminiscent of early John Mellencamp. All the ingredients for bluegrass perfection.
Bluegrass Rating: Strictly strictly.

The Sam Chase
San Francisco’s folk-rock band has a sound like “a nun with a mouthful of cigarettes and curse words in a lonely bar, drunkenly dancing next to a broken jukebox” (their words, not ours).
Bluegrass Rating: Strictly hardly.

Malawi Mouse Boys
An eight-person African gospel band that hails from Malawi, its members sold barbecued field mice on a stick to passersby (hence the name) until Grammy-winning producer Ian Brenner discovered them.
Bluegrass Rating: Hardly strictly

Jonathan Wilson
Part Bob Dylan and part Pink Floyd, this alt-rocker sounds like he belongs at the Monterey Pop Festival instead of surrounded by banjo-slewing bands like the Dry Branch Fire Squad.
Bluegrass Rating: Hardly strictly.

Cibo Matto
Composed of two female New York transplants from Japan, the electronic duo melds hip-hop samples, pop melodies, and vocals that shift between French and broken English, creating a sound more a kin to Air than to Emmylou Harris.
Bluegrass Rating: Hardly hardly.

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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