Hardly optional

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival

It often seems like there's some sort of strange, less-hispter-than-thou (and therefore hipper-than-thou), death-to-the-tech-startup-yuppies, anti-San Francisco vibe going around. But certainly, here's something we can all agree on when it comes to the City by the Bay: The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is a big, shiny gift to the public at which you'd be foolish to thumb your nose.

The free annual concert, which started as a single-day event in 2001 with a small lineup, has expanded its roster far beyond what one might typically think of as bluegrass.

This year's event, scheduled to take place over three days, features acts as sundry as Billy Bragg (pictured), Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Calexico, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Chris Isaak, Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell, Bonnie Raitt, and Boz Scaggs. Oh, and MC Hammer, too. No, really.

Beyond the killer lineup and swell founding ideals, this concert continues to make its case for being the best festival ever by allowing attendees to bring in coolers and booze. Coolers of booze, even (because there will be no booze for sale). And get this: Not only will recycling be encouraged, but so will composting.

Bottom line is, there's no good reason not to go, no matter how annoyed you are by the glasses-with-no-prescription-lenses kids in the Lower Haight. No cover, Friday, October 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Golden Gate Park, 501 Stanyan Street in San Francisco; www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.