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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is here again, bringing a host of bands both new and familiar. The best music is not necessarily the most well known, and the greatest festival experiences are the surprises. Here’s the first of three posts to help guide your HSB journey, with recommendations, links, and descriptions.

On Fridays, the crowds are relatively light until the late afternoon, so you can wander more easily than on the other days. Those dastardly organizers, though — they always pit similarly great bands against each other at the same time slots, so there will be hard choices to make. [read the whole post]

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Who's with me on this one?!

With the recent breakout success of Mumford & Sons, I finally feel validated that the sound I’ve enjoyed for years has finally crossed over to the category of  “stuff my friends will actually listen to.”  In past years, I’ve had to venture out amongst the throngs of music go-er’s at SXSW by myself in order to catch the bands that I wanted to see. Not the “on-the-verge-of-breaking-out-so-you-better-see-them-now” bands, but bands like Deer Tick, and A Hawk and A Hacksaw; folky, introspective music that doesn’t necessarily provide an earth shattering good time or  story, but leaves you with a lingering ache in your stomach, like recalling an old memory, long after the show is over. Music that creates that physiological response is what ultimately attracts me as a listener. So hopefully these acts will provide that tingly sensation to my SXSW companions, and entice them to join me the next time their schedule opens up. [read the whole post]

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