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Thanks for all the music, Warren
December 18, 2011 9:49 PM   Subscribe

Warren Hellman, billionaire, financier, and sponsor of the best free music festival around, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, died today in San Francisco.

"A rugged iconoclast whose views on life rarely failed to surprise, Hellman was a lifelong Republican who supported labor unions, an investment banker whose greatest joy was playing songs of the working class in a bluegrass band, and a billionaire who wanted to pay more taxes and preferred the company of crooners and horsemen who shared his love of music and cross-country “ride and tie” racing."

Part of Golden Gate Park was just renamed Hellman Hollow for him.

Hardly Strictly has changed and grown over the years, but I think it's been a Metafilter meetup site pretty much every year, and it's seen a lot of truly excellent free music. This year was a tribute to the incomparable Hazel Dickens, who was there every year before she died. I wish all billionaires spent their money on free music festivals.
posted by gingerbeer (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by iamkimiam at 9:53 PM on December 18, 2011


Dammit.

Hardly Strictly really has been some kind of special festival - outstanding performances, mellow (if ever-increasing) crowds, suffused with schmoopy.

Thanks, Warren.
posted by rtha at 9:54 PM on December 18, 2011


"Family members say that Hellman has endowed the festival for 15 years after his death. "I know that next year we will have one fuck of a festival," said Holliday."
posted by gingerbeer at 9:54 PM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Among his other contributions was funding for the Bay Citizen, our local non-profit news organization. (which is why so many of my links are from there.)
posted by gingerbeer at 9:57 PM on December 18, 2011


Oh wow. That's amazing news. And means that one day I may get to attend Hardly Strictly again...it's my favorite musical festival and one of the top things I've sorely missed about San Francisco since I've left.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:57 PM on December 18, 2011


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posted by stoneweaver at 10:04 PM on December 18, 2011


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posted by alexei at 10:06 PM on December 18, 2011


EVERYONE STOP DYING. GOD!

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posted by The Whelk at 10:09 PM on December 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


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Thanks for some amazing weekends that opened my life up to some incredibly soul-enriching music.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:26 PM on December 18, 2011


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posted by finite at 11:01 PM on December 18, 2011


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posted by zachlipton at 11:03 PM on December 18, 2011


Thank you for sharing so much joy with me and my loved ones.
RIP

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posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 11:06 PM on December 18, 2011


Aw man. So weird to find out about this here. A friend of mine is one of his grandchildren. I know his family is hurting and I think a whole bunch of the city is too. So sad that he is gone, but what a beautiful gift to leave us.
posted by matt_od at 11:09 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Hellman family story is an amazing one. If you want to find out how Warren Hellman got into the 1% and where he learned to balance wealth and philanthropy, Towers of Gold is a good place to start.
posted by chavenet at 11:13 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by wolfewarrior at 11:30 PM on December 18, 2011


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posted by lapolla at 12:13 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by hangingbyathread at 12:14 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by Vibrissae at 1:16 AM on December 19, 2011


Hardly Strictly was a formative moment for me, shattering my previously rigid concepts of "what kind of music I liked" which did not really give anything approaching "country" a fair chance. I saw all the living legends of bluegrass that weekend and was shown how foolish I had been and how big the world was. I will never forget the moment I wandered over to one of the main stages, on a chilly foggy day that was turning into evening, seeing a big crowd and wondering what was up, only to be frozen on the spot, turned to stone, broken apart, and melted again by Gillian Welch's voice. It was 2005, my one and only visit to this festival, and one of my favourite memories of my brief time in San Francisco. I hope I can make it back.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:00 AM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's Hellman with the Wronglers cooking at SXSW. Makes me glad to know he got to experience the joy of creating this music after giving so much to it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:13 AM on December 19, 2011


Billionaire Republican? Just up MeFi's alley.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 2:42 AM on December 19, 2011


We could use a few more billionaire Republicans like him (though the only political donations I can find in Hellman's name are to Barbara Boxer and the DNC). Seldom does philanthropy look so cool.

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posted by Scram at 4:27 AM on December 19, 2011


Billionaire Republican? Just up MeFi's alley. --- Yup. Another rich guy doing random crap.
posted by crunchland at 4:58 AM on December 19, 2011


I favorited that comment! I think that as a matter of public policy, it's poor form to start relying on private funds to do what public funds ought to - give every child a good education such that they can get into and succeed in college if they want to, and have sufficient economic support in the home that they can do homework instead of, I dunno, getting shot at or going hungry.

But if a billionaire wants to give money to put on a free festival of awesome music, I think that's just dandy. Apparently so do about half a million people a year, over a weekend in October.
posted by rtha at 6:10 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


A huge loss for everyone.

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posted by jasper411 at 6:32 AM on December 19, 2011


Billionaire Republican? Just up MeFi's alley. --- Yup. Another rich guy doing random crap.

My argument, in that comment you linked to, was that society shouldn't depend on the whims of the affluent to address structural problems, particularly those around education. Are you saying that there are comparable structural problems for society that revolve around bluegrass music festivals?

I suppose it's possible, but I would like to hear you make your case.
posted by mhoye at 7:03 AM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


For about six years, I lived a few blocks from Golden Gate Park and would walk over early in the morning to throw down a blanket, a basket of goodies, and some fantastic local wine and have mellow, beautiful days with my favorite people in the city listening to amazing music. Dry Branch Fire Squad, Earl Scruggs, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gogol Bordello, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss, Billy Bragg, the Avett Brothers...so much awesome.

Thank you, Warren, for this lovely, lovely gift you've given us. A classy guy for a classy city. You'll be missed.

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posted by smirkette at 7:41 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by R343L at 7:48 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by lord_wolf at 8:04 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by whir at 9:01 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by obloquy at 9:17 AM on December 19, 2011


PercussivePaul thanks for sharing that sentiment. I couldn't have said it better.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 9:40 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by Hey, Zeus! at 11:34 AM on December 19, 2011


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posted by weston at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2011


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posted by blob at 5:07 PM on December 19, 2011


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