Warren Hellman devoted the first half of his life to finance--becoming the youngest partner ever at Lehman Brothers before staking off on his own at the wildly successful private equity firm Hellman & Friedman--but the second half he gave to bluegrass.
Hellman, who passed away late last year at the age of 77, is best known for throwing the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Hellman funded the free festival almost completely out of his own pocket every year since 2001, calling it his "selfish gift" to the city.
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Stipulations in Hellman's will call for his estate to continue paying for the festival for at least a decade after his passing.
The city's Recreation and Parks Department, which previously demonstrated their appreciation of Hellman in the weeks prior to his death by pushing for the renaming of the meadow where the festival is held after the billionaire venture capitalist, is teaming with Hellman's long-time co-producer, Big Billy Productions, to throw memorial concert in Hellman's honor packed with some of his favorite artists.
"It's intended to be a joyous event to honor a true civic leader," Parks Department chief Phil Ginsberg told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The event, scheduled for February 19th on Ocean Beach, is a fitting tribute to the philanthropist through the music he loved. There will be performances on two stages by a legion of bands that have played Hardly Strictly in the past.
"It's just about the music," Hardly Strictly booker Dawn Holliday told SF Weekly. "It's about the joy Warren loved, and every one of these artists was hand-picked because he loved them."
Check out some of the artists currently scheduled to play the tribute concert, including Hellman's own personal band, The Wronglers: