Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Unveils First of 2023 Lineup

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is very proud to share the initial lineup for its upcoming return to San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Park from Friday September 29-Sunday October 1. Now in its 23rd year, the free music festival will once again present a truly eclectic bill of top performers spanning an array of genres, including Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Leyla McCalla, The Church, John Doe Folk Trio, Valerie June, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, John Craigie, Neal Francis, Bahamas, and Gaby Moreno. The lineup was teased with an exclusive medley streaming now on the official Hardly Strictly Bluegrass website and HSB app (available for Apple and Android devices HERE). Additional performers will be announced soon.


Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA

September 29-October 1, 2023


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Leyla McCalla

The Church

John Doe Folk Trio

Valerie June

Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram

John Craigie

Neal Francis


Gaby Moreno


The past two decades have seen Hardly Strictly Bluegrass grow from a one-day local attraction to a world-renowned three-day festival that attracts more than half a million people each year. The one-of-a-kind, annual free event boasts more than 70 artists spanning roots and Americana, funk, rock, soul, and more, highlighted by rising stars, countless surprises, and annual favorites such as Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle.

Founded by Warren Hellman in 2001, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass marked the late financier/philanthropist’s gift to the City of San Francisco, offering a free outdoor festival in the historic Golden Gate Park to serve as an annual celebration of American music. Honoring the legacy of Warren and Chris Hellman, their four children, who are the directors of the Hellman Foundation, oversee Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. They are guided by a very special mission celebrating American roots music and its many outgrowths in an environment that fosters joy, creativity, freedom, peace, collaboration, love of music, mutual respect, and spiritual community.

After going digital during the pandemic, HSB’s return to live performances in 2022 was received with great enthusiasm with The San Francisco Chronicle heralding the triumphant return to the park with the headline “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass ‘like a family reunion’ as performers, fans jubilantly return.” In attending, one could feel the crowd’s renewed sense of community and spirit resonating throughout the three days.

“Coming home to Golden Gate Park was essential to our well-being” remarked HSB Executive Producer Sheri Sternberg.“The artist’s joy was palpable and evident with all the amazing collaborations that took place. Listening to Emmylou Harris sing “Love Hurts” with Buddy Miller, hearing the Marcus Mumford and Lucius version of the Kinks “Strangers” and the rousing version of “Kansas City” by Mumford with Rhiannon Giddens, Elvis Costello and many others was soul-stirring. Witnessing Danielle Ponder sing for the first time at the Swan Stage left the audience speechless and Steve Earle’s tribute to the musicians we lost over the past few years was the perfect way to wind down the weekend. Everyone needed to have an exceptional year; the artists did not disappoint, and the audience rejoiced.”

Isbell’s return to Hardly Strictly is another homecoming of sorts, his last performance in the park was in 2014. His appearance comes on the heels of a highly acclaimed documentary, headlining amphitheatres across the country and a role in Martin Scorsese’s latest release “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

"Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is as good as a music festival gets, in my opinion. The location, the weather, the lack of corporate signage, the opportunity for beautiful and unique musical moments to happen- I love it all. This is one festival I always get excited about.” - Jason Isbell

The focus on streaming during 2020 and 2021 broadened Hardly Strictly Bluegrass’s reach to an international audience, showcasing its one-of-a-kind musical message while providing a miraculous gift to millions of fans around the world. A wide range of original content – including exclusive HSB 2022 sets – can be viewed now via Hardly Strictly Bluegrass TV (HSB TV), available for free to viewers around the globe HERE.

Tune in August 8th, 22nd and September 5th to enjoy new medleys, each of which will showcase additional artists performing at HSB 2023.