SAN JOSE, Calif. — Expect to see even more smiles than usual when the beloved Hardly Strictly Bluegrass makes its long awaited return to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
It marks the first in-person HSB since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 events were online-only affairs due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, what a way to make a comeback. Steve Earle and the Dukes, Elvis Costello, Allison Russell, Charley Crockett, Meklit, Marcus Mumford, Bela Fleck and Emmylou Harris are among the dozens of acclaimed acts performing at this year’s festival.
It’s another stellar lineup for a festival that has certainly had no shortage of them over its storied history.
And, as always, admission is free.
The following are a dozen of our top picks, listed chronologically, for the 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Underscoring the “Hardly Strictly” portion of the festival’s name, our choices range from country and rock to folk, R&B and more.
For more information about the three-day event — and to get acquainted with the festival’s do’s-and-don’ts — visit hardlystrictlybluegrass.com. That’s the same place where you will find music from two of HSB’s six stages – the Swan and Tower of Gold stages – being streamed throughout the weekend.
Friday (Sept. 30)
Satya: The 22-year-old Oakland artist gets her name from a Sanskrit word that translates to “truth.” So, it perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s such a tangible sense of emotional openness and honesty to be found in her recordings. She tackles the topic of love in a variety of styles — dealing with both heartbreak and healing — on her latest EP “Deep Blue,” all the while showcasing an impeccable vocal delivery on her slow, southing and soulful offerings. (2-2:30 p.m. Bandwagon Stage)
Allison Russell: “Outside Child,” the debut solo outing from this highly talented Canadian singer-songwriter-clarinetist, was the best album of 2021. It offered up a spellbinding array of musical styles, from jazz and soul to country and world music, as well as elegant vocal work paired with harrowing lyrics telling of the abuse Russell suffered as a child at the hands of her adoptive father. It was nothing short of a stunning artistic achievement, which should translate to a huge crowd waiting to see the Montreal native at Golden Gate Park. (4:45-5:45 p.m. Swan Stage)