Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: 11 great acts to catch at the 2023 festival

Jim Harrington, Bay Area News Group on

Published in Entertainment News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a day and age when concert ticket prices run into the hundreds — even thousands — of dollars, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass remains arguably the greatest free music event in the entire world.

And what do you get for nothing?

In the case of HSB, you get a lot.

This year’s edition of the festival that Warren Hellman created and bankrolled beginning in 2001 delivers three days of music — Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 — on multiple stages in Golden Gate Park.

The lineup (as per usual with this event) is tremendous, offering up such longtime HSB favorites as Steve Earle and the Dukes, Peter Rowan, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Buddy Miller, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, John Doe and, of course, Emmylou Harris.

Here are our picks, separated by day, of 11 artists to catch at this year’s festival, ranging from a young blues guitar master and a “Cosmic Americana” troubadour to an Australian new wave act and a punk rock legend playing folk.


Note: Most sets run 40 minutes to an hour. For the complete schedule, event do’s and don’ts and more information, visit hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.

Friday, Sept. 29

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram: The Clarksdale, Mississippi, native delivered the single best set that we saw at this year’s BottleRock Napa Valley, a three-day festival that also featured such well-known headliners as Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lizzo.

The 24-year-old bluesman proved to be an absolute force of nature during his hour-long set in Napa, sounding great on the microphone and delivering some of the most impressive electric guitar work that we’ve seen in years.


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