by Dave Golden
The 23rd edition of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival unfolded amidst the scenic beauty and nature of Golden Gate Park from September 29 to October 1, 2023. Across the festival’s six stages, an eclectic array of musical genres and performances delighted attendees.
Notably, bluegrass fans were treated to captivating performances by the likes of Peter Rowan, Dry Branch Fire Squad, and Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands. However, the festival was not limited to bluegrass alone, offering a rich tapestry of blues, soul, folk, and rock performances.
A noteworthy addition to this year’s festivities was the introduction of the intimate “Horseshoe Hill Stage,” situated somewhat apart from the main festival grounds. This unique setting aimed to create an ambiance reminiscent of a cozy living room, making attendees feel intimately connected with the performers. This new stage made a memorable debut on Friday, with the iconic Rickie Lee Jones enthralling the audience by reading from her memoir, “Last Chance Texaco.”
As the weekend progressed, Saturday night saw the Banjo Stage come alive with a captivating closing performance by Steve Earle, while the grand finale on Sunday was expertly executed by the legendary Emmylou Harris. This year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival was a harmonious celebration of music, uniting fans of various genres in the heart of Golden Gate Park.