The first in-person Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in three years gets pickin’ Friday afternoon, and while it’s still free, here’s a Foggy Mountain breakdown of what you can and can’t bring to the festival grounds at Golden Gate Park.
Live music fans who could not afford $400 Outside Lands tickets or $300 Portola Festival tickets, your weekend has finally arrived. At 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, the largest free music west of the Mississippi will officially start jamming for the first time since 2019. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival returns to Golden Gate Park for its 21st consecutive year (though the last two years were livestream only, obviously).
Lori Feldman, Jeff Seiwald and Rob Evans are the first @HSBFest fans to get in line at the JFK and 36th Avenue entrance. They’ve been coming to the festival since 2001.— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) September 30, 2022
Since it’s Friday, organizers are expecting calmer crowds @sfchronicle pic.twitter.com/Hu3jm576K0
Eager fans were already lined up at 10 a.m. Friday morning. Friday’s performances don't start until 1 p.m., but both Saturday and Sunday’s live sets begin at 11 a.m.
For those of you who can't join us in the Park, we are excited to share our link to the livestream of the Swan and Towers of Gold Stages, airing the sets live to our own https://t.co/uvCmyznxeK channel. Visit https://t.co/O7eBhP1GUT to get the download links and other details. pic.twitter.com/FpVWqXqzkp— Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (@HSBFest) September 30, 2022
Yes, this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass will again be livestreamed. But contrary to the message portrayed above, no, you do not need to download the HSB TV app for Apple, Android, Roku, or Apple TV (I mean, you can if you want). They will be streaming the Swan Stage and Towers of Gold Stage right on the festival’s homepage, with no plug-in necessary. Friday’s livestream begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday’s begins at 11: 35 a.m., and Sunday’s livestream kicks off at 11:45 a.m.
And those are good stages, delivering free livestreams of Elvis Costello, the Travelin’ McCourys, Antibalas, Moonalice, Marcus Mumford, and Bela Fleck.
Yet there are some new restrictions on what you can and can’t bring. Notably, no coolers! (And they feel they need to clarify that you can’t bring kegs of beer, either.) But you can bring a “small soft-side cooler for medical or child care needs.” And as usual, you can only bring in the short folding chairs, no standard-size folding chairs. There’s a full list of what you can and can’t bring on the website.
Fans walk straight through security detectors that use technology to scan people’s items instead of searching bags as gates open during the first day of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at S.F.'s Golden Gate Park. 🎥: @jachristian pic.twitter.com/OyGe25p2Zy— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 30, 2022
There will be metal scanners to go through, as this is the era we live in. And you might not want to bring that metal flask of liquor, as it may set off the detector. And remember, liquor is technically not legal in Golden Gate Park, though beer and wine are.
Getting there... Can't wait! pic.twitter.com/yIeTTigmOj— Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (@HSBFest) September 30, 2022
If you’re looking for the shortest entry lines, SFGate notes that “The entrance at JFK and Transverse is the most highly trafficked, and Fulton Street at 30th Avenue is a close second. For quicker entry, go to JFK and 36th Avenue, or the South Polo Field.”
If you’re taking a rideshare, SFGate adds that “the pickup and dropoff areas are 30th Avenue between Anza and Balboa, and Balboa between 30th and 31st (Irving between 25th and 27th avenues is pickup only).”
And it will be a glorious weather weekend. Friday figures to be the warmest day, but both Saturday and Sunday will see highs in the upper 60s.
Remember gang, this ain’t Outside Lands. All shows will wrap up not later than 7 p.m., though there will be some “Out of the Park” nighttime shows afterward, all three nights of the festival plus Moonalice playing Tuesday at the Chapel.
Image: @HSBFest via Twitter