While there are still many, many acts yet to be announced, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2023 festival teased its first ten artist announcements, highlighted by former Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell.
Tuesday would have been the 89th birthday of the late Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival founder and financier Warren Hellman. And as the festival does on his birthday, they released “teaser medleys” for a small handful of acts that have been booked for this coming year’s free Golden Gate Park festival (September 29-October 1). Though this year, you have to download the festival app to hear the teaser tracks.
Well, one day later, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has now confirmed who those ten artists are, per the Chronicle. One big name is former Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell (the Drive-By Truckers performed at last year’s festival), with his new-ish act Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Retro rock fans will also be pleased to see the lineup includes Aussie indie band The Church, and former X frontman John Doe with the John Doe Folk Trio.
Thanks for guessing! We're thrilled to announce our first round of confirmed artists! @thenealfrancis @johncraigie @TheValerieJune @BahamasMusic @JasonIsbell @thechurch @callmekingfish @gabymoreno__ @johndoe @LeylaMcCalla pic.twitter.com/tOBVtYdZUz— Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (@HSBFest) July 26, 2023
Other confirmed acts include indie rock band Bahamas, troubadour John Craigie, New Orleans-style pianist Neal Francis, blues guitarist Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, gospel singer Valerie June, cellist Leyla McCalla, and Guatemalan guitarist Gaby Moreno.
I'm honored to team up with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and present a few of the Out of The Park shows with X's John Doe and Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express. These two shows are freshly announced today and are on sale now, so get your tickets! A portion of the tickets… pic.twitter.com/zSWSgEO617— KC Turner Presents (@kcturnermusic) July 26, 2023
So that’s all established, but now let the pre-Coachella-style guessing games begin. Who else will be playing? It’s pretty much a given that Emmylou Harris will have a late Sunday slot. Traditionally, it’s a good bet you’ll also see both Steve Earle and the Travelin’ McCourys eventually added.
Will we get former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, as we did in 2011 and 2019? It’s possible! Plant will have completed his European tour by then, and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, he generally duets with Alison Krauss. The two did tour together earlier this year, so it's fair speculation they could be added.
As a humorous aside, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass had their Facebook account hacked last week. That all appears to be resolved, so it’s on with the countdown, as more batches of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass acts will be announced August 8, August 22, and September 5. Eventually, around 70 artists are expected to be on the three-day bill.
Image: @HSBFest via Twitter