Hardly Strictly Is One Month Away And This Is What We Know So Far

Hardly Strictly Is One Month Away And This Is What We Know So Far
Entertain Events & Weddings

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2019 is merely one month away, so it’s time to start planning your pilgrimage from Humboldt, journey from the East Bay, or flight from San Diego to make it to the free San Francisco music fest. Golden Gate Park will be filled with unforgettable musicians, top-notch food vendors, and hundreds of thousands of your closest friends on October 4, 5, and 6.

Before you go, take a look at your concert checklist and pack up your short-backed chairs, blankets, reusable water bottles, cameras, and mineral sunscreen. You can also bring your own picnic to enjoy on the lawn, or sample bites from local eateries as the artists serenade you—but whatever you choose to do, make sure to leave no trace. 

The wait is nearly over, so get pumped for Hardly Strictly

History of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

In 2015, the popular Punch Brothers quintet performed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which takes place in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park annually. Photo courtesy of Jay Blakesberg.

The festival began in 2001 under the name “Strictly Bluegrass”. Founder Warren Hellman lived in San Francisco and envisioned the event to feature only bluegrass artists. While this quickly changed to encompass a wide range of music genres—leading to the addition of “Hardly” to the name in 2004—the music festival has continued to highlight the best in bluegrass. Hardly Strictly has become a true San Francisco tradition over the decades, compelling hundreds of thousands of people to attend the free event every year.

Hardly Strictly bluegrass 2019 Info

At the free three-day extravaganza, attendees can watch performances by 70-plus musicians across a variety of genres. Photo by Jay Blakesberg. 


Friday, October 4

  • Gates open at 10 a.m.
  • Music starts at 12 p.m.
  • Music stops at 7 p.m.

Saturday, October 5

  • Gates open at 10 a.m.
  • Music starts at 11 a.m.
  • Music stops at 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 6

  • Gates open at 10 a.m.
  • Music starts at 11 a.m.
  • Music stops at 7 p.m.


Performances take place at the Hellman Hollow (previously known as Speedway Meadows), Lindley, and Marx meadows in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Getting to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 

Every year, the iconic music fest welcomes such prominent artists as Flogging Molly, who graced the Hardly Strictly stage in 2015. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Public Transportation

Take BART from East Bay locations and transfer to Muni. The 29 Sunset line runs through the park on Crossover Drive. Alternatively, you can take the following Muni routes:

  • Muni service to the north side of Golden Gate Park: 5 Fulton, 5R Fulton Rapid, 31 Balboa, 38 Geary and 38R Geary Rapid buses
  • Muni service to the south side of Golden Gate Park: N Judah train and the 7 Haight/Noriega bus

Ride Shares

Since there will be more traffic than usual, ride shares will only pick up passengers from the designated areas. These can be found Friday through Sunday, from 2 to 8 p.m., at the following locations:

North Side

  • Balboa Street, between 30th Avenue & 31st Avenue
  • Balboa Street, at 31st Avenue (100 feet westward)

West Side 

  • 30th Avenue, between Balboa & Anza 

East Side

  • 32nd Avenue, between Balboa & Anza

Additional pick-up areas are available Friday through Sunday, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the following locations:

North Side

  • Irving Street, at 26th Avenue (100 feet eastward)

South Side

  • Richmond Serenity Spa: Balboa Street, at 36th Avenue (100 feet eastward)
  • Balboa BiRite: Market Street, at 26th Avenue (100 feet eastward)

Taxi Pick-Up Areas

  • Fulton from 29th to 28th Avenues
  • Fulton from 36th to 35th Avenues

Parking Lots

  • George Washington High School: 600 32nd Avenue
  • Argonne: 680 18th Avenue

Additional lots on Saturday and Sunday are located here:

  • Lafayette Elementary School: 4545 Anza Street at 36th Avenue
  • Jefferson Elementary School: 1725 Irving Street 
  • Lawton Alternative School: 1570 31st Avenue

Hardly Strictly Lineup

Grammy Award-winning artist Booker T. Jones was one of many notable musicians to perform at the festival in 2018. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

While the official Hardly Strictly Bluegrass lineup for 2019 hasn’t been released yet, the festival has published four medleys introducing this year’s incredible performers.

Medley 1

Hayes Carll, Meat Puppets, Bettye Lavette, Calexico and Iron & Wine, Dakhabrakha, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Milk Carton Kids, Margo Price, Jackie Greene, The Waterboys

Medley 2

Dry Branch Fire Squad, Tanya Tucker, Daniel Norgren, Buddy Miller & Dirk Powell with Stuart Duncan, John Craigie, Hot Buttered Rum, Mdou Moctar, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Sierra Hull, Nikki Lane

Medley 3

Flor de Toloache, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, Yola, Pimps of Joytime, Kurt Vile and The Violators, Whiskerman, The Wild Reeds, Mandolin Orange, Emmylou Harris, Mary Gauthier

Medley 4

The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger, The Long Ryders, Hot Tuna Electric, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Caitlin Canty, Bedouine, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Tank & The Bangas, Kronos Quartet’s Pete Seeger @ 100 with special guest Brian Carpenter

Check the Hardly Strictly website for updates on the lineup, and review the map of the venue to get hyped for what’s in store.

Hardly Strictly Out of the Park

Country Music Hall of Famer Emmylou Harris played her hit songs at Hardly Strictly 2018 alongside the Red Dirt Boys. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

In addition to performing at the festival, several Hardly Strictly artists will take the stage at venues across the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the Hardly Strictly Out of the Park. With each ticket purchase, $1 will go toward Music in the Schools Today, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating music education programs that increase student achievement. Here is the 2019 schedule for Hardly Strictly Out of the Park:

September 21: Jackie Greene, Sweetwater in the Sun, Novato

October 3: Milk Carton Kids with Rodes Rollins, Terrapin Crossroads, San Rafael

October 3: Steve Earle with Lake Charlatans, Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley (benefitting Autistry Studios)

October 4: Robert Earl Keen, Mystic Theater, Petaluma

October 4: Amanda Richards & The Good Long Whiles, Echoes & Artifacts, and Fog Holler; Amnesia; San Francisco

October 5: Hayes Carll with Purple Glaze, Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley

October 5: Meat Puppets, Ivy Room, Albany

October 5: Kurt Vile & The Violators with Jon Langford and the Skull Orchard Welsh Male Voice Choir, The Fillmore, San Francisco

October 6: Calexico and Iron & Wine, Mountain Winery, Saratoga

October 6: Mandolin Orange with Ismay, The Chapel, San Francisco

October 8–9: DakhaBrakha, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley

October 11: The Waterboys, The Fillmore, San Francisco