SF’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival adds more bands to lineup

Fans enjoy Bela Fleck at the Swan Stage on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Chris Partin/Special to SFGATE

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Francisco’s preeminent free musical festival, announced another slew of performers Wednesday, led by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. 

“Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is quite legendary in my book and I always wanted to play there. I am honored that after 50 years I finally am worthy of being on one of the stages in the Golden Gate Park,” said Wainwright in a festival press release. 

While never a top-40 artist, Wainwright has been releasing well-received music since the late 1990s. His cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” became extremely popular following its inclusion on the “Shrek” soundtrack in 2001. Wainwright’s version, and its association with the multibillion-dollar film franchise, is credited as helping to “rejuvenate” Cohen’s career. 


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Most recently, Wainwright teamed up with fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen on “The Loneliest Time.”

Festival organizers also announced famed singer and songwriter Steve Earle, a Hardly Strictly regular, will return again in 2023. Earle has played the festival a handful of times, including last year when he honored his late son during a performance with headliners Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello. 

Other additions announced Wednesday include Say She She, Sierra Hull, Margo Cilker, Mighty Poplar, Bombino, Brennen Leigh, Thee Sacred Souls and Irma Thomas. 


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The festival is scheduled to run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.


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