San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass returns in person from pandemic

Acoustic guitar wizard Yasmin Williams is among the acts that make up the wildly diverse lineup of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, running Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. (Kim Atkins/courtesy of Yasmin Williams).

For the first time since before the pandemic, music lovers can roll out their picnic blankets at Golden Gate Park to and listen to live music at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

"I think it’s important for the community to come together," said Executive Producer Sheri Sternberg. "Most of what we’ve heard is people looking forward to reuniting with their friends. "

The three-day event starts Friday. There are six stages and a lineup that includes big names like Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford and of course Emmylou Harris who closes out the weekend festival with a Sunday performance every year.

Sternberg said it’s also important to enjoy the smaller indie bands.

"The thing that I usually tell people is to go see something that you don’t know. Try and find a band you’ve never heard of and go experience it," said Sternberg.

People can expect increased security measures. There are new barriers and fence lines walk-through body scanners and there will be additional police. Large bags will not be allowed. Clear bags are recommended.

"The priority is safety for everybody. There’s a lot going on in the world today and the most important thing for us is out keeping our artists safe and our spectators and staff all have a great experience during the event," said Sternberg.

There’s also new COVID-19 health protocol and a testing station that also offers on-site vaccines.