By Jack Quach
Free live music will greet listeners in Golden Gate Park once again throughout the majority of 2023. In late February, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced the return of the free live music series at the popular bandshell, with 2023 marking the third series of performances that range from R&B and soul to salsa music.
“The most exciting part of this series is the accessibility,” Daniel Montes, the communications manager for Rec. and Park, wrote. Not only is the concert series free, but it takes place at a central and iconic location in Golden Gate Park.”
On March 1, the series titled “Illuminate Live” began a series set to continue through to November. Golden Gate Park, which serves as a central landmark in San Francisco connecting both the Sunset and Richmond districts, has long served as host for public events and activities.
The renewal of the concerts represents a continuation of efforts to re-establish community gatherings in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic peak. Also, Montes shared that the concerts’ location provides the benefit of having a variety of options to reach the iconic music venue, including public transportation, the Golden Gate Park free shuttle, and parking spaces at the park.
The Illuminate Live series gained its original start in celebration of Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary. However, because this celebration fell in 2020, the pandemic delayed its eventual kickoff date. Three years since, the series has benefitted from renovations to the bandshell and a multitude of performances that have taken place.
Many of the performances will take place in the late afternoon to evening hours, with recurring events such as “Friday Happy Hours,” “Crucial Reggae Sundays” and “Singer/Songwriter Wednesdays.” The series schedule also includes regular appearances of Sunday matinee concerts. Montes said the diversity of artists available through the free concert series “plays an important role. There’s something for everyone – no matter what your music taste is.”
Additionally, Montes highlighted the fact that March featured all women or women-fronted bands to recognize International Women’s Month.
The lineup of artists features a variety of musical and performance styles. In addition, highlighted events also spotlight cultural celebrations, such as a March 17 concert by Irish American musician Shana Morrison and her band, Caledonia, in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.
The 2023 run will cumulatively showcase more than 100 performances in the Golden Gate Bandshell.
“This event is for all ages and goes through November,” Montes said. “Now in its third year, this series has become a reliable source for entertainment, meaning people who live or work nearby have come to count on this series as an option to unwind with live music.”
A complete schedule of events in the “Illuminate Live” series can be found at goldengatebandshell.org/events/list.
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