The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival may be one of Tennessee's newest festivals this year, but the family-friendly event is boasting a two-day lineup of musicians that has everyone taking note.

With performances booked by the likes of Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Dr. John, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Wilco, just to name a few, the freshman festival just might steal the show in terms of quality venues in Tennessee.

"We put a lot of work into this lineup and used Jay Sweet who has years of experience in talent booking and a lot of respect. Most bands want to know who else is playing. Once we got Willie Nelson, he was our first to sign, then Dr. John, the others followed," Kevin Griffin, festival promoter said.

While Tennessee is famous for hosting the legendary music festival Bonnaroo, Pilgrimage Festival promoters plan their festival to be a horse of a different color.

The vision for the Pilgrimage Festival came from Griffin's desire to offer a family-friendly event. His hopes are for a festival that allows multiple generations of music lovers to come together in a picturesque setting of rolling hills and enjoy a diverse lineup of quality performers.

The Pilgrimage Festival will take place in historic Franklin, TN, Sept. 26-27 at Franklin's Park at Harlinsdale Farm, the 200-acre former Tennessee Walking Horse farm.

Griifin has is a resident of Franklin and is also known as the lead singer of the band Better than Ezra that was tremendously successful in the 1990s.

Griffin says The Pilgrimage Festival is going to be more like the "gentle, older cousin to Bonnaroo."

"We're kind of the opposite of Bonnaroo. It's going to be smaller with 10,000 to 15,000 people each day, it's going to be during the daytime only with all performances ending at 7:30 to 8 p.m. at the latest. There will be less people at more of a boutique event in a historical setting. There will be many acoustic performances and we hope (festival goers) will see the artists perform in a way they have never seen them before. It's going to be a super family-friendly event with one of the stages (the Li'l Pilgrim stage) being for kids," Griffin said in a telephone interview.

The is no camping or overnight sleeping at the site. The festival opens at 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday with performances beginning at 10:30 a.m. Parking opens at 9:30 a.m. on both days.

The entire lineup for the festival includes Wilco, Willie Nelson, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Steven Tyler, The Decemberists, Sheryl Crow, Band of Horses, Dr. John, Jimmy Cliff, Dawes, Chris Stapleton, Punch Brothers, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, Trampled By Turtles, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, The Lone Bellow, Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Will Hoge, Saint Motel, Nikki Lane, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Holly Williams, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Big Sam's Funky Nation, John & Jacob, Elel, Guthrie Brown and the Family Tree, The Grand Southern, Joe Pug, Nawas, Kingfish, and Steve Woodward.

Another unique feature of the festival is there will be several artist collaborations, which the festival's website refers to as "Pilgri-mashups."

There will be several stages including one for kids. The kid's stage will feature a variety of musical entertainment that will entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. The lineup will feature talented young music-makers in their own right, and a play area will be the perfect location for the little ones to run off some steam.

The kids lineup includes Ralph's World, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards, Farmer Jason, Casey Campbell, Laura Doherty and the Heartbeats, Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, and Emi Sunshine.

Festival-goers will be able to discover and experience the culture of Franklin and Williamson County featured in a Bazaar. Beverages, food and crafts will be available for purchase. At the Bazaar, local restaurants, antique dealers and artisans will showcase their wares and fares. The Kitch N' Tell will showcase demonstrations from chefs and makers of fine beverages to give festival-goers a inside look into their craft. There will also be locals who will be sharing stories about the history of Franklin and Williamson County.

The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival encourages a smoke-free environment. Smoking is prohibited under all tents and inside buildings. Smoking is permitted in isolated areas.

Griffin says he is looking forward to a family-friendly festival showcasing Middle Tennessee.

"It's going to be great seeing this in action. I'm excited to be able to share our vision and show people the culture and artisans of Tennessee," Griffin said.

Although Griffin is the singer from Better than Ezra, the band will not be performing.

"I'm focusing more on being a promoter for this event. I wanted there to be a purity in what I was doing and not saying, 'hey we created a music festival come hear us play,'" Griffin said.

However, that could change in the future years once the festival is up and running.

The New Orleans' Jazz Festival has served as an influence on the Pilgrimage Festival where good eating and drinking will also play an essential role in the experience.

A wide range of vendors, some from New Orleans, but most from the Middle Tennessee area, will serve Southern-inspired food and craft beverages.

There will be plenty of watering stations, charging stations for electronic devices and parking and shuttles will be available. No disorderly conduct or disruptive behavior will be allowed at the festival. All laws will be followed. No weapons will be allowed.

The Crossville Chronicle plans to offer coverage of the Pilgrimage Festival with both live updates on the Chronicle website and in the printed edition.

Tickets for the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival are on sale now and start at $92 for a single day ticket, $172 for single day pass and $499 for VIP packages. Kids under 10 get in free with a ticketed adult. For more information about the festival, complete policies of the festival, lodging and parking, or to buy tickets, visit pilgrimagefestival.com.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

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