Arts Culture and Entertainment

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters rocks out during their Sunday night performance at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival in Franklin. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival)

This year’s Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival in Franklin came back successful and stronger than ever for its fifth year. After last year’s rainout and flooding issues only a few hours into the first day, many people were concerned the festival may not recover. The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin was closed for months afterward.

Earlier this year it was announced the festival would continue and once again proved to be one of the premier music festivals in the country.

“We really appreciate everyone who stuck with us over the past few years. Especially last year and we hope the festival continues ti improve each year,” Kevin Griffin, Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival co-founder said.

Parking and traffic flow issues were considerably better after only allowing those with prepaid parking passes to travel on Franklin Ave. Those who didn’t have the parking pass could either take an Uber or Lyft, public transit or shuttle from off-site parking.

As far as music goes there were countless rock solid performances. Many of those performances were by upcoming artists.

One of my favorites of the festival was Kacy & Clayton. Their show was on one of the smaller stages, The Shady Grove, and offered an intimate performance. The group comes from Canada and offers folk-inspired tunes and writing from of the stories of their lives, family and rural areas of Canada.

Their sound was impeccable and tight.

They performed many songs from their recently released “Carrying On” album that was produced by Jeff Tweedy, frontman of Wilco and recorded at their studio in Chicago, The Loft.

“He’s a complete expert of sound but he also has a very influential fashion sense and I was mis-taken for him a time or two at the studio. I didn’t feel nervous to record at The Loft because it would of gotten in the way of the fun,” Kacy Anderson said of the experience.

Of course festival headliners Foo Fighters, The Killers, and Keith Urban put on amazing performances.

I was particularly impressed with The Killers. Prior to opening their set there was a long humming, growling chord that gradually increased in volume on a synthesizer for nearly 45 seconds. The stage then lit up and the band came out.

They began playing “My Best Friend’s Girl” by The Cars.

“This night’s in honor of Ric,” lead singer Brandon Flowers said.

The song paid tribute to Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, who recently passed away. The Cars were a huge influence on the Killers. In fact, Flowers was the main speaker who inducted The Cars into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last year.

In my mind it was an inspiring moment in Rock and Roll music and I was glad to have witnessed the performance.

Keith Urban’s performance was high-energy and even included a guitar give-away. During his performance Urban frequently changed guitars. A woman in the audience had a sign that said, “My husband doesn’t think you’ll see this sign.”

Urban not only acknowledged the sign on stage, he went out into the crowd, took the guitar he was playing, signed it and presented it to the woman in the audience.

He performed the majority of his big hits in a set that was more than 1.5 hours.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was I could not get out of the crowd to go see Leon Bridges perform. Even Urban himself said he sad that he wasn’t going to get to hear Leon Bridges perform.

Lauren Daigle, an upcoming star also proved to be a future music force. Daigle has an inspiring, strong voice and gave a powerful performance.

The War and Treaty, also gave a heart-felt, inspiring performance of gospel, soul blended choruses that had people in the crowd dancing and raising their arms in praise.

Other noteworthy performances were given by Wynonna & The Big Noise, you know her best as Wynonna Judd. She is a true artist and has one of the most powerful women’s voices in music. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band out of New Orleans is also one of my favorites. Their music always gets people on their feet, dancing, cheering and clapping along to the beat.

Honestly, in all of the music performances at Pilgrimage it’s a challenge to find one that is not good. The majority of the acts performing are filled veteran music professionals. From the variety of great food, beverages, goods to purchase, and souvenirs, there truly is something for everyone at this family-friendly music and culture festival.

Gary Nelson may be reached at

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