Kevin Griffin, cofounder of the Franklin-based Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival that launches this weekend, says that the idea for the event began with a simple morning run.
“In December 2013, I was running in Harlinsdale Farm Park for the first time. It’s the 200-acre historic horse farm that has been turned into a city park right across from The Factory. I was struck by the stunning landscape — rolling hills, natural amphitheaters — it was just gorgeous, even in December with no leaves. When I got back home I told my wife, ‘I’m doing a music festival.’”
Griffin, a 20-plus year veteran of the music business, had a longtime desire to create a music festival in the Nashville area that would be the Music City equivalent of the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a world-renowned celebration of the music and culture that is held each spring in the Big Easy. Calling in his friends, Brandt Wood and Michael Whelan, the idea for the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival was born.
“Although Nashville has many great music events, it has never had anything like this,” Griffin says. “It will be a truly family-friendly festival. It doesn't mean it's tame, but it does have something for everybody. We’ve built a two-day fest that’s easy to attend and is a showcase for the best of Middle Tennessee culture and food, with a truly eclectic music line-up.”
That eclectic lineup will be spread across four stages this Saturday and Sunday. The lineup features over 40 acts with the various rock, country, blues, and jazz artists occupying the three primary stages. The bill includes big-name draws such as Willie Nelson, Wilco, The Decemberists, Weezer, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Band Of Horses, Dr. John, Iron & Wine and Jimmy Cliff, along with a bunch of East Siders-done-good, like Cage The Elephant, Will Hoge and Nikki Lane. The focus on family-friendly entertainment is further enhanced by a fourth stage that will host such kid-favorites as Farmer Jason, Ralph's World, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards, Casey Campbell and more.
“One of our mantras is, ‘Crank it down,’” Griffin says. “We’re asking all the bands to do something different for the fest, play an acoustic song or two or even do an entire acoustic set, or what we call Pilgrimash-ups — members from other bands sitting in for a few songs. We just want to provide something different from other festivals. Being in the fall, it’s more pleasant to be outside and the event will be in a truly gorgeous setting among the historic buildings of Harlinsdale Farm.”
The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival runs September 26-27 at The Park at Harlinsdale in Franklin. For more info, visit the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival website. Buy your Pilgrimage Fest tickets here.