The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival returned to Franklin, Tenn., on Saturday for two live, raucous days of southern-rooted sounds, from rock and folk to country and blues and beyond.
Brandi Carlile, Jon Batiste and Lake Street Dive were among the highlights of day one of the family festival, but there was much more to discover during nearly 12 hours of non-stop live music. These are our favorite sets from a Saturday spent at Harlinsdale Farm.
Growing up as a “gay country music kid” in Seattle, Brandi Carlile said on stage Saturday, “I didn’t want to go to Disneyland. I didn’t want to see the Grand Canyon. I wanted to come to Nashville.
She remembers first coming to town nearly 20 years ago and playing at local club 3rd and Lindsley.
“You don’t think you’re going to stand on a stage and look out and see what I’m seeing right now.”
His view, at that time, was an audience of thousands, stretching to the limits of the festival grounds.
Headlining an event of this scale is fairly new territory for the singer-songwriter, and for the next 90 minutes, Americana’s brightest star was a beaming presence on stage. head of Pilgrimage, not to mention her wardrobe (“I’m so glad I wore my yellow suit for y’all,” she told the crowd.)
We’d say she went all out for the occasion, but that would suggest there were times on stage where she didn’t, and anyone who’s followed the 41-year-old’s career knows that. has rarely, if ever, been true.
Still, closing the night at Pilgrimage was something very special for Carlile. Although she was due to finish playing just before 10 a.m. (and she did), at one point she joked: “I think a serious case could be made for raising the curfew to midnight. “
The catchy ballads “The Story”, “Right On Time” and “The Joke” were evident, showcasing Carlile’s vocal strengths. But softer moments, including “The Mother” — which pierced the collective hearts of this parent-filled crowd — and the three-part harmony of “The Eye” have just as much emotion.
Few of Pilgrimage’s best Saturday performers have left the stage without playing a cover or two, and Carlile delivered three: David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Radiohead’s “Creep” (both with incendiary guitar solos by Celisse , which happened earlier in the day). as “Woodstock”, by a legendary friend.
“I don’t want to spoil an audience like this without honoring the great Joni Mitchell,” she explained.
In the final moments – as her two young daughters joined her on stage – Carlile thanked Pilgrimage “from the bottom of my heart for putting a woman on the headliner this week”.
“It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to a lot of people.”
Just 48 hours before playing his headliner at Pilgrimage, Jon Batiste debuted his new symphony at Carnegie Hall.
It’s been an extraordinarily busy few days – even for a musical renaissance man who works five nights a week as Stephen Colbert’s bandleader and also won album of the year at this year’s Grammys. year.
But with the energy and enthusiasm that Batiste displayed from start to finish on Saturday night, you would think he had just returned from a two-week vacation.
His celebratory set at Pilgrimage was fueled by a level of nuclear joy he could barely contain – a sensation that would have him suddenly leaping off his piano bench and hopping onto the stage with a smile you could have seen from the rear of the field.
“It’s more than a concert,” he told the audience. “It’s a spiritual practice.”
Diving in the street of the lake
The silky sound of Lake Street Dive – clearly indebted to the timeless soul of the 70s – provided the perfect soundtrack for a sunset at Harlinsdale Farm.
Fronted by vocalist Rachael Price (who alluded to growing up in Hendersonville), the Boston-born band exuded spunk, grit and precision on the “Midnight Sun” main stage.
Alongside originals like “Hypotheticals” and “Hush Money” (both standouts fueled by the funk of last year’s “Obviously”), the band released their famous cover of “I Want You Back” from the Jackson 5, plus an utterly unexpected, moving twist on Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One,” with lead vocals from keyboardist Akie Bermiss.
Despite being the only top Gen Z performer on this year’s Pilgrimage Bill, 23-year-old Lennon Stella was quick to call the Harlinsdale grounds “Home, Sweet Home.”
10 years ago, the Canadian-born entertainer rose to fame as “Maddie” on “Nashville” television, a break that came a few years after her family moved to Music City. She has since embarked on a thriving pop career, releasing her major label debut in 2020.
His sound — the booming trap beats married to the Brill Building melodies of “Bad,” for example — was an island in a sea of acoustic sound. She filled the gap with a pair of vintage covers (for her audience, anyway), dating back some 20 years: Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” and Dido’s “Thank You.”
“Tennessee’s energy is unlike anything else,” she said, before introducing fan-favorite “Golf on TV,” which she described as the first, and perhaps only love song she wrote.
LA folk-rockers Dawes were among the last bands to take the stage at the 2018 edition of Pilgrimage – that year, severe thunderstorms forced the festival to evacuate just hours after it started, and the pitch never reopened that year.
With nothing but sunshine on the horizon on Saturday, frontman Taylor Goldsmith and company kicked off the jams – so, so many jams – during an extensive soundtrack set that included several cuts from their latest, “Misadventures of Doomscroller”.
This included the nine-minute epic “Someone Else’s Café/Doomscroller Tries To Relax” as well as the ultimate hopeful “Comes In Waves” (“If you’re feeling good about the future,” Goldsmith croons, “So baby, me too.”)
Dawes really lifted the spirits, however, with his signature, “When My Time Comes.” When Goldsmith asked the audience to sing the final chorus alone, without band accompaniment, there was virtually no drop in volume.
“It doesn’t get any cooler than this,” Goldsmith said. “A festival like this, a program like this? I feel so honoured.
She supported Mariah Carey, Lizzo and Jon Batiste, but Celisse Henderson was the star of her own show – and of the afternoon – during her midday set on the Midnight Sun stage.
We bet the guitarist/singer will be many weekend attendees’ favorite discovery – between the scorching solos she unleashed in her original soul belt numbers as well as covers ranging from Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” to Bill Withers. “Use me.”
“Pilgrimage, you get every ounce of what I have today,” she said as the growing crowd roared in approval. It’s safe to say that Henderson’s set melted more than a few faces — including her own, as she shared that she needed to wipe off the eyelashes she’d put on for the stage.
The Black Opry Review
Saturday saw one of the Nashville-area’s highest-profile appearances to date for Black Opry, a movement of artists, industry figures and country/folk/blues fans.
The Black Opry Revue brought half a dozen such talents to the Gold Record Road stage, including Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ruby Amanfu, who closed the set alongside Lori Rayne and Layna, in singing her “Gotta Let Go”.
“These are local artists that you should definitely embrace, get to know (and) love,” Amanfu said. “And we are so happy to be here with you.”
As she and her band helped break through on Pilgrimage’s biggest stage, Adia Victoria told her audience that she hoped it didn’t bring them down too much. It’s exceptionally considerate of a blues artist.
“You all brought a southern witch out of the South Carolina swamps,” she said, “Playing in the sun.”
Victoria, in fact, has called Nashville home for more than a decade, and the bright setting of Harlinsdale Farm suited her brand of unvarnished blues.
Both on and off stage, Victoria clearly shows her dedication to the art form, but in her songs she is heading headlong into the future. She closed her set with “South Gotta Change” – which she said was a song of defiance to those who tell her that if she doesn’t like the south, she should leave it.
“Because I love you, I won’t leave you,” she sang. “I won’t let you get away / Come what may / We’ll find a way.”