Kevin Griffin is “cool as a cucumber” when speaking with HollywoodLife. On the time, it was lower than three weeks away from the 2022 version of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Pageant (going down tomorrow, Sept. 24 and 25, on the Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee.) This yr’s version of the long-running competition featured Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, The Avett Brothers, Elle King, Jon Batiste, and a stacked lineup, however the Higher Than Ezra frontman – and competition co-founder – wasn’t sweating the main points. “Actually, it’s like summer season camp. Everyone begins coming in over the subsequent week, and when it winds down, and we’re doing the postmortem, taking issues down and cleansing up the park, it’s that ‘unhappy finish of camp’ form of vibe.”
“Me and my companions, W. Brandt Wooden and Michael Whelan, had been lucky to develop up going to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Pageant,” shares Griffin. “And what Jazz Fest is, it’s a celebration of one of the best music, meals, tradition, artisans, and retailers of the Gulf south — New Orleans has been spreading out — and man, you’ve obtained indie hipsters and scenesters with youngsters and households – and there’s an enormous basis, he Jazz & Heritage Basis, that helps music applications and totally different charitable organizations within the metropolis — all these issues. I grew up considering, ‘Hey, all festivals are like this.’ It’s family-friendly. It’s cool.”
“And, and interesting musically and family-friendly are usually not mutually unique. They will exist collectively, and trigger I’ve seen, I grew up with it,” he provides. Such is the case with the Lil’ Pilgrims Household Stage And Mare Barn Theatre, one of many 5 levels on the Pilgrimage Music Pageant. Households can take within the sights and the sounds of the competition all through the day, and be again in time to see Jon Batiste and Brandi Carlile shut out Saturday on the Gold Report Street and Midnight Solar levels.
Pilgrimage affords its personal distinctive expertise. When Kevin relocated to Franklin, Tennessee, in 2013, he needed to deliver that “Jazz Fest feeling” to his new residence. “Even in 2013, there was already Bonnaroo; there have been already a ton of festivals. However I used to be like, this higher-end, smaller competition expertise, there’s actually a lane for it. Perhaps you went to Bonnaroo, partied in your tent, and now you’ve obtained a household. Or, you’d like some good meals, however you continue to suppose, ‘Man, I nonetheless dig some cool music.’ It’s actually cool what we get to do right here within the metropolis. It simply clicks.”
Serving to this yr “click on” is a give attention to Americana music. “For those who take a look at our previous lineups,” says Kevin, “it form of modifications. We’ve had some years which have leaned Americana nation, like this yr. We’ve had some years which have leaned extra pop, like Justin Timberlake and Stroll The Moon. After which, extra rock like Foo Fighters and The Killers. And we simply form of really feel what we’re into that yr, and what feels like that yr.”
Typically, “the lineups simply fall collectively,” says Griffin. “Typically, it’s accidentally, and typically, it’s by design. This yr, we locked in Chris Stapleton and Brandi, it form of set the tone. And we’ve all the time needed to get Jon Batiste – and we could also be one in every of his few public performances this yr. He’s not doing any festivals as a result of he’s coping with his spouse’s unwell well being. So we’re very grateful to be having him. However, this can be a very particular land we’re going for this yr, and it appears like we’ve chosen proper.”
Nonetheless, what actually makes the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Pageant stand out among the many relaxation is the give attention to the latter half of the title: the tradition. Griffin tells HollywoodLife that’s not just a few “lip service” or branding, however that the competition celebrates the influence the realm has had on trendy music. “We’ve this enormous tent referred to as the American Music Triangle tent. And the ‘music triangle’ is the triangle that surrounds the Mississippi Delta. For those who do a triangle from New Orleans as much as Memphis over to Nashville and again all the way down to New Orleans, that area – from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee – is arguably the place not solely American music (rock, blues jazz) has come from, however it’s infiltrated the entire world.”
“So we’ve got this tent the place municipalities from all within the triangle — Greenville Cleveland, Tupelo, Muscle tissue Shoals, New Orleans, Memphis — at even San Antonio with Tejano music, all of them have cubicles there. And we’ve got Mike Wolfe from American Pickers curating the room with all these antiques from his non-public warehouse. While you go into this tent, it’s like stepping again in time. You could have individuals talking about music genres on stage, after which you may have an artist exhibiting that. We actually bolstered the cultural half this yr.”
“We’ve the Black Opry, which has simply been this superb pressure and group for black artists within the Americana and nation house,” he says. “After which on Sunday, we’ve got a Southern gospel service simply to kick off the day. It’s a non-denominational simply celebration of gospel music.”
And so I feel this yr already, I’m simply enthusiastic about it. I do know I’ll look again with admiration for making the cultural a part of the competition this deep dive into music and tradition and historical past. To have the ability to deliver that to individuals after which to get to see what’s in their very own yard and take pleasure in it? And fostering it to a brand new era is de facto, actually cool. I dig that half, and I can’t take duty for it — it’s one in every of my companions, Brant Wooden, who spearheads the cultural half. And it’s actually cool.”
“We’ve been unabashed in our tipping a hat again to Jazz Fest in New Orleans,” concludes Griffin. “They do it so properly — the cultural half, that DNA is about their competition. And, and we introduced that to center Tennessee in our personal distinctive manner.”
Click on right here for extra details about the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Pageant.