Kevin Griffin Shares How The Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival Captures That ‘Summer Camp’ Vibe

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Image Credit: Ray Garbo/Shutterstock

Kevin Griffin is “cool as a cucumber” when talking with HollywoodLife. At the time, it was lower than three weeks away from the 2022 edition of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival (taking place tomorrow, Sept. 24 and 25, on the Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee.) This year’s version of the long-running pageant featured Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, The Avett Brothers, Elle King, Jon Batiste, and a stacked lineup, however the Better Than Ezra frontman – and festival co-founder – wasn’t sweating the small print. “Honestly, it’s like summer time camp. Everybody starts coming in over the next week, and when it winds down, and we’re doing the postmortem, taking things down and cleaning up the park, it’s that ‘sad finish of camp’ kind of vibe.”

“Me and my companions, W. Brandt Wood and Michael Whelan, have been fortunate to grow up going to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,” shares Griffin. “And what Jazz Fest is, it’s a celebration of the most effective music, meals, culture, artisans, and merchants of the Gulf south — New Orleans has been spreading out —  and man, you’ve received indie hipsters and scenesters with kids and families – and there’s a giant foundation, he Jazz & Heritage Foundation, that supports music packages and different charitable organizations in the city — all these issues. I grew up thinking, ‘Hey, all festivals are like this.’ It’s family-friendly. It’s cool.”

Kevin Griffin (Ray Garbo/Shutterstock)

“And, and fascinating musically and family-friendly aren’t mutually exclusive. They can exist collectively, and trigger I’ve seen, I grew up with it,” he provides. Such is the case with the Lil’ Pilgrims Family Stage And Mare Barn Theatre, one of the five levels at the Pilgrimage Music Festival. Families can take in the sights and the sounds of the pageant all through the day, and be back in time to see Jon Batiste and Brandi Carlile shut out Saturday on the Gold Record Road and Midnight Sun phases.

Better Than Ezra (Robby Klein)

Pilgrimage offers its personal unique expertise. When Kevin relocated to Franklin, Tennessee, in 2013, he needed to bring that “Jazz Fest feeling” to his new house. “Even in 2013, there was already Bonnaroo; there were already a ton of festivals. But I was like, this higher-end, smaller pageant expertise, there’s actually a lane for it. Maybe you went to Bonnaroo, partied in your tent, and now you’ve obtained a household. Or, you’d like some good meals, but you proceed to assume, ‘Man, I nonetheless dig some cool music.’ It’s actually cool what we get to do here within the metropolis. It simply clicks.”

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Helping this 12 months “click” is a give consideration to Americana music. “If you look at our past lineups,” says Kevin, “it sort of modifications. We’ve had some years which have leaned Americana nation, like this 12 months. We’ve had some years which have leaned extra pop, like Justin Timberlake and Walk The Moon. And then, more rock like Foo Fighters and The Killers. And we just type of really feel what we’re into that year, and what looks like that yr.”

Sometimes, “the lineups simply fall together,” says Griffin. “Sometimes, it’s by accident, and generally, it’s by design. This 12 months, we locked in Chris Stapleton and Brandi, it kind of set the tone. And we’ve all the time needed to get Jon Batiste – and we may be certainly one of his few public performances this year. He’s not doing any festivals because he’s coping with his wife’s ill health. So we’re very grateful to be having him. But, this is a very particular land we’re going for this yr, and it looks like we’ve chosen right.”

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However, what really makes the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival stand out among the many relaxation is the focus on the latter half of the title: the culture. Griffin tells HollywoodLife that’s not just a few “lip service” or branding, however that the competition celebrates the impact the realm has had on fashionable music. “We have this big tent referred to as the American Music Triangle tent. And the ‘music triangle’ is the triangle that surrounds the Mississippi Delta. If you do a triangle from New Orleans up to Memphis over to Nashville and back right down to New Orleans, that region – from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee – is arguably the place not only American music (rock, blues jazz) has come from, but it’s infiltrated the entire world.”

“So we now have this tent where municipalities from all in the triangle — Greenville Cleveland, Tupelo,  Muscles Shoals, New Orleans, Memphis — at even San Antonio with Tejano music, they all have cubicles there. And we have Mike Wolfe from American Pickers curating the room with all these antiques from his private warehouse. When you go into this tent, it’s like stepping back in time. You have folks speaking about music genres on stage, after which you’ve an artist exhibiting that. We really bolstered the cultural half this 12 months.”

“We have the Black Opry, which has simply been this wonderful force and group for black artists in the Americana and nation area,” he says. “And then on Sunday, we have a Southern gospel service simply to kick off the day. It’s a non-denominational simply celebration of gospel music.”

And so I suppose this yr already, I’m just enthusiastic about it. I know I’ll look again with admiration for making the cultural part of the festival this deep dive into music and tradition and history. To be able to convey that to individuals after which to get to see what’s in their very own backyard and take satisfaction in it? And fostering it to a new generation is basically, actually cool. I dig that half, and I can’t take accountability for it — it’s one of my partners, Brant Wood, who spearheads the cultural part. And it’s really cool.”

“We’ve been unabashed in our tipping a hat back to Jazz Fest in New Orleans,” concludes Griffin. “They do it so properly —  the cultural half, that DNA is about their festival. And, and we introduced that to center Tennessee in our own unique means.”

Click here for more information about the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. 

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