Festival Reviews: Bourbon and Beyond Festival a perfect blend of bourbon, food and music in Louisville, Kentucky 19-21.09.2019

Fans enter the Bourbon and Beyond Festival through the colorful tunnel.

Bourbon & Beyond

Story and photos by Gina Buban/PCN Correspondent

The third year of the Bourbon & Beyond Festival was held September 19-21, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky, and was indeed a perfect blend of bourbon, food and music as advertised.  Featuring headliners Foo Fighters, Robert Plant, and Zac Brown Band, 91,000 people over the three day weekend reveled in the hot conditions.

Patchchord News (PCN) was onsite on the opening day of the festival, which featured Foo Fighters as the headlining band and legend John Fogerty.  Rounding up the diverse Friday lineup were the Flaming Lips, Live, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lukas Nelson& Promise of the Real, Greensky Bluegrass, Blackberry Smoke, The Record Company, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Pearl, Mipso, The Po Ramblin’ Boys and Amythyst Kiah.   

Fans line the barrier as they get ready for a long day of rock n roll.

As the main Barrel and Oak stages were side by side with five minutes between each artist, music fans could easily flow between stages to view the various acts with minimal stops in the music. When breaks were needed in the 90 plus degree heat, there were a dizzying array of food and beverage vendors to choose from. Local food vendors offered dishes ranging from Hawaiian to Creole to BBQ to pizza, providing festival goers with a large selection to choose from in order to replenish themselves through the almost 12 hour day. True to the festival’s name, there were over 40 bourbon brands represented at various tents and bars across the grounds adjacent to the two main stages and three side stages. In addition, there were a dozen bourbon masters and celebrities on hand, who offered attendees the opportunity to attend workshops, talks, demonstrations and other experiences.  

People who had purchased VIP tickets had access to the Mint Experience Lounge and area, which included shaded areas and designated bars and food trucks. There were also art installations, a dance hall which included dance lessons, and a Music Experience tent to enhance the day of celebrating music and art.

Pearl Aday and her California country rock got the music kicked off on Day 1 from the main Barrel stage, with an engaging half hour set (her son Revel would appear later in the evening on stage with Foo Fighters during ‘Everlong’.)  At the second main stage, the Oak Stage, Preservation Hall Jazz Band kicked off the esteemed artists that would be performing there throughout the day. The legendary group from New Orleans dazzled the crowd with some of their hits, including songs such as ‘Keep Your Head Up’ from their most recent album, ‘A Tuba to Cuba’.  

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real performed on the Barrel Stage in the mid-afternoon time slot.  Accompanied on stage by an inspiriting 4 year old guitarist, Nelson and his band performed crowd pleasers such as ‘(Forget About) Georgia’, ‘Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)’, and ‘Find Yourself’.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts were up next on the Oak Stage. Jett, who would celebrate her 61st birthday two days later, did not disappoint with a trip throughout her longstanding career. Hits such as ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Bad Reputation’, ‘You Drive Me Wild’,  ‘Crimson and Clover’, and ‘I Love Rock n’ Roll’ were performed during Jett’s hour and 10 minute set and kept the crowd, young and old, dancing through the afternoon.

Live and the Flaming Lips carried attendees into the evening with entertaining sets, with the Flaming Lips showcasing a variety of props and spraying confetti at a couple of points in the set into the dancing crowd.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats really got the crowd at the Barrel Stage moving with their upbeat set. Fans tried to keep up with Rateliff’s own happy feet and dance moves through songs such as ‘Look It Here’, ‘Howling at Nothing’, and ‘Wasting Time’. To the delight of the crowd, Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined Rateliff and band for the last two songs of the set, which ended with ‘S.O.B.’

Legend John Fogerty was up next and took the crowd through the decades of his storied career. Delighting the audience with tales of Woodstock and a custom guitar resembling a baseball bat for ‘Centerfield’, Fogerty was also joined on stage with sons Shane and Tyler during part of the set. The rocking performance spanned Fogerty’s solo career, his time with Creedence Clearwater Revival, and also featured covers such as ‘Give Peace a Chance’, ‘Dance to the Music’, and ‘Everyday People’.

Foo Fighters ended the night and Day 1 of the festival on the Barrel Stage. Declaring that he “loves two things, John Fogerty and rock and roll,” lead singer Dave Grohl had the packed crowd rocking for the full duration of their two plus hour set. Kicking off with ‘The Pretender’, Foo Fighters featured songs from the majority of their albums over their almost 25 year career. Drummer Taylor Hawkins was featured on an elevated stage with a monster drum solo and sang lead vocals on ‘Sunday Rain’, a song from the Foo Fighters’ most recent album ‘Concrete and Gold’Hawkins was back on vocals with Grohl behind the drum kit in the middle of the set for a cover of ‘Under Pressure’.  Always keeping the crowd engaged (including at one point bringing out two large cut outs of bass player Nate Mendel that had been spotted earlier that day in the crowd), Grohl and the band ended the show with a couple of deep cuts for ‘old school’ fans and arguably their biggest hit, ‘Everlong’.

While PCN was not onsite Saturday, the news traveled fast that Dave Grohl made an unannounced appearance on Saturday after performing the night before with the Foo Fighters. A true surprise, Grohl thrilled the audience when he joined British rock band Squeeze on drums for their classic hit ‘Black Coffee In Bed’ during their set. Squeeze has been touring the USA with the American leg of ‘The Squeeze Songbook 2019’ tour.  The tour continues in the UK and Ireland starting October 13.

Squeeze and Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl, (left to right) are Stephen Large, Glenn Tilbrook, Dave Grohl, Chris Difford, Simon Hanson, Sean Hurley, Steven Smith. Photo Courtesy of Cole Anderson.

Bourbon and Beyond was the second of three consecutive weekends of festivals at the Kentucky Exposition fairgrounds put on by the company Danny Wimmer Presents. Hometown Rising brought country music stars Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban to the area the weekend of September 13-15, and Louder Than Life hosted Slipknot, Disturbed and Guns N’ Roses as headliners September 27-29th.

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