FRANKLIN, TN – SEPTEMBER 23: Musician Justin Timberlake performs at the 2017 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on September 23, 2017, in Franklin, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for M2M Construction)
The Pilgrimage Festival was held Sept. 23 – 24 in Franklin, TN. at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm for its third year. Headlining Saturday night was Justin Timberlake and Sunday night was Eddie Vedder. Other acts included a couple of Focus’ favorites, Valerie June and Sinclair, recently featured in the Sept./Oct. issues of Focus Mid-South and Focus Middle Tennessee.
“It was my first Pilgrimage Festival,” said June. “I got to be there with family, friends, and the crowd was very welcoming. It was a good energy moment, rejuvenating me before a long trip to Australia.”
From the moment you enter the festival, you get the feeling of elite and well done. There was music everywhere, from the main stages to the Americana Triangle tent, which played host to several historical, music-centric venues and cities. There were representatives from Visit Tupelo, Memphis, Clarksdale, the Ryman and more.
Feeling a little rock, pop, or country? Feeling a little blues, folk, or indie? The variety was overwhelmingly available. Some of the first day performances included: Better Than Ezra who had a marriage proposal on stage by one of the festival’s operations members to another. We also watched Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. If you haven’t seen them live, you’re missing out! They had unsurpassed energy and excitement. They kept people dancing their entire set. Following them was Walk the Moon who kept the crowd energized before Justin Timberlake’s headlining performance that included a special guest appearance by Chris Stapleton and his wife, Morgane. And that was just a small synopsis of the first day!
Pilgrimage Festival Day Two: Music, Art, Artistry galore
After a good night’s rest, it was time for day two. We saw and heard great music from Valerie June, Langhorne Slim, The Band of Heathens, Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, and Fitz and The Tantrums to name a few.
However, the Pilgrimage Festival didn’t just provide great music though. There were over 60 food and beverage craft vendors including 10 VIP vendors offering a culinary experience. Let’s not forget about the Bazaar featuring 50 artisan vendors with products ranging from clothing and jewelry to fine art and caricatures.
The two-day festival was like going to Disney World for a week. There’s not enough time to see and do it all. However, the experience was worthy of its mantra “make the pilgrimage.” Families, friends, married or not, represented those who attended. No matter how you identified, there was a feeling of acceptance, love and respect for one another. As members of the LGBT+ community, we recommend this festival. We plan on making the pilgrimage again in 2018.