Thankfully for day two, Pilgrimage organizers paid off the weatherman for some cloud cover and an occasional breeze that provided some random respite from the sizzling sun. This sporadic relief however won’t stop my continued clamor for a transition to mid-October in 2020. But weather could not distract from another fine day of music and fun at the farm in Franklin.
My Sunday arrival coincided with local songstress Adia Victoria guesting with Cedric Burnside, a man with a generational bloodline in the Blues. Not that we were unimpressed with Burnside, but I did leave sad that I missed Victoria’s dazzling vocals in her own set.
Changing stages, I faithfully went to see a full set by one of my “eleven,” Devon Gilfillian. His R&B-flavored vocals blend so brilliantly into his compelling rock sound. I’ve been hearing Devon on New York City’s WFUV a lot lately, so I say that this young Nashvillian’s time is about to come. What’s the deal though with the guy I saw wearing an official-looking “Deron” Gilfillian tee-shirt?
Walking some of the seven miles I would traverse this day, I cut through the small Shady Grove stage area to catch a few blistering musical moments from Mando Saenz. With a full band in toe, there would be no drowning out of his full-tilt Texas sound.
Main stage was next for a still early-in-the-day set by one of my favorite current singer-songwriters, Rayland Baxter. Dressed in white from head-to-toe, it was a strong showing only marred by the lack of a comfortable shady spot from which to view. Baxter is the real deal, and he continues to remind me of a 21st Century Jackson Browne.
Duty called and after grabbing a slice of pizza, I just had to catch a bit of the fabulous Molly Tuttle who would be my Sunday recipient of the award for smartly dressing for the weather. Molly once again proved how fine she can both play and sing, and its always a treat to see young Nashvillian Anthony da Costa on guitar in her combo.
Jenny Lewis however was summoning me back to the main stage and with a surprisingly new hairdo and funky shades, I barely recognized her behind the keyboards. Her seat meandered though songs old and new including some from her Rilo Kiley days and her career-defining Voyager record. During her set, we learned that she now calls Nashville her home. As expected, Jenny was also joined by her friends The Watson Twins who she invited to the stage though a phone call.
If there was ever an artist who would look out-of-place playing in the afternoon sunshine, it might just be Justin Townes Earle. While cranky is not a foreign adjective to his on-stage personality, the heat and daylight may have made him more uncomfortable than usual. Shedding his shirt before it was all over, nonetheless, it was still a strong set that peaked with his patented cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” and his gospely song about going to the river to drown, “Harlem River Blues.” A word to the wise if you ever see JTE, don’t yell out for requests. He doesn’t like it and will let you know about it.
Rested and ready, I made my way for the Festival finale with the Foo Fighters. I never got in tune with the music of Nirvana, and likewise only knew the Foo’s radio cuts. Overall however, I have had a fondness for the personality Dave Grohl and his place in the music world and I was excited to finally see him perform.
It got pretty lively down in front, so I was happy to watch this closing set from a safe distance. It was a wonderfully wild rock set that any band should be proud of. However, I left a bit underwhelmed. While I simply adore a song like “Learn to Fly” with its million-dollar hook, too many of the songs featured too much of Grohl screaming. I went home with total respect for the Foo’s, but with the realization that they are just not my cup of tea.
So, it’s farewell to Pilgrimage—the festival that I love because of the music and its pleasantries, not withstanding the fact that I can walk there from home. I will once again, buy my two-pass in May before I even see the lineup. The thought however of having to wait a whole year is a sad one. So, in addition to moving to October, why can’t we do it twice a year, adding a spring date as well? It’s just a thought and a wish.