Fall is back in Franklin – and with it the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. The seventh edition of the two-day festival at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm attracted around 17,000 visitors on Saturday, according to a spokesman.
Bones Owens from Nashville opened the music on the main stage just after noon and treated the crowd to swampy blues rock on the Midnight Sun stage. Adia Victoria kept the Nashville blues train going when she took the stage immediately afterwards and crowned her performance with the moody “South’s Gotta’ Change”.
The day’s headliners showcased the festival’s wide range of genres, from Brandi Carlile’s Americana to Jon Batiste’s jazz and R&B. Eager festival-goers flocked throughout the day, laden with lawn chairs, blankets and the occasional wagon full of children.
Danny and Brenda Edmondson set out from nearby Brentwood. They have attended every Pilgrimage event, including the infamous 2018 edition which was canceled due to rain.
However, Saturday’s scene could not have been more flawless. After a week of record temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, the day began with brisk, overcast weather before giving way to clear, sunny skies. The atmosphere on the ground was similarly airy.
“It’s great, the weather is great,” said Danny Edmondson. “I like to come early because you can check out new bands, get some exercise, get some merch and the food lines are short.”
And while they were excited to see well-known favorites like The Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile, Brenda Edmondson said she loved discovering new acts like Lennon Stella.
“I didn’t know anything about (Stella) until a week ago and now I’m in love with her,” said Brenda Edmondson. “There’s something about her that just caught my eye. She has big days ahead of her.”
Pilgrimage has carved a niche for itself as a family-friendly music destination, and Saturday’s event was no different.
“We’re walking around with a 2.5-year-old,” said Austin Maxey, who flew in from Dallas, Texas for the festival. “It was gentle on the child, gentle on my wife and me. Very accessible for families.”
On the Gold Record Road Stage, a selection of Black Opry artists highlighted the wide array of black talent in the area, from Aaron Vance’s country twang to a percussive solo acoustic guitar performance by Yasmin Williams.
Ping Rose, a guitar slinger from Memphis, supported the artists with his band The Anti-Heroes.
“It’s actually very satisfying because there’s no other place where a band like us can play all of these things at once,” Rose said. “We played blues, folk, country, Americana, pop, you name it. It just ran the gamut of different genres.”
Offstage, Pilgrimage brought local craft vendors, food and the return of the Americana Musical Triangle, highlighting the fertile creative triangle of Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans that has produced countless chart-topping and influential songwriters.
The Pilgrims’ Festival continues on Sunday with headliners Chris Stapleton, The Avett Brothers and Elle King.