Danny Wimmer Presents the second annual Bourbon and Beyond festival which made its way into Champions Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The grounds were setup with all kinds of different food vendors and they smelled great as soon as you walked through the gates. Every kind of bourbon you could desire was on hand. The VIP tent really made you feel at home with a huge bar, big screen TV’s with a live feed from the main stages, and plenty of tables and couches.
I didn’t know what to think of the weather. Just about everyone I saw had a poncho or rain suit and for good reason. On this cool, rainy, gloomy day in September, a day of live music, great food, and bourbon was upon us. The Bluegrass Situation Stage and the Mash Stage were home to the smaller side stages and the Barrell Stage and the Oak Stage were setup for the headlining acts. The first day had some heavy hitters with John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, and Lenny Kravitz. The Louisville crowd was setup for a great time.
Swimming With Bears started the day off. This was my first time hearing them. Their lead singer/bassist Joe Perry, no not the Aerosmith/Hollywood Vampires Joe Perry, had the early crowd dancing with his groovy bass lines. They sounded a lot like the bands MGMT and Foster The People with their indi-pop rock style. The early audience looked like they were having a great time.
Larkin Poe was a surprise. With their bluesy sound, they had the crowd going. The sister fronted band of Megan and Rebecca Lovell have been nicknamed the little sisters of the Allman Brothers and you could definitely hear that. Megan played her slide guitar on its side which was very cool and Rebecca’s great voice drew me in. By the end of their set which included songs “Prechin’ Blues”, “Look Away”, and a Ram Jam cover of “Black Betty” I was texting friends to check this band out.
JJ Grey & Mofro came out to the stage when the rain really started coming down. The VIP tent looked like there was about three thousand people trying to stay out of the cold rain.
JJ Grey & Mofro made me think of the Blues Brothers with their all black suits and soulful rhythm and blues sound. I was upset with myself for not seeing this band any sooner then now. JJ Grey’s voice was incredible and the southern boys from Jacksonville, Florida did nothing but make you feel good with their horn section and the piano in the background. The band was on top of their game. They started their set off with the song “99 Shades of Crazy”. Fans of the band were having a great time and singing along. The rain didn’t seem to bother anyone at all.
Even with all the rain coming down the fans were still rolling in and Sheryl Crow did not disappoint. Starting off with the hit “If It Makes You Happy” she instantly had people dancing and singing along and it continued all the way through her set playing nothing but hit after hit. She played her new song titled “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You” and fans loved it. The way she was up there dancing and singing with her low cut shoes I was just glad to see she didn’t slip and fall on the rain soaked stage.
David Byrne is touring for his latest album ‘American Utopia’. If you were ever into the Talking Heads who were a very underrated band, then this show is going to suck you right in. His live show is very unique with a lot of moving parts. Modern dance is implemented and you could tell everyone was having a great time. The drums were broke up into different parts like a marching band with each person playing a different section. David snuck in a couple Talking Heads’ songs into his set with “Once in a Liftime” and “Burning Down the House”. The band is really talented which made out for a very fun, and amazing show.
John Mayer headlined the first day of the festival and had a great set. You cant take anything away from John’s guitar playing. The talent is there and the ladies love his ballads and everyone can relate to his lyrics.
John has been touring with Dead and Company over the past few years with former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann so it was no surprise when he played the Grateful Dead cover “Fire on The Mountain”. A few songs later he showed off his guitar talent when he played the Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix cover of “All Along The Watchtower”. The crowd was blown away. John finished off his set with his hit song “Gravity” and had the wet, rain soaked crowd eating out of the palm of his hands.
Leaving after the show Saturday night was a nightmare. Everything was flooded and very muddy. Unfortunately the City of Louisville declared Champions Park unsafe and Sundays lineup was canceled. I completely understand because there would have been a lot of fans possibly injured and nobody wants that. The class act staff at Danny Wimmer Presents handled the situation very fairly when it came to refunds for the second day. In my opinion the second day was the better day as far as artist with bands like The Magpie Salute, Gov’t Mule, Sting, and Robert Plant, but you cant always predict what the weather is going to do and the public’s safety has to come first. So we only expierienced one of the two days of the Bourbon and Beyond Festival and besides the weather, it turned out be a great day for bourbon and music lovers along with the great city of Louisville