Music, Food and Celebrities at Inaugural Bourbon and Beyond Festival

When I was first approached to cover the first Bourbon & Beyond Festival, I was attracted to the unique combination of music, food, and bourbon, in a city known for the latter.  

Once I received the itinerary, I was sold, and contacted Louisville Tourism about making a trip.

The huge list of performers for Bourbon & Beyond had a lot of great names, but there were two in particular that sealed the deal for me: Stevie Nicks and Eddie Vedder, both on my bucket list.

Brittany, Jamie, and I had breakfast in the lounge at the Louisville Marriott East. Lounge access for breakfast and snacks before dinner was a great benefit to staying on the executive floor.

We drove over to Champions Park so we could arrive and get settled early for the first day of Bourbon & Beyond. It was a good thing we did.

The only major complaint I had about this festival did not change during the weekend: the parking. It was just a giant mess.

Fortunately, just about everything between getting to and from morning parking and night departing were one-of-a-kind experiences.

We were lucky that the press headquarters was located in the VIP section.
Since we were early, I decided to grab something from the food trucks in the VIP area before I got too busy.

I picked up a coffee from Blackbird Espresso and picked a place to get something for lunch.

I decided on the Zoom Zoom Yum Truck and got a Gyro Bowl. It was absolutely delicious.

The press tent was a bit of a reunion in with Danielle Eddy and Dan Dunn, who were on my very first press trip to Cognac, France.

Dan was there with his Drinky Time Radio Show crew and we caught up for a few minutes before the first performer came on.

I had also seen them both at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and, ironically, in Kentucky on the American WhiskeyTrail press trip.

Dave Cavalier had contacted me prior to the Bourbon & Beyond Festival to make sure I caught his act. I really enjoyed it and the crowd agreed with me as he opened up the festival.

Dave and I had a great chat for this Beat article I wrote before I headed to the Main Stage (the festival had a great system of alternating stages so that you weren’t waiting for setup between acts.

Chris Robinson, formerly of the Black Crows, was on stage with his Brotherhood band. I caught some of the act before I had to head back to the press tent.

The other interview I arranged was with Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
It went great and I especially loved what he said about his most famous song, which also happens to be one of my favorites – Blue on Black. You can read the whole interview here.

I got to see Kenny Wayne perform a few minutes later, doing that song and Heat of the Sun with his band. He really is one of the best guitarists out there.

It was really hot and there was a break before I had other artists to see, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a while.
On the way out, we stopped to check out some of the interesting booths around the grounds.

I was happily surprised to see a lot of charities and a lot of places with handmade goods.

We stopped at the Rock Out for Rescue booth to buy some tee-shirts.

Given the fact that the word “bourbon” was clearly stated in the title of this event, there was no shortage of bars set up at Champions Park.

You could get just about any bourbon you desired, straight or in a cocktail, as well as cocktails at the Tiki Bar and some beer outlets.

The Water stations were also welcome in the heat of Louisville, as was the gelato.

After some snacks at the hotel and a change of clothing, we were back at Bourbon & Beyond for the headliners.

First up was former Pearl Jam lead, Eddie Vedder.

He sang quite a few of the band’s songs, including Wishlist, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter, and I Wish I Was.

He also did a fantastic rendition of Neil Young’s Rocking in the Free World.

I have to say Eddie Vedder was even better than I expected him to be.  

The Steve Miller Band came on next with many of the hits he is famous for, including Take the Money and Run. 

He kept the crowd singing and dancing. He also brought in Kenny Wayne Shepherd for Stranger Blues.

We left right after Steve Miller finished. It had been a long, but, fun, day and we knew we had to return to the Louisville Marriott for a good night’s rest before day two of Bourbon & Beyond.

On stage photos by Brittany Lambright.

Check out my videos from Bourbon & Beyond on my YouTube Channel.


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