Thursday, February 8, 2018

More Stars Come Out at Bourbon and Beyond

We enjoyed a nice spread in the executive lounge at the Marriott East Louisville before loading up on sunblock and thin clothing.

Day two of the Bourbon & Beyond Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, played out quite different than the first. I was able to catch up on the food and bourbon aspects of the event, as well as hear some more incredible music.

I met up with Dan Cohen of Jim Beam first thing in the morning. Although bourbon is in the title of the festival, I hadn’t had any to try yet. He brought Brittany, Jamie, and me over to the Beam setup behind the stage for a tasting.

They were showing off Jim Beam and Jim Beam Black (I had hoped to try the Vanilla, but it wasn’t available yet). Black is a bit smoother and more taste-filled than the original. It’s aged longer, but in white oak, so it’s flavors of vanilla and caramel are more blended.

Beam was also mixing to cocktails backstage for the VIPs and performers, the Jim Beam Black Smash (Jim Beam Black, Mint, lemon, simple syrup) and the Jim Beam Arnold Palmer (Jim Beam Black, lemonade, iced tea). They were both quite refreshing in what was already becoming another hot one.

The first act of the day was one I was really looking forward to when I saw his name on the performer list. I knew and enjoyed Kiefer Sutherland as an actor in shows such as 24 and Designated Survivor, but I didn’t know he was also a singer songwriter.

In fact, Sutherland surprised us all with his rockabilly country. He was also a very gracious performer, constantly thanking the audience for coming to see him.

I really was hoping to interview him, but he was in a hurry to get back to Los Angeles to film for Designated Survivor and only did one interview, a video for The Daily Beast.

I caught some of the Johnny Lang performance before focusing more on the drink. There had been bourbon seminars taking place all weekend for free. I went over to see “The New Age of Bourbon.”

It was quite interesting, whether or not you had a lot of knowledge on the spirit, to listen to Corky Taylor (Kentucky Peerless), Kaveh Zamanian (Rabbit Hole), and Fred Minnick, author, Whiskey Women, Bourbon Curious and Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of An American Whiskey).

I enjoyed listening to these men discuss the changed in Kentucky bourbon over the years and the comradery of the competitors in the field.

I then made my way into the VIP Tent to escape the sun. There was a large screen in there showing the main stage and Chicago Blues performer Buddy Guy was playing.

I decided it was a great time to sit and watch a few songs. Guy was spot on as usual.

While I was doing all this walking around, Brittany and Jamie were on their on quest on the grounds for their ideal lunch. With so much food offered it was hard to choose. They came back to the press area with some lunch from the trucks, including two types of chicken wings, and boiled shrimp from Big Easy Boil.

The Bourbon Glazed Wings, from Boss Hog's BBQ, were the winner. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get to sample more of the food during the festival.

We walked around and saw some of the tents we didn’t catch the day before, such as the chance to record a song, smokeless tobacco offerings, and more handmade goods.
We also witness quite a line at the cooling stations, but we decided to take off for a bit and find some real cooling, as in air conditioning.

An Uber driver suggested Comfy Cow a few miles away. The ice cream was delicious and the chance to sit in ac for a while was priceless.

The three of us returned to see the final cooking demonstration of the festival, “Love and Fried Chicken” with Carla Hall

The author and star of The Chew turned the demonstration into a lot of fun for those in the crowd, and especially for those who were able to go up and taste.

The grounds were filling up quickly for Stevie Nicks. I had never seen her before and was pretty excited myself. We were thankful for the bleachers in the VIP area as it was tight standing room on the grass.

She sang all her hits, including “Gypsy” one of my favorites, “Landslide”. She also did a heartfelt rendition of the song she created with Tom Petty, “Stop Draggin My Heart Around.” He shockingly died about a week later.

Before we left Bourbon & Beyond we bought a few baked goods from Sugar Daddy’s.

 Despite a few first-year glitches, the Bourbon & Beyond Festival ranks among the best I’ve been to. The gathering of talent, food, and drink was a brilliant idea. Chances are pretty good I’ll be back for more in 2018. It's something every music and food lover should put on their schedule. 

Although the festival was over, we still had one more day to enjoy Louisville before heading home.

On stage photos by Brittany Lambright. 

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