Bourbon and Beyond Festival Louisville, KY Sept. 20-22, 2019
Written by RockRageRadio on September 30, 2019
Bourbon and Beyond Festival
Louisville, KY Sept. 20-22, 2019
Classic Rock and Roll, blues, bluegrass, high energy live music and Bourbon. What a great way to spend a long weekend in the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass state and the Bourbon capitol of the south. A true Americana festival drawing almost 100,000 fans to the Kentucky Highland Festival Grounds in Louisville, KY for three days of music, food, dancing, drinking and all-around good times featuring some of the top producers of bourbon, exciting chefs demonstrating culinary skills and some of the most prestigious rock and roll artists in the world.
What attracted me to this particular festival was the musical line-up which
included headlining bands which have helped defined the history of rock and roll. The music at this festival featured artists who are considered some of the world’s top talent and have been recognized as such by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. This review will focus on these performances since Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I arrived at the festival on Friday afternoon, it was over 90 degrees and the sun was blazing. There were many festival fans already there and the music filled the air along with scents of BBQ smoking. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the vibe was laid back and happy. Even though it was hot and there was little shade everyone seemed to be enjoying the day. I hit the merch booth which was well stocked and had plenty of staff so there was no wait and I was able to purchase exactly what I wanted with relative ease. Joan Jett and the Black Hearts were taking the stage. Joan Jett & the Black Hearts were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, She has been described as the queen of Rock n’ Roll and after seeing her perform live, she has lived up to her title. She has been an active musician since 1975, a career which spans over four decades, she knows how to entertain and today was no different. Her set included all her best-known favorites such as Cherry Bomb which she released with the Runaways, Crimson and Clover, I Love Rock n’ Roll, and several other classics which the crowd joyfully sang along too. At 61 years old she appeared very energetic and in excellent shape. As did her band. They played a solid full hour-long set and never showed any signs of slowing down. Joan jammed on guitar and sang her heart out and the fans soaked up every beautiful minute of her performance and begged for an on core.
I wandered around the food selection next which included everything from
alligator sausage to lobster rolls, all types of burgers and a large pig roasting in the middle of the festival field. I returned to the stage just in time to catch John Fogerty. Mr. Fogerty was an original founding member, singer, guitarist and song writer of Creedence Clearwater Revival and was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1993. John Fogerty has been an active musician for over 50 years and in fact was celebrating his 50-year anniversary on this tour. At one time John Fogerty was considered one of the top 100 guitarists and greatest singers by Rolling Stone Magazine. He performed a solid set of Creedence covers and was joined on stage by his two talented sons. He joked about his fifty years career and how he had performed 50 years ago at Woodstock. He told a story about how he requested a good time slot for the festival and he was assigned a 9 pm slot he was very excited, but what he wasn’t told was he was following The Grateful Dead. The story was that The Dead had taken some hallucinogenic, forgot their set and never finished until 2 am and John reported that the entire Woodstock audience had fallen asleep except one guy and he played his entire set for that one guy. After his story he proceeded to play an entire set covering Woodstock’s most famous acts including Jimi Hendrix’s national anthem on guitar. To say it was an amazing performance by an amazing artist doesn’t even come close to how thrilled I was. To have had the opportunity to see and hear live, the soundtracks to my earliest years of rock and roll youth. It brought me back to where my love of rock and roll began.
Next up on the main stage was The Foo Fighters. Founder and front man of the Foo Fighters, David Grohl is known for his drum work for Nirvana from 1990-1994. It was as a drummer with Nirvana that Grohl was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. The Foo Fighters have been performing worldwide since 1994 and have won four Grammy awards for Best Rock Album. This performance at Bourbon and Beyond was no exception to his previous performances. David Grohl brings an energy to the stage that is rarely matched even by much younger performers. The band played a solid set from their massive catalog of music along
with solos from the drummer and also featured David Grohl playing drums. David Grohl’s energy and talent never ceases to amaze me. His band performances are always spot on and when he turns the lights on the fans and requests that they sing along, the very packed festival stadium all responded by chanting along to well known and loved songs. The highlight of the night was near the end of his set when he was joined on stage by a tiny guitarist, Mr. Revel Ian, Scott Ian of Anthrax’s very talented eight-year-old son, to play Everlong in front of over 40,000 fans. This was after the fans had already been treated to all their old favorites like My Hero, Monkey Wrench and Under Pressure. This performance brought the house down and was a magnificent end to an amazing day of music. In 2010 David Grohl was called one of the most influential rock musicians of the past 20 years by Ken Micallef who co-wrote the book Classic Rock Drummers. It is easy to understand when you see him live why one might say this.
The next day I arrived at the festival just in time to catch a demo of one of the classic Bourbon makers demonstrating how bourbon is made in barrels and how it effects the taste of whiskey on the side stage. This was a fun an informative show. Squeeze was performing on the main stage so I hustled over to catch some of this set. Squeeze is a long-standing British band whose founding members were once called “the heirs to the Lennon and McCartney throne”. They reached popularity in the 70’s in UK . I caught up with this act just in time to see David Grohl join them as the guest drummer for during the hit song Black Coffee. I took a break to walk around the festival grounds and sample some of the tastes of the festival. There were so many choices but I decided on an organic grain fed old fashioned
cheeseburger which was delicious. I then sampled a couple of the bourbon’s and vested the many vendor tents to see what kind of festival souvenirs I could find. I bought a tee shirt from the “take me Home “tent which supports dog rescue and low cost spay and neuter clinics. I also viewed some of the local artwork and stopped by the “to Write Love on her Arms” tent and the ‘F*ck Cancer tent to make small donations.
I returned to the main stage just in time to catch Hall & Oates take the stage. This pop duo has been performing together since 1970, just shy of fifty years. They began the set with the famous song Maneater and continued with their fan favorites. This popular duo was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2014. We enjoyed revisiting the top 40 days of rock n’ roll with one of the biggest pop sensations of all time. Hall & Oates brought me way back to my early days of listening to rock music and shaping my tastes and love for music. I felt that many of the audience also was revisiting bygone days of top 40 billboard pop music on the radio. The duo played a nostalgic set which was received well by the festival fans. Pure rock royalty in the flesh, as Robert Plant former lead singer of Led Zeppelin,
took the stage with his band. At age 71 Robert Plant has not lost his lead singer charisma and attitude and he still has his long gorgeous blond curls. He was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1995 with Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant’s face did show signs of age but he was in incredibly good shape for a man his age and he belted out two hours of music to a full stadium. He covered many of our Led Zep favorites as well as some of his solo work. As he sang the audience was looked like kids in a candy store. Staring onto the stage at Rock and Roll’s legendary lead singer. He was the face and voice of one of the most successful rock bands in history. A band that has been called originators of heavy metal and one of the most influential bands of all time. He has been active as a musician for
54 years and still continues to tour and perform. His set was amazing as he ripped through Led Zep covers and his own music and topped it off with a stellar encore performance of Ramble On. This show was one for the memory album and will go down as one of the best most nostalgic performances of the weekend. Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant’s voice ushered many of us into the world of hard rock and what would later become a love affair with hard rock and metal. I left the festival exhausted.
The final day of the festival has begun for me and today I am determined to see what else this festival has to offer so I began the day wandering through all the artwork. I visited a guy painting pictures of bourbon bottles that was pretty cool. I then wandered into the dance hall where they were teaching line dancing which looked like a blast and I would have joined but the dance floor was full. I hung out a while and enjoyed the music and show. I then wandered off to the corner stage called the Blue Grass Situation where I caught a very cool Bluegrass act, Dustbowl Revival. They played an eclectic set of bluegrass tunes with a complete eight-piece band with sounds of blues, funk and soul this dance band really got the fans jumping around. I enjoyed the addition of the horns to the classic blues and soul sounds. They are a relative new band formed in 2008 in Venice Beach, CA. which mixes New Orleans swing, Americana with a little blues and rock their show was
free flowing and happy and I felt happy after I left the live show and ventured off to the food stands to eat. I found paradise for my stomach at the Jailhouse BBQ where I decided on a plate full of the fresh pig that had been smoking all weekend on the festival grounds and potato salad. It was a delight to my taste buds and something that only a festival in Kentucky would provide. I have never seen a whole pig smoking on a roaster in the middle of a festival and it was absolutely delicious. I sampled a couple of bourbon drinks and headed back to the main stage early enough to get a front rail spot to watch the show I had been waiting for all weekend. ZZ Top’s 50 th anniversary show. The trio of original members was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2004 and this original trio has been performing together since 1969 These bad boys from Texas have been rocking and raising hell for most of my life. This was another iconic rock band of my youth and it was the first time that I had the opportunity to see them live. The trio has aged but the music sounded the same as it did in my youth. These gentlemen performed their classics like La Grange, Tush, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers and the crowd happily sang along to A Sharp Dressed Man and other fan favorites. The band just seemed to genuinely enjoy performing together and played the set like a well-oiled machine as only three men who have been performing together for 50 years can do. They joked and smiled while on stage and was one of the best rock acts I have ever seen. This was a fun and enjoyable weekend filled with great music and memories, amazing food and drinks and this festival literally had something for everybody and I highly recommend it. This festival offered so much more than just music. but the music they did offer was iconic and brought me back to an earlier time in my life when I was developing my rock and roll musical tastes and took me on a life
long journey with the best rock and roll background music to set my life too.