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Bourbon & Beyond


By Angela Ash

Photos By Tim Ash


Now, if you missed the first annual Bourbon & Beyond, you are probably kicking yourself right about now. The entire city of Louisville (and beyond) is still abuzz with talk about the food, the bourbon and the stellar musical performances. This festival mixed some of the best aspects of... well, life in general, creating an event that cannot be compared with anything else.

So, let's jump in and see why Bourbon & Beyond is sure to become one of the region's premier festivals!


1. It was in Louisville


Louisville is home to all sorts of phenomenal events, ranging from the Kentucky Derby to Louder Than Life, giving the city a diverse perspective on how to handle large festivals and tens of thousands of people. Festival goers mentioned how stress-free the ample parking was, and how getting in and out of the festival was simple, thanks to the excellent traffic control.  

And even after the festival was over, Louisville is still the ideal place to host the attendees of Bourbon & Beyond. With distilleries to visit, museums to explore and unique eateries in which to dine, the fun definitely didn't stop after the festival gates closed on Sunday evening. 

2. The Afternoon Acts


OK... we've all been guilty of showing up in the early evening at a festival, just before the featured acts played. However, if you skipped the afternoon performances at Bourbon & Beyond, then you missed out on some of the best moments of the entire festival. Acts like the smooth blues of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the legend of Buddy Guy and the sweet sound of Caitlyn Smith brought even the festival goers on blankets to their feet.  Yet, the crowds seemed to be "in the know" for this event, because they arrived early, and they stayed late, not wanting to miss one moment of the magic.

And speaking of magic, ZZ Ward put on what was arguably one of the best sets of the weekend, pouring out hits like "365 Days", "Charlie Ain't Home" and "Til the Casket Drops", all before 4 p.m.  She definitely gained quite a few new fans at Bourbon & Beyond, if the number of people chanting her name was any indication. 

Additionally, we had the opportunity to meet up with the ever-charismatic Dave Cavalier, who was the first perfomer on the festival's Oak Stage. Cavalier say, "It was an honor being the first band to ever turn up & rip at Bourbon & Beyond. An incredible weekend of blues, food & bourbon and we got to open the show for a few of our idols. You just can't beat that experience."

3. The Experience


Now, there may be a few festivals out there who blend music, food and hand-crafted beverages. However, none have the exact recipe as Bourbon & Beyond. Creating a variety of intimate experiences, everything is up close and "in your face" at here. Everywhere you go, you could smell the exhilarating aroma of local faire, mixing deliciously with the excitement that goes along with the festival spirit.

Plus, you could attend workshops, view demos of culinary delights, take part in the B&B Supper Club or the Southern Soul Party, feast at the Big Easy Boil or go to church at the Chick & Champs Gospel Brunch. The simple fact is that your options are seemingly endless at Bourbon & Beyond, making it one of the most unique experiences of the festival season.


4. Fan Engagement


So, tell us, what can be better than seeing your favorite acts on the big stage over the weekend? FYE took things a step further and offered a creative way to get a pocketful of new music and meet your favorite artists at the same time. By simply purchasing a CD or vinyl from their on-site store, you could get it signed AND pose for a picture. You could even throw in a couple more dollars and skip the line, ensuring you made it back in time to catch Gary Clarke Jr. or Paul Rodgers. Really... how cool is that? And that was just ONE of the interesting ideas at Bourbon & Beyond!

5. The Headliners


As the lights began to dim on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, you could literally feel the anticipation in the air. Of course, with the artists on this schedule, it's easy to see why.  

Saturday brough Eddie Vedder to the stage, in all of his angst and inspiration, perched on a stoll with only his arsenal of guitars. There were moments that, in this gigantic crowd, you could almost hear a pin drop, as he sang "Sleeping By Myself", "Lukin" and the Indio cover "Hard Sun".  

Immediately following, Steve Miller Band completely captivated the crowd with rock anthems from what feels like yesterday. He rolled through hits like "Take the Money and Run", "The Joker" and "Fly Like an Eagle".  

Sunday ended with the nearly mythical Stevie Nicks, taking command of the stage as the audience watched, absolutely bewitched with every aspect of her performance. She delivered hits like "Gypsy" and "White Heart", closing the festival with "Rhiannon" and "Landslide". 

Whether you reveled in every second of the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond or you're already putting it on your calendar for next year, it's pretty safe to say that the festival was a huge success, and yet another reason to visit the alluring city of Louisville. With such a phenomenal experience for the inaugural year, just imagine what Year Two might bring!

You can find more details at Bourbon and Beyond or you can read our pre-festival coverage HERE