Nashville may hold claim to the title of Music City, but our neighbors to the north in Louisville are mounting a major challenge to that honor during the last three weekends in September. Danny Wimmer Presents is staging three massive festivals in Louisville’s Highland Festival Grounds at the KY Expo Center that will stretch across all sorts of music genres from rock to country to heavy metal. All three festivals offer hotel packages or camping options if you don’t ever want to leave the concert grounds, so it’s easy to find a place to lay your head during the multi-day fests, and it’s a short trip up I-65 to get there from Nashville.
Kicking off three weeks of fun is the new Hometown Rising event September 14-15, a festival dedicated to country music and the official beverage of country fans everywhere, bourbon. As a first-year fest, they have assembled a tremendous lineup of talent that should attract fans from across generations. Wear comfortable shoes or bring a cozy chair, because you won’t want to leave your spot in front of the stage to listen to an amazing list of performers including Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Dwight Yoakam, Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Brett Young, Jake Owen and Bret Michaels. The bands will be performing on multiple stages so there will be little downtime between acts, but you will want to try to carve out a little time to visit the various bourbon tasting tents and other food and drink opportunities spread across the festival grounds.
In the following weekend, the Zac Brown Band has decided to perform as one of the headliners the following weekend September 20-21 at Bourbon & Beyond, a festival that stretches beyond the boundaries of country (That’s the “beyond” part.).
As far as bourbon goes, the lovely brown liquor will be a major focus at this festival with more than 40 distilleries showcasing their wares in tasting tents and as part of multiple educational seminars throughout the weekend. A dozen master distillers and other spirits celebrities will also be featured at panel discussions and intimate tasting events in tents ringing the festival grounds.
The music lineup is jam-packed with notable acts ranging from classic acts like Foo Fighters, John Fogerty, Robert Plant, Hall & Oates, Squeeze, Alison Krauss and ZZ Top celebrating their 50th year as a band to modern favorites such as Leon Bridges, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and Grace Potter. Come thirsty and make plans for a safe ride home if you’re not camping.
Hair and heavy metal take over the festival grounds the last weekend of September from the 27th through the 29th as Louder Than Life returns to reclaim their title as “The World’s Largest Rock ‘N’ Roll Whiskey Festival.” As you can imagine, the whiskey will still be flowing even after a fortnight of drinking and eating at the two previous festivals, and the music will be cranked up to 11 with legendary metal bands like Guns N’ Roses, Disturbed, Slipknot, Godsmack, Gwar, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Zombie all slated to destroy their respective stages. After three days, you’ll leave with your belly full, your heart happy and your ears ringing!
Tickets for Hometown Rising, Bourbon & Beyond and Louder Than Life are all available at each festival’s respective website, and if you’re truly a fan of music and whiskey, there’s even a special Trifesta Pass that will get you in to all three weekends. You’d better pack your earmuffs and your stunt liver for that one though…