Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Rain, the Mud, and Bourbon & Beyond

Champions Park
Louisville, KY 9-22-18
By Michael Yanko
Rock Legends Photographers



First off I must say that this was the best festival out of hundreds I have been to over my many years. The organization was unprecedented. There were many different kinds of food and drink vendors, rental lockers in different locations, adequate and friendly staff, large twin stages right next to each other with a large photo pit that transcended the length, great sound, and excellent lighting. When your festival is in Kentucky and your sponsors include several major bourbon distilleries it makes sense that you would be able to provide the best festival accommodations in the country.



Unfortunately the nonstop rain made the clay-based ground entirely too slippery to walk on so the second day of the festival was called off for safety reasons. The wet ground was like walking on ice and although we never fell, we heard that many of the guests did hit the ground. Meticulously placing every step, the 150-yard trek to our locker to grab our stuff before leaving took about 45 minutes.



The festival was started by a fun pop rock band called Swimming With Bears. These high-energy young guys did a great job firing up the crowd and their smiles were contagious while they played. I got a chance to interview the band after the show and I could tell that they truly enjoy what they do. Interview



Next up was one of our new favorites, Larkin Poe. This is a band that you will be hearing a lot about as they climb the ranks and the music charts. I'm not going to write anything about their performance other than to steer you toward YouTube to see and hear for yourself.



The third band and another of our new favorites was saxophonist/singer Mindi Abair and her band, The Boneshakers. Abair is better known as a jazz performer but her venture into rockin' blues showed that her talent definitely isn't pinned into one music genre. We met Abair after her show and really enjoyed our conversation with her and her fiance. She'll be coming to a festival in Florida soon and we look forward to photographing her concert again.



The fourth band, Joseph, consisted of three sisters harmonizing beautifully along with an acoustic guitar. Although they were excellent at what they do we felt that maybe they were a bit too mellow compared to the rest of the bands in the day's lineup.




Next up and playing fifth was blues rock sensation JJ Grey & Mofro. Having seen and photographed this band several times we knew what to expect, but from the looks on the faces of band newcomers you could tell they gained new fans. Unfortunately this was about the time that the rain began interfering with the day, but almost everyone came prepared with rain ponchos and didn't seem affected.




The sixth band was fronted by our friend Keb' Mo'. Keb' is another blues rock artist that a lot of music fans are not aware of but once they see him perform they become lifetime fans of his music.



The seventh band was Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot! and since they did not allow photography we took this opportunity to visit the exclusive Bottle & Bond tent where they had great snacks and free bourbon for select guests. This was a luxury tent with real bathrooms and our thanks go out to the promoter who invited us.

The eighth performer was Sheryl Crow and her band. We were both pleasantly surprised at how excellent her high energy performance was. I hadn't seen her in many years and in my opinion she is still on top of her game.



The ninth performer of the day was David Byrne. Whether you are a fan of his music or not you have to admit that his stage performance is a well-orchestrated visual performance.  



The tenth performer was Lenny Kravitz, another "no photography" artist. By this time the grounds were getting very sloppy with standing water in several places. We decided to make the trek to our locker some 150 yards away and grab our things so that after John Mayer, the last performer, we could slide out the back stage exit. 

It took us about 45 minutes to make this treacherous journey. Since it was so close to the main exit we decided to leave before conditions got worse. It was definitely the right decision as the footing at the exit was already almost un-passable and it took us quite some time to navigate safe places to step. We exited the venue and negotiated our way through the crowd in the streets, and finally made it to our rental car. We were glad we left when we did.

The next morning we got up early and planned to buy some boots to deal with the mud on Day 2. We were about to leave when we got word that the second day was canceled. We dedicated the time to editing the previous day's photos.

In summary we must say "hats off" to the promoter, Danny Wimmer, and all the staff for everything they did to put this wonderful event together. If the weather had cooperated this would have been one for the history books. Next year's festival promises to be even better!

Photos by Michael Yanko and Michelle Wilson
Rock Legends Photographers
www.rocklegendsphotographers.com

photos from the festival

https://bourbonandbeyond.com/info/

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