Danny Wimmer Presents is no stranger to Louisville, Kentucky. Four years ago DWP launched the first rock and metal festival, Louder Than Life at Champions Park. The lineup was, of course, stellar; those in the know, know to expect nothing less from DWP. However, Louder Than Life did something unique; incorporating the Kentucky community into the festival, LTL brought us the best bourbon and gourmet comfort food Louisville had to offer. Champions Park became a condensed version of all the things Louisville is known and loved for. Imagine my excitement when DWP launched Bourbon and Beyond this year and invited Shockwave Magazine to experience this epic event.
Bourbon and Beyond took the Louder Than Life template (literally the exact same set up in terms of stages and vendors) and blended in some unique features. Attendees had the opportunity to take part in bourbon education seminars from some of the biggest distilleries, as well as cooking demos with renowned chefs. In between sampling bourbon and food from the Bluegrass State, festival goers secured shaded spaces with lawn chairs and enjoyed a variety of music from local blue grass outfits to headliners Steve Miller Band on Saturday and Stevie Nicks on Sunday. Though the heat was blistering, the crowd was not deterred. DWP provided outdoor a/c units and massive water coolers so attendees could stay hydrated throughout the day.
One girl and a camera can only cover so much ground, and I was determined to bring as much of the experience to this review as possible. I captured some of the most amazing acts, from Shockwave favorite Kenny Wayne Shepherd to personal favorite Amos Lee. I was also in place to discover some new-to-me talents such as rockers Band of Horses and genre defying Shawn James & The Shapeshifters. However, the highlight of Friday’s music homecoming was experiencing the iconic Buddy Guy tearing up the stage and charming an audience with his personality and extraordinary gifts. I also downloaded ZZ Ward‘s CD on the spot, and hung around for an intimate acoustic performance by Eddie Vedder. Check out the slideshow below for a taste of Bourbon and Beyond, Day One.
Day two held the promise of cooler weather, more bourbon, addicting food offerings, and music to die for. Due to an unfortunate Uber incident I didn’t arrive in time to catch Nashville’s Caitlyn Smith from the photo pit, but I listened to her set, spellbound by her vocals and relatable lyrics. It was Sunday gospel at the church of good damn music, and if that’s what you’re needing, check out her new LP Starfire now. Disclaimer: when she holds that note out in “Tacoma” you will drop to your knees and confess your sins. The woman behind Meghan Trainor’s I’m Gonna Love you and Garth Brooks’ “Tacoma” has been hidden away long enough, so definitely check her out. Following Smith, and one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend, was none other than Lost Boy Keifer Sutherland playing tunes off his upcoming CD Down in a Hole. Sutherland stated that while he can’t stand actors that try to form bands, he finally gave in because he’s too old to give a shit. His ease on stage was as evident as his love of song. It’s just one more thing this gentleman does to the fullest. I was also lucky enough to finally catch up with my hometown sweetheart Jonny Lang after all these years. He was soulful as a child playing in blues clubs back when, but he’s grown nearly godlike in depth and talent. The list of legends carried throughout the day with the the exhuberant Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Philly’s G Love and Special Sauce, Gary Clark Jr, Paul Rodgers, Joe Bonamassa, and finally the lady herself, Stevie Nicks. Check out slides from Day Two below.
Bourbon and Beyond is not your typical DWP festival. There, I said it. If you like the rock festival vibe with it’s crowd surfing and mosh pits, you may find yourself feeling slightly out of place here. The crowd is laid back, all ages, and this event is more than music and mayhem. Bourbon and Beyond is you with your family or friends, a lawn chair and a cold drink, maybe a free-style dance off with the people perched next to you under the beer tree. Yes, you get all the upscale food and DWP amenities you’ve come to know and love, but you get something different, dare I say something more. I found the roots of the music I’ve loved for years and I found scraps of the the melodic quilt that make up the fabric of tears and cheers and “yes Jesus that’s the stuff!” If that’s your jam, I can’t encourage you enough to check out next year’s Bourbon and Beyond. Bring your lawn chair and your chill, an empty stomach and primed liver. Come to learn, to taste, to imbibe, and to enjoy! Personally, this festival will be a MUST for me from here going forward.