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Willie Nelson, the Decemberists Headline Inaugural Pilgrimage Festival

Set for late September in Middle Tenneese, the concert will also include Sheryl Crow, Weezer, Will Hoge and Dr. John

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Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow will headline the new Pilgrimage Festival, set for September in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Will Hoge and newcomer Rainey Qualley are among the country-flavored artists set for the inaugural Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, held this fall in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville.

But the music and arts event is far from just a country concert. Indie rock acts the Decemberists and Weezer, along with Americana darlings Neko Case and Iron & Wine, soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Jimmy Cliff and Dr. John are also on the bill. Slated for September 26th and 27th, the festival will take place at the Park at Harlinsdale, a 230-acre, century-old horse farm that is now a city-owned park.

Better Than Ezra lead singer — and Franklin, Tennessee, resident — Kevin Griffin is one of the founders of the festival and a frequenter of the park’s jogging trails. According to a statement announcing the festival, Griffin had an epiphany on a trail one September morning a few years ago “surrounded by those rolling hills and natural amphitheaters: this is the perfect setting for an amazing, unique music festival.”

Griffin and festival co-founders W. Brandt Wood and Michael Whelan, all born and raised in Louisiana, were heavily influenced by the long-running New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In a nod to Jazz Fest, which celebrated its 45th anniversaary last year, the diverse lineup of acts represents a wide variety of the Southern musical landscape.

Pilgrimage will also take place during the day, with many of the acts performing acoustic sets. Another unique aspect of the two-day event, which includes a “Little Pilgrims” stage to spotlight young performers, will be the “Pilgri-mashups,” pairing artists together on stage for special one-time collaborations.

More performers are expected to be announced throughout May and June. See the current lineup and learn more about Pilgrimage here.


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