Better Than Ezra Star Kevin Griffin Reveals How Pilgrimage Music Festival Started with a Post-Thanksgiving Run

franklin, tennessee september 23 kevin griffin of better than ezra performs during pilgrimage music  cultural festival at the park at harlinsdale farm on september 23, 2023 in franklin, tennessee photo by erika goldringgetty images
Pilgrimage Festival Celebrates Its 10th YearErika Goldring
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and it all started with a post-Thanksgiving run.

On November 25, 2013, "I took a jog trying to run off overeating the day before, and I found myself out at this amazing 250-acre park, basically. It was a former Tennessee walking horse farm that had been given to the city and was just empty. It was beautiful rolling hills, natural amphitheaters, 18 miles from downtown Nashville in the heart of Franklin, Tennessee," festival co-founder Kevin Griffin described in an interview with Country Living. "I just saw it instantly. I was like 'I want to do a festival here.'"

From there, the inception of the Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival began. Modeled after the Jazz Fest in New Orleans, where Griffin grew up, the multi-genre festival encapsulates the music of the region from country to rock to gospel and more. Pilgrimage offers a more elevated and family-friendly experience compared to other festivals suited more for teens and twenty-somethings.

bte at pilgrimage festival
Alive Coverage

"What we've found is that something can be more refined and maybe even family-friendly, but also just be rock solid with amazing music, and some of the most cutting artists, the most beloved icons of music. So that's really what made us unique in an already saturated festival world, and that served us really well. And then some of the things I think make it stand out is that one of the headliners every year is the location. The setting is on a National Historic Grounds. It's the most beautiful setting for a festival you're going to find. Buildings on the historic register, it's just stunning," Griffin said of the unique aspects of Pilgrimage.

Griffin wouldn't have made it far without the support of the Franklin community. "You gotta have the buy-in first of the city, then of the tourism board and merchant. [...] Since year one, the city, the government, the community has been on board with us, and the way you do that is to involve them," Griffin explained.

The Pilgrimage Foundation benefits the community directly and has been an integral part of the festival since its first year. A portion of ticket sale proceeds every year are allocated to the foundation and redistributed to local charities and Franklin park funds.

a blue and yellow sign
Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival

Pilgrimage Festival 2024 Details

The 10th-annual Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival will take place on September 28 and 29, 2024, at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee. Across two days and the festival's three stages, artists including Dave Matthews Bands, Hozier, Noah Kahan, Allison Russell, NEEDTOBREATHE, COIN and, of course, Better Than Ezra will perform, among others.

The lineup includes a wide variety of genres and styles, but Griffin explained, there's always a common thread that makes the lineup cohesive and exciting for a wide audience. "You want to make sure you've got rock, you got pop, you got country, you have Delta blues, you've got soul. You just want to make sure that you're giving something for everybody and that there's a theme through it. [...] That's how people listen to music, and then the one common thread is authenticity. Whatever genre it is, it's just good for that genre," Griffin explained.

a group of men posing for a picture
Robby Klein

As one of the festival's founder and the lead singer of Better Than Ezra, Griffin's band is often a part of the Pilgrimage lineup. This year, their performance will be extra special as they are releasing their first new album in 10 years, Super Magick. Griffin admits running Pilgrimage Festival, and his "naiveté about how hard it was to run a festival," is one of the things that delayed the album so long.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CXMCH5TN?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10050.a.60659955%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Super Magick</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$17.99</p>

Shop Now

Super Magick

amazon.com

$17.99

"It took forever. I do Pilgrimage Festival, I'm always writing with others artists, I'm a published artist, but Better Than Ezra was the first thing that I did, and always will be the thing I'm known for," Griffin said. "But, that said, we let 10 years go by in between album, and so about four years ago, we were like, hey, we need to put out a new album."

You can stream Super Magick now and see BTE and dozens of other artists live at Pilgrimage Festival in late September, tickets are on sale now!

Exclusive: Peek Inside Carly Pearce's Tour Bus

Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist
Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist

Reba McEntire Drops Major Career News

Photo credit: Kevin Mazur
Photo credit: Kevin Mazur

What Is Dolly Parton's Net Worth?

Photo credit: Mike Coppola
Photo credit: Mike Coppola

Fans Are Praising Carrie Underwood for Her Latest Career Move

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

Kelly Clarkson Brings Jelly Roll to Tears with "Save Me" Cover

Photo credit: John Shearer - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Shearer - Getty Images

Miranda Lambert is Hitting the Road Again

Photo credit: Mickey Bernal - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mickey Bernal - Getty Images

Lainey Wilson Had the Best Reaction to Winning Her First Grammy

Photo credit: Jason Kempin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jason Kempin - Getty Images

You Might Also Like