As far as Nashville’s City Winery knew, their big room was supposed to be dark on Sunday night after a cancelation. About noon though, the team of Brandi Carlile and the venue got in touch with each other and mounted a ticketed show for nearly 700 fans on a few hours notice.
It was a spontaneous make-up for Carlile’s scheduled Sunday afternoon set at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival. To the disappointment of more than 20,000 music fans, the Franklin event was canceled outright Sunday due to heavy rains. That, after patrons were evacuated from the site on Saturday around 4:30 pm with thunderstorms approaching the Harlinsdale Farm site.
The city of Franklin took responsibility for the controversial closure in a statement released on Sunday evening. It noted that on Saturday a storm with nearly 70 lightning strikes had crossed an eight-mile safety perimeter. “The safest place to seek shelter was vehicles, the Factory and Liberty Elementary," the city said. "Those sheltered in place in their vehicles were held on the festival site until approximately 15,000 attendees evacuating on foot were cleared from the streets as this was part of our shelter in place evacuation plan. Once pedestrians were safe, we allowed cars to leave the site.”
That explainer followed more than 24 hours of venting on social media by patrons. Concern one was over the event’s “rain or shine” promise. The other was over evacuation logistics. Some 15,000 attendees were given priority to leave the grounds on foot, before the large South Lot was allowed to start clearing out cars. Some visitors reported waiting in their vehicles in the rain for up to three hours.
The most recent word from Pilgrimage organizers as of Monday noon was that refunds would be offered, but details were pending. Pilgrimage did not reply to requests for comment. See update below.
Lionel Richie and Jack White were among the artists washed out on Saturday. Sunday’s ill-fated slate included Chris Stapleton, Keb' Mo' and Brandi Carlile.
Her show, a full-band production with a string trio, was a cathartic end to Sunday for those who got in. Opening the bill were English artist Jade Bird and songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews. Carlile brought out a raft of special guests, including Kim Richey, Liz Longley, the Lone Bellow and Anderson East.
Update 7:00 pm. Pilgrimage issued the following statement: While disappointing to everyone involved, we fully supported the decision that was made to cancel Sunday’s programming. As a result, we are offering all ticket buyers the following refund:
Sunday Single Day Ticket: 100% refund of your ticket price
Two Day Weekend Ticket: 50% refund of your ticket price
The above refunds apply to all GA, VIP, and Grand Champion tickets at your originally purchased price level. We expect refunds to be processed in the next 3 weeks.
***We are still working through what additional refund might be available for Saturday’s shortened programming. More details to come.