Country music and luxury dining made a surprisingly tasty pairing at the Music City Food & Wine Festival ’s Harvest Night celebration on Saturday (Sept. 20) in Nashville.
Held in a park adjacent to the vibrant honky-tonk mecca of Lower Broadway, the evening started with opulent dishes created by celebrity chefs but finished with a good old-fashioned harvest-time hoedown.
Created by Nashville-born rock stars Kings of Leon, the festival included two days of food-and-wine-centric events (like a cooking demonstration with Trisha Yearwood) and culminated in the Harvest Night finale where diners could sample all the delicious creations.
Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson, Ashley Monroe, Holly Williams and Billy Joe Shaver performed after filling up on fancy fare like prime rib bites with jalapeno chimichurri, barbecued quail thighs and zucchini fritters with dill sauce.
Each had time for two songs, and each choose classic country covers to perform in honor of the beer joints and karaoke bars that bounded the event in blazing neon light.
Musical highlights included Johnson’s solo version of Vern Gosdin’s “Set ’Em Up Joe,” Hayes tackling the slinky guitar leads of Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast as You,” a blissfully pregnant Williams on her grandfather’s “I Saw the Light” and Kelley and Monroe dueting on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Afterwards, Kelley thanked his partner and joked that he was so used to singing with Hillary Scott in Lady Antebellum, he really needs a girl onstage as a safety blanket now.
Other standouts included Bobby Bare and son Bobby Bare Jr. kicking things off with the Shel Silverstein-written “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” Clare Bowen of the ABC drama Nashville doing her best rendition of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and the Watson Twins’ pristine harmony on Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
Ever the individualist, Shaver decided against the cover song format, instead treating the pleasantly plumped audience to the mellow vibes of his “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” and “Old Five and Dimers Like Me.”
After enjoying the mix of elegant food and drink with down-home country music for nearly four hours, the night ended with almost all the performers back onstage for a spirited sing-along of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.”
The culinary highlight of the event, however, came earlier with the chance to meet Andrew Zimmern, the famous host of the Travel Channel series Bizarre Foods America. And, of course, to sample his “Dead Baby Cow Sandwich.”