The thousands of music fans who made the trip to the 2017 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee walked away with concert memories they will never forget.
On Saturday (Sept. 23), Justin Timberlake capped day one of the two-day event with a soul-shaking performance that kicked off with a moving cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." In a powerful display of unification, members of his band joined Timberlake in a long line at the front of the stage as they finished the iconic song. Then they moved into "Drink You Away" and "Suit & Tie."
Later on in his set, Timberlake brought out surprise guests Chris and Morgane Stapleton to sing "Tennessee Whiskey," "Fire Away" and "Sometimes I Cry" from Stapleton's Grammy-winning album Traveller.
Other highlights from day one included performances by Ruby Amanfu with Steelism, the Avett Brothers, Better Than Ezra, Gary Clark, Jr., the Jerry Douglas Band, Jillian Jacqueline, Nikki Lane, Angaleena Presley, Shovels & Rope, the Texas Gentleman, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Colter Wall and more.
Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder closed the festival on Sunday (Sept. 24) with a solo performance that included a show a solidarity with players from all 28 NFL teams. During his set, Vedder walked to center stage and kneeled in front of the audience like many players have done during National Anthem performances in stadiums nationwide.
Many players in the NFL locked arms and kneeled with their team mates on Sunday in a peaceful protest against racial and social injustice following criticism from President Donald Trump. On Friday (Sept. 22), President Trump angered many in the NFL by calling for team owners to fire any players who didn't stand for the National Anthem. Players have been protesting during the anthem since the 2016 NFL season in response to instances of police violence against unarmed black men.
Vedder was among the few Pilgrimage performers to express their political views live onstage at the third annual event. Elsewhere nationwide, other performers took a knee with the NFL on Sunday including Rhiannon Giddens, Meghan Linsey, Pharrell Williams, Dave Matthews and Roger Waters.
Rounding out day two of the 2017 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival were performances by Ryan Adams, Band of Heathens, Devon Gilfillian, Valerie June, Kingfish, Pokey LaFarge, Muddy Magnolias, Amanda Shires, the Sisterhood, Langhorne Slim, Mavis Staples, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives and more.
Highlights from the 2017 event will be featured on an all-new CMT Hot 20 Countdown airing Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) at 9 a.m. ET.
Enjoy scenes from the 2017 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival:
Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton
Gary Clark, Jr.
Nikki Lane and Jonathan Tyler
Fitz and the Tantrums
Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives
Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers
Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers