PASADENA—The inaugural Palomino Festival took place at the Brookside Golf Course on Saturday July 9, and by crowd reaction alone it was a resounding success. A very eclectic blend of diverse artists that pleased both young and old country fans alike. Artists included Orville Peck, Old Crow Medicine Show, Willie Nelson and Friends, and of course the headliner Kacey Musgraves.
She played to a very loud and loyal fan base who knew the words to most of her songs and were not afraid to sing along. Part of the reason the crowd was so welcoming was the fact that the sun had gone down on a very hot afternoon. Some, if not most fans did not know what to expect, but most agreed with the sentiments of local South Pasadena resident Kelly Thorpe who said, “Going in I expected strong performances from the headliners, but everyone sounded great.”
Palomino Festival is a new idea concocted by Goldenvoice, who also produce the famous Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals.
Goldenvoice’s Stacy Vee described it, “as a dream for us as long as I can remember to do a festival taking a modern, fresh approach to today’s alt-country music. Artists in the space have been pushing boundaries and creating sounds that are brand new. I wanted to fan these flames and celebrate this changing culture.”
Palomino Fest is a sign that country music is embracing artists who have been marginalized. Including people of color, LGBTQ+ artists and women who are finally finding an audience and success in mainstream country music.
It makes perfect sense that this inclusive roster and concert was held in Pasadena. These artists were clearly influenced by other genres such as Rock, Electronica and pop music.
For instance, Old Crow Medicine Show played a thrilling set concluding with not a Tom Petty song or Merle Haggard. No, these boys do an outstanding, honky tonk version of KISS’ “Rock N’ Roll All Night” which nearly blew the roof off the tent.
Willie Nelson, the national treasure turned his set into a cozy family affair. Early in the set, Nelson’s two sons Micah and Lucas helped their Pa by singing the first batch of songs.
At 89, the ‘Redheaded Stranger’ was just pacing himself as his voice grew stronger as the sunset behind the majestic San Gabriel Mountains. Stand out cuts like, “You were Always On My Mind” the recent, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” co-written by Chris Stapleton.
The night clearly belonged to Kacey Musgraves. Nearly a half hour prior to her set, ardent fans began shouting “KACEY, KACEY KACEY!” A buffet of different genres was on the menu. Her commanding stage presence, proving she is a songwriter at the top of her game. She was promoting her latest album, “Star-Crossed” even though by her own admission, “Its a depressing album, but would constitute a party.”
A light show so bright it compared to LAX, working the stage while donning a beautiful shimmering outfit. Musgraves has crossed over into pop superstardom in the vein of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift.
She performed “Good Wife,” “High Horse” and brought out Willie Nelson for a crowd-pleasing version of “On The Road Again.” After they hugged Kacey asked the audience, “How do you top that?”
She closed out the set with the gorgeous ballad “Rainbow” and “Slow Burn.” The discussion of what is considered country music has been up for debate for a hundred years. The Palomino Festival was rip roaring fun!