The Family Stone, Gale Mayes, Keelan Donovan, DJ Mel Anchor Fifth Music City Food + Wine Festival

Family Stone performs at the 5th Annual Music City Food + Wine festival. Photo: Charles Reagan Hackleman

Nashville’s Bicentennial Park and Walk of Fame Park were overrun from Friday, Sept. 15-17 with Music City Food + Wine festival attendees, hungry for bites, libations and entertainment. What anchored the festival was music. 1960’s funk band, the Family Stone, Grammy winner and gospel singer Gale Mayes, Big Yellow Dog’s Keelan Donovan and DJ Mel served full-size proportions of new and classic tunes.

As for the program, the fifth annual festival experimented with updates, notably with the Sunday afternoon Gospel Brunch extracted from the Grand Taste, which was moved to Friday night.

Additionally, instead of a musical theme parading a guest lineup selected by festival host The Kings of Leon across the Harvest Night stage, the Family Stone anchored the evening. Founding Members and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Jerry Martini (sax) and Greg Errico (drums) in addition to Sly’s daughter Phunne Stone encouraged attendees to dance along to hits like “Higher and Higher,” “Everyday People,” “Dance To The Music,” and “Thank You.” Other attendees continued to graze from celebrity chef tents and local enforcements, including Tandy Wilson (City House), Maneet Chauhan (Chauhan Ale & Masala House), Jonathan Waxman (Adele’s, Bajo Sexto), John Besh (Marsh House, L.A. Jackson), Matt Bolus (The 404 Kitchen) and Sean Brock (Husk).

Harvest Night. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Family Stone. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Sunday’s Gospel Brunch was again hosted by Gale Mayes, backed by a seven person choir. Various members took turns at the mic. At times, the stage was relinquished to Jenn Bostic and Edward Drake, additional performers singing to tracks. But it was again, this year, Mayes whose spotlight shone bright and invited energy, spirit and handkerchief dancing to the park.

Gale Mayes. Photo: Nashville Guru/Instagram

Although complementary festival handbags were not given out this year, heavy-duty bags were available (if you provided your email address to Toyota) at the car manufacturer’s tent. The hub featured music during the Grand Tastes from Big Yellow Dog writer Keelan Donovan. DJ Mel pumped music elsewhere in Bi-Centennial Park. The likes of ’90s-2000’s pop, with a flair of soul and energy. The afternoon ended with what has become tradition, a dance circle around the DJ tent.

Mark your calendars for 2018: when Music City Food+Wine Festival will return on September 14-16.

Grand Taste night. Photo: Charles Reagan Hackleman

Grand Taste day. Photo: Charles Reagan Hackleman

DJ Mel signed off with the customary dance circle. Photo: Charles Reagan Hackleman

Show Stopping Culinary Highlights:

Grand Taste (Friday): The Mockingbird Nashville’s ‘Seoul Purpose,’ a healthy portion of beef barbacoa with xni pec, and a flour tortilla. Drinks were a hit from Prairie Organic Spirits, like the ‘Don’t Panic, It’s Organic’ cucumber, watermelon, mint, lime and soda. Topping it off was Le Sel’s Chamomile Creme Brûlée.

Brian Lea of Le Sel. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Prairie drinks. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Grand Taste (Saturday afternoon): Of course Haddie B’s hot chicken sandwich was on par, but other highlights included Caviar & Bananas’ slow roasted pork belly with maple whiskey over a sweet potato biscuit with apple muscattta. Additionally on par was the Old Fashioned Slushie from Wild Turkey Burbon Whiskey and the unique Chinese Sausage Fried Rice from Mockingbird’s sister restaurant Tansuo, with lap cheong, jasmine rice, egg, garlic, onion and carrot.

Caviar & Banana’s sweet potato biscuit. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Tansuo’s fried rice. Photo: Charles Reagan Hackleman

Harvest Night (Saturday night): Two highlights stood out, Marcus Samuelsson’s Doro Wat lasagna and Jonathan Waxman’s dessert, a seasonal fruit crumble.

Marcus Samuelsson with Susan Feniger in the background. Photo: Erin Lee Allender

Jonathan Waxman (background). Photo: Nathan Zucker

Gospel Brunch (Sunday): Hattie B’s Hot Chicken sausage gravy and biscuits were a sabbath highlight for sure, along with the perfectly seasoned mexican pork and hominy soup from Levon Wallace (Gray and Dudley).

Hattie B’s biscuits and gravy. Photo: Hattie B’s/Instagram

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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