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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Interview with Swimming With Bears on New Music and Upcoming Bourbon & Beyond Festival Performance

The second annual Bourbon & Beyond festival makes its anticipated return to Louisville’s Champions Park on Sept. 22 and 23 blending Bourbon, food and rock legends.

Sting and Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, as well as superstars John Mayer, Lenny Kravitz, Counting Crows, David Byrne and Sheryl Crow will lead the music lineup of more than 30 artists. We had the opportunity to talk with Swimming With Bears, Joe Perry (vocals/bass), ahead of the two-day fest. They will be performing on Saturday.

Thanks for talking with us! What are you looking forward to most playing the Bourbon and Beyond Festival?

I look forward to playing in front of all the amped up music fans at the festival! There is no better high than playing in an atmosphere like the one at Bourbon and Beyond and feeling the raw energy of music and hyped fans! Second would be the bourbon of course!

Have you ever been to Louisville before?

We have driven through the city before while on tour but never actually got the chance to hangout there! I’m super psyched to finally be visiting Louisville and I’m trying my best to pronounce Louisville like the natives.

There is quite a lineup this year!. Do you plan on catching any shows while at the festival?

Of course! The two shows I really want to catch is Sting on Sunday who was a big influence on my playing style while growing up and second is John Mayer on Saturday. Third on my list is Sheryl Crow, my mom really wants her autograph.

Tell us about your new EP. Why did you choose to self-title it?

I think we self-titled it because mostly that is tradition within the music world to self-title your first release. The EP itself was a catalyst for us to start solidifying our sound as a band and was a big stepping point for us once completed. We will be including some of our songs from the EP in our set as well as newer songs that we’ve created since then.

How did you know when you had the right songs for it?

We’ll know when we know haha. But it really comes down to sitting as a group and taking all the songs created within a certain time frame and deciding which ones are worth releasing on an album.

Is there a specific track off the album that you're most excited for fans to hear at the festival?

French Girls! French Girls! French Girls! It’s our newest single and by far the flagship as of current of the unique sound in which our band has.

How did being in Texas influence this EP or play a part in your creative process?

Of course! Being all Texans we want our sound to command the stage in a BIG way, but when it comes to musical styles, Texas has definitely influenced us. In Texas the music scene there growing up was hip hop, rock classics, Motown classics, and country. Weird mix to be introduced to as a kid, but it definitely helped the bands’ ear in creating our own sound.

Are fans going to be able to meet and talk with you during the festival?

Yes! We’ll be by our Texas flag waiting to say hello to everyone there!

Since we will be hanging out in bourbon country, do you have a favorite or one you look forward to trying?

I’m actually really excited to taste some bourbon, I never have had an opportunity to drink the best bourbon in the world, (don’t tell my mom).

Do you have a favorite Southern food?

Fried Chicken will always be king, then fried pickles close behind!

What about favorite festival food or favorite food that is deep fried?

Fried chicken and fried pickles

What’s on your personal playlist right now? Anything essential fans should know about?

On my personal playlist I have "15 Steps" by Radiohead as well as some "Give it up and Turn it Loose" jungle remix by James Brown followed up by "Stylo" by the Gorillaz.

What might our readers be surprised to learn about you?

I started out on the flute and played it like a champ throughout middle school and high school, but I eventually gave it up for the bass guitar to the complains of my parents but I explained to them the bass was a better look.

Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why?

Whataburger would pretty awesome to get sponsored by, just cause their food is freaking awesome and they’re as Texas as Texas gets. And shiner bock would be the drink brand for sure, gotta love the best beer in Texas!

Bourbon & Beyond, presented by Danny Wimmer Presents, is an annual celebration of the craftsmanship behind award-winning Bourbons, master distillers, legendary musicians, world-class chefs, and an unforgettable showcase of the soul and spirit of Louisville, held during Bourbon Heritage Month. In its inaugural year in 2017, the festival attracted 50,000 people from all over the country, offering a series of on-site experiences, including Bourbon and culinary workshops.

The festival’s centerpiece, the Big Bourbon Bar, will feature more than two dozen Bourbons selected by best-selling author and renowned Bourbon authority Fred Minnick, Bourbon & Beyond’s official Bourbon curator. The Big Bourbon Bar will also be the site of a Bluegrass stage featuring performances by The Travelin’ McCourys, Billy Strings, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Ben Sollee, River Whyless and Lindsay Lou.

Acclaimed Louisville whiskey bar The Silver Dollar will operate The Hunter’s Club, where attendees can find vintage Bourbons dating as far back as the 1930s, as well as contemporary collectibles -- which last year included more than 50 rarities.

Louisville’s thriving food scene, as recognized by “Top Chef,” which will be filming its upcoming 16th season in the city, will also be spotlighted at the festival. Tom Colicchio (“Top Chef” head judge) and Edward Lee (“The Mind of a Chef”), along with culinary stars Stephanie Izard, Aaron Sanchez, Ray Garcia and Louisville’s Damaris Phillips will lead the lineup of more than 20 chefs.

Bourbon & Beyond exclusive VIP packages, General Admission tickets, camping and hotel packages, as well as special event tickets go on sale Friday, April 20 at noon EST.

Initial ticket prices for Bourbon & Beyond are:

●      2-Day Weekend General Admission: starting at $129.50 + fees

●      2-Day Weekend VIP: starting at $439.50 + fees

●      2-Day Beyond VIP: $999.50

●      Single Day General Admission: starting at $80.00 + fees

●      Single Day VIP: starting at $229.50 + fees

Visit for more details about tickets and the festival.


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