Southern Skies Music Fest expands to two-day event in May

On stage under southern skies. | Photo by Eli Johnson

Shannon Herron, Dogwood Arts’ marketing and creative director, has put together a lot of music events, but he says his favorite festival memory came from last year’s Southern Skies Music Festival.

“Our headliner had to cancel last minute due to a positive Covid diagnosis and it was really incredible to see our team come together and figure out a solution on the fly,” he remembers. “The Dirty Guv’nahs agreed to play two back-to-back sets and ended up closing out the night with a ‘jam session’ where several of the artists from earlier in the day came back out. Even some local musicians who were just attending the festival — like Cruz Contreras — jumped on stage and helped close out the evening. It was a really amazing testament to the close-knit musical community in Knoxville who support each other — even at a moment’s notice!”

So Herron is excited to see Southern Skies expand from one to two days — May 20 and 21 — at World’s Fair Park. Last year about 4,000 people attended the inaugural festival.

Hometown favorites The Dirty Guv’nahs are curating the event. “When we’re narrowing down the lineup, there are weekly meetings with Dogwood Arts staff, Born & Raised staff (our booking agents), and the Guvs where we pitch different bands, brainstorm new additions to the festival and work on event logistics. They are really involved from start to finish in the entire process,” Herron said.

On-stage and off-stage, energy is high. | Photo by Eli Johnson

“Something that always surprises me is the sheer number of people involved in the planning process — from Dogwood Arts staff and board members, our volunteer committee, booking agents, City officials, PBA employees, electricians, food vendors, stagehands, sound and lighting crews, rental companies, marketing and media partners, to the musicians themselves — it really takes a village to pull it off!” 

Attendees can expect to see headliners St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Grace Potter alongside performances by the Dirty Guv’nahs, Black Joe Lewis, Jackie Venson, The Stews, Cruz Contreras, Doc Robinson, Cece Coakley, EG Vines, Kelsi Walker & the Nervous Kids, Brian Clay with Lauren Arp, and Ben McLaughlin & the Mystic Marauders. The rain-or-shine festival also includes food trucks, craft beer, cocktails, a Maker Market, and more. General Admission Day Passes are on sale for $50, or attendees can attend both days for $95. Limited VIP Day Passes include access to premium viewing areas, hangout space with private bars and restrooms, festival merchandise, and more. Tickets can be purchased online at

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