Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Column #29: The Bonnaroo banner should help Forecastle

Previously on “Mid-Sized Middle-American City”: A young man with a dream throws a
music party in a park. More like a barbecue than Lollapalooza, it would grow into a major festival.

Last month, that young man saw his decade of hard work pay off, selling into the bigger and more successful Bonnaroo Festival of Tennessee.

Next year, the Forecastle Festival — the little festival that would — will be reborn as a Bonnaroo farm team. I, for one, am very happy about this development.

It's no secret to devoted readers that I have written about Captain J.K. McKnight and his Forecastle Festival before, and have committed the crime of suggesting that
some aspects of the fest were less than perfect. There is a difference between a
publicist and a critic, and my job was the latter.

There is also a difference between acting as though everything that is made here is
wonderful — like a parent with a 4-year-old who has learned to tie her own shoes —
and allowing for the possibility that you, me or the other guy might have room for

Forecastle, which I believe comes from the Native American word for “glowstick,” has
been very enjoyable at times. I have attended three of the festivals, bought art and enjoyed performances by many local bands as well as out-of-towners such as
Sleater-Kinney, Mucca Pazza and Girl Talk.

I haven't been since 2008. That summer, as the lineup became more diverse and a
mbitious, it also became (in my opinion) more schizophrenic and unfocused.

In this magazine, I wrote about that. What I said, for the record, was that I was looking forward to two-thirds of the bands, and less enthused about the remaining third.

Some folks, like the understandably frustrated Captain McKnight, were not
amused. Others were.

I haven't been back mostly because I'm less inclined today to spend a lot of money
to see bands that I like at 1, 4 and 10 p.m. while younger people all around me are
tweaking and tweeting, and having to leave and come back to ignore bands I don't
care about.

I want Forecastle to succeed, not merely try and fail. I want everybody in Louisville to succeed, and I want to like everything — don't you? It would certainly make my life more exciting. But as much as I would like to have the best of everything right outside my door, I don't always.

I am fortunate — in my neighborhood there's a great bakery, a great coffee shop,
some wonderful restaurants and about 109 bars. But when it comes to music festivals,
Forecastle is not yet up there with Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Coachella or

This new deal with the Bonnaroo folks should give the Captain and his merry crew
the resources to book bigger, better bands. Instead of a stale headliner like De
La Soul or what's left of Smashing Pumpkins, maybe now Louisville will now
be able to land a festival headliner like Radiohead or Eminem.

Will it stay in the concrete fields of downtown, or move to a farm so the
tourists can visit downtown museums without hearing DJs dropping banging club
beats nearby?

Who's going to come here that's never been? Will devoted music fans fly in from
overseas and discover a new love for bourbon? (I hope so — my wedding
reception alone converted a handful of people into bourbon lovers.)

I'm excited to wake up one day next year and hear all about the new model Forecastle. I think that it will be a good thing — a better thing — both for music
and for further proving that Louisville is a great place to live.

c. 2011 Velocity Weekly

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