Louisville's Forecastle Then and Now

Music lovers are anxiously counting down the days until next weekend’s highly anticipated Forecastle Festival. Forecastle will be celebrating their 10th anniversary July 13-15 with the most impressive line up of bands yet. Headliners include Girl Talk, Wilco, Bassnectar, and Louisville’s own My Morning Jacket.

The Forecastle Festival began in 2002 as a free Summer festival in Tyler Park with the purpose of bringing the like-minded music community together.  A grass roots venture, talent played for free, infrastructure cost nothing, and the event only cost five-hundred dollars to produce.   JK McKnight, the brains behind the operation, decided the following year to add something special to the festival.  McKnight invited sculpture Mike Ratterman to head up the effort in bringing in the local art community.  The 2003 Forecastle Festival included over thirty local artists exhibiting their work under the Tyler Park limestone bridge. In addition to the artists, environmental and socially-conscience activists educated audience members.  This was the birth of the Forecastle trademark slogan Music.Art.Activism. Creating a unique experience where music, art, and activism went hand in hand was brilliant, and is working for the Festival to this day.  Over the next few years, Forecastle continued to grow in size and popularity. It quickly outgrew it’s Tyler Park home and needed to find a new one. The Festival moved to Cherokee Park, the Mellwood Arts Center and then finally found it’s current home at the Waterfront.  

The Forecastle Festival has been nationally recognized in many well-respected publications and media sources.  After a noteworthy performance by the all-female rock trio “Sleater Kinnley,” the Festival was shoved into the National spotlight.  The band announced that they would dismember shortly after their Festival performance,  so everyone, including MTV, CNN, Billboard, and the New York Times was talking about the Forecastle Festival.  Forecastle has been named one of the “101 Top Things to do in America” by Spin Magazine, named one of the “Top 15 Outdoor Festivals in the Country” by the staff of Outside Magazine, is one of the “Top 10 things to do in the State” according to the Kentucky Tourism Council, and is “The Best Music Festival in Louisville” according to the LEO Readers Choice Awards.

The Forecastle Festival is doing some unique things this year. You can visit the Bourbon Lodge to learn all about your favorite vice, and taste a few while your at it.  The Whoop de Doo art collective is a community arts project out of Kansas City, Missouri. They created a major installation just for Forecastle looks really interesting.  You will go on a journey through a Forecastle ship complete with an audio and light presentation. Louisvillians Ema and Jacob Huestis created the second art installation where you will be given the opportunity to create your own mix tape.

Several of the day pass and weekend tier passes are sold out already, but upper tier options are still available. VIP tickets are also available.  Stay tuned to find out more about Forecastle after parties.  The Forecastle website will have information and tickets soon.

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