My Old Kentucky Home: Preview of Forecastle Festival
If the organizers of Forecastle Festival ensured anything, it's that the festival stays true to its "old Kentucky home," as the song goes. I was raised in The Bluegrass State myself, which is why I know "My Old Kentucky Home" (the state song) and why I love how devoted Forecastle is to all things Kaintuck. Local food trucks and craft vendors will offer Kentucky-made cuisine and goods, but that's just the beginning of the Kentucky connections.
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More than a few of the artists on the bill are Kentucky-born and bred. The list includes not only predictable acts with bluegrass roots like Sturgill Simpson and the Quiet Hollers, but it also features the wildly popular rock band, Cage the Elephant, and Glittertitz, an up-and-comer DJ duo on the undercard whose name I bet you'll remember.
The festival also celebrates the Kentucky Derby with a Forecastle version where patrons can race against one another. Even the festival merch drops a nod to the Commonwealth's rich horse heritage by offering a rodeo-type Forecastle belt buckle as festival swag.
Of course, there's no proper homage paid to Kentucky without a hearty tribute to bourbon. With 95% of the bourbon in the world made in "them there hills," it makes sense that the festival has partnered with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to offer patrons the "Bourbon Lodge," an oasis of drinking and dining centered around Kentucky's finest libation. Attendees can also enjoy the state's hallmark beverage at The Gonzo Bar, a bourbon bar themed for the famous and infamous gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson—another Kentucky native.
But, what about the music? Just because Forecastle takes place in the heart of horse country doesn't mean this festival is a one-trick pony. Headliners run the gamut, boasting big gets like LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, Run the Jewels, Weezer, and Griz.
The undercard is just as crowd-pleasing with genre-rich offerings that include Capital Cities, NEEDTOBREATHE, Real Estate, Waka Flocka Flame, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Cashmere Cat, Phantogram, Judah and the Lion, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, and Rayland Baxter.
Multiple venues will host late night sets on Friday and Saturday nights after the festival proper shuts down, each dedicated to a different type of music. There's going to be something for everybody at Waterfront Park.
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The park lies just on the banks of the Ohio River, which allows for late night sets popping off not only on land (at Headliners Music Hall and The Mercury Ballroom) but also on the water aboard the Belle of Louisville. The backdrop supplied by the Louisville skyline and its reflection on the river is sure to pretty up even the worst bourbon-soaked selfies you post to Instagram at 2 a.m.
With its downtown Louisville location, the festival site itself is surrounded by parking, but shuttle services and a bicycle valet are also available for folks looking to minimize the carbon footprint. These options are just a couple of Forecastle's many initiatives toward sustainability, an aim that is fundamental to the fest.
Another such initiative is the fest's partnership with Recover Brands —the company that manufactures all official festival apparel from 100% recycled materials. Forecastle donates one dollar for every ticket sold to the Forecastle Foundation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of endangered areas where ecological diversity is high.
Tickets in various price ranges are still available for purchase on the festival website, so get in where you fit in. Author's recommendation is to start training now with a strict daily regimen of bourbon and dancing. See you at My Old Kentucky Home!