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Picture courtesy of Forecastle Festival

In the world of music festivals, everything changes. Eventually. And Louisville’s annual mammoth-sized music, art and activism mecca, Forecastle Festival, now in its 11th year, is no exception. The festival will once again take place on Louisville’s Waterfront Park, from July 12-14.

What started as a small neighborhood gathering in Louisville’s Tyler Park in 2002 has evolved into one of the Midwest’s largest platforms for musicians, artists and activists alike with tens of thousands flocking to the banks of the Ohio River every summer.

Last year the Forecastle founder JK McKnight, announced a partnership with Bonnaroo producer, AC Entertainment.

“One of the biggest assets AC Entertainment brings to the table is experience, and the relationships that go along with that,” McKnight explains. “In addition, a laser-like focus heavily on festivals, which is different than concerts. Festivals are brands, and have to be approached in a different way.”

That approach has lead to a number of expected changes with the core management shift to AC. The most obvious – perhaps only to the Forecastle-faithful – is the music roster, which is a bit lighter on Louisville area artists as compared to year’s past.

“We’re always going to have a local and regional stage. I think that’s never going to change,” McKnight adds.

“But yes, it’s (Louisville & Kentucky musicians) always been a part of the festival and I imagine it always will be. It’s part of our DNA. I think as the festival grows and expands, we’ll be able to use more real estate, which could open up more opportunity,” says McKnight.

“This year I’ve put together a list of probably 15 to 20 local artists that I thought were really special and deserving of an opportunity like this. These were artists that were really out there, touring constantly, pushing the envelope, building their brand. You can look at numbers and statistics, and see them growing in the market. People are responding, which is what we want to see. We want something that catches our eye. If we see other people responding to it, that’s important. The festival’s not about our personal music tastes. I think that’s a misconception,” McKnight candidly commented.

A few of those carefully selected artists hailing from the Louisville area include; the musically unclassifiable My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, the up-and-coming folk-jammers Houndmouth, retro-rockers The Pass, the bluegrass-americana sounds of 23 String Band, and the alt-country up-comers A Lion Named Roar.

As for the Forecastle headliners, festival-goers will enjoy Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters (which’ll hopefully turn into a Led Zeppelin affair), The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident, Outkast’s Big Boi, and Alabama Shakes just to name a few.

Forecastle is also expanding beyond the festival’s official grounds with a number of late night after-party concerts at Louisville Palace and aboard the Belle of Louisville.

“Every year, the late night component of the festival is always something that we think about throughout the whole year,” McKnight explains. “Obviously, this year with String Cheese doing the Saturday night at the Palace, which is the first year of its kind that the Palace has ever done. But yeah, the Belle of Louisville is an iconic venue. I don’t see us ever quitting that tradition of trying to do shows on the Belle. It’s a lot of fun!”

* This article can also be read in Performer Magazine’s July 2013 issue and at PerformerMag.com

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