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By Alexandria Sardam
Louisville is a city that has fathered more than Cardinal fans, engraving its namesake into thousands of wooden bats and imprinting a nostalgic landscape into one of the most influential journalists and authors of all time.
And just 10 years ago, the great city of Louisville has welcomed yet another valuable entity that many can thank for generating art, music and memories: The Forecastle Festival.
The clouds dipped in a heavy grey wash cast a slight shadow over the Riverfront stage, however failing to pollute or muffle the celebration being had. Everything was just happy and nothing seemed wrong as I strolled through the crowd, smiling with my raspberry red stained lips from the homemade Popsicle I’d been nibbling on.
Upon my arrival to the main stage, my eyes shifted from face to sky, grass to body, each swaying with the bellowing echoes rippling towards them from the distant stages.
As I made my way toward the front of the stage I noticed a kid amongst a much taller, much older crowd. Perhaps it was his staked spot along the front rail — a spot so desirable it’d be worth missing half a day of music and festivities just to claim-that peaked my admiration for the boy more than his stature battling against the sea of towering, front row fans did.
My eyes remained curious as an open hand fell upon his shoulder, giving a slight, acknowledging squeeze. This man baring the trenches with the boy knew him. This man was the boy’s father.
My dad and I always had a unique bond. Something different than what I had with my brother or mother. I remember running my small fingers over my dad’s tapes, organizing his CDs alphabetically on the living room floor, studying the album art like it was something that belonged on a wall in a museum. Captivated, I’d watch him hop from one foot onto another, bringing a beer to his lips in between singing Grateful Dead verses and twirling my unsuspecting mother around the room. His smile was of the music and his movement of the love he had for us. Bob Weir one night, Neil Young the next, my father was an entertainer whether he knew this or not. He let music into our lives and it still flourishes there today.
My eyes stayed focused on the boy and his father as I tried not to let the commotion around me deter from my daydream or my fixation of their fun. The pit was crowded and the tech crew was swarming the stage. I took a spot near the two and introduced myself as best I could. Stan and Wes. As for the spots they had claimed, well they were there for Wilco — a band they had both seen before. When I asked what songs they wanted to hear, Wes, the son, replied with a song I hadn’t heard of in years. The kid knew his stuff.
It was nice seeing them there. It was refreshing but not in a surprising way because I too have experienced those moments with my dad. But there was just something about them. Their dedication to claim the rail as father and son. Their desire to see those bands that Stan and Wes listened to back home, at night, with their family.
Musicians fade, bands break up, artists sell out and people die. But music is out there whether it’s heard from the front rail or the living room floor. Those moments rich and full, they are just waiting to be made and remembered. I knew those sights Wes was taking in and capping off with each upwards glance towards his father were memories that he’d cherish forever. I knew this, because I’d been there before.
“I try to show him that life is fleeting and you have to have a good outlook on life in order to enjoy the limited time you have on this earth. Life is complicated. You have to take it with a smile on your face or it will eat you up. Go with the flow but don’t let it sweep you over the falls. The whole duality of man idea. We are not just one-track creatures, but multi-layered personalities that have to coexist together and promote the survival of the species. I think music is a perfect example of this idea. So many different genres of music exist that you can find pleasure in all of them if you just let them take you there.” -Stan