Pardon the Interlude: Forecastle Festival founder speaks at UK



By Alexandria Sardam

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“It wasn’t a business plan, it wasn’t a 5-year projection. It was extremely grass roots and extremely organic,” said JK McKnight, founder of Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, a nationally renowned music, arts and activism festival.

McKnight spoke at Worsham Theatre on Wednesday night discussing the earliest years of the local festival, and how the evolution of the event has been accomplished with little luck and lots of intuition.

“My objective was really simple, I really just wanted to come up with something that brought together the music community. It felt a little disconnected after being gone for a year or two, and I thought a music festival was a great way to do that. I set a really simple goal. It was a free concert in the park, uniting the Lousiville music community and the simple goal was met,” McKnight said.

The festival continued to spin into this glowing evolution that put the city of Louisville on the map.

Just this year, Forecastle celebrated it’s 10th anniversary.

Originally crafted as a free, one night event, the festival has grown into a three-day bonanza with headliners from the Black Keys to the Black Crowes.

McKnight said the focus on arts and activisim, as well as the music, was something no one was really doing 10 years ago.

He also added that the continued desire to draw equal attention to every aspect of the festival was a key component in making Forecastle one of a kind. That was important since other festivals started copying their ideas and website design.

McKnight told a story about one of his friends calling him up telling him to check out Rothburry music festival’s website — he said they looked identical.

Aside from the tales of crazy artist’s demands (two bottles of Crystal) and Coldplay’s concert booking fee (one million for a festival), the most valued words that escaped McKnight’s lips came early in the lecture when he spoke about the early days of the festival.

“Celebrate them, and the feeling you get from that will drive you forward,” McKnight said.

Make goals, manageable goals, and once they are achieved, no matter how small they might seem, they are accomplished, and that is a victory that will be you strength for the next time.

What’s in store for this coming Forecastle?

Aside from making the three-day fest more “Kentucky proud,” giving patrons flavors of what this state has to offer, McKnight also mentioned an even more focused look at the importance of music, art and activism.

And when I asked who the headliners would be for this year’s festival, McKnight repilied with a laugh, “I can’t say, we don’t even know yet.”