Forecastle X: Holly Weyler talks of Local Love and Killer Jams

Forecastle's first couple, JK McKnight and Holly Weyler.

The 10th annual Forecastle Festival is imminent. And it will be massive.

Capitalizing on the year-old partnership with AC Entertainment (the folks behind Bonnaroo and more), festival founder JK McKnight and company have been (and are still) working tirelessly to present a 2012 iteration that’s overflowing its banks with talent. And did I mention that the local-legendary outfit My Morning Jacket are headlining alongside Wilco, Bassnectar, Sleigh Bells, Girl Talk and Neko Case?

LouisvilleKY.com continues its Forecastle X preview coverage today via an extended chat with ‘She-Captain of the boat’ Holly Weyler. Wearer of an untold number of hats, Weyler has found herself knee-deep in just about every aspect of our favorite nautical-themed behemoth.

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LouKY: First off, what’s your day-to-day grind like, both in preparation for and during the festival?

I wear a lot of hats. I’m employed full-time at Bandy Carroll Hellige in the PR department –so add Forecastle into the mix and that makes me a busy little bee. For the festival, I manage media relations (with some support from the BCH team), manage the social media channels, oversee all vendors on-site and help JK manage his 14 departments. I assist with volunteers and staffing. I’m busy as hell, but I love every second of it.

LouKY: Forecastle has seen incremental growth in the past, but this year’s festival is a huge leap in every sense. Have there been any additional logistical challenges or surprises in scaling things up? How has it been working with Metro Government?

Holly: We saw a HUGE leap in 2009– headliners like The Black Keys, Pretty Lights and Widespread Panic brought people in from all over the country and the festival really began to see a lot regional and national attention. The 2010 move to Waterfront Park was no different– moving from the Belvedere to the Great Lawn was a totally new experience and brought with it it’s own challenges and benefits. We learned a lot in 2010 about how to best utilize the space and I think we’ve carried that knowledge with us into planning for this year.

That being said, this year will certainly be a landmark year for the festival. It’s our first full festival with AC Entertainment on board as partners — if anything we’re refreshed. Building a festival of this magnitude is no small task- imagine building a small city- there is a TON that goes into it that most people never see or think about and every year we learn ways to hone our craft and make the festival better from all angles. The wealth of knowledge that AC Entertainment has is unsurpassed, so we’re continuing to find ways to make the festival experience better for everyone.

We’ve had a long relationship with Metro Government. The 2005 Festival, held in Cherokee Park, was (and still is) the largest event held in that space. We certainly couldn’t do it without the support of the city and the parks system.  Waterfront Development (the public private partnership that manages The Belvedere and Waterfront Park) have also been hugely supportive over the years. And of course our awesome Mayor, Greg Fischer, is a huge supporter of the festival– and of music at large in the city of Louisville.

Wax Fang (playing Friday) is just one of a number of local favorites.

Back in the spring we heard that My Morning Jacket would not only be headlining Forecastle, but helping to “curate” the various acts as well. What has it been like working with Jim and the crew, and in what ways has MMJ been able imprint themselves on the festival at large?

We’re friends with the MMJ guys, so the collaboration came very naturally. We (obviously) share a mutual love for the city and it’s unique culture and want to do all we can with what we have to promote the city. The idea for The Louisville Village was borne from our collaboration with MMJ. It’s going to be an entire area of the event dedicated to the things we love about Louisville- awesome independent retail, non-profits, etc–and of course music.  There is also a Bourbon Lodge where fans can come and sample some of Kentucky’s sweet, sweet nectar.

You’ll see their handprints in the line-up too– a ton of acts that they wanted to include came on board, so while keeping with the essence of Forecastle, it’s got their special touch. Which is what we wanted.

We all know MMJ’s penchant for celebrating their hometown? Is it fair to say Forecastle X will be a celebration of Louisville as well?

Absolutely. We’ve enlisted the help of the band (and some of the other local bands- Wax Fang, King’s Daughters and Sons, etc.) for some viral videos that we’ve produced– a guided tour of Louisville showing off some of our favorite places. We want people who travel in for the festival to see and experience the best that Louisville has to offer and leave thinking, “hey, that place is pretty cool.”

Was each respective day scheduled with a specific kind of “sound” in mind? Or was the goal to provide maximum variety throughout?

Forecastle has always had a very eclectic line-up, and we want the whole experience to provide a lot of variety for fans– especially where people might stumble upon things that they weren’t expecting, but end up loving. People are STILL talking about Bassnectar’s performance from 2010– they had no idea of who he was, maybe they didn’t like electronic music– but stumbled upon his set and were BLOWN AWAY.  We want people to come the whole weekend and experience the entire three-days of the festival– and we’ve sold more weekend passes than ever before in the history of the festival– to I think that serves as a testament that people can come all weekend and find things they enjoy.

Part of the charm of Forecastle is the nautical motif, and so it’s great to see a number of events on the Belle of Louisville. How has it been dealing with that storied vessel and tackling multiple venues in general? Is there a particular non-waterfront park event you are most excited about?

We’ve been doing the parties on the Belle for many years. Typically, the after-parties on the boat are throw-down dance parties. We mixed it up a bit this year with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band show, having the history of PHJB merge with the history of the Belle seemed like a natural fit.  We have a great relationship with the Belle– the after-parties are an opportunity to get younger people on the boat and hopefully leave with some appreciation of it, while still having a great time- so in that way, it’s a win-win.

The electronic dance parties are always fun and special and we’ve brought in some really awesome acts this year– and acts that aren’t playing the festival proper: Paper Diamond, Emancipator, Break Science are all going to throw down and because our after-parties have such limited capacity, it gives fans a unique, intimate experience that they won’t forget. The PHJB show sold out the day it went on sale and tickets for the rest of the events are going quick- we’ve sold out every after-party in recent memory…

Lexington's Ben Sollee brings his one-of-a-kind brand of folky-fun-pop-cello to stage on Sunday.

I’d imagine there are a number of acts playing throughout the weekend that have little to no previous experience with the Derby City. How has artist reaction been to both Louisville and the Waterfront Park venue? Any groups you’re particularly excited about bringing to town?

When people (bands, fans, otherwise) come to Louisville, there is always an unknown. Most people from out of town have no knowledge or expectation of what Louisville is like, so it’s cool when they get here and realize how awesome this city really is and how much it has to offer. Louisville is like this little cultural mecca– people come and don’t expect much, but they most always leave blown away.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled with this year’s line-up. It’s diverse but we’ve fine tuned it this year. I think a lot of people will leave with a new favorite band.

One noticeable difference in character as compared to a festival like Bonnaroo will be the lack of camping. How would you describe the “character” of Forecastle with respect to it being an urban festival?

You know, not everyone likes camping. I’m one of those people. I love Bonnaroo and I go for the music and unforgettable experience, but there are a lot of people that prefer a bed, a bath and A/C.  I think every festival has it’s own unique set of attributes that make is appealing to fans and I think we’re extremely fortunate to have not only an interesting and supportive city, but also one that provides us with a beautiful location to hold our festival nestled between the city backdrop and the sunset over the Ohio. There is a special energy in that. Not only that, we’re a nautically-themed, landlocked festival in Kentucky. If that’s not character, I don’t know what is.

How many attendees from out of town are expected, as compared to locals? 

We always see a great mix, generally about 50-50.  We’ve outpaced all previous festivals in terms of ticket sales, the response has been huge. We’ve sold tickets in 978 cities and all over the world– as far away as New Zealand, Scandinavia– but Louisville and Kentucky support is huge and absolutely necessary. The festival wouldn’t be where it is without a tremendous about of local support.

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Forecastle X makes landfall in Louisville this coming weekend, July 13-15th and LouisvilleKY.com’s coverage will be continuing all week, and well into the next. Stayed clicked for additional interviews as we count down the days alongside live-blogging from ground-zero all weekend. And there’s much more festival information available on forecastlefest.com.

 

Additional festival coverage:

My Morning Jacket’s Two-Tone Tommy talks about curating Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, band members’ solo projects, Grammy nods and what’s next for MMJ.

 

Chris Ritter is a Louisville-native freelance writer, journalist and blogger enthusiastic about all things entertainment, media and technology.

More articles by me here

Chris Ritter <<<< twitter.com/CT_Smash <<<< ctsmash@gmail.com

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