Forecastle Festival 2015: eclectic headliners and great acts from top to bottom

One of the most exciting things about the 2014 Forecastle Festival lineup was the sheer depth of the talent. Some of my favorite sets came hours before the big headliners took to the stage during the 3-day festival along the sprawling, green, comfortable Waterfront Park in resurgent downtown Louisville, Kentucky. I loved hearing and shooting photos of acts like The Weeks, Matrimony, Against Me!, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. (Click here for all the posts and galleries from 2014.)

Sure, Outkast, Beck, Jack White, and The Replacements were stellar headliners, but it was the quality of that undercard that really won me over.

Well, the undercard and the beautiful setting of Waterfront Park. I grew up in central Kentucky and have deep connections to Louisville, but I hadn’t explored downtown for many years. It’s a beautiful place with so much room still to grow and develop. After living in Savannah for so long, there aren’t many places I could imagine moving, but Louisville is on the short list.

At Forecastle, the sense of place and the community spirit were palpable.

Enough rambling. Today the 2015 Forecastle lineup was released, and I’m itching to return.

My Morning Jacket is of course from Louisville and many of us expected that MMJ would be in this year’s lineup. I’m not especially excited about Sam Smith, but honestly have never listened much to him. I love the jammy rock of Widespread and haven’t been to one of their shows in, well, a while, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing Modest Mouse for the first time ever.

Cage the Elephant from Bowling Green (where I was born) and Houndmouth from New Albany, Ind. add to the regional flair of the 2015 festival, which also features TWEEDY, the collaboration of Wilco’s Jeff and his son Spencer Tweedy. The Word, featuring Robert Randolph, John Medeski, and the North Mississippi Allstars should also be stellar — I still get excited every time I recall seeing Randolph perform a couple of years ago at the Savannah Music Festival.

But the deeper into the lineup you get, the more interesting the choices. In the next tier are wonderful acts like Shovels & Rope, First Aid Kit, The Gaslight Anthem, and Sturgill Simpson. Further down, San Fermin, King Tuff, The Lone Bellow, Field Report, Speedy Ortiz, Diarrhea Planet, Empires, and on and on. Here’s the first wave of bands announced today:

Sam Smith
My Morning Jacket
Widespread Panic
Modest Mouse
Cage the Elephant
Tallest Man On Earth
Portugal. The Man
RL Grime
First Aid Kit
Shovels & Rope
Big K.R.I.T.
The Word
Cold War Kids
The Gaslight Anthem
Sturgill Simpson
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
San Fermin
Over The Rhine
The Lone Bellow
People Under The Stairs
The Barr Brothers
Milo Greene
The SteelDrivers
Field Report
Speedy Ortiz
Son Lux
JEFF The Brotherhood
King Tuff
Noah Gundersen
Twin Peaks
Fly Golden Eagle
Diarrhea Planet
The Revivalists
White Reaper
Twin Limb
Knox Hamilton
Parker Millsap

If all that weren’t enough, the non-profit organization Forecastle Foundation emphasizes sustainability, festival organizers include ample doses of art and other attractions, food trucks settle in for the weekend, and the festival’s Bourbon Lodge showcases the region’s longstanding and still growing “bourbonism”, to borrow the term I first heard from Louisville mayor Greg Fischer.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 30 at noon.

A few shots of the grounds from 2014:



The Port Stage - 3rd largest of the 4 stages