DJ Boom Box will roll through the Pegasus Parade. | Courtesy of Core Design
DJ Boom Box will roll through the Pegasus Parade. | Courtesy of Core Design

Two names you’ve been seeing in the news lately are going to collide and parade down Broadway next Thursday when ARTxFM rolls through the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Republic Bank Pegasus Parade in a giant boom box float by Core Design.

ARTxFM began streaming content via the web in 2011. They worked toward becoming an FM radio station, and in October, they finally received a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission. When the tower is completed, listeners will find them at 97.1 on the dial, and their call letters will be WXOX.

Core Design may also sound familiar; they fabricated the art and education piece “Air Bare” that has been turning heads at Fourth Street Live.

These two entities working together is either an example of Louisville being the biggest little town in the world, or a unique case of real-life synergy.

Core Design started by mistake, says owner Jeremy Semones, a former sous chef by trade. When he decided he couldn’t keep up with the restaurant lifestyle any longer, he moved into construction. And around this time, he bought a welder to “fool around with,” he says.

His first project came when a friend was looking to build a new garage. Semones suggested he hire him to create it out of a shipping container — saving his friend both time and money. Besides, the shipping container movement — building affordable, modular, recycled structures from old shipping containers — had been an interest of his for a long time.

Since then, Semones has contributed several to the Louisville community — he’s responsible for the shipping container sculptures outside Copper & Kings Distillery as well as the containers used at ReSurfaced last fall.

Semones started Core by himself, but lately he’s been getting assistance from Jae C. Grady, who helped launch the downtown location of WHY Louisville. If you shop there frequently, you may be wearing a T-shirt bearing his art.

Jae C. Grady stands on top of his creation. | Courtesy of Core Design
Jae C. Grady stands on top of his creation. | Courtesy of Core Design

Earlier this year, Grady stepped away from his duties at the store to focus on design work. He’s been taking an active role at Core and shares Semones’ passion for shipping containers.

And in his free time, he DJs at ARTxFM.

Grady tells Insider he was sitting in a meeting at ARTxFM when they announced the station had been offered a chance to participate in this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade. Grady quickly learned that in the nonprofit world, just opening his mouth got him involved — he was now in charge of ARTxFM’s float.

A few days before Grady agreed to take on the project, Semones says he woke up from a dream and thought, “I want to fab a (shipping container) out like an old 1980s boom box.” He imagined it tricked out, ready to run sound and lights — “an instant party in a box,” he says. He began working on some design mockups but hadn’t yet shared the idea with Grady.

Meanwhile, Grady was brainstorming with other ARTxFM volunteers about the project. They wanted a small float that got across the idea of sound and music. They felt a tower would be too abstract, so they settled on the idea of an ’80s-style boom box. They even made some preliminary sketches.

“Literally two days later, (Semones) showed me his sketches of the boom box,” Grady says in disbelief.

Coincidence? We think not.

It was clear Core needed to build ARTxFM’s parade float.

Now, let’s picture this for a moment. This shipping container is 20 feet long, 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It’s made of steel. Tricking one out and fabricating additional components is a major undertaking involving extensive welding and the use of a plasma cutter. It requires the purchase of a shipping container and extra metal. Then there’s the sound equipment.

That’s a lot of work and monetary outlay for a relatively young nonprofit.

But Semones and Grady looked beyond their parade partnership with ARTxFM. They wanted a fully functional portable party. They also felt that if the concept was good enough, they could sell multiple boom boxes and run a side business renting them out.

“It immediately blew up into this big, grandiose thing,” says Semones.

They plan to call the business DJ Boom Box.

DJ Boom Box will be a fully functional portable party. | Courtesy of Core Design
DJ Boom Box will be a fully functional portable party. | Courtesy of Core Design

Will Russell of WHY Louisville and Funtown Mountain agreed it was a great idea. He’s commissioned a boom box to live at the future amusement park.

That commission made it easy for Core Design to get a loan and get started. It also took the pressure off the company and allowed the guys to just have fun and pursue the idea relatively consequence-free.

“Even if the big idea doesn’t work, we can just sell the first one and move on,” Grady says.

Core Design’s Facebook friends have had the pleasure of watching the project progress in stages. Semones says that after DJ Boom Box takes its maiden voyage down Broadway, it’ll be available for everything from graduations and music festivals to weddings and corporate events.

Insider tip: While the back side of the boom box will be decorated with a mural and accompanied by all the ARTxFM staff, parade attendees who want to see the business side of the float (with the speakers and the buttons) should position themselves on the south side of Broadway.

The Republic Bank Pegasus Parade starts at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. It runs westward between Campbell and Ninth streets.

Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.


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