J.K. McKnight and Patrick Hallahan: Forecastle and My Morning Jacket histories intersect, intertwine
(Editor’s note: Forecastle X Festival runs Friday through Sunday downtown on the Great Lawn of Waterfront Park.)
By Cindy Lamb
J.K. McKnight has a creative, career timeline that would make most young people drool and drive a few parents to a barrel of Ibuprofen.
Moving away from college and into concert promotion (not to mention a stint with songwriting and performing), J.K. has been onstage, backstage, and producing the stage. But never upstaged.
(Well, maybe by the downpour in 2007, but the ship held together.)
The Forecastle Festival went from a picnic in the park to one of the nation’s “best-of” picks for regional music festivals – always under the unfurled flags of art, music and activism.
At roughly the same time, My Morning Jacket was headed toward national fame – and finally a rendezvous with Forecastle as this year’s marquee act.
Talk about Louisville-centric synchronicity.
So, when did the 20-something J.K. put down his guitar and pick up the phone?
“My music career was 1998 to 2004, with 2004 being the real turning point where I shifted to the festival,” he said. “By 2005, that’s all I was doing six to eight months of the year. It was a big internal debate. I remember thinking about it constantly.”
Could MMJ drummer Patrick Hallahan trace the band’s milestones in the same way?
From forming respective bands and creating the festival right through to the present, the Forecastle and MMJ stories are intertwined, Hallahan said.
“There are so many parallels that can be drawn between Forecastle and My Morning Jacket.
“We both started around 1998 to 1999, dug through the trenches, underwent member/business partner changes, and slowly, slowly built something that both parties wear with great pride. “
J.K. may not have been on exactly he same page as MMJ, but was probably in the same book.
“Besides college, we were probably doing the same thing, “ Patrick recalled, “ writing, recording, touring.”
Where was My Morning Jacket during the 2002 Forecastle debut in Tyler Park?
“I had just joined the band, so we were either practicing or already out on a tour with Guided By Voices,” Patrick said. “I remember Forecastle taking place, not knowing JK at the time, and thinking, ‘This guy is either super driven and innovative, or out of his mind.’
“The jury is still out on that one.
“That’s right, J.K. … I went there.”
At what point did Patrick realize that things were taking off for MMJ?
“There has never really been a ‘taking off’ moment for our band,” Patrick said, “Our career thus far has been slow and steady, and thankfully on an incline. “
As for Captain McKnight?
“I’ll let you know when I feel like we’ve taken off, “ he said, “and I’m sitting on a beach in Sian Ka’an, Mexico.”
After a wise and well-deserved break, using the summer of 2011 for Forecastle re-structuring, J.K. resumed his course as the Captain of the ship that is Forecastle X for 2012.
On deck was Nashville, Tenn.-based AC Entertainment, blending their success with Bonnaroo while taking on the growth potential of Forecastle.
While each year of the past decade brought a totally different experience for the production team as well as the attendees, this milestone event celebrates a festival that has become a national destination.
So, what’s new this time?
J.K. covers few points:
“Well, certainly having AC Entertainment involved (our partners) is a game changer,” he said. “Everything is moving up to a new level, which is great.
“On the activism front, The Forecastle Foundation is also a game changer. For the first time, we’re going have a very singular message to express, and a major activation on the Great Lawn to accompany it.
“Also, new departments like Visual Design and entirely new festival team – marketing, operations, PR, production, you name it.”
What wisdom has J.K. come away with as he looks back on ten years of Forecastle? Any crucial advice for any budding festival promoters?
“To believe in yourself and not be afraid to stand up for the things you believe in, “ he said.
“Trust your instincts.”