hunter-s-thompson-liebowitzThe banner for Hunter S. Thompson — with artwork donated by the brilliant Ralph Steadman — will be revealed Saturday afternoon April 5. Before that, GonzoFest features as much music, art, reading, film, and late-night partying as you can handle.

Just as Hunter would want it.

Every night from Monday until Saturday, the official GonzoFest after-party will be held at the Monkey Wrench, host of every GonzoFest for the last four years. This one is slightly more gigantic than the previous.

While the after-party has no cover charge, earlier evening events run from $5 per venue to a $50 ticket that gets one into the exclusive national premiere of “For No Good Reason,” a documentary based on the art of Ralph Steadman, film narrated by Johnny Depp, plus a concert filled with artists and musicians from around the nation at the Ali Center.

It’s a packed schedule featuring venues all over the city.

March 31, Monday
7 p.m.
502 Winery ($5)
Mag Bar ($5)
Monkey Wrench After Party (no cover)

Highlights for Monday include a full night of music and readings at the Old 502 Winery. Featured at the Old 502 incredible Monday night line-up are Small Time NapoleonMoonlight Peddlers and The Bottom Sop. Readings will be done by Rachel Short, Heidi Taylor, and Frogg Corpse.

Over at the Mag Bar the music is a little different with a night of DJs featuring Dj GoastPrism, and Cosmo Colt.

April 1, Tuesday
Carmichael’s Bookstore (Frankfort Avenue)
OPEN Gallery ($5)
New Vintage ($5)
Monkey Wrench after party (no cover)

Carmichael’s Bookstore (4-6 p.m) features author William McKeen and Ron Whitehead as they discuss Hunter’s life and work. McKeen is head of Journalism at Boston University and author of “Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.”

The OPEN Gallery features art all month by featured GonzoFest artists. Music on Tuesday night (starting around 9 p.m.) features the Storm Generation (Jonny Sands, Aaron West, Andrew Case, Paul Braun, Andy Cook, Kelly Cook, Ron Whitehead), Buffalo and Mad Generation.

Readings and art at OPEN Gallery include Mark James, J.R. Hammond, and Black Falcon.

The New Vintage features a terrific triple-header of Louisville gems Discount Guns, Graffiti, and popular Appalatin.

April 2, Wednesday
Carmichael’s Bookstore (Frankfort Avenue)
Haymarket Whiskey Bar ($5)
Revelry Boutique Gallery (no cover)
Monkey Wrench after party (no cover)

Carmichael’s Bookstore from 4-6 p.m., a discussion featuring writers, poets and musicians. On the panel: Ron Whitehead, Kelly Cook, Andy Cook, Tommy Hardenbrook, Michael Lindenberger, Howard Wilson, Russel Hulsey, Ryan Case, Grant Goodwine, Frank Messina. They will discuss Thompson’s work, their friendships with him, and his lasting impact on writing/journalism and society.

Revelry Boutique Gallery From 6-9 p.m., the Revelry will host art and readings by Russel Hulsey (poet) and Andy Cook.

Haymarket Whiskey Bar Starting at 7 p.m., Haymarket jumps into GonzoFest mode with music by Southern rockers New Bravado, Whiskey Riders, the Jack White sound of The Tunesmiths, and the gritty perfect for GonzoFest Local Villains.

April 3, Thursday
7 p.m.
The Monkey Wrench ($10)
Monkey Wrench after party (no cover)

This is where it gets serious, with out-of-towner press and guests arriving.

The original GonzoFest location hosts tonight’s brilliant line-up. The featured art around the building belongs to the fascinating Joe Autry.

Panel discussions Thursday evening are:

James Higdon (author of “Cornbread Mafia”) who will discuss Hunter and Substances.

Frank Messina (Mets official poet, actor in “Boardwalk Empire,” spoken word artist and author of several books and CDs) will discuss Hunter and Sports.

Music will be by the band Smoketown (Matt Thomasson, Kevin Nordstrom, Clint Ackerman, Aaron West, Paul Braun, Jonny Sands, Andy Cook, Kelly Cook, Ron Whitehead).

From California, writers and publishers Andy Cook and Kelly Cook will read from their work.

April 4, Friday
5:30 p.m. Kentucky Science Center
8 p.m. Ali Center
Tickets $50 (Concert at Ali only, $20)
Monkey Wrench after party (no cover)

Twice the Ralph Steadman documentary has shown in America. Both times were during film festivals in L.A., and NYC. The official American premiere of “For No Good Reason” happens in Louisville before the national release. You can read more about this documentary narrated by Johnny Depp in an earlier article. The film was originally planned to premiere at the Ali center, but their film equipment was not up to Sony Pictures standards for this film. It will now show nearby at the Science Center.

Following the film premiere, a fabulous concert happens featuring many who took part in the 1996 Hunter-attended celebration in Louisville. The show includes David Amram, Frank Messina, Susi WoodMichael Dean Odin PollockTyrone Cotton, and many surprise guests. The Boneman (Thomas Asmoth Bellier, “one of the best guitarists on the planet” said Ron Whitehead of Blaak Heat Shujaa, Ron Whitehead, and belly dancer Rebekah Trigg) will also perform.

Tickets are $50 for the film premiere and concert, or $20 for the concert only.

April 5, Saturday
Carmichael’s Bookstore Author Signing (free)

Banner Reveal
3 p.m., 418 East Main St.
$10 donation suggested, otherwise free to the world

Carmichael’s Bookstore One of my most looking-forward-to discussions, from noon until 2 p.m., editor of “Hunter’s Hell’s Angels,” Margaret Ann Harrell, will discuss her long relationship with Hunter as his editor and friend. Harrell will have with her original letters, photos and much more involving her personal relationship with Hunter. She’s author of many books including three on Hunter.

The Hunter S. Thompson banner reveal happens downtown on East Main Street next to Slugger Field at 3 p.m. The building location has not been announced yet, but will be after Mayor Greg Fisher makes a special presentation.

Anita Thompson, married to Hunter and who continues the Gonzo Foundation, will give the keynote address. Ron Whitehead told Insider, “The building and location for the giant Hunter S. Thompson banner, with art by Ralph Steadman, are perfect! For every reason!”

Music downtown that afternoon will include the eclectic hip-hop mixed with rock sound of Elephant Room, the brilliant A Lion Named Roar, bluegrass to electronica band Vessel, and Jack Holiday and the Westerners, about whom we raved in a recent Honey Weekend column.

All over the area will be artists, a puppet parade and children’s area, over 25 vendors and food booths available.

And of course, when it’s all done downtown, The Monkey Wrench hosts the final after party. We can hope the Cards will have a Final Four game that night as well.

In addition to this menu of extraordinary events, an exhibition documenting the friendship between Hunter S. Thompson and Ron Whitehead will be on display at the University of Louisville’s Ekstrom Library, April 1-30. The exhibition features artifacts from the Ron Whitehead archive held in the rare book collection of University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections. You can view the exhibition during regular Ekstrom Library hours.

There is still time to get a booth for downtown. Vendors should contact [email protected].

The Galt House is offering special room rates for the GonzoFest festival.

Jason Sitzes is a freelance writer/editor living in Austin via Louisville, New Orleans, Knoxville and his home town of Columbus, Ind. He’s published short stories; written for many publications including, locally, LEO; travels around the nation with various writing workshops; and is addicted to college basketball.


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