About a year and a half ago, my irrepressible friend and Crescent Hill Radio show co-host Butch Bays and I were on the air making jokes about how expensive it is to go to Forecastle.
“We should start a festival called ‘Poorcastle’ for people who can’t afford to go to Forecastle,” he said.
It was a running joke for a week or two, until he finally said, “No, I’m serious about this.”
So, we got together with a few friends from the radio station and local music scene, and we created an event that was soon dubbed, “the festival for the rest of us,” in tribute to a classic “Seinfeld” line. Our skeleton crew of Shaina Wagner, Adam Crowhorn, Nick Peay, Ryan Bohr, Nick Hill, Butch and I did most of the heavy lifting, but we got help from Crescent Hill Radio, our friends, families and the fine folks at Apocalypse Brew Works, which hosted Poorcastle at their location at 1612 Mellwood Ave.
We set it for the week before Forecastle (so as not to anger the gods) and decided that all proceeds would be donated to Crescent Hill Radio, a not-for-profit community entity that will play aspiring bands’ music, no matter how obscure they might be. And it was those bands we asked to play for free.
Butch’s daughters and their friends ran the front end, greeting attendees, and everyone else pitched in on the back end. We figured if we got a couple hundred people through the gates, we’d have a good time and raise a few bucks to donate.
We bought 500 wristbands; “We can always use the leftovers if we do it again next year,” Butch reasoned.
And then the lines formed. And the place got packed. And we ran out of wristbands by 9:30 p.m. When I asked Butch this week what he remembers thinking as the crowds piled up, he said, “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a movement.’ The watershed moment for me was when my daughters told me we ran out of the wristbands, which I had assumed would last us five years.”
But by the end of the night, the head count was estimated at between 700 and 800 attendees, a local TV station had showed up, and we raised $1,400 for local radio. The scary part is, we nearly canceled the event due to rain. At the last minute, we took a “what the hell?” approach and decided to see what would happen.
“When it started raining,” Shaina said, “I thought it was a total wash.” Literally.
But we pressed on. Clearly, we were happily shocked at the response.
“It was an amazing feeling to see people supporting local music and Crescent Hill Radio, rain or shine,” Shaina said.
It was indeed amazing. So we decided to do it again at Apocalypse. This year, we’ve got a couple dozen talented local bands playing over two days, plus more of the same kind of good will for all.
Hey, we’re not trying to step on the toes of Forecastle or any other music festival – we just want to help local musicians get heard and an excuse to drink some beer with our friends and families. And not only will the bands get to play for 30 minutes in front of a larger crowd than they’re likely accustomed to, but they can be assured that if they submit their music to Crescent Hill Radio, more likely than not, it’s going to get played. Symbiosis at its best.
We’ve got food trucks (Red Top Gourmet Dogs, Traveling Kitchen and Lexi Lu’s), plus there will be music so varied that it’s difficult to even describe, from the country-soaked Bottom Sop to the world-beat-meets-psychedelic Cher Von to the modern bluegrass-flavored Americana of the Tall Squares. There will be busking. There will be local, fresh beer that will cost you only four bucks a pint (try getting that at a big, for-profit festival).
But best of all, it’s just five bucks to get in. And if you keep your wristband from Saturday, you can bring it back on Sunday and get in free. Bring blankets and chairs, bring sodas and water (no alcohol!), and bring your family and dogs. Everyone is welcome at Poorcastle and Apocalypse Brew Works.
Doors open at noon both days, and the music starts at 1 p.m. The full band lineup can be found on the Facebook event page. Be prepared to not have to take out a high-interest loan. But above all, get there before the wristbands run out.