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What you missed at this year’s Forecastle Festival

-Evan O’Brien, Roots N Blues Intern

It may not have been Stephens Lake Park, but there were an awful lot of familiar faces at this year’s Forecastle Festival in Kentucky. Forecastle, which is held each year at the Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville, is known to have shared a few names with Roots N Blues in recent years (Hint: The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Shovels and Rope among others).

This year’s lineup featured five different Roots N Blues alum: Lucero, Margo Price, Houndmouth, Trampled By Turtles and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. The acts spanned across all three days and, of course, were some of the highlights of the weekend.

The first RNB alum to hit the waterfront stage was Lucero on Friday. Described as a country/punk mix, the group blends the two opposing genres together in a way that first have the audience confused but leave them head banging.  The group teased their upcoming album with new tracks along with some of the classics like, “For the Lonely Ones” and “Texas and Tennessee” and delivered a raw and authentic hour of tunes.

Saturday’s lineup featured Margo Price and Houndmouth. Price, who is returning to our stage for her second year in a row, fought through some technical difficulties at first to put on a great afternoon set in which she played a good chunk of her 2017 album, All American Made. Price played a late afternoon set that wrapped up just in time for fans to hop on over to see Houndmouth’s homecoming set; they’re from just over the river in New Albany, Indiana. They delivered one of the best performances of the weekend with their high energy set, which featured classic songs off of their first two albums as well as new singles like, “This Party”, “Modern Love” and “Waiting for the Night.”

On the final day of the festival were Trampled by Turtles (TBT) and Jason Isbell. TBT brought the bluegrass out with lots of strings and great harmonies in-between spurts of rain. With their latest album, Life is Good on the Open Road, having been released at the beginning of May, the group played many songs from it and had a crowd of people dancing their ass off before the final RNB alum took the stage.

Just as a spout of rain concluded, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit took the stage to deliver my personal favorite set of the weekend. Between the storytelling and music, Isbell delivered strong guitar solos and those beautifully written songs that made a crowd of people watch in an almost silent awe. Isbell mixed his solo tracks from the 2013 album Southeastern as well as the group’s latest release, The Nashville Sound.

Forecastle is continuously one of my favorite festival’s to attend, and this year did not disappoint. It doesn’t beat Roots N Blues (no bias, of course), but it sure was a good way to prepare for this year’s fest. Make sure next year you catch the inevitable Roots N Blues acts that will grace the Waterfront Park at Forecastle.

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