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[ In July, CHIRP DJ and Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Avampato traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the Forecastle Festival, a three day celebration of music along the banks of the Ohio River. See coverage of days one and two of the festival on the blog, and head to Flickr for a full photo gallery. For a look back at featured Forecastle artists, tune into Sarah's show on CHIRP on Friday at 8pm Central. ]
Everyone hits a wall with music festivals. I don't care how old or young you are, or how well prepared -- three days on your feet in the blistering sun will do strange things to you, and eventually you reach a point where all you want to do is go "home". I'm not ashamed to admit that Sunday was my "wall" -- oppressive heat really does you in pretty quickly. I allowed myself to have a short day at the festival, rather than getting so hangry that I cried over pizza, which is definitely not a thing that I've done at a past Forecastle, no, not at all.
I started my day out by seeing Noah Gundersen. The Seattle-born singer-songwriter may have started his career with music with a little more folk, but his sound has gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and his songs keep getting more refined. He played several songs from his upcoming album, Carry the Ghost, in addition to many older favorites. Despite having the first slot of the day at the festival, Gundersen attracted a healthy crowd, and wowed them with a moody cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". If you've ever caught my show on CHIRP, you'll know that I'm a total sucker for cover songs, and this one was no exception.
Next was probably the one act I was determined to see an entire set from. While I was content to slide to the front to take a few photos, then slip off to the fringes of the crowd, for pretty much any of the other artists I saw, I was determined to stay front and center for husband-wife duo Over the Rhine. I've followed Over the Rhine for 15-some years now, introduced to them by a friend in college, and their music has seen me through some huge life changes, and it's always brought me back out through the other side. I've traveled through a snowstorm in Ohio to see them; I've watched them play to confused crowds at summer street festivals; I've cried quietly to myself in theaters and concert halls when a song hits me right in a spot that maybe I didn't even know was so tender. Over the Rhine always manages to convert new fans with their blend of bluegrass, jazz, blues, and just plain old good music, and this set was no exception. If I could ever channel any singer when I perform, it would be Karin Bergquist, whose voice has inspired me for a very long time now.
I closed out my day at Forecastle with The Lone Bellow. While I'm familiar with the music of the indie-folk act from their albums, I've never seen them live, so I was maybe a little surprised at just how captivating their set is. Lead singer Zach Williams is a treat to watch, with his charismatic, expressive performance. On recordings, their songs sometimes sound a little sterile -- there are a few songs I love but the album's never quite felt cohesive to me. Live was a whole different story, though, as the energy they brought to every song was infectious, giving me a new outlook on their material.
Exhausted and looking to avoid a thunderstorm that was supposed to roll across the city that evening, I opted to head back to "home" base when I realized there wasn't much else on the lineup that I felt a huge need to see, or hadn't seen before.
A note to my younger readers: yes, you too will someday reach an age where your knees hurt and your back hurts and you're covered in sweat and you can't possibly imagine sticking around to watch a headliner you'll never be able to get close enough to actually see. Don't tease those of us who check out early too badly -- It'll happen one day. Embrace it when it happens, because it will.
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