During a March press conference for the 2010 Forecastle Festival, founder JK McKnight became distracted by a mysterious woman dressed in black.
That woman was Holly Weyler, a public relations account manager for Bandy Carroll Hellige, whoâ€™d shown up to the conference awaiting a response to an email she had sent JK two weeks before. Searching for an extracurricular activity, Holly had asked to help JK promote the festival after he hired her roommate as an intern that year. But, her exceptionally long email prompted JK to mark the note as â€œread later,â€ which he, well, forgot to do.
â€œI remember being like, who was that person?â€ JK recalled asking a friend a few days following the press conference. â€œ(My friend Will Willis) was just like, â€˜(Thatâ€™s) Holly and email her back.â€™ So I actually responded that night and Holly came on.â€
Though working pro bono, Holly threw herself into the festival whole-heartedly, impressing JK. To reward her time and effort, JK invited her to attend a Pearl Jam concert as his guest. Holly called a friend to tell her the news, â€œand she was like, â€˜Thatâ€™s a date,â€™â€ Holly said. â€œIâ€™m like, no itâ€™s not, heâ€™s taking me to reward me for all my hard work. And she (said), â€˜Thatâ€™s totally a date. And heâ€™s going to try to hold your hand.â€™â€
He did. The night of May 7, 2010, JK and Holly sat front row at the Pearl Jam concert. They also had the chance to walk backstage to meet the band, who gave them a signed poster now hanging in their nautical-themed home off River Road, which they share with their two-year-old Corgi mix, Dexter.
â€œEddie Vedder threw his (guitar) pick to JK, and somebody else picked it up and gave it to JK and was like, â€˜Eddie meant for you to have this,â€™â€ Holly said. â€œIt was totally one of those just like weird, stars kind of aligned (moments) and then, as they say, the rest is history.â€
After their first date, Holly and JK began spending more time together as a couple and working on Forecastle. â€œI started getting good at (helping with the festival) and I think I had a skill set that matched what he was doing,â€ Holly said. â€œFrom there, my responsibilities for the festival just grew. So now I kind of say I have two full time jobs.â€
Since September of last year, JK and Holly have been busy planning the 10-year anniversary of the Forecastle Festival, which will take place July 13-15 at Waterfront Park. This yearâ€™s ticket sales have already outpaced any other festival in the history of the event by far. The pressure is on for JK, who manages 14 departments under Forecastle, but Holly, who oversees the social media coverage, vendors and sponsors, is there to keep him calm in times of stress.
â€œI think the relationship works in a sense that, because Iâ€™m in the media, Iâ€™ve got a really pretty thick skin,â€ Holly said. â€œI donâ€™t really take things very personally. And so, even though the line between relationship and working relationship is constantly blurred â€¦ it makes it easier to have someone that youâ€™re with that understands. JKâ€™s mom always says that thatâ€™s why JK never found anyone before me, because no one understands his business, and his business is such a big part of who he is.â€
That business of planning Forecastle each year has earned JK and his team national acclaim and a partnership with AC entertainment, the company who produces Bonnaroo and Moogfest. The music promotion company has helped Forecastle forge its own identity in the festival circuit, with its combination of music, art and activism. This yearâ€™s festival will highlight non-profits, organizations, businesses and artists who have participated in the past, while focusing on the future of the music industry. There are also a few surprises in store â€“ though itâ€™s fairly certain it wonâ€™t be a performance by JK, who played at the 2004 Forecastle, or Hollyâ€™s infamous rendition of â€œBlack Velvet.â€
â€œThere will be some surprise performances,â€ JK hinted. â€œMy Morning Jacket did have a hand in some way in helping us curate the lineup, and the direction itâ€™s going in. … I think that MMJ themselves will have some special collaborations.â€
With Forecastle one day away, JK and Holly are excited to celebrate the festivalâ€™s decade-long success, but also look forward to some much needed downtime. Outside of work, they can be found hanging out at local bars the Monkey Wrench and the Holy Grale. Later, this August, theyâ€™ll vacation at Pawleys island with JKâ€™s family.
â€œWeâ€™re excited about that because itâ€™s the first vacation that we will take together thatâ€™s not related to music,â€ Holly said. â€œWe go to music festivals all the time â€¦ but when we go to those, even if weâ€™re not technically working, weâ€™re always working, because weâ€™re always looking at the events to see what do they do different from us, whatâ€™s good about this that we can do better.â€
Working in tandem full-time both at home and on the job may not be for everyone, but Holly and JK wouldnâ€™t have it any other way.
â€œI think we both have different perspectives on how we see the world and how we see the festival,â€ Holly said. â€œI tend to look at things from the bottom up and JK looks from the top down. â€¦ So I think having somebody who has a contrasting view of the world is beneficial when you work together, because it helps you fill in the gaps in your own mind. I think obviously not everyone can work with their significant other, and most people would actually say donâ€™t ever do it. But I think there are some cases where it works, and we just gel and it makes sense for us and it makes it easier.â€
The first performance at this year’s Forecastle Festival will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 13. The festival will run until Sunday, July 15. Tickets are still available for a three-day pass at $159.50 and VIP three-day pass for $350. One-day tickets can be purchased for $57.50 or $65; VIP one-day tickets are $150.
Official festival kick-off parties and after-parties will be held on the Belle of Louisville and Club 116 throughout the weekend. Tickets are available on the Forecastle website.
For information on Forecastle, visit forecastlefest.com.