Amped-Up Entertainment For A Party With Purpose

Staff Writer
The Voice-Tribune 

As a young girl, Kate Pierson kept a scrapbook of the Triple Crown races, longing to one day attend the Kentucky Derby. But, the member of iconic band, the B-52s, has still yet to witness the first Saturday in May from the viewpoint of Churchill Downs’historic racetrack.

However, on May 4, Pierson will finally receive her long-awaited wish to experience the fastest two minutes in sports when she and her fellow B-52 bandmates visit Louisville for a special performance at the annual Julep Ball. “It’s always been a dream of mine to attend the Derby,” Pierson said. “We played just before the Derby a couple years ago … and really enjoyed Louisville.”

Pierson and the B-52s will headline The 2013 Julep Ball, held May 3 at the KFC Yum! Center, an all-new location for the yearly fundraising party. With new event coordinator Michael Neumann at the helm, The Julep Ball will expand its level of excitement and entertainment typically brought to the pre-Derby bash with the B-52s concert, along with several other unique surprises.

“There are very few party bands that you just hear their names and think that’s going to be fun,” said Neumann, associate director for special projects in the Office of Development at the UofL Health Sciences Center. “(The B-52s) were our first choice, and they fortunately were available (for The Julep Ball).”

From playing chart-topping hits “Love Shack” and “Roam” to recent tracks on the B-52s’ “Funplex” album, the group is known to create an electric ambiance during performances, lending to their reputation as “The World’s Greatest Party Band.” “Our band, we all get along, we make each other laugh, we write songs collectively, so it’s really equally shared, and, to me, when we jam together and write together it’s like a family,” Pierson said of the band’s
chemistry on stage.

To enhance the high-energy, social atmosphere of The Julep Ball, the dress code for the traditionally black-tie event will become more relaxed this year, as attendees are encouraged to arrive straight from the track in cocktail attire. “My hope is that people will go straight from the Oaks to (the gala),” Neumann said. “Nice cocktail dresses or summer dresses. Guys are wearing jackets and ties.”

The Julep Ball will also feature a red carpet entrance, graced by local and national business leaders, horse industry professionals and celebrities from sports, music, cinema and television. Currently scheduled to attend are “Big Brother” contestants Janelle Pierzina, Mike “Boogie” Malin, Kara Monaco, Frank Eudy and Louisville’s own Wil Heuser. Other well-known names should be confirmed closer to the event.

In addition to the star-studded lineup, The Julep Ball will include a multi-course seated dinner catered by Center Plate, served at 8 p.m., followed by a live auction offering Bourbon experiences, a special Atlantic Coast Conference package in honor of UofL’s upcoming move to the ACC and a New York getaway package, among other spectacular items. The gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour featuring Brown-Forman products and multiple open specialty bars. Complimentary valet parking will also be provided for guests.

While the enchanting evening is certainly a call for celebration, The Julep Ball’s purpose reaches much farther. Each year, proceeds benefit the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville to support the clinicians, researchers and patients of the facility. As part of the region’s leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings.

“I think (The Julep Ball has) done two things. I think, No. 1, the money that it raises is used to help our patient resource center as well as supporting our research,” said Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “The other thing it does, it calls attention to what our scientists and doctors are doing.” During the ball, a moment is taken to honor the scientists, doctors and patients at the forefront of cancer treatment.

A portion of event proceeds will go specifically toward the Harriett B. Porter Endowment to support the health disparities in underserved communities of greater Louisville. The gala will also help support the M. Krista Loyd Resource Center, which provides a peaceful environment for patients and their loved ones to learn, relax and heal emotionally, while receiving the services they need to achieve the best possible experience.

“It’s a great event, but I think it – more than most of the others – is focused on a cause, and it’s designed to help our patients,” Miller said.

With all that’s in store for the 2013 Julep Ball, plus the important cause it’s backing, you won’t want to miss one of the most popular premier pre-Derby parties in town. Tickets are already about halfway sold out, according to Neumann. The full evening’s entertainment costs $500 per person or $150 per person for dance-only tickets. “It’s going to be a fun time, and I think we’ll rock the house,” Pierson said. “So, rip your black ties off and let your freak flags fly!”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at, 502.498.2051.