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My Morning Jacket’s Jim James Hypes Forecastle Fest, Playing a Steamboat

Jim James / Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford

“It’s endless,” My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James says when SPIN asks him to list the bands he’s most looking forward to seeing at this weekend’s Forecastle Festival, which his band is headlining in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. “I’m almost afraid to name names because I’ll forget somebody, there’s so many people playing — Dr. Dog, Wilco, Neko Case…”

James is allowed to feel uncomfortable picking favorites, because in a way, they’re all his favorites. For the 10th anniversary of the nautically themed three-day fest — which features music, art, activism and extreme sports components — My Morning Jacket helped curate the lineup. The bill includes noisy indie rockers Sleigh Bells, dubstep guru Bassnectar, and soul singer Charles Bradley, whom James says he has never seen at festivals because his band is always playing at the same time. “We have just tons and tons of friends that are going to be playing,” James says. “It’s going to be surreal to have so many bands that we love right here in our backyard.”

The fest’s Louisville location is very important to James, who was born and lived there most of his life. The fest is taking place in a part of town called New Lou that features a lot of up-and-coming restaurants and shops and sits right on the Ohio River waterfront, and in the interest of keeping things local, he intends to share some of Louisville’s attractions with his fans. “We’re going to have a cool afterparty on the Belle of Lou, which is our city’s 98-year old steamboat,” he says. “The Preservation Hall Jazz Band are going to play it and we’re going to sit in with them. I think is going to be really unique and hopefully people will remember it for a long time.” My Morning Jacket and the producers have also selected a number of Kentucky-based groups to perform at the festival, including Wax Fang, Ben Sollee, and David Martin Moore.

James eventually reveals he’s most amped to see some of the groups who haven’t gotten much national attention. “There’s a band in town called Lydia Burrell, and I think they have some pretty innovative stuff going on,” the singer-guitarist says. “And there’s this group from North Carolina called Floating Action that’s been around for a while, but strangely not many people seem to have heard of ’em. They’ve got a record called Desert Etiquette that I feel is a lost masterpiece. I was obsessed with it for a while. When picking bands, I tried to plan some cool treasures.”

The singer-guitarist also doesn’t want to discount My Morning Jacket’s performance, as the group, who earned a Grammy nomination for last year’s Circuital, hasn’t played Louisville recently. But if he accomplishes anything this weekend, he’s hoping that it’s showing off his hometown to some of his friends to encourage them to tour there more often. “Louisville’s really been growing and advancing and a lot of exciting stuff is happening here,” James says. “It’s a fun time for this kind of thing to happen here in town.”