Friday, February 08, 2013

Sierra Nevada, Forecastle and "localism": When Michael Tierney writes about beer, it's a non-insider embarrassment.

Michael Tierney writes about music at Insider Louisville. Apparently he is a musician, and it makes sense for a musician to write about music. When one purports to be an "insider," a certain level of knowledge about the topic is a minimum requirement, isn't it?

A while back, Tierney aggressively upheld localism in music, and it was a good piece. These thoughts were augmented here:

Local radio, but no local music: 91.9 WFPK tends to ignore Louisville’s best in favor of national acts

… But how much is our “cool & hip” radio station doing for our local scene? As an independent station that operates from donations – from its listeners to local businesses – 91.9 WFPK should know how important keeping things local is for our city. Local support = local growth, and 91.9 isn’t tending to the garden out back.

Brandishing these "insider" principles of localism in musical etudes, yesterday Tierney reversed field and copped the persona of an excitable junior high school cheerleader in praising Sierra Nevada’s benevolent sponsorship of the Forecastle music festival, to the exclusion of … yes, LOCAL Kentuckiana breweries.

Forecastle inks deal to make Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. the music festival’s craft beer for 2013 

(Forecastle impresario) J.K. McKnight … confirmed that Sierra Nevada will be the beer “on the craft side” for Forecastle 2013. McKnight’s team is still working on domestic/imports, but will probably end up similar to last year.

Now, the cynic may have a rallying cry for Louisville’s own Bluegrass Brewing Co.

Maybe having a Kentucky beer tasting garden of the state’s awesome beers would be a good alternative for Forecastle, if negotiable.

No, Michael, a cynic would not restrict his field of view to BBC. A cynic would ask: Is a breathless fan boy like Tierney, who's dabbling in vocations of which he has little or no direct experience, being naïve, ignorant or hypocritical?

Dude: Once Sierra Nevada is THE beer “on the craft side,” the playing field is tilted away from local beers just as irrevocably as it is at Louisville Slugger Field, where the giant payola talisman of Budweiser’s billboard is a constant reminder of the way performance and sports venue business works. Why do you think Sierra's building a brewery in Asheville, anyway?

This is the tactic being deployed at Forecastle, even if Sierra Nevada's "craft" status blinds you to it. The result in either case is precisely the same insofar as locals are concerned. It means we don't get in. Sponsorships of this sort exist to exclude, not to include.

If the money flowing into Forecastle’s coffers from a brewery 3,000 miles away, and also from its wholesaler here in Louisville (River City is NABC's wholesaler, too; another topic for another day), enable the festival’s founder to take Forecastle to national prominence from a Louisville pedestal (now THAT's localism in action, folks), then exactly what incentive is there to include local breweries in a beer garden when the sponsorship pie’s already been sliced to the satisfaction of the festival operator?

So, is Tierney a localist, or not? Perhaps while he's getting his localism principles straight, Insider Louisville’s Terry Boyd actually will recall that given his experience with professional journalism, he should know far better than this, and actually deign to examine the faux “insider” credentials currently being usurped by Insider Louisville contributors operating far out of their element.

Tierney writes coherently about music, but when he writes about beer, the result is clueless and frankly embarrassing.

Spare me Terry, will ya?


Caleb Weber said...

The 'biggest' local brewery around is BBC, but they have had a ridiculous amount of out-of-stocks and production issues, which have been going on for months at this point. As far as I know, they aren't about to get any better.

I wonder if they were considered, but not selected due to fear of not being able to supply enough product. They are also distributed by River City (as I'm sure you already know). Just a thought.

Caleb Weber said...

On a related noted, I haven't been to Forecastle since it 'got popular'. The last time I went was 2008 when GZA and Del played, and there was a BBC truck, with three beers on tap. As far as I know, the newer version is MUCH larger.

Caleb Weber said...

also, in 2012, BBC was a 'exclusive partner'.

They predict 75,000 attendees this year.

The New Albanian said...

Caleb: What you're saying v.v. BBC might well be part of the equation. The central point probably remains that when it comes to upscaling fests, thoughts inevitably turn to who'll pay to play. No Louisville area brewery alone could match whatever deal sheet Sierra and RCD submitted. We might be able to work together toward the same end, although we also might not.

Kevin Spalding said...

Forecastle may be a "local" festival, but it has been a long time since it has been about local artists and performers. The only thing local they have been able to tout recently was My Morning Jacket, the only "big name" band they could get to headline their comeback. And I really think that the only reason they were able to get MMJ was because they are a Louisville-based band.

The New Albanian said...

Kevin: I couldn't agree more. My hackles are raised by the way the supposed "insider" utterly fails to get it.

Caleb Weber said...

Hopefully you can get a few beers in.

The New Albanian said...

That's assuming we'd even want to be there at this point. Cluelessness has a way of lifting my middle finger.

The Reverend Bob said...

I'm reminded of an old saying. "Sometimes with Rock Festivals it's best to bring your own rocks."