The Cropped Out Festival is back and bigger than ever with a line-up that has a little something for everyone. On hiatus last year, it returns to American Turners Club on River Road on September 23rd & September 24th. I talked with Ryan Davis about his role in the festival, who’ll be there this year, and a bit about Cropped Out’s history.
Laura Shine: Hi Ryan, please tell us what your title and involvement with the festival is?
Ryan Davis: Hi Laura. I am…CEO sounds weird, so I will say owner/operator of the Cropped Out DIY arts & music organization, as well as head stresser-outer/overseer of our annual event in town.
LS: How and when did Cropped Out begin and where does the name for the festival come from?
RD: I started the company and festival in 2010 with my then-partner in crime James Ardery (current-day NYC resident with whom I grew up here in Louisville and have remained friends with since grade school). We co-managed operations for the first few years, but he’s been focusing on other things lately. Since 2014, Cropped Out has just been me and my tight-knit volunteer staff, consisting of some of my closest and most talented friends from around the country (Louisville included). It’s hard to believe it, but this year will be our sixth annual event.
The name Cropped Out was chosen (after much struggle…I wish I could remember some of the ideas that were rejected) because we wanted something sort of simple, sort of punk — no frills. I think at the time, we thought it was a clever play on words in reference to Kentucky’s farming communities and Tobacco economy, or something…but it was more of a statement about the types of artists we were interested in booking. Bands or performers who are often left out of the conversation when it came to national or even regional festival circuits. Both James and I are/were in touring bands and knew a lot of bands who were looking for a point of entry into Kentucky’s underground rock culture, and we wanted to showcase those bands alongside our own crop of musicians in addition to some bigger name artists with whom our DIY ethos aligned.
There’s never been one specific “sound” for Cropped Out. It’s more of a vibe, or an approach to creating art in a way that is both inventive and self-sufficient. It’s a quality that we identify with and seek out in others, regardless of whether it comes in the form of avant/improvised musics, hardcore rap, regional punk, outsider folk, or good ol’ fashion rock ‘n’ roll.
LS: Who are some of the performers folks can look forward to seeing this year?
RD: A few of the many artists that I am personally looking forward to seeing are among Austin, TX’s Bill Callahan, Dunedin, NZ’s The Dead C, Melbourne, AU’s POWER, Princeton, NJ’s Home Blitz, Louisville, KY’s Joan Shelley, a free-jazz duo consisting of the remarkable Joe McPhee & Susan Alcorn, and what I can only imagine will be a strange and celebrated performance from everyone’s favorite Bonnie “Prince” Billy backed by Chicago’s excellent electronic outfit Bitchin Bajas. Oh, and Giving Up from Iowa!
LS: Why didn’t the festival happen last year and what might be different this time?
RD: Well, last year we took a break from doing the event all together, mainly to focus on touring with our bands and other projects that keep us all busy throughout the calendar year. So I guess the different thing we are trying is to take another stab at it. It’s more work than you could possibly imagine to juggle such a production on what little of a budget we have, but everyone rises to the occasion and brings their best ideas to the table over the months leading up to it. Everything becomes more and more organized each year that we do it, so I’m sure there will be a few things here and there that we improve on since 2014. There are always few surprises up our sleeves, as well…
LS: Where can people find more information on the festival?
RD: The facebook event for Cropped Out (VI) 2016 has nearly all of the info, but our website is where you can purchase tickets as well as scroll through pictures, past years’ line-ups, artist bios, teaser trailers, etc. It’s in need of an update, but we’ll try to stay on top of that as we get closer to late September.