Eric “Rico” Rakutt wants the South By South End (SXSE) Festival to grow without the hindrance (or benefit) of rules. Wherever the artists, musicians and sponsors want to take it, it’s their forum.
Rakutt is an artist and promoter, and he’s one of the organizers for this second stab at a booth-and-stage show to celebrate the arts of the south end of town. This year, SXSE expands to a second day, and seven artists will be displaying their works, which range from the fantasy art of Larry Elmore to the mixed media and posters of Jeff Gaither. Some booths are also open to festival sponsors, including clothing vendors, record labels and Asgard Ink.
It all takes place inside and just outside of Shooter’s. The admission is $10 for both days, they’ll have the grill going outside as well as the usual food menu, and the base price for a beer is dirt-cheap. For this year, it’s a 21-and-over gig. That’s part of the current reality of putting together this event.
Rakutt says that the music lineup does have a theme and logic — if you can find it during the high-decibel onslaught.
LEO: Does the South End get less respect than it deserves because other parts of town steal its thunder? Is it that everything that’s underground about Louisville art should be in the Highlands?
Eric Rakutt: That [attitude] is alright with me. I’ve never been in the St. James Art Fair, but I go there to buy art. It’s not really expected to come from the South End. People don’t think of art when they think of South End … I generally don’t. People think they have to go to the Water Tower or to Mellwood Arts Center.
With music, it’s kind of the same thing. There are bands I know of that’ll only play Uncle Pleasant’s, rather than come out here. We’re looked at as kinda the dirty, redneck, hillbilly, blue-collar workers.
LEO: But there’s a variety to the art, and to the music that you’re gathering together …
ER: The style of music, and art — it’s a little more aggressive, a little darker. What inspires people is a little bit different here. It’s a lot dirtier, a little bit more emotional. It’s funny, because this end of town is now built up a little more. People are wanting to see it do better, but they still live by that stale type of, “We’re a bunch of rednecks out here, a bunch of hillbillies” kind of thing. I went to Valley High School. Well, everybody thinks that Valley is rough and tough. But it’s like that everywhere … and people in this end of town like that for some reason.
LEO: How did the lineup come together?
ER: We wanted to shoot for groupings that reflected the scene. Friday is a lot of bands that you’d see out in the South End. The whole grouping, except for Brett Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Revue, they’re tied in together.
With Saturday, the idea was to have bands that aren’t normally out in the South End playing shows, but they have a connection to the area. Stonecutters are all South End guys, but they pretty much stay on the other end of town to play. The Glasspack are a South End band, but they do better playing The Rudyard Kipling or Longshot’s Tavern. It’s the same way with the booths and the artists. There’s something that connects each of them with the South End.
LEO: Events with multiple types of art happen often in other parts of town. So for the South End, this festival …
ER: It kinda catches people off-guard. They’re not expecting us to put together something like this. And there’re really no rules about it. The art scene in other ends of town — it’s who you know, and you have to be a certain way. This festival here, it’s just about being true to your own expressiveness.
7092 Distribution Drive
$7 (each day), $10 (two days)