Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi and Author William McKeen To Participate In GonzoFest Louisville this July

Events at Speed Art Museum and Frazier History Museum to Kick Off GonzoFest Louisville Celebrations

LOUISVILLE, KY (May 13, 2019) – GonzoFest Louisville has big plans for its ninth annual celebration of Louisvillian Hunter S. Thompson, the founder of gonzo journalism. Matt Taibbi, contributing writer for Rolling Stone and author of four New York Times bestsellers, and William McKeen, author of Outlaw Journalist, a biography of Hunter S. Thompson, and chair of Boston University’s Department of Journalism, are just two of the special guests speaking at this year’s GonzoFest Louisville.

Taibbi and McKeen will present their own lectures and conversations, and participate in a panel discussion moderated by Timothy Denevi, professor of journalism at George Mason University and author of Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism. More guest speakers will be added and announced at a later date.  

During this year’s lectures, conversations and panels, local, regional and national names in journalism will trace the rapid evolution of gonzo journalism from the New Journalism of the 1960s through the Nixon era in which Hunter made his most indelible mark and to the journalists of today and their relationship to the current political climate and media environment.

In addition to lectures and panels, GonzoFest Louisville will showcase spoken word artists and poets, as well as live art by local artist Braylyn Stewart and local gonzo artist Grant Goodwine, who studied with Ralph Steadman. Guests will also enjoy live music from Vice Tricks, Zu Zu Ya Ya, Ron Whitehead, Big Atomic, Casey Powell featuring Down To Mars, and Proles. Craft vendors will be set up outside along York Street, and food and drinks will also be available for purchase outside.

2019 is truly the year of gonzo in Kentucky! A yearlong celebration of Hunter S. Thompson throughout Kentucky is being referred to as “The Year of Gonzo”, and includes exhibitions at Frazier History Museum and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville and the University of Kentucky’s Art Museum in Lexington related to gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson and his illustrator and friend Ralph Steadman. The three exhibitions are Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, which ran February 16 – May 5 in at UK’s Art Museum; Freak Power: Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff, April 30 – September 2 at Frazier History Museum; and Gonzo! The Illustrated Guide to Hunter S. Thompson, July 12 – November 10 at Speed Art Museum. Even Thurby went gonzo this year when famed artist Ralph Steadman returned to Churchill Downs 49 years after meeting Thompson at the 1970 Kentucky Derby.

Kick off GonzoFest Louisville weekend on July 18, Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday, with a special Hunter birthday celebration at Frazier History Museum in partnership with The Library Foundation. Then join us at Speed’s After Hours for a gonzo-themed evening on Friday, July 19. The year of gonzo concludes with the ultimate celebration happening at GonzoFest Louisville on Saturday, July 20 at the Louisville Free Public Library’s Main Library in downtown Louisville, noon - 8:00 p.m.

GonzoFest Louisville would like to thank Four Roses Bourbon and Goodwood Brewing Company for their generous sponsorship. For information on how to become a sponsor, email Additional information about GonzoFest Louisville can be found by visiting Fans can find GonzoFest Louisville on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


About Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award for columns and commentary. His most recent book is ‘I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street,’ about the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestsellers 'Insane Clown President,' 'The Divide,' 'Griftopia,' and 'The Great Derangement.' 

About William McKeen

William McKeen is the author of eight books and the editor of four more, including Mile Marker Zero (Crown, 2011), a non-fiction narrative about Key West; Outlaw Journalist (W.W. Norton, 2008), a biography of Hunter S. Thompson. McKeen is also the Chair of Boston’s University’s Department of Journalism. Before beginning his teaching career, he worked for several newspapers and magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, The American Spectator, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and The Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. His writing has appeared in Holiday, American History, Maxim, the Saturday Evening Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He has appeared on “The Today Show,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The CBS Evening News” and many other news programs. His major teaching areas are literary journalism, history of journalism, reporting, feature writing and history of rock’n’roll.

About GonzoFest Louisville

GonzoFest Louisville is a literary and music festival honoring the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson. Through spoken word, panel discussions, art, live music and more. GonzoFest Louisville celebrates the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson in his hometown of Louisville, KY. In 2017 GonzoFest Louisville partnered with the Louisville Free Public Library and the Main Library of LFPL is now the home of GonzoFest Louisville. The location was chosen because Thompson’s mother, Virginia Thompson, retired from the Main Library after working years there as a librarian. 2019 will mark the ninth year of GonzoFest Louisville.

About Louisville Free Public Library

The Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) is the largest library system in Kentucky, serving more than 3 million visitors annually at 18 locations and on the web at Its mission is to provide the people of Metro Louisville with the broadest possible access to knowledge and information and to support them in their pursuit of learning at all stages of life. 

About The Library Foundation

The Louisville Free Public Library Foundation was founded for the purpose of benefiting, promoting, supporting, and enhancing the programs and services of the Louisville Free Public Library, whose mission is to provide the people of Metro Louisville with the broadest possible access to knowledge, ideas, and information and to support them in their pursuit of learning. Through its support of the public library, the Library Foundation serves the Metro Louisville area. 

About Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum. An independent and encyclopedic museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the Speed celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017.  Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum, which opened in 1927, with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives. The Speed reopened in 2016 following a 3-year, $60 million renovation and expansion designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY that doubled the museum’s overall square footage and nearly tripled its gallery space. Free Owsley Sundays, sponsored by the Brown-Forman Corporation, draw large and diverse crowds every week. For more information, visit 

About Frazier History Museum

The Frazier History Museum is located at 829 W. Main St. on Louisville’s downtown “Museum Row.” The Frazier is where the world meets Kentucky, bringing history to life for visitors through exhibits, artifacts and live performances every day. The Frazier is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (502) 753-5663 or visit

David Nichols