Ah, Derby week. It's the time when musical delights big and small converge on Louisville ahead of a celebrated horse race that is over in about two minutes.
The big leaguers and the cool independents all have made their way to Derby City at Derbytime over the decades.
In the '70s, when the Derby Eve Jam was considered one of the biggest concert events of the year, Louisville hosted the likes of ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers Band and Bob Seger, all of which were at the height of their first-run glory.
In recent years, favorite Derby Week picks shifted to smaller shows (and smaller crowds) like the Arcade Fire-spinoff project Bell Orchestre and the Chicago "circus punk" marching band Mucca Pazza.
This year, the big names are largely absent even though the music itself is especially diverse — from gospel and funk to country to hip-hop and blues, with a very conspicuous Elephant looking to be the hit of the week.
Here is what's heading to Louisville during Derby Week.
Pegasus Pins, which are required for admission to several performances sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Festival, are $4 in advance and $5 at the show.
Building 429, Downhere, Rush of Fools. The festivities begin in earnest with Celebration Sunday and a week's worth of free performances downtown at Waterfront Park. Christian rockers Building 429, the 2005 Gospel Music Association new artist of the year, headlines with Rush of Fools and the Juno Award-winning Downhere opening. 5 p.m. Waterfront Park, 129 River Rd. Free with Pegasus Pin. (502) 584-3378. Derbyfestival.org.
The S.O.S. Band, The Dazz Band. Flashback time begins with a double dose of '80s pop-funk. The Atlanta-bred S.O.S. Band, still with singer Mary Davis in charge, scored a series of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced hits that included Just Be Good to Me. Cleveland's Dazz Band is best known for 1982's Grammy-winning Let It Whip. 8 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free with Pegasus Pin. Call (502) 584-3378.
Beats Antique, Beard-o-Bees. Electronica night commences with the San Francisco trio Beats Antique and a world-beat groove that covers tango, Indian and hip-hop references, among other sounds. The show- opening Beard-o-Bees is the one-man side project of Lotus bassist Jesse Miller. 9:30 p.m. Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd. $15 in advance, $18 day of show. (502) 584-8088. Headlinerslouisville.com.
Ronnie Baker Brooks. Raised on the music of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and B.B. King and introduced to festival and club stages at an early age by his father, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks stands today as a learned torch bearer of the Chicago blues scene. But a heavy dose of his dad's rockish pride shines through in his playing. 7:30 p.m. Stevie Ray's Blues Bar, 230 E. Main St. $15. (502) 582-9945. Stevieraysbluesbar.com.
Suzy Bogguss. One of country music's most reliable hit makers during the early '90s, Bogguss is an artist who knows Nashville inside and out. One of her earliest and biggest hits was a cover of John Hiatt's Drive South. She also stretched stylistically thanks to a sadly overlooked album of duets with Chet Atkins titled Simpatico. 8 p.m. Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium, 2345 Lexington Rd. $15. (502) 452-9532. Jimporters.com.
DJ Logic. Few artists fused progressive jazz with hip-hop more convincingly or credibly than DJ Logic. In the late '90s, he added brave new beats to the already audacious groove tunes of Medeski Martin and Wood. Today, he is part of Bitches Brew Revisited, an ensemble devoted to the late '60s fusion music of Miles Davis. 7 p.m. Zazoo's. 102 Bauer Ave. $12. (502) 894-8030.
Todd Snider. The East Nashville songsmith, with his blend of stoner humor, offbeat sociopolitical story lines and sobering personal reflections, has been a big hit in Kentucky for close to two decades. His recent concert recording, The Storyteller, sets the stage for this outdoor Derby Week return. 8 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free with Pegasus Pin. (502) 584-3378. Derbyfestival.org.
Cage the Elephant, The Pass. The traditional Derby Eve Jam isn't until Friday. But make no mistake. This will be the week's biggest party. The Bowling Green-based Cage the Elephant is an established post-grunge indie rock sensation that sold out Louisville's Headliners Music Hall a month ago. 8 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free with Pegasus Pin. Call (502) 584-3378. Derbyfestival.org.
Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch. Finally, an artist who knows what a crazy party at the infield of Churchill Downs is like. Arkansas country singer Moore was part of the Sunday afternoon lineup at the Downs' ill-fated HullabaLOU festival last July. His Derby Eve Jam show, we can only hope, will be less heat-intensive. 8 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free with Pegasus Pin. (502) 584-3378. Derbyfestival.org.
Seven Mary Three. There probably isn't a nightclub in the country that hasn't presented a performance by Seven Mary Three in the wake of the Virginia band's brief chart-topping reign with hits like 1996's Cumbersome. This time out, 7M3 is part of what the Phoenix Hill promises to be "the mother of all Derby Eve concerts." 7 p.m. Phoenix Hill Tavern, 644 Baxter Ave. $20. (502) 589-4630. Phoenixhill.com.