Ah, the pig race, the rooster-crowing contest, the screams — both delirious and mortified — barreling from the midway.
Of course, these aren't the only sounds that accompany the Kentucky State Fair. Beginning Thursday and extending through all 11 nights of the fair in Louisville, concert music will again flourish. Country, metal, oldies, pop, R&B and more country will abound. A lot of it is free to boot.
The concert entertainment on tap for this year's state fair appears on Page E2.SCHEDULE
As always, keep in mind a few essentials — for example, all concerts, free or not, require admission to the fair and a parking fee ($8). Remember also that all performances — indoor, outdoor, free or ticketed — start at 8 p.m.
Aug. 18: Lady Antebellum, Lee Brice. Just how secure is Lady Antebellum's country crossover popularity? Secure enough that the title tune from its last album (Need You Now) took Song and Record of the Year trophies at this year's Grammy Awards, and the leadoff title single from its next album (Just a Kiss, from the forthcoming Own the Night) now sits at No. 1. Freedom Hall; $40, $50.
Aug. 18: Ted Nugent. Few performers on the state fair roster have more extensive ties to Louisville audiences as The Nuge. He has played the city's venues from his early 1970s tenure with the Amboy Duke right through his current role as a guitar- slinging activist/outdoorsman. Let's hope Nugent keeps his arrows away from the state fair livestock, though. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 19: Def Leppard, Heart. These arena-rock favorites from decades past continue to command substantial and loyal followings. Accumulated record sales for Def Leppard have soared past the 30 million mark. Heart sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who have equaled that sales figure, saw their 2010 album, Red Velvet Car, debut in the Billboard Top 10. Freedom Hall; $42, $52.
Aug. 19: Boyz II Men. The trio of Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris showed that their vocal chops were more than in tune at a December 2009 performance at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Now Boyz II Men will re-create the second golden age of Motown with 1990s hits like End of the Road and One Sweet Day for a state fair fan base. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 20: Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Thompson Square. Aldean is the success story who has the country music industry scratching its collective head this year. Why? Because he is selling out everywhere, including a date at Rupp Arena last spring and a Riverbend show in Cincinnati this week. Tickets remain for the Georgia hitmaker's state fair concert — for now. Freedom Hall; $30, $47.
Aug. 20: Candlebox, Cowboy Mouth. The former is a multiplatinum Seattle band that ruled the airwaves when post-grunge music packed a serious commercial wallop. The latter is a celebrated New Orleans quartet that has toured relentlessly during the past two decades with songs that reflect a Crescent City heritage more in the themes than in the music itself. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 21: The Oak Ridge Boys, The Grascals. If it's Sunday at the state fair, then it must be time for the gospel-bred country-pop music of The Oak Ridge Boys. The long-standing vocal quartet has closed out the state fair's first weekend for years. This time, the Oaks are paired with The Grascals, one of today's most celebrated — and busiest — bluegrass troupes. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 22: Tenth Avenue North, Francesca Battistelli. The state fair's annual nod to contemporary Christian music features the Dove Award-winning Florida quintet Tenth Avenue North (of You Are More fame) and the Grammy-nominated New York vocalist Francesca Battistelli (Free to Be Me); this will be her second visit to the state fair. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 23: Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar. Country music returns with a pair of road warriors. Arkansas native Joe Nichols, who has played the region on bills with Alan Jackson, among others, is the voice behind the not-so-artful Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off. Country music piano man Phil Vassar, a veteran of a fine headlining show at the Lexington Opera House, scored big with Just Another Day in Paradise. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 24: The Turtles, Mark Lindsay, Mickey Dolenz, The Grass Roots, The Buckinghams. What do you get when you mix a Monkee (Dolenz), Paul Revere's chief Raider (Lindsey), two Turtles (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, who also are ex-Frank Zappa mates and who make this bill worth seeing), and whatever is left of the Grass Roots and Buckinghams? Oldies night at the state fair, that's what. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 25: John Michael Montgomery, Lorrie Morgan. Expect the home-state faithful to turn out in big numbers for Nicholasville country star Montgomery, whose fair-friendly hits include Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident). Morgan is a Nashville vet with a boatload of hits (the best being What Part of No). Her Kentucky ties extend to her marriage to the late Sandy Hook country star Keith Whitley. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 26: Alter Bridge. Well, it's finally here. Earplug night: the night when the jacks and mules stowed in stalls below Cardinal Stadium will be in mortal fear. This is the one night in the state fair concert lineup when the guitars crank up to 11. Chosen for ear-splitting duty this is year is Alter Bridge, a Creed-esque, metal-savvy outfit out of Orlando, Fla. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 27: Luke Bryan, Candy Coburn. There doesn't seem to be a Kentucky concert venue left where Georgia country star Bryan hasn't performed hits including Rain Is a Good Thing during the past year. Among the more prominent stages: Rupp Arena last winter on a bill with Rascal Flatts. Coburn is a Kentucky-bred, Missouri-schooled singer who will enjoy a bit of a homecoming at this show. Cardinal Stadium; free.
Aug. 28: Maroon 5, Train. This time last year, Maroon 5 was playing to the Lexington faithful at what was then Applebee's Park. Meanwhile, Train was performing before the scorched masses at Churchill Downs as part of the ill-fated HullabaLOU festival. Now we get the return of the two contemporary pop faves on the same bill while the state fair brings down the midway. Freedom Hall; $40, $50.