Here it comes down the home stretch, a field of 10 remarkably varied concert performances that will be lighting up Louisville as part of the buildup to the Kentucky Derby.
Loads of indie rock, prime Americana, retro rap and more all take to a curiously concentrated number of venues (specifically, three) that will get a run on the Run for the Roses and provide “the most exciting two minutes in sports” with a weeklong prelude.
Here is a look at the sounds igniting Derby City during Derby Week.
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Derby Week kicks off with Derby Festival Celebration Sunday, an outdoor performance program featuring Canadian born contemporary Christian artist Matt Maher. With a strong background in jazz, Maher is still touring behind his 2015 album, Saints and Sinners.
The Americana empress has been playing Headliners ever since her career-defining Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was issued in 1998. This spring, she is promoting The Ghosts of Highway 20, her second double album of electric séances in three years.
After a realignment of personnel and a three-year hiatus from studio records, Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit — still with guitarist and drummer siblings Scott and Grant Hutchison on board — recruited Aaron Dessner of The National to produce the fine new Painting of a Panic Attack album.
Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick
Rap goes retro with a double bill of pioneering hip hop stylists with closely linked histories that stem back to the ‘80s. Fresh is a Harlem-by-way-of Barbados artist while Rick relocated from Great Britain to the Bronx. Their joint hits include 1985’s La Di Da Di.
The Bright Light Social Hour
Hailing from the Texas music mecca of Austin, The Bright Light Social Hour combines indie psychedelia, a dose of prog and considerable pop smarts. The resulting blend boils over on its just released cover of the Beach Boys’ Sunflower nugget All I Wanna Do.
Tokyo Police Club
A decade after their debut EP was released, the Ontario quartet Tokyo Police Club returns to action this spring with a post-punk, pop-charged EP drolly titled Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness: Part One. Its lead single, Not My Girl, may just be one of the most inviting rock radio tunes of the season.
Cold War Kids
The indie-pop parade continues downtown with the Long Beach, Calif., quintet Cold War Kids. The band’s 2014 Hold My Home album is a streamlined version of the anthem pop that distinguished earlier records like Robbers & Cowards and Loyalty to Loyalty.
Citizen Cope, the stage alias of song stylist Clarence Greenwood, has been a Louisville favorite for years. On record, his music shifts from electronica-rich pop (Let the Drummer Kick It) to the churchy collaboration Sideways with Carlos Santana. This show, though, will be a solo acoustic outing.
Trampled by Turtles
Here’s a tasty bill with the Minnesota progressive string music troupe Trampled by Turtles serving as headliner. But get to this one early so as to catch the more broad based Americana outfit The Devil Makes Three and psychedelic folk fave Elephant Revival.
Connecticut-born Nathaniel “Nate” Rathbun, known professionally as Audien, is an electronic-house music artist with considerable reach. Outside of his own music (highlighted by the dramatic synth ballet Elysium), he has produced and collaborated on recordings for everyone from Bruno Mars to Lady Antebellum.