What city other than Louisville could take a two-minute event like the Kentucky Derby and make its fanfare last an entire week (or longer)?
Luckily, in the midst of all the balloon races, golf tournaments, spelling bees and, we jest not, bed-making competitions — oh, and did we forget the Derby itself? — there is a hearty lineup of music.
There will be country, R&B, plus a Tumatoe and a Cracker. Sounds like full-course fun to me.
A sizable chunk of it is free, too — specifically, the downtown Louisville performances at Waterfront Park. Well, almost. For admission, you will need to splurge on a $4 Pegasus Pin (available throughout Louisville). Tickets for the other concerts are available where indicated.
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Here are the sounds abounding in Derby Town this week.
Duke Tumatoe and the Power Trio: Although known mostly as a radio regular on The Bob and Tom Show, Tumatoe is a wildly versed roadhouse blues and boogie guitarist as well as a founding member of REO Speedwagon. His 1990 John Fogerty-produced album, I Like My Job!, is a killer. (6 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free. (502) 584-3378. www.kdf.org.)
Keith Sweat: Amazingly, 20 years have passed since Harlem-born Sweat became the new face of R&B with a triple-platinum record called Make It Last Forever. Sweat's smooth pop-soul sound still reigns on the charts. His 2008 album, Just Me, was a Top 10 hit. (9 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free.)
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Listening to Lonely Road, the new album by Florida's The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, is like taking a trip in a time machine. The guitar crunch reflects post-punk power-pop. But Ronnie Winter's tireless vocal wail seems possessed by the ghost of '70s arena rock. (7:30 p.m., Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Rd. $15, $17. (502) 584-8088. www.ticketweb.com.)
The Charlie Daniels Band and Halfway to Hazard: Daniels has done it all, from recording with Bob Dylan at the dawn of the '70s to serving as a Southern rock forefather ever since. Halfway to Hazard is the still-blooming duo of Hindman native David Tolliver and Jackson-born Chad Warrix. (8 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free.)
Blake Shelton: Okie-born Blake Shelton performed his newest No. 1 country hit, She Wouldn't Be Gone, at the recent Academy of Country Music Awards after a miffed Tim McGraw quit during rehearsals. Next up for Shelton: a summer tour with George Strait. (9 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free.)
Unknown Hinson: Looking like a cross between a young Conway Twitty and Bela Lugosi, Hinson has long been a favorite of regional clubs with country-roots tunes both satirical and rustic. A personal favorite is the lovelorn, string-saturated I Won't Live in Sin Without You. (8 p.m. Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium, 2345 Lexington Rd. $15. (502) 452-9531. www.ticketweb.com.)
Gavin DeGraw, Everclear and honeyhoney: This year's Derby Eve Jam features Gavin DeGraw, the Catskills, N.Y.-raised voice behind the One Tree Hill hit theme I Don't Want to Be. Everclear, still with Art Alexakis in charge, rounds out the bill along with the sleek sounding California pop duo honeyhoney. (7 p.m. Waterfront Park. Free.)
Theory of a Deadman: Following in the post-grunge footsteps of Nickelback, which helped discover the band, British Columbia's Theory of a Deadman possesses a bleak world view that offsets its barroom-savvy music. Check out its oddly melodic single Hate My Life for proof. (7 p.m. Phoenix Hill Tavern, 644 Baxter Ave. $20. (502) 636-0405.)
Cracker: David Lowery and Johnny Hickman still crank out Americana-laced albums as Cracker. The newest, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, is another unassuming gem laced with bittersweet lyrics and guitar hooks galore. (7 p.m. Phoenix Hill Tavern. $15.)
The Paul Thorn Band: A veteran of Lexington's Christ the King Oktoberfest celebrations, Thorn reveals Mississippi roots in his singing and the restless narratives of his songs have hints of gospel and blues. He is a new spokesman for a new era of progressive Southern music. (9 p.m. Headliners Music Hall. $15.)