Music News & Reviews

11 nights of concerts at the Kentucky State Fair

Alabama is Jeff Cook, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry.
Alabama is Jeff Cook, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry. Conway Entertainment Group

A visit with Freddie Farm Bureau? Check.

Border collie herdings? Check.

Hip hop jugglers? Check.

Expect all of that along with – wait for it – a Solar Eclipse viewing party on Aug. 21. And you thought there was nothing new at the Kentucky State Fair this year.

Here’s something you can always count on, though, when Fair time rolls around: a flood of live music covering country, retro pop, rock, R&B and a lot more. As usual, there will be three ticketed shows taking place at Freedom Hall. The rest are flat-out free events taking place at Cardinal Stadium.

Well, almost. Keep in mind all of the concerts listed here will require separate admission and parking to the Fair itself. Otherwise, have at it. From I Love the ‘90s to Southern Uprising, here is a roundup of the sounds that will be keeping the Fair afloat.

I Love the ‘90s Tour featuring Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Color Me Badd, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC

7 p.m. Aug. 17 at Freedom Hall. $37-$89.

For those too young to have experienced it, “I Love the ‘90s” is a throwback to the dance pop and hip hop grooves of another era. This State Fair bill largely replicates the one that played Rupp Arena in April but adds in Vanilla Ice.

Elvis Extravaganza”/The River City Boys

8 p.m. Aug. 17 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

The “Extravaganza” translates into a revue style performance that gives you not just one Elvis Presley impersonator, but a whole team of them. They are curiously co-billed with the River City Boys, who will offer a tribute performance to the Statler Brothers.

Alabama/Tucker Beathard

7 p.m. Aug. 18 at Freedom Hall. $32-$79.

A genre-defining country-pop ensemble during the ’80s thanks to numerous radio hits (including two co-penned by Central Kentucky’s own J.P Pennington, “The Closer You Get” and “Take Me Down”), Alabama regrouped for 2015’s “Southern Drawl” album.

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Singer Ginuwine performs with TGT at Universal City Walk on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 in Universal City, Calif. TGT "Three Kings" debuted last week at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on Billboard. Dan Steinberg Invision/AP

Ginuwine/Tony! Toni! Tone!

8 p.m. Aug. 18 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

The State Fair’s vintage R&B night features the return of Ginuwine, famous for such early 2000s hits as “Differences.” Tony! Toni Tone!, still with founding vocalist Dwayne Wiggins, sends this retro ride back to the ’90s.

Blues Traveler
Blues Traveler is Tad Kinchla, Brendan Hill, John Popper, Chan Kinchla, and Ben Wilson. Cast Management

Blues Traveler/The Social Animals

8 p.m. Aug. 19 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

One of the most popular jam bands of the 1990s, Blues Traveler was always into groove generated pop and psychedelia more than the blues. Still, lead vocalist John Popper’s runs on harmonica form the core of its sound.

The Oak Ridge Boys/Alaska & Madi

8 p.m. Aug. 20 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

The first versions of the Oaks go back to its days as a gospel group in the 1940s. The current lineup, which has remained largely intact since the early ‘70s, is all about country pop harmonies. It has been a Sunday mainstay of the Fair for decades.

Oak Ridge Boys
The Oak Ridge Boys perform Aug. 20 at the Kentucky State Fair. Webster Public Relations

For King & Country/Zach Williams

8 p.m. Aug. 21 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

The Australian-born, Nashville-based siblings Joel and Luke Smallbone like to stylize the name of its Christian pop collective as ‘for KING & COUNTRY.’ They have released two albums, the newest being 2014’s “Run Wild. Live Free, Love Strong.”

Happy Together Tour 2017 featuring The Turtles (Flo & Eddie), The Boxtops, Chuck Negron, The Cowsills, The Association, Ron Dante

8 p.m. Aug. 22 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

It was 50 years ago last winter that “Happy Together” became the biggest career single for The Turtles, whose legacy lives on through its vocalists, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo & Eddie) and the multi-act ’60s pop tour bearing the song’s name.

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Chase Bryant performs during the Kicks 101.5 Country Fair 2015 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park on Saturday, November 7, 2015, in Atlanta. Robb D. Cohen Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP

Whiskey Jam featuring Chase Bryant, Dylan Scott and Chris Shrader

8 p.m. Aug. 23 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

This country triple bill instead focuses on a trio of up-and comers: Chase Bryant (currently on loan from a summer tour with Brad Paisley), Dylan Scott (who scored a Top 5 hit a year ago with “My Girl”) and Chris Shrader (the Pulaski, Tenn.-bred singer currently touring behind a self-titled, six song EP).

Fairenheit 17 featuring Ben Sollee, Tony and the Tan Lines and 64 West

8 p.m. Aug. 24 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

Here is how you say hello to your hometown. First, you record a progressive bluegrass album (“Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native”) in nearby Bullitt County’s Bernheim Arboretum, then you headline a multi-act show at your home state’s state fair.

Easton Corbin/JD Shelburne

8 p.m. Aug. 25 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

There probably isn’t a corner of Kentucky that country music celeb Easton Corbin hasn’t played. His Lexington stops include a 2013 Rupp Arena gig with Blake Shelton and a 2015 Winter Jam set across the street at the Opera House.

Theory of a Deadman/Goldy Locks

8 p.m. Aug. 26 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

It’s rock ‘n’ night at the Fair, but British Columbia’s Theory of a Deadman is hardly the party entry. Fronted by vocalist Tyler Connolly, the band conjures a sound somewhere between pensive and reflective as shown on its new single, “Rx.”

Matthew West/Colton Dixon/Hawk Nelson/Sarah Reeves

3 p.m. Aug. 27 at Cardinal Stadium. Free.

The Fair’s final free show offers a matinee of four contemporary Christian acts of (and for) various ages: Nashville based Dove winner Matthew West, “American Idol” alum Colton Dixon, the Ontario quartet Hawk Nelson and Alabama song stylist Sarah Reeves.

Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels performs at 6 p.m. Aug. 27 at Freedom Hall. Webster Public Relations

Southern Uprising Tour featuring Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Lee Roy Parnell

6 p.m. Aug. 27 at Freedom Hall. $32-$74.

An interesting closing night showcase unites a pair of Southern bred, ’90s-era country stars (Travis Tritt, Lee Roy Parnell) with two Southern rock veterans (The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band) that paved the way for them.

If you go

Kentucky State Fair

When: Aug. 17-27

Where: Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane

Admission: $7 in advance, $10 after Aug. 16; parking $5, $10

Call: 502-367-5002

Online: Kystatefair.org.

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