Music News & Reviews

The 10 must-see music acts at Forecastle

Country music star Tyler Childers donates hundreds of cases of water to Eastern Kentucky community

Country music star and Kentucky native Tyler Childers donated 500 cases of water to Martin County residents Saturday in Inez.
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Country music star and Kentucky native Tyler Childers donated 500 cases of water to Martin County residents Saturday in Inez.

It’s time again to head to downtown Louisville and rock the summer along the Ohio River with Forecastle.

The festival will present live music of seemingly every genre on five stages over three days. This year’s lineup sports an unusually high number of returnee acts, including the third headlining appearance by The Avett Brothers. But keep a serious ear out for first timers like Maggie Rogers who may just steal some of the top-billed thunder.

For a full schedule of performances, go to But here is a critic’s pick list of 10 acts that should be considered essential viewing as Forecastle gets rolling.

The Killers (Friday): What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Hence, the global popularity of The Killers. The rock troupe soared out of its Las Vegas home base with the multi-platinum selling “Mr. Brightside” in 2003. Its most recent album in 2017’s “Wonderful Wonderful.”

Portugal. The Man. is a Forecastle alumnus from 2015. Photo provided

Portugal. The Man. (Friday): A Forecastle alumnus from 2015, Portugal. The Man is a timely act this summer without intending to be. Its 2017 album “Woodstock” opens with the dance-pop reverie “Number One.” It samples Richie Havens’ landmark set from the Woodstock festival, whose 50th anniversary awaits in August.

California’s Cold War Kids recently signed a major record deal.

Cold War Kids (Friday): Another Forecastle returnee from 2015, California’s Cold War Kids spent over a decade establishing itself as an elemental yet innovative indie rock outfit. In 2017, it joined the major label ranks with the Capitol Records release of “L.A. Divine” and its infectiously affirmative single “Love is Mystical.”

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Anderson .Paak is a rapper, songwriter and producer who will be making his Forecastle debut.

Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals (Saturday): Hip-hop at its core, often rockish in its immediacy and even jazz-like at times in its instrumental make-up, the music of California song stylist Anderson .Paak is many thanks — often, at once. His Forecastle debut capitalizes on the top 5 success of his recent “Ventura” album.

Musician Maggie Rogers performs on the fourth day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, June 29. She released her debut album, “Heard It In A Past Life,” in January to critical acclaim. Grant Pollard Grant Pollard/Invision/AP

Maggie Rogers (Saturday): This is the artist poised to claim Forecastle as her own just as Margo Price did last year. With a scholarly sense of songwriting and potent but refreshingly unforced vocal stamina, Rogers reflects a sound that is timeless and completely contemporary. Consider her set a priority.

Nelly (Saturday): A year out from playing a sold-out show at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, St. Louis-by-way-of Austin rapper Nelly looks to ignite Forecastle with nearly two decades of hits highlighted by the ubiquitous “Hot in Here” as well as collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Fergie and Florida Georgia Line.

The Avett Brothers (Sunday): It’s a somewhat steady turnaround for the new generation, folk-informed Avetts, who headlined Forecastle in 2013 and 2016. That shouldn’t diminish the band’s appeal, though, especially with its first new studio album in three years, “Closer Than Together,” ready for release in October.

Lawrence County’s Tyler Childers will play at Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville on Sunday and the new Railbird Music Festival at Keeneland in August. Emma Delevante

Tyler Childers (Sunday): Lawrence County hero Childers remains omnipresent this summer with the impending release of his “Country Squire” album. A fixture in Lexington clubs long before the rest of the world recognized him, Childers will follow Forecastle with a Railbird show on Aug. 11.

Andrew Bird (Sunday): The mercurial Bird has always seemed like a songster slightly out of his time element. There is a trace of the minstrel mystic in his songs — especially in his delivery of them. Having played Lexington clubs for over two decades, he previously performed at Forecastle in 2012.

Dawes (Sunday): Taylor Goldsmith and company have been Kentucky favorites for much of the past decade. Having visited Forecastle previously in 2013, the band journeyed to Lexington with the co-billed Conor Oberst in 2014 and served a co-headlining act at Somerset’s Master Musicians Festival in 2017.

Photo slideshow from day two of the Forecastle Festival in Louisville.


When: July 12-14

Where: Waterfront Park, 231 Witherspoon St. in Louisville

Tickets: $89.50-$449.50


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