The Kentucky State Fair is nothing if not resilient. The parade of concert acts scheduled for its 10-day run, which begins Thursday, has taken two major hits this summer. But what remains is still one of the region's most stylistically — and, to a degree, culturally — diverse crops of national concert performances.
The first blow came last month when soul matriarch Aretha Franklin bailed on a well-advertised State Fair show due to, in a statement issued from her management, "another commitment."
Then came word last week that pop queen Meghan Trainor was out after hemorrhaging her vocal chords. The remainder of her summer tour was scrapped as the singer began planning for surgery.
What does that leave patrons heading to Louisville in search of an entertaining nightcap after a day full of border-collie parades, rooster crowing contests and pig races?
Quite a lot, actually.
Even without Aretha and Meghan, the lineup is a bounteous roundup of country, rock, R&B, gospel and Christian rock, metal and pop. Several of the acts are staples of today's charts. Others hail from generations past. Some carry a ticket price. Many are free. But all make up what has long been viewed as one of the great final bows of summertime in the Bluegrass.
Here are the sounds abounding at this year's Kentucky Stare Fair.
Slaughter/Great White, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. Slaughter was the pop-metal force behind the platinum '90s albums Stick It to Ya and The Wild Life. Great White was more MTV-friendly. But ties to a deadly 2003 club concert fire caused by pyrotechnics still eclipse its legacy.
Barrels and Boots Festival featuring Montgomery Gentry, John Michael Montgomery, RaeLynn, Eric Paslay, Kelsie May and Craig Campbell. 5 p.m. Freedom Hall. $37-$66 (includes fair admission). This Red, White & Boom-like bill boasts Central Kentucky brethren Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery, making the show a homecoming of sorts.
Jagged Edge/Dru Hill, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. Recently retro-fied R&B rules a double bill featuring the Grammy-winning Jagged Edge (Where the Party At) and '90s fave Dru Hill (Never Make a Promise). Each group still features a trio of co-founding members.
All That Remains, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. The multiplatinum-selling All That Remains plans to wake up the neighbors — as well as any State Fair livestock within earshot — with cranked-up guitar rock tunes from albums like A War You Cannot Win and The Order of Things.
Oak Ridge Boys/Belles and Whistles, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. If it's Sunday, then it must be time for the Oak Ridge Boys. The veteran country/pop/gospel quartet has held down the same weekend slot on the fair calendar for decades.
Casting Crowns/I Am They, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. Formed in 1999, famed Christian rock troupe Casting Crowns has scored numerous hit crossover albums, becoming a Grammy- and Dove Award-winning act, as well as a high-grossing concert attraction, in the process.
Country Gold Tour featuring Leroy Van Dyke, Steve and Rudy Gatlin, Moe Bandy, Eddy Raven, Jimmy Fortune and Gene Watson, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. This country music show for (and by) the ages is led by 85-year-old Leroy Van Dyke, who topped charts in the '50s with The Auctioneer and runs though to the '80s popularity of Eddy Raven (I Got Mexico).
Easton Corbin/Nathan Osmond, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. A veteran of the 2010 Red, White & Boom bill and an opening act set for Blake Shelton's 2013 concert at Rupp Arena, Florida-born Corbin remains a hybrid of country tradition and pop appeal.
Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, The Association, The Cowsills, Mark Lindsay, The Buckinghams and The Grass Roots, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. While this annual '60s pop outing continually juggles its roster, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of the seminal pop troupe The Turtles (and Frank Zappa's infamous early '70s lineup of the Mothers) remain at the helm.
The Charlie Daniels Band/Colt Ford, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. At 78, Daniels still belts out fiddle-happy jams that include The South's Gonna Do It and, of course, The Devil Went Down to Georgia. New generation country songsmith and rapper Colt Ford rounds out the bill.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts/Devour the Day, 8 p.m., Cardinal Stadium. Free. Still rocking with integrity at age 56, Jett hits Louisville twice this year. Aside from her State Fair appearance, the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee will return to open for The Who at the KFC Yum Center on Dec. 4.
Boyz II Men/Kool & the Gang, 8 p.m. Freedom Hall. $50, $79 (includes fair admission). Another retro R&B celebration offers '70s horn-happy funk troupe Kool and the Gang (Celebration, Jungle Boogie) and '90s pop-soul combo Boyz II Men (End of the Road, On Bended Knee).
Family Force 5, Hawk Nelson, Matt Maher, For King and Country, 4 p.m. Cardinal Stadium. Free. As the name suggests, Family Force 5 is a Christian rock family band formed by brothers Jacob, Joshua and Soloman Olds (Solomon left in 2013). The group's hits include BZRK and the curiously titled Chainsaw.