Music News & Reviews

Walter Tunis: Avetts and Alabama Shakes to headline Forecastle 2016

Alabama Shakes, from left: Heath Fogg, Zac Cockrell, Brittany Howard and Steve Johnson.
Alabama Shakes, from left: Heath Fogg, Zac Cockrell, Brittany Howard and Steve Johnson.

Forecastle for Christmas

The middle of December hardly seems the proper time to start planning for next summer. Then again, we’re only a week away from Christmas. Forecastle knows the time schemes at work here, however. That’s why the popular Louisville festival has already announced its initial lineup for next July — you know, just in case you feel compelled to offer a bit of summer celebration as a holiday gift.

Headlining acts will include The Avett Brothers (who brought its new-generation amalgamation of folk, pop and rock to Rupp Arena in October), Alabama Shakes (whose psychedelic power soul makes its sophomore record, Sound & Color, one of the best albums of 2015), Ryan Adams (the chameleonic rock-Americana stylist whothat has long made Louisville a regular tour stop), Death Cab for Cutie (the alt-pop brigade that lost founding member Chris Walla in 2015 but gained a Grammy nomination for its newest album, Kintsugi), Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (the multi-Grammy-winning songster and his blues, rock, soul, gospel-and-more troupe) and Gary Clark Jr. (the guitarist who has become one of the latest in a multi-generation roster of champion blues-rooted electric stylists to emerge from Austin, Texas).

Other artists scheduled to perform at Waterfront Park on the weekend of July 15 through 17 include Walk the Moon, Brandi Carlile, Dr. Dog, Moon Taxi, and Femi Kuti and Positive Force. The full schedule of performance times will be announced closer to the festival itself. But just in case you have an inkling of giving the gift of Forecastle for Christmas, tickets are already available. Prices vary considerably. For details, go to

Also getting ahead of the holidays is Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival, which returns to Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove on June 3 through 5. Its schedule has not been announced yet. Tickets are available at

White Reaper

10 p.m. Dec. 19 at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. $8 in advance, $10 day of show. 859-309-9499.

Providing an alternative to all the red, green and gold normally associated with Christmastime is the Louisville band that goes by the decidedly non-festive name of White Reaper. Think that’s odd? Try the title of its newest record, White Reaper Does it Again, which is also the quartet’s debut album.

But White Reaper manages a celebratory feel, nonetheless. There is plenty of post-punk crunch to its songs. But power pop is the primary name of the game on songs like Sheila and Pills. You hear retro touches of The Who and a backdrop of synths that recall the suitably cheesy accents of Farfisa organ popularized during the 1960s. Together, they counter the Clash-style rumble that drives the music. The result is plenty of merry mayhem, which might be just the ticket as much of the campus area around the University of Kentucky begins to shut down for Christmas.

Winterfest ’15

8:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Al’s Bar and Beer Garden, 601 N. Limestone. $5, $8. 859-309-2901.

Last weekend before the holidays hit? It’s no reason for Al’s Bar and Beer Garden to slack off.

On Saturday, the venue presents Winterfest ’15, a bill so big it takes take two stages to fit in all the music. The big, bright pop and groove drive of Big Fresh will headline the event, even though John Ferguson and company remark on the band’s website that the 9:30 p.m. start time for Winterfest ’15 constitutes an “early show.”

Also performing will be Wol and Weeps, Dr. Paul’s Big Trouble, Bty Slp and Quiet Hollers.

Read Walter Tunis' blog, The Musical Box, at