Keeneland announces festival with ‘A-list music’
Tickets for the Aug. 10-11 festival will be available to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday at RailbirdFest.com. General admission tickets start at $120 for the weekend, and layaway plans begin at less than $40.
Topping the lineup is The Raconteurs, the Jack White-led rock band making a return after last putting out an album in 2008. Their 2006 song “Steady, As She Goes” topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and was called the second best song of the year by “Rolling Stone.” Two songs have been released from a new album they plan to put out this year.
While The Raconteurs will play Saturday, Hozier is scheduled to lead Sunday’s lineup. His 2013 hit, “Take Me to Church,” garnered him worldwide fame that led to his second album, “Wasteland, Baby!” topping the Billboard 200 charts earlier this month.
Additional acts include Tyler Childers, regarded as an emerging country star, and Brandi Carlile, who was nominated for Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2019 Grammy Awards. She won Grammys for best Americana Album, American Roots Song and American Roots Performance.
Acts will perform on multiple stages on The Grounds at Keeneland, as opposed to inside the racetrack gate, paddock or infield areas.
Herald-Leader music critic Walter Tunis called the lineup “strong, and more importantly, sensible.”
“This roster is a selection of smart choices with major names of the moment (Brandi Carlile, Gary Clark Jr.), proven American vets (Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams), stronger younger acts (Billy Strings, Lillie Mae) and some very necessary local/regional entries (The Wooks, Justin Wells, Johnny Conqueroo),” Tunis said.
“I think this is also a schedule that, if Railbird works, provides plenty of room for growth,” he added. “While it obviously tilts to an older, more Americana-inclined demographic than, say, Forecastle, I think it also reaches to the kind of audience the Keeneland/bourbon crowd is hoping to attract.”
Festivalgoers can also enjoy off-track betting and lounging at the Lucky Day Plaza. Keeneland’s BETologists will offer advice for simulcast wagering on other tracks.
Railbird will also feature culinary experiences, which will be led by several renowned chefs. James Beard nominee Ouita Michael and “Top Chef” season 16 runner-up Sara Bradley will join “Master Chef” alum Dan Wu (Atomic Ramen), Cole Arimes (Cole 735 Main) and Toa Green (Crank and Boom) to create dishes for the weekend. Keeneland executive chef Marc Thierren will do a Friday night dinner in the Keeneland Saddling Paddock for VIP guests as well as trackside brunches, available with special tickets on both days.
It wouldn’t be a music festival in Kentucky without bourbon, and The Rickhouse at Railbird will offer bourbon tastings from hand-selected barrels from the state’s distilleries, chosen in collaboration with Lexington filmmaker AJ Hochhalter, who produced the 2018 documentary “NEAT: The Story of Bourbon.”
There also will be special tours of nearby Thoroughbred farms WinStar and Godolphin. The immersive experience is expected to be a powerful draw for tourists to the area, said Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLex.
“Since the debut of Railbird in February, there’s been a growing excitement around the inaugural event,” she said. “Today’s lineup announcement gives us even more reason for celebration. The artists are diverse, talented and true to the original vision of creating a signature festival that appeals to locals but will also serve as a serious invitation for visitors. We anticipate a robust weekend for our hospitality partners — and for the city at large.”
Details for additional ticket add-ons are available on RailbirdFest.com.
In addition to general-admission tickets, Railbird will offer a VIP weekend pass that will include several amenities, such as access to air-conditioned lounges, private bars, access to luxury restrooms and fast-track entrances to the festival with free parking.
Railbird Superfecta passes will include all of the general admission and VIP amenities and perks, as well as a private pit viewing area and bar, a tour of Keeneland’s grounds, an invite to watch morning workouts, free bourbon tastings, a dinner package, complimentary brunch and more.
The word “railbird” is a horse-racing term for a racetrack regular who sticks close to the action. To “ride the rail” is to do the same at a concert.
Railbird Festival 2019
Saturday: The Raconteurs; Brandi Carlile; Old Crow Medicine Show; Mandolin Orange; Mavis Staples; Robert Earl Keen; Grace VanderWaal; Ruston Kelly; Billy Strings; Low Cut Connie; The Dip; Devon Gilfillian; Lillie Mae; Lucie Silvas; Justin Wells; Ian Noe; Joslyn & The Sweet Compression
Sunday: Hozier; Tyler Childers; Gary Clark Jr.; St. Paul & The Broken Bones; Lucinda Williams; I’m With Her; Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors; Jade Bird; Blackfoot Gypsies; The Wooks; Susto; Futurebirds; Fruit Bats; Yola; Johnny Conqueroo; Kelsey Walden; Ona