brooks & dunn: kix brooks, left, and ronnie dunn. photo by chapman baehler.
Ah, the sights, sounds and smells of the Kentucky State Fair. There is absolutely nothing on earth like them.
Where else can you see a tightrope walking tiger, cheer a pig race, commune with everything from goats to chickens and to deceptively docile bovine and then chomp down on a corn dog in 95 degree heat?
But, as David Letterman says, that’s not why you called. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re fancying a tune or two to cap off your State Fair adventure. Well, as usual, you’re in luck and then some. On tap over the next 11 days will be country music and rock ‘n’ roll – sometimes on the same bill (shoot, sometimes it may even come from the same act). But there will also vintage pop, hard rocking Christian music, a disco flashback, a hearty blast of ‘90s R&B and more.
We’re outlining the first slew of shows here, which will take you through the weekend. The rest we will save for Monday.
The majority of the shows are free. But, as usual, there are guidelines you need to keep in mind when you’re packing up the family for a full day at the wonderland that is the Kentucky State Fair.
Here is what you need to know:
+ All fairgrounds concerts, whether at Freedom Hall or Cardinal Stadium, will start at 8 p.m.
+ All free performances will still require admission to the Fair itself.
+ Parking at the Fair is $5 per vehicle.
+ If you’re attending a Cardinal Stadium performance and it starts to pour, the show will go on. Concerts will only be cancelled in the event of lightning.
+ The higher price listed for the ticketed performances includes Fair admission.
That’s it. Got the sun block? Got the Pepto Bismol? Got the earplugs? If so, get on up to Louisville. Starting tonight, it’s State Fair time.
Tonight: Brooks & Dunn/ZZ Top/Rodney Atkins at Freedom Hall – They teamed up awhile back for a CMT Crossroads special. Now, that “Lil’ Ol’ Band from Texas” rejoins the Goliath country music duo for a full tour. Knoxville’s Rodney (These Are My People) Atkins will open ($41, $46).
Tonight – P.O.D./Pop Evil at Cardinal Stadium – Perhaps the only known link between Christian metal music and WrestleMania, P.O.D. has forged considerable mainstream popularity over the past 15 years. Its new When Angels and Serpents Dance album welcomes guitarist Marcos Curiel back to the fold. (free)
Friday: Vanessa Hudgens/Corbin Bleu with Jordan Pruitt/Drew Seeley at Freedom Hall – OK, parents. This is the one you drop the kids off for. Hudgens and Bleu are better known as Gabriella and Chad from the absurdly popular High School Musical series, which is already preparing its third film for an October release ($26, $31).
Friday: Boyz II Men/Midnight Star at Cardinal Stadium – Boyz II Men defined a new R&B generation in the ‘90s with hits like End of the Road and 4 Seasons of Loneliness. The group still boasts three of its five original vocalists. Midnight Star’s roots, of course, stem back to its mid-70s formation at Kentucky State University (free).
Saturday: Brad Paisley, Jewel, Chuck Wicks, Julianne Hough at Freedom Hall – Paisley’s Vegas-style stage show is a full evening unto itself. Throw in opening sets by the newly country-converted Jewel and TV-bred Nashville newcomers Wicks and Hough and you’re talking a concert that will call for some serious baby sitter bucks ($44, $49).
Saturday: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Cardinal Stadium – Jett was rocking Rupp Arena as an opening act for The Police as far back as 1982. Over 25 years later she still loves rock ‘n’ roll and continues to garner ecstatic reviews for her live shows (free).
Sunday: The Oak Ridge Boys/The Roys at Cardinal Stadium – The Oaks may have thrown a few curve balls to their fans over the past year, like recording with country outlaw offspring Shooter Jennings. When it comes to the State Fair, though, the group’s Sunday concert spot is a bonafide tradition (free).