The Kentucky Derby always comes with a soundtrack, and this year is no exception.
Live music will be everywhere, the vast majority of it rock and country, but the highest concentration will be on the waterfront through Derby Eve.
The Kroger Fest-a-Ville at Waterfront Park’s Great Lawn will combine national acts with local and regional favorites, including Kix Brooks, The Wallflowers and Uncle Kracker. The venerable Chow Wagon is a short walk away, closer to the Harbor Lawn, and it will have three bands a day.
Both are free with a Pegasus Pin.
Nightclubs will also be busy, and the strange range of shows will be oddly appropriate given the Derby’s reputation for weirdness. You can’t get further apart than Bill Callahan and Jackyl, for example, but both will be here within 24 hours of each other.
Here’s a rundown of what’s on offer.
The Fest-a-Ville began Thursday night and wraps up with the Derby Eve Jam headlined by Brooks, the rowdier half of the now-defunct Brooks & Dunn. The grounds open weekdays at 11 a.m., Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m., closing daily at 11 p.m.
National acts begin Saturday at 9 p.m. with Uncle Kracker, the DJ who got his start with Kid Rock before breaking away for a career of low-rent party songs. Things swing wildly in the opposite direction on Sunday with contemporary Christian music at 5 p.m. with Building 429, Rhett Walker Band and Finding Favour.
Louisville’s The Pass brings its electric dance pop to headline Monday, with guest Aquaventure opening around 6 p.m. Derby veteran Cameo, a New York electro-funk collective that goes back to 1974 and scored big with “Word Up!” headlines Tuesday at 9.
The Great Steamboat Race will anchor Wednesday, and once that highly unpredictable, completely legitimate contest wraps up, the modern rock and pop will start at 7 with Discount Guns, followed by headliners The Features.
Children of the ’90s get their night Thursday, with The Wallflowers. Jakob Dylan hasn’t stopped making records by any means — “Glad All Over” came out last year — but the biggest cheers of the night will be for 1996’s “6th Avenue Heartache.”
Next Friday’s Derby Eve Jam continues a tradition once marked by hard-core Southern rock and pre-insanity Ted Nugent. This year it’s Brooks, who enjoyed 18 good years with Brooks & Dunn before the duo retired in 2009. Brooks returned to a solo career last year with “New to This Town.” Greg Bates opens the show at 7:30.
Chow Wagon is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily except for Sunday, which is 1-11 p.m. Bands perform daily at 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., other than on Sunday. They are listed in that order.
Today — The Side Show Trio, Midnight Radio, Jefferson Tarc Bus.
Saturday — Afrophysicists, The MacDaddies, Kirby’s Dreamland.
Sunday — GospelFest 2-10 p.m.
Monday — Robbie Bartlett Trio, Audio Addiction, The Unlimited Band.
Tuesday — Joe DeBow Band, Sessions, Eight Inch Elvis.
Wednesday — Yes Pilot, Naked Garden, Velcro Pygmies.
Thursday — Mudcat Blues Band, Slinky Jenkins, Jeni Carr & TwangTown.
Next Friday — The Fiasco Brothers, Moonshine Millionaires, Soul Circus.
Bill Callahan, Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Road (Thursday, 9, $15). Callahan has been coming to Louisville for 20 years, and this is not his first Derby show. It’s fun to imagine that the famously downbeat singer closes down South Seventh Street while making it rain. Flat Foot and Shedding open.
Jackyl’s Derby Eve concert is part of the annual Mother of All Derby Week Parties at Phoenix Hill Tavern, 644 Baxter Ave., which runs Wednesday through next Saturday. Most of the shows are inside, highlighted by a two-night stand from The Velcro Pygmies on Thursday and Derby Eve. Jackyl and Aranda will be outside, however, with a 7 p.m. start and a $20 cover.
J Boogie, The Black Madonna, OKDeejays, 2100 S. Preston St. (Derby Eve, 11 p.m., $5 advance, $7 day of show). J Boogie, or Justin Boland, is routinely voted one of San Francisco’s top DJs. The Black Madonna is Marea Stamper, a Lexington native and University of Louisville graduate, who has a fast-growing rep. OKDeejays are, as always, awesome.
Lucero, Langhorne Slim and the Law, Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Road (Derby Eve, 9, $18 advance, $21 day of show). Louisville can never, ever get enough of Lucero’s heart-on-its-collective-sleeves brand of Memphis rock ’n’ roll, and Slim is a huge bonus. This one has all kinds of baby-making potential.