There are few things in this world that I love more than listening to music outdoors. And going to a music festival is actually something I enjoy doing by myself. My idea of a good festival is seeing as many bands as possible even if that means not watching each act’s full set. So I like to be able to go where I want when I want and not have to negotiate with a companion.
But there are a few acts playing Forecastle that will compel me to stay for the entire set.
5. Jenny Lewis
I loved her in Rilo Kiley, and she just released the sweetest and most biting song about her biological clock called “Just One of the Guys.” The video stars actors Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart and Brie Larson doing their best “bro” impersonations. Joe Levy, editor of Rolling Stone, said that Jenny Lewis is the best songwriter working today. Hyperbole? Just barely.
4. Brett Dennen
I saw Dennen a couple years ago at Headliner’s, and there’s nothing I don’t like about this guy. His songs are catchy and poppy. He’s a ball of energy, is like 8 feet tall and looks like a red-headed Muppet. I kind of want to be his best friend.
3. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
This is my kind of music. Horn section. Backup singers. The Motown/Staxx sound. It’s hard to believe this band hasn’t been around for 50 years. Jones is a powerful performer even when she claims to be feeling weak — she toured the talk shows and performed just days after her final chemo treatment for pancreatic cancer.
2. Dwight Yoakam
I’ve seen Yoakam live a couple of times, and it’s always a pleasure. His honky tonk sound is country music for people who don’t like country music. I promise you, you know way more Yoakam songs than you think you do. The 56-year-old performer still brings charm and energy to every performance. And hey, he was born in Kentucky, so welcome home our native son. (And hoo boy, he was just awful — in a good way — in “Sling Blade.”)
1. The Soul Rebels
When Forecastle made the lineup announcement and I heard this name on WFPK, I literally (and yes I know the meaning of that word) jumped up from my desk and performed a rather embarrassing victory dance. My favorite New Orleans band was finally coming to Louisville. I moved here from New Orleans in 2006, and while the Soul Rebels have toured the world since, they’ve never made it here.
The Soul Rebels, or the Soul Rebels Brass Band, were described by the Village Voice as “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” The eight-person brass band started because some young members of the traditional Olympia Brass Band wanted to play the music they heard on the radio. It’s brass band music crossed with soul, hip-hop, funk and pop.
When they’re not touring, the band has a Thursday night residency at Le Bon Temps Roulez, a Magazine St. bar in New Orleans. Just about any time I didn’t have to work on a Friday (they typically don’t go on til after 11 p.m.), that was my spot.
This music sounds like happiness to me. You can’t not dance to the Soul Rebels. Check them out. You deserve it.
And yeah, I know I don’t have any headliners on this list, and that’s not me trying to be cooler-than-thou. I’m just not all that excited about any of them. You may begin your lecture about how I’m out of my mind … now.
Have fun, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.