Our city’s eclectic music festival draws performers from all genres and categories. In-house fan and sometimes-critic Rocko Jerome offers a cheat sheet of can’t-miss performances for anyone heading to this celebrated summer spectacle.

Forecastle takes place on July 13-15th at the Louisville Waterfront. For more information, please visit

It’s one of the biggest annual concerts in the country and a source of pride for Louisville. Every year, music lovers are beside themselves with excitement and anticipation, and this year’s lineup will not disappoint. Although a diverse group of artists is always to be expected at this festival, the class of 2018 includes some of the most beloved and widely recognized names in music today. Here’s a guide to a few of the very best.

Chris Stapleton

Perhaps personifying the eclectic nature of Forecastle better than any other musician, Chris Stapleton is a songwriter who has written songs for artists as diverse as Adele, Brad Paisley, and Sheryl Crow. He’s penned five number one hits including “Never Wanted Nothing More” recorded by Kenny Chesney, “Drink A Beer” made famous by Luke Bryan, and “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” performed by George Strait. He’s the lead vocalist for the powerhouse Bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, and with his potent stage performance, he’s likely to be one of the biggest hits at this year’s show.  

Jenny Lewis

Razor-sharp lyricist and stunning melodist Jenny Lewis’ most recent album, The Voyager, might just be the most powerful of her life. Inspired by a time of tribulation, including the loss of her estranged father and breakup of her band, Rilo Kiley, she took time to decompress and compose a series of personal songs that all speak to a tremendous universal truth that we can all appreciate and reckon with together.

Arcade Fire

Even now, as they are about to end their second decade together, it’s hard not to think of the consistently fresh and exciting Arcade Fire as a new group on the scene. With a continually evolving and energetic sound, the multi-award winning group (including two Grammy wins) might just be one of the biggest bands going today. Fresh off of a huge world tour, they have been described as the greatest live band on the planet. In a setting such as Forecastle, they are sure to shine bright.

Modest Mouse

Indie darlings Modest Mouse have become experts at maintaining a level of success and acclaim while staying true to what first attracted their fans: an aural oddity in songs brimming with emotion that defy categorization. In just six albums over 26 years, the band has become the bar against which all similarly quirky groups are measured, and are an institution for those who enjoy music that challenges their perceptions.

Louisville Leopard Percussionists

This incredibly charming group of over 60 kids, ages 7 to16, from all over Louisville produces a massive sound certain to give you chills. Since 1993, versions of the Leopards have played all over the country and appeared on the albums of artists like My Morning Jacket and Ndugu Chancler. Seeing them perform is always a treat, and at an event the size of Forecastle, it will be absolutely exhilarating.

Father John Misty

Anyone who tells you that modern music is never deep or contemplative hasn’t heard Father John Misty. Singer-songwriter Josh Tilman wears his conscience on his sleeve in extremely literate songs about the challenges of living every day with the foibles of the human condition; his songs are an articulated roadmap of all the miles between contentment and despair. Whether at his piano or standing on stage, his gentle voice and thoughtful lyrics add up to a kind of catharsis that you would not necessarily expect in the context of a performance for a mass audience, and yet it works beautifully.

Posted on 2018-07-07 by Rocko Jerome