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Cinder & Smoke Fest Delivers A Community Effort That Felt More Like A Family Reunion Than A Music Festival

If you’re reading this, thank you. Here at Capture Kentucky, building a strong community of like-minded individuals who share their affinity for Kentucky is the core of what we are trying to do. From that simple idea, the Cinder & Smoke Fest was born and I don’t think we could have ever imagined the outpouring of love that took place at Proud Mary BBQ on Sunday. Especially for an event in its first year with a small budget and a free show. For me, it was validation for what we’re doing. I feel that people are seeing the benefits of us all working together and it’s a beautiful thing.

My goal was to create an opportunity for artists that I felt deserved a bigger spotlight. I wanted to do so by making sure the artists were taken care of and walked away in a better position than when they arrived, that was priority number one for me. I don’t have some magical endless budget, so I knew that I would need a partner. That’s when Austin Brashear, who is a co-owner of Austin City Saloon, suggested that I reach out to Emilee Sierp and the folks at Proud Mary BBQ. Emilee saw the benefit of what I was doing and was almost instantly onboard. We had many conversations and a few setbacks, like Mother Nature forcing a rescheduled date, but Emilee never told me no about anyone or anything I asked for. To have someone that you had just met was amazing, but that spirit is exactly what makes Kentucky great. Her people amaze me on a daily basis.

I wanted to build Cinder & Smoke as organically as possible. So when I began researching acts, I didn’t look at how many followers an artist has on Facebook or how many streams they have on Spotify. That stuff, from a business aspect is important, but I wanted Cinder & Smoke, much like my photography and everything at Capture Kentucky, to associated with quality. Quality music. Quality food. Quality people. That aspect is by far what I’m most proud of.

As for the show, where do I even begin? If you haven’t been to Proud Mary, it is a really cool spot, right beside the Kentucky River underneath the Clays Ferry Bridge in Lexington. The upstairs level has seating and a small indoor stage with garage doors that lead onto the patio. The “backyard” is where we were able to set up. With some trees for shade, some sand for the kiddos to play in, a bar for the beverages and a stage for the music we were situated in the absolute perfect environment for what many folks said felt much more like a family reunion than a music festival. For me, there is no greater compliment than that.

The bands that were chosen were incredibly kind and gave us every ounce of their energy on a rather hot Sunday. We had a few small hiccups here and there, but for the most part, we were able to stay on time and deliver what we promised to the artists, the fans and the patrons at Proud Mary. Despite Mother Nature’s efforts to derail us in July, we regrouped and had a blast.

Sour Cream opened up the day. These fellas are very young, but extremely talented. While they may have been a little loud and rowdy for the 1 PM Church crowd, they delivered one of the more energetic sets of the day. With their sound rooted in the blues and the lineage of The Kentucky Headhunters, Black Cat Bone and Taildragger in their blood, this talented trio is going to become a force to be reckoned with. I am so thankful that Proud Mary allowed me to give these young men a shot.

Sour Cream:

Bedford was up next, they may be college students, but their sound is way beyond their years as well. With a Classic Rock ‘N’ Roll sound that somehow feels fresh, Bedford has the opportunity to show folks the way things should be done. When you think back to classic bands like The Eagles, they were loaded with vocalists and their harmonies are timeless because of it. Bedford has four members, all four are vocalists. So when they all come together, you just can’t help but be drawn in. Add in a very aggressive and energetic set and you’ve got one heckuva show to enjoy.

I’m not sure my words can really convey Bedford’s energy, so here are some photos to help drive home my point.


Luna And The Mountain Jets are essentially local royalty. Husband and wife, David and Teresa Prince, have impacted Kentucky in ways that few can or ever will. Through their careers as teachers, as well as their music, these two folks have given Kentucky their everything. They’re two of my favorite folks on the planet and I’m certainly not alone in that thinking.

David and Teresa, Chico and Luna, Laid Back and Honey, whatever you call them, their Spirits and Love bring people together. Look no further than when Bedford gathered together to do a little improv dancing during David’s performance of the Laid Back Country Picker’s “Magoffin County Cadillac”. This was one of my favorite moments from the entire day. The dancing, the smiles, the love, the silliness were the perfect example of why I was honored to have these folks on the bill.

Luna And The Mountain Jets:

Sean Whiting was up next. When we had to reschedule because of Mother Nature, we moved from a Saturday to a Sunday and in doing so, the decision was made to move the sets back an hour. Due to some miscommunication, Sean and his band were a little late. Now I only tell you that for one simple reason. We are all usually guilty of being our own worst critic. Lord knows I beat myself up when I make a mistake. Sean was doing the same. We’re all human. So I just wanted to say publicly that no one was upset with anyone and I tried my best to convey that to Sean and thankfully, he finally relaxed.

In doing so, he nearly brought the house down. Sean likely has one of the most powerful Male voices in all of Kentucky. Think of him this way, if the voices of Chris Stapleton and Paul Rodgers from Free/Bad Company were to somehow magically combine as one, you would end up mighty close to the sound of Sean Whiting.

I personally can’t wait to see Sean perform again soon!

Sean Whiting:

Next up were Short & Company. Jeremy Short has been a staple in and around the music scene for some time, but he had never stepped out front to be the leader of a band. Short & Company is the direct result of that process. A classic Blues sound with tasteful playing is the tip of the iceberg with Jeremy.

He grew up in Church, so there’s a certain cadence about his delivery at times, not too distant from that of the old hymns we all know and love.

The two times that Jeremy has been a part of our shows, I have been approached by musicians asking me who he is. That’s truly a testament to the tasty skills that this young man possesses on his guitar.

Plus, the mustache and sunglasses. I mean, come on, aren’t those some cool photos?!

Short & Company:

It’s difficult to categorize Johnny Conqueroo and if I’m completely honest, that’s exactly why I love them so much. I was asked to describe their sound by a gentleman at the sand bar. He had just missed their set and his friend was telling him how much he loved the band. I said what I always do, “If a punk band wrote a blues album for the soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino film, that’s the sound of Johnny Conqueroo.”

This trio are always a highlight for me and Sunday was definitely no different. The drumming of Wils Quinn is the only drummer that I could ever imagine backing guitarist/vocalist Grant Curless and the pocket playing of Shawn Reynolds. I personally think that these fellas got into a little bit of ole Colonel Sanders 11 secret herbs and spices. Their sound really shouldn’t work, but it somehow does. Just ask anyone there on Sunday!

Johnny Conqueroo:

Mr. Nicholas Jamerson needs zero introduction. As part of the duo Sundy Best, he made a name for himself and they toured extensively before decided to move on from the project. Now a solo artist, Nicholas is finding his footing with as a singer/songwriter role for this chapter of his musical journey.

He delivered an hour-long acoustic set that only featured Nicholas, his guitar and the occasional harmonica. There is beauty in simplicity, especially in music, so I really don’t have to say much about the set.

Stripped down arrangements accompanied the wavering voice that Nicholas delivered and in an environment such as that, you get to see, hear and feel each emotion. It’s much more of an intimate performance and one that I don’t think many folks will take for granted.

Nicholas Jamerson:

The last band of the night, happens to be a band that is as big of an ambassador for Kentucky and Kentucky music than just about any artist you’ll ever meet. The folks in Jericho Woods don’t produce a gritty sound. They aren’t coal miners like the sounds of say a Tyler Childers or Tom T. Hall, but their sound is a different Kentucky sound. One of farmers, blue collar workers that live in a bit more flat area of Kentucky.

Lying somewhere between Country and Southern Rock, Jericho Woods deliver songs that anyone can enjoy and enjoy they did. The folks that were able to stick around late enough were treated to a fantastic performance. The performance that drew the most questions directed at me from those in attendance. See, being from a different part of Kentucky, these folks aren’t as well known around as some of their counterparts, and that is where the magic lies in what we do here at Capture Kentucky. We are able to bridge those gaps created by distance, genre and scenes.

As I mentioned, I chose this lineup based on quality and Jericho Woods finished the night as one huge exclamation point to the goals that we were able to achieve. Always the consummate professionals, the band never missed a beat when the sound threw a breaker during their set. The only speakers that were working happened to be their stage monitors. They played on. They continued to build momentum and at the moment the song was about to take off, POP! the power came back on and they were off to the races.

For an idea of the energy of Jericho Woods, check out their performance of the Allman Brothers classic, “Midnight Rider.” Please ignore the notification sounds from my phone though. I accidentally turned the sounds back on and couldn’t hear them until I watched the video back. Lol

Jericho Woods:

Our good friend, Kenny Cummings, came to Cinder & Smoke and conducted interviews with the artists. We love Kenny dearly, so check out his work over on YouTube!

Several of the artists were kind enough to allow us to use their music and a few performances for our recap video. So feel free to check that out and get ready, because this was just our first year with Cinder & Smoke. We’re in it to win it and we can’t wait until next year. See ya then!

Cinder & Smoke 2018 Recap Video: