For a long time, Lexington, KY’s music scene languished, seemingly never able to realize it’s identity and enjoy the talents of those in this area. There were spurts that gave it life, but it seemed that no one knew what could be done to bring everyone together. In the last 15 years, the scene has seen some amazing musicians, many of which picked up and left to make their mark elsewhere. The loss of the Dame certainly set back the scene for years, but right now the scene is vibrant and booming.
Sure some venues have survived and even thrived, but it’s the last five years that has built a community that really supports artists. Maybe it’s all the local craft beers. Maybe it’s the plethora of venues we have once again. Maybe it’s just a shift in culture. Maybe it’s the success of so many great Kentucky artists that rekindled a spark for live music. Or maybe it’s just that Lexington found its’ identity. Craft beer, bourbon and venues that know their audience have all helped build it up, but at its core, I feel it’s the talent that has grown immensely. The music is now its own force to be reckoned with and artists like Sundy Best have brought people together to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
With the rise of the Outlaw, Sturgill Simpson (Who saw limited early success in Lexington), it seems more and more people have turned their attention away from the shiny polished radio stars that are spoon-fed to us by big money labels. There are still people who fill Rupp Arena for a Luke Bryan or Blake Shelton, but there are many who go out and support the artists that sing about the same people and scenes they see every day. Artists that represent who we are as a city.
Lexington’s identity has drastically changed and I feel it’s all for the better. Gone is the city with a small town feel that seemingly only capitalized on its horses and collegiate sports team. Lexington feels like a much larger city now. There’s more culture, more boutique restaurants, better venues and shopping that give us more of a reason to step out and enjoy.
Having said all of that, our music has evolved as well. Somewhere between traditional bluegrass and throwback country, Lexington found their musical identity. Tyler Childers is the perfect example of that statement. He has taken his honest sound and introduced it to the masses and people just can’t seem to get enough of him. That bolds well for everyone in this scene, because Tyler has made it his goal to raise the stature of all those that have helped elevate him.
One band that leans more towards traditional bluegrass or what some call new grass, is The Wooks. We’ve seen them multiple times this year here at Capture Kentucky. Those were before their recent lineup changes though, so given the opportunity, we made our way to an old venue, that’s been reborn. Cosmic Charlie’s new location is a much nicer venue and on this night, they played host to the first night of a two-night stand for The Wooks.
The idea is simple, but unique and shines as the out of the box thinking that has helped this scene thrive again. The first night is an acoustic set of bluegrass tunes, supported by The Local Honeys. The second night is all about “The Electric Wooks”. An electric set supported by The Other Brothers.
The Local Honeys opened this night. These lovely ladies have made it their mission to not only create traditional bluegrass music, but preserve it. Both are graduates from Morehead State where they received their Bachelor’s degrees in traditional music. If you enjoy a great banjo, some beautiful fiddlin, an acoustic guitar and a little twang in your sirens’ song…these girls will be your new favorite band. Their musicianship is top notch and their personalities are some of the best around, as they’d be the first to tell ya that they’re just some country gals doin what they love. I know I can certainly get behind that mission statement! The Local Honeys will be hitting the road very soon with another artist that this scene has been extremely kind to, as they tour with Colter Wall in the new year.
Next up were The Wooks and this night was a special one for them, as this show marked the first official appearance of their newest member, Aaron Bibelhauser. Arthur Hancock has slid over to a second acoustic guitar in the band and Aaron has taken over the banjo and sometimes vocals. I’ll be honest, I was worried that the band may take a step back after the departure of two great musicians in Jesse Wells (Who joined forces with Tyler Childers) and Galen Green, but I’m so very happy to say that they’re as good as ever.
The core of Arthur, CJ Cain and Roddy Puckett make up the engine in this well-oiled machine and Aaron is a great new addition. On this night, that engine was revved up to the red-line with some good ole toe-tappin, square dancin, beer drinkin bluegrass music. The band blistered their way through many favorites and debuted several different songs to their set, including a brand new tune titled, “Me And The Stars”. That track was recorded in Clay City, Kentucky and will be a preview single to their upcoming new album. I was really hoping to hear something new, just so I could see the direction of the new material, and I was definitely not disappointed with “Me And The Stars”.
Other highlights included “Girl From The Country”, “Moonlight Midnight”, “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen Cover), “Love Gone Cold”, a stirring rendition of Tyler Childers’ “Messed Up Kid” sang by CJ and a couple of tunes with The Local Honeys. The set ended with Arthur’s favorite song, the Robert Earl Keen classic, “The Road Goes On Forever”. Those lyrics are the perfect way to end the night (And this article), because they’re so very true for the life of a musician. So here’s a toast hoping that The Wooks can stay on the road forever and that the party truly never ends!