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Kentucky Concerts & Events

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The Southeastern state of Kentucky brings to mind the Appalachian Mountains, the Kentucky Derby, and bourbon, but its musical presence is long overdue for some praise. Read below to learn how Kentucky’s emerging venues, ascending talent, and unyielding radio presence encourage a great concert environment.

By opening new venues, Kentucky expands concert opportunities for both listeners and musicians.

Although underground music scenes around the country are fueled by a collection of garages, basements, and other eclectic spaces, official, dedicated music spaces are invaluable to supporting a music community. In Kentucky, there seems to be a surge in the number of venue spaces. More options in environment, size, price, aesthetic, genre, and performers mean that listers are able to tailor their night out to their tastes. As a generation of older venues shut down, a slew of new faces appeared. Sprouting along familiar, successful venues such as Louisville Palace, Headliners Music Hall, Zanzabar and Kaiju, and others, newer venues offer locals and tourists a sense of abundance.

Odeon, the recent predecessor of Butchertown Pub, has an upscale lounge feel. Bourbon Hall, which has replaced Coyote’s, brings booze by the barrel with a rustic, roomy space that can hold 2,000. Paristown Pointe is a new joint that is still under construction. With a steep price tag will come a world-class music facility capable of holding 2,400 listeners and hopes to host 60 shows per year. It is unclear if the venue will be geared towards local, regional, national, or international artistry, but the premise is exciting to Kentucky’s residents.

Kentucky is an underrated state in Southern music culture, home to ascending musicians in the music industry.

Kentucky’s prominent music cities are usually overshadowed in larger conversation about music, succumbing to the popularity of nearby neighbors including Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis, and Atlanta. However, Kentucky’s influence in music is profound. Country and folk artists such as Loretta Lynn, John Conlee, and Will Oldham come for Kentucky, contributing to a rich history of immigrant settler music, miner music, and more.

Lately, Kentucky’s role in Southern music has grown, particularly in the country genre. Some equate these developments to those of the Outlaw era, in which musicians challenged the status quo with an independent spirit. Chris Stapleton from Lexington is one of these new-era musicians, reaching sales and concert turnout on the level of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. American singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson is another big name these days. Born in Jackson, his work is in the way of Americana, alternative country, rock, and soul.

In addition to these big stage performers, Kentucky’s local and regional input has expanded, too. Tyler Childers, Angaleena Presley, Kelsey Waldon, Wheeler Walker Jr., Justin Wells, Dillon Carmichael, Kyle Fields, and Jeremy Pinnell are some of the Kentucky natives to keep an eye on at the moment. Attend their concerts to experience Kentucky music culture.

Kentucky’s live music offerings include radio concert experiences.

Of course, concert venues range in size from tiny to expansive and everywhere in between. However, one often overlooked source of smaller concerts are radio concerts. Often held in small groups to ensure optimal sound quality, these live recordings are a concert like no other. In Kentucky, the radio music industry is developed, meaning there are opportunities to a lucky few to experience this intimate, recorded concert experience.

Stacy Owen, a professional in the music and radio industry, now works at WFPK as Program Director. Having listened to tons of these types of concerts especially through the Waterfront Wednesday concert series, she has a difficult time selecting favorites. Still, she has fond memories of My Morning Jacket and Bela Fleck. The folks at WAKY are another radio station serving this unique type of immersive concert experience. For those who cannot attend many concerts in person, listening to a recording or live stream of the performance is the next best thing. WAKY is forward thinking in its approach to radio, being one of the first stations to deviate from top 40 playlists and incite a party atmosphere.