Lexington awards eclectic music scene

This article originally appeared in the Kentucky Kernel.

With award season in full swing, Lexington will be rolling out the red carpet on Jan. 29 to honor members of its thriving music scene during the third annual Lexington Music Awards held at the Lyric Theatre.

The event is organized by David McLean, who performs with Gone to the Dogs, teaches guitar at SDML Academy of Guitar and owns Skinny Devil Music Lab, which works in all phases of music, including instruction, performance, booking, recording, producing and more. According to McLean, the idea was something he’d discussed for years, albeit in the context of how difficult it’d be to accomplish.

“Being a self-employed musician, I’m probably a tad less risk averse (and a lot dumber) than the average person, so i figured I’d just do it,” McLean said.

Top honors at the LMAs go to the album of the year, which not only highlights some of Lexington’s top bands, but also the many recording studios in town, including producers and engineers that help curate the magic behind the scenes. Album of the year nominees include The Wooks debut record ‘Little Circles’, All the Little Pieces’ ‘Legend of Lavinia Fisher’, Warren Byrom’s ‘Heavy Makes You Happy’ and Eric Bolander’s ‘Postcards to Myself’. 

The Wooks are up for a bevy of other collective and individual awards, including for best song with the track “County Girl”, best country band, and best bassist with band member Roddy Puckett. Fiddler Jesse Wells and banjoist Arthur Hancock are also nominated in the performance category under the strings genre along with renowned cellist Ben Sollee.

Aside from the artists, 2016 was a groundbreaking year for many of Lexington’s music venues. Among them were The Burl and Willie’s Locally Known, two locales nominated for best venue at the LMAs. The Burl opened in July and has brought a plethora of well-established artists to central Kentucky since it’s opening, including My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel, Wheeler Walker Jr., Murder by Death and Blackfoot Gypsies, among others. 

After residing for years on Lexington’s north side, Willie’s Locally Known relocated to Southland Drive last year, adding more space, an upgraded food menu and music every night of the week. Other nominees for top venue include Twisted Cork and Austin City Saloon.

The Lexington Music Awards begin at 6 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the Lyric Theatre. The Twiggenburys will perform at the show as the house band.


 Female vocalist: Beth MankelRachel CroweLissy TaylorGail Wynters
Male vocalist: Randy Warner, Deven RobertsShawn HatchellCorey Cross

 Rick Warner, Jeff Frohlich, Ryan McQuerry, Robby Cosenza

Guitarist: Todd Striklin, Cliff Jones, Zach Lafferty, Ben Lacy

Bassist: Roddy Puckett, Robert Trott, Steve Nall, Danny Cecil

Keyboardist: Palmer Tolly, Raleigh Dailey, Beth Mankel, Lucas Hippe

Wind/brass: Miles Osland, Paul Osbourne, Kenny Henry, ToniMarie Marchioni

Strings: Maggie Lander, Jesse Wells, Arthur Hancock, Ben Sollee


Song of the year: “County Girl” by The Wooks“Back to You” by Ray & Whitney“Don’t Tread on Me” by Wild Card“Kentucky Bound” by Greg Austin

Album of the year: “Little Circles,” The Wooks“Legend of Lavinia Fisher,” All The Little Pieces“Postcards to Myself,” Eric Bolander“Heavy Makes You Happy,” Warren Byrom

Community ServiceEaLoudSongwriter’s Round (Twisted Cork)Devine Carama (Believing in Forever)WUKY

Critic’s Choice AwardUniversity of Kentucky’s Wildcat Pep/Marching BandRobby CosenzaThe Bats


Folk: Tyler ChildersRay AdamsWhitney AckeMichael Johnathon

Blues: Tee Dee YoungRonn CrowderRachel CroweNick Stump

Classical: Lexington PhilharmonicBeth MankelYoonie ChoiLexington Singers

Country: Avery CrabtreeThe WooksTaylor HughesGreg Austin

Funk/Reggae: Dublove Reggae BandDriftwood GypsyPrime CutDeBraun Thomas Trio

Hip-hop: Hybrid-the-RapperDevine CaramaC.R.E.A.M. Enterprize, Fredd C

Jazz: Miles OslandSoljamYoung at HeartRaleigh Dailey

Pop: Lissy TaylorBeth MankelRhyan SinclairBen Sollee

Rock: Grimsley RoseBent Penny BandGraveyard RomeosRadio 80

Singer-songwriter: Taylor HughesLissy TaylorTyler ChildersWarren Byrom

Cover Band: Graveyard RomeosBent Penny BandLexington Lab BandRebel Without a Cause


Venue: Twisted Cork, The Burl, Austin City Saloon, Willie’s

Store: Willcutt Guitars, Willis Music, Doo Wop Shop, Don Wilson Music

Company: CD Central, Pops Resale, Cream Enterprises, The Album

Studio: Sneak Attack (Jason Groves), Charlie’s Tone Lab (Michael Vandermark), Long Island Recording (Steve Nall), Third Sky Studio (Richard Easterling)

Educator: Rob Rawlings (BCHS), Beth Mankel (Studio 88), Sara Holroyd (UK), Bill Kite (HCHS)

Live sound: Wallace “Gator” Harrison, Matthew Florez, James Rutledge, Phillip Osbourne

DJ: Kenny Cummings, Max Corona, Deadair Dennis, Jay Alexander

Gear Repair: RS Guitarsworks, Willcutt Guitars, Hurst Music, Audio Electronics


Gail Wynters

Les Taylor

Greg Austin

Sara Holroyd

Larry Redmon

John Michael Montgomery

Dwight Yoakam

Nick Lawrence

Merle Travis

Homer Ledford

Winners of the lifetime achievement award were selected on Jan. 20 and include Dwight Yoakam, John Michael Montgomery, Homer Ledford, Nick Lawrence and Gail Wynters.

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