Lexington Music Awards
6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 East Third. $15. (859) 280-2218. Lexingtonlyric.com.
David McLean purposely dreamed small when introducing the Lexington Music Awards. The self-employed musician and guitar instructor designed a way for local artists to celebrate their sense of achievement and community by booking an evening at Natasha's Bistro and Bar for a ceremony, and he would have been thrilled if 50 patrons showed up.
"That's what I really thought was going to happen," McLean says. "Then the count blew up."
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While McLean had ideas for a local music awards show floating about in his mind for the past five years, the idea was put into motion with a Facebook page and blog. That helped establish award categories as well as gauge public interest in such an undertaking.
"If I got 100 people together, they were going to come up with better ideas than I would on my own," McLean says. "So basically, I started a Facebook page and invited some people on. Before I knew it, it got bigger and bigger.
"I just said, 'Look. Here's my idea.' For categories, I put them out there and everybody debated them. I'm still steering the ship, so I make the call. Anything that falls apart is on me, but I also relied on a lot of really good ideas. At the end of the day, nobody was perfectly happy which means we struck the right balance."
The Facebook group (on.fb.me/1zhhXsV) quickly grew to 300 participants and has now passed the 800 mark. That meant relocating from Natasha's to the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center and whittling the categories and eventual nominees down to a manageable number for a single evening ceremony.
"I will say straight up I agree with critiques I've received of the categories, like how you can't put country with bluegrass and classic rock cover bands with the punk scene," McLean says. "But the reality is I can't pay for 83 categories like the Grammys, and I can't make a viable show locally out of it with 83 categories. So I had to make some hard decisions as far as lumping things together that I'm absolutely aware shouldn't be lumped together. We knew if we didn't, we would never get this off the ground."
The nominations are split into four categories — industry, performance, style and special. Collectively, they cover recognition for musical artists, educators, producers, radio personalities, live sound technicians, music and record stores, instrument repair, community service, lifetime achievement and more.
"We reached out as much as we could to the community on this," McLean says. "For the nominations, everybody could vote. That meant working musicians and people in music retail and recording studios. But I was also dealing with a lot of industry people and was also relying on bands to reach out to their fanbases to get the word out. Then we had to count everything. That took days. Once we got there, we went to the final vote, which was done by nominees only. So that was how we did it: popular vote for the nominations, then nominees only voted in the finals."
To make the ceremony more of an actual show, McLean enlisted some celebrity reinforcements: Kristen Pflum and Bill Meck of WLEX-TV will serve as emcees, presenters will include Laura Kirkpatrick (from America's Top Model) and Dan Wu (Master Chef) along with a string of live performances to be kicked off by saxophonist Miles Osland.
"Of course, I'd like to see this get bigger and maybe even do more than one show a year so that we can open the categories up. But right now, to get it off the ground, we're looking pretty good."
Back to the Moon
All aboard. The Nashville jam-groove-what-have-you troupe Moon Taxi is heading back to Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave., on Thursday.
A longtime favorite of local audiences (as shown by its headliner status at last summer's inaugural Moontower Festival), the band is still touring behind its 2013 album Mountains Beaches Cities. The record is a more diversified, song-oriented work that follows the streamlined approach of the 2012 critical breakthrough record, Cabaret. But fans in search of some fresh grooves should check out Live From Austin, a new digital concert EP Moon Taxi is offering free through Bittorrent.com. For details, go to the band's website at Ridethemoontaxi.com.
No word yet as to when new studio music will arrive. The band is devoting much of the immediate future to touring with an itinerary that includes stops at such high profile festivals as Bonnaroo and the Governor's Ball.
For tickets to Moon Taxi's return show on Thursday (10 p.m.; $18 in advance, $20 day of show), go to Cosmic-charlies.com.