Many people likely associate Kentucky with Bourbon Whisky and the South. While these things are relatively true, there are great things happening outside the Bourbon and light southern accents. An example I am most familar with is in Lexington. I have become relatively familiar with the city due to multiple visits, and a brief residence, there due to a great friend of mine, Jonathan Clark, residing there in his mansion. Over the years, with the help of Jonathan, I have discovered a culture of artistic people who don't discount their city because it's relatively small or surrounded by an assuming conservative culture. Below are some great things going on in Lexington that are worth noting.
A Great Radio Station: WRFL is Lexington's local college station, and while I don't like much about the University of Kentucky, this radio station should be the envy of most cities (Even Seattle- Sorry KEXP). I started listening to the station online after Jonathan started DJing a show there and found myself listening more and more. The station operation has a real grungy radio station feel that one would expect for a college station, where their focus is music (mostly outside the mainstream) and not a polished Clear Channel operation.
A Great Art/Music Scene: There are great record shops (CD Central and Pops Resale), music venues (Al's Bar and Cosmic Charlies), and a generally artsy scene one would not expect. Most of this culture ties back to the radio station in some way (the stores are sponsors for WRFL and the artist and shows are featured on the station). One event that took place during my last visit, although I was not present to see it, was the Thriller Parade. The parade features a Micheal Jackson impersonator who dances out the entire Thriller sequence with a mob of zombies who also reenact the music video dance moves through downtown. It's worth noting the whole song is broadcast live from WRFL. Check out this years parade on YouTube.
Great Bars: My favorite bar in town is Charlie Brown's. This place features pitchers of mixed drinks with an old wood bar, tables with random chairs, and couches (in case one wants the living room feel). The best part of the decor is the bookshelf lined walls full of old book available for anyone to browse. Another bar, that seems to be the rage in a lot of places, is an arcade bar called Arcadium. What could be better you ask? Lexington also feature three breweries! Blue Stallion and Country Boy are my favorites, with West Sixth completing the three.
A Coffee Scene: In addition to the above featured businesses, Lexington has a local coffee scene popping up including local coffee bean roasters. My recent visit included a coffee shop, North Lime Coffee & Donuts, that would fit perfectly into Seattle's fabric with the added bonus of no weird looks when one asks for a "coffee". There is one other supposedly good coffee place, A Cup of Common Wealth, that I didn't have the opportunity to visit. While I can't vouch 100% for this place, I am looking forward to stopping by my next visit.
And finally, you guessed it- Lexington features some great architecture, but I'll save that for another post.
So if you ever find yourself in Lexington, don't worry about being bored- just turn on the radio, enjoy some fine beverages, and soak in the culture.