It all began with a chicken-or-the-egg scenario.
In the case of the long running Lexington bluegrass, jam and groove unit known as Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, it centered on a project that would define not only the band’s music but the community of fans and fellow artists that have helped it thrive. Of course, there was also the matter of financing such an endeavor.
So which came first? Actually, the financing did. BCLP went with the popular online fundraising program Kickstarter, which seeks donations from independent contributors. With a means of getting the project off the ground, what would the project actually be? A new album? A regional tour? No, what BCLP banjoist Travis Young envisioned was the band’s very own festival. Thus, The Moonshiner’s Ball was born. The event has its inaugural run this weekend at Homegrown Hideaways in Berea.
“We had the idea collectively as a band of running a Kickstarter, but we couldn’t agree on what we wanted it to be,” Young said. “It’s nice to ask everyone to help you make a CD. There’s value in that. But I just felt a festival was a win-win for everyone. So we ran the Kickstarter for the event and went about 150% on it. The target was $5,000. We ended up getting over $8,000. We were well on our way at that point.
“We’ve been playing music in this area for probably 12 years now as Blind Corn Liquor Pickers. We’ve toured a fair amount and have gotten to know a lot of musicians across the state and across the region. So in many ways this was the perfect format for being able to bring together this community that has formed around our music – be it the people who have come out to our shows or other musicians we have played with and collaborated with.”
There is plenty of kinship in that community, too. BCLP’s original frontman, Todd Anderson, went on to form the Paducah band Solid Rock’It Boosters, which will perform at the Ball. Anderson also served in the rural roots-savvy Legendary Shack Shakers, whose founder, J.D. Wilkes, will also be on hand this weekend with his current swamp rock troupe, the Dirt Daubers. Closer to home comes former Lexingtonian Mark Heidinger, better known nationally as folk stylist Vandaveer. His connection with Young is as personal as it is musical.
“Vandaveer is an interesting pick because Mark is an old college buddy of mine. We both went to Transy. I played basketball with Mark in the back yard when he was still in high school.”
But Young, who serves as producer for The Moonshiner’s Ball, said the scope of the festival goes beyond a roster of like minded artists and friends. He hopes the Ball can grow into an event where local, national and regional acts can be presented – and appreciated – equally.
“When we play at show at Al’s Bar, which is pretty much our home base, we can look out from the stage and recognize all these faces. These are people we know primarily through the band. They’re family to us. So the idea of taking the community and expanding it is very appealing.
“But the big picture goal is to spotlight Kentucky bands. That wouldn’t be exclusive. I would love to have great national touring acts play the festival someday. But I would still like to put them side by side with Kentucky artists. There is talent here that equals anything anywhere, so let’s showcase it.”
The Moonshiner’s Ball will be held May 9-11 at Homegrown Hideaways, 500 Floyd Branch Rd. in Berea. Performers include Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, Vandaveer and J.D. Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers. Tickets are $50 (weekend pass advance), $65 (weekend pass at the gate). For more information, go to : www.themoonshinersball.com.