In person entertainment returns to Lexington’s event venues

Dark Moon Hollow band member Trey Reinhart plays guiter and sings during a show on April 10, 2021, at The Burl distillery and event venue in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Martha McHaney | Staff

Callie Justice

Live entertainment has made a long-awaited return to Lexington. With restrictions, venues are able to reopen and bring the lively atmosphere back Lexingtonians were once accustomed to.

Comedy Off Broadway has reopened its doors, allowing guests to have a much-needed laugh away from a digital screen. This weekend’s headliner April Macie made the trip to Lexington to share some of her famous jokes.

Macie was a finalist on NBC’s “The Last Comic Standing” in 2006 and voted “Funniest and Hottest” comic in 2008 on Howard Stern’s show. She has appeared on E! Entertainment, Snoop Dogg’s: Bad Girls of Comedy, Sirius and XM Radio and Access Hollywood. She and is currently starring in the Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready Comedy Special on Netflix.

The well-known comedian opened the show with the head turning line “let’s talk about wieners.” A combination of sex jokes and self-depreciation made up her set on Saturday in Lexington.

“I’m just happy to be working again. I feel like coronavirus has given an appreciation for what I do, making people laugh. I’m just happy not to be looking at a bird feeder anymore,” Macie said.

Macie brought the audience into her show – the front row became a dangerous place for those who do not know what to do when a joke is made about them. One audience member brought his mother to the show, giving Macie a clear opening and likely leading to an awkward car ride home.

Cari and Adam Gurth moved to Lexington three months before COVID-19 and had attended Comedy Off Broadway once before the start of the pandemic. They were happy to be back laughing along with Macie’s jokes.

“I thought the show was great. I thought the headliner was very funny and I’m glad I didn’t come with my parents this time,” said Amelia Spanier, who has attended the venue’s shows before.

Macie, glass of white wine in hand, was a clear pro and kept the audience laughing even after she left the stage. But stand-up is not for everyone, and comedy was not the only offering available for entertainment-minded Lexingtonians on Saturday night. Bluegrass band Dark Moon Hollow took the stage at The Burl, a live music venue located in the distillery district.

The sold-out concert had guests dancing and singing to county and bluegrass music. Dark Moon Hollow is a five-piece bluegrass/newgrass band, formed in 2017 by a group of friends. They are two-time nominees of the Lexington Bluegrass Band of the Year.

Musical group Vessel also made an appearance at The Burl event, attended by Dustyn Sams and Gina Ratliff.

“We are only 23 and 22 but we are an old couple coming out for a date night,” Sams said. Like many of the attendees, the couple was happy to be around others enjoying live music and drinks. They sat a table near the back by the arcade area but had a great view of the stage.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come back to a place like this,” Ratliff said. “It’s good to be able to come out and socialize with people.”

Corey Boggs and friends had reserved a table at the concert where they chatted and enjoyed a close view of the stage.

“I like that we have our own space. We have our own tables, it is kind of odd being around a large group again.” said Boggs. The lively positive energy of the concert left all with a smile on their and drink in hand.

Some sat at tables they had reserved while others walked around dancing and socializing with old and new friends. Holly Kelly has attended many events at The Burl and was happy that the venue moved outside to comply with COVID restrictions and provide a bigger outdoor space.

“Without COVID they would have never done the parking lot theme, and I actually really enjoy it because you can see the stage. Before we crammed into the building and it’s not a high enough stage for you to see everything. I think this is a benefit to get a bigger crowd with more space and better visuals,” Kelly said.

Even for regular concert-goers, Saturday’s performance was their first concert out since the lockdown. The music and atmosphere were helped along by a simple gratitude for live music that made Saturday’s show one to remember.

“This is my therapy,” Holly Kelly said. “It’s good to see the light show, it’s good to run into old friends, it’s good to dance. Thank God the weather held up for us, but I think this is my dose of medication right here.”