A Lexington Nightlife Institution Lives on in Historic District

busters-2-090401.jpgLEXINGTON, KY. -- A relocated bar and billiards business is helping to revitalize an abandoned warehouse district by turning its historic buildings into a cultural hub of live music.

Jessica and Clark Case took over Buster's and its namesake concrete Doberman statue when they learned that the property as well as the entire block of Lexington's Main Street was slated for demolition to make way for a high-rise project. Their former college hang-out, Buster's, had become a Lexington institution. The couple just couldn't let the place go, so they looked for a facility where they could recreate the bar and billiards hall.

They found what would become Buster's Billiards & Backroom in an 1860s building that was part of the Ashland/Old Tarr Distillery. The 60-acre Lexington Distillery District was home to the first registered distillery in Lexington.

At 11,000 square feet, the facility allowed the Cases to combine the billiards with a state-of-the-art music hall that attracts nationally known mid-sized touring acts. Genres range from country outlaw music, to new wave pop and veteran jam bands.

The couple held their grand opening on Sept. 1. They hope that other businesses will follow to provide new uses for these historic buildings.

But turning an old empty warehouse into a high-caliber music venue was no small task. For starters, the couple knew nothing about lighting. An online search led them to Tennessee Lighting Company and its owner, Ken Patterson.

“It's a very historic place and they wanted to go all out with every aspect of it from lighting to sound,” Patterson said.

The Cases originally planned to use 60 standard PAR cans to light the stage, but after meeting with Patterson, who traveled 175 miles to show the difference LED lighting could make, they changed their minds. The low maintenance, long life and low power demand of LEDs convinced them to make the switch. They were also “astounded with the output of the fixtures,” said Patterson, who ended up installing an all-LED rig consisting of 20 CHAUVET® Legendâ„¢ 6500 moving yokes and 12 COLORdash Par lights.

The COLORdashâ„¢ Par lights “add a lot of depth to the stage and create a good walk-in atmosphere even when the band is not playing,” Patterson said, a veteran designer with more than 30 years in the trade.

“We use the COLORdash down the wall and highlight and spot with the Legend 6500s,” said Grant Berryman, Tech Manager at Buster's. “It's nice that they don't put off all that heat, I know the artists like it,” he said.

Patterson taught Buster's staff how to program the lights, according to Berryman. As bands arrive to play, the crew asks for lighting preferences. “One band came out before the show and they picked out what they wanted for each song – it turned out to be 20 to 30 scenes,” Berryman said.

Co-owner Jessica Case said, “The ease with which we can implement the bands' lighting requests is an added benefit of the system,” even though the lighting is very technical.

“I only know that when I see the lights in action,” Case added, “they are very impressive. “

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