Obit: Patrick McNeese played in restaurants, bars in Lexington
The definition of the art of Patrick McNeese requires a little precision.
You might be referring to the music he created in restaurants and clubs over the past four decades – a flexible mix of jazz and pop, but ultimately a sound he rarely liked to pin a label on.
But since McNeese was equally comfortable with a canvas and a video camera, you could talk about a number of visual art projects and / or films, the last of which served as his profession.
There were also works designed to appeal to both ears and eyes, such as in recordings like the 2018 album “Big Fish Moon”. The recording featured 11 songs credited to the group that bore McNeese’s name and one of his playful surreal paintings as cover art.
A third-generation Lexingtonian and longtime favorite with the local public, McNeese passed away on December 29 after a long battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.
âHe was a dedicated and dedicated artist, both as a painter and as a songwriter,â said Tom Martin, host of WEKU-FM’s âEastern Standardâ and long-time member of the Patrick McNeese Band. . “And, as many will confirm, he enjoyed a good conversation, especially on world affairs, the human condition, nonsense and irony.”
After attending Christ the King Elementary School and Lexington Catholic High School, McNeese obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky in 1982. In a short time, he worked as a freelance art director for commercials. (including one with acclaimed director Michael Bay) and industry-trained films as well as independent work on motion picture documentaries.
These were his daily tasks. During his off hours, McNeese performed in a rotating assortment of musical projects. He was a featured pianist at the original Alfalfa Restaurant on South Limestone and performed in the all-acoustic Max Alley Five at haunts as old as High on Rose in the 1980s. Most of his recent work, however, has come with the Patrick McNeese Band, where he played primarily guitar with an intergenerational training including Martin on keyboards, Tripp Bratton on percussion, Maggie Lander on violin, Jesse Pena on lead guitar and F. Miles Hanchett on bass.
The band has worked extensively with veteran local producer and engineer Duane Lundy, who oversees the Lexington Recording Company. Lundy has worked with McNeese on three album projects over the past decade and completed a new solo album last month.
âPat was a great collaborator for a producer like me,â Lundy said. âHe was very prepared when he came to the creative table, but left a lot of room for the contribution. Her songs and performances were a direct part of her personalityâ¦ intelligent, emotional and organic.
âWe started each project with a long conversation about the process we were going to go through, which was filled with more abstract images than clear guidelines. Pat was a true artist, whether it was his music or his paintings. He had a great sense of quality control, but never lost the emotional depth of his work. Our relationship has taught me a lot to stay true to my instincts and not to question my artistic choices.
âPatrick had a very distinctive guitar style,â added Martin. âHe admired Joni Mitchell for his unusual chord structures and had an equally distinctive voice. It played and sang and allowed us to research and find our roles to support the lyrics and the mood. You could see her joy as her songs took shape and took on new dimensions.
The last time I saw McNeese was after a performance at the Lexington Opera House. He was not in the audience. I ran into him walking his dog Lola along Short Street. Talk to one of his friends and they’ll likely get a tale of a similar backstage encounter with McNeese on the sidewalks downtown.
A public memorial for McNeese is tentatively planned for the spring.
âMy career never really took off,â McNeese told me in an interview in 2005. âHe continues to move horizontally across many categories. One thing leads to another. What I learned from playing music – all of your musicianship, really – is key when editing a movie, for example. Most of the time you just edit the beats. The timing is so critical.
âThat’s just how I see the world. I always knew I would do different things. My job is to try to keep everything fresh.
This story was originally published January 3, 2022 10:29 a.m.