The country star Tyler Childers, a native of nearby Lawrence County, Ky., passes through Mountain Stage on the program's 36th anniversary.
From the same fertile Kentucky music scene that gave us kindred country spirits like Ricky Skaggs and Larry Cordle, Childers' profile has grown exponentially since his first appearance on Mountain Stage in 2015.
A once bow tie-wearing kid singing songs wise beyond his years, Childers armed himself early in his career with an all-star band from neighboring Huntington, W.Va., where his musical career took hold. Together, they quickly built credentials at bars, clubs and various festivals throughout the region.
Introducing Childers at the December show, which sold out in minutes, host Larry Groce said he knew two things when he first heard him in 2014: "Number one, I wanted to get him on Mountain Stage and number two, I knew the potential for him was unlimited — and that has been proven."
Fresh off the launch of Country Squire, his RCA Records debut that earned a 2020 Grammy nomination, Childers and the band immediately started "turning those songs into 2x4s," nail-gunning "Country Squire," "Bus Route" and the gospel-soaked "Creeker" with a workman-like ethic of spit, polish and precision. That last song — and really all of Childers' offerings — came served with an earnest mountain-hewn urgency that landed like The Stanley Brothers giving a Pentecostal altar call.
After a quick "thank you," Childers and his blue-collar band dug the heels of their work boots back into this hearty 10-song set with "All Your'n," the keyboard soaked love song and single from Country Squire, before offering up two masterfully-written songs from his previous album Purgatory: "Feathered Indians" and "Born Again."
Showcasing why Childers and the band have rocked festivals from Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza, guitarists James Barker and Jesse Wells let their amplifiers bleed, rolling clean from "Born Again" into their fuzz-rippling raucous take on "Tulsa Turnaround," the rare 1971 gem by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. Then they downshifted into the quiet, emotional build-up of "Shake The Frost," one of Childers' many songs that often gets the audience's heartfelt sing-a-long treatment.
After "Matthew," a bluegrass song about his brother-in-law, Childers stood alone on the stage, staring into and shouting down the double barrel-blasting of pain found in "Nose on the Grindstone," field dressing the guts of the opioid epidemic down to the bone.
Tyler Childers and The Food Stamps are on tour with fellow Kentucky artist Sturgill Simpson through May. Childers and his non-profit Hope In the Hills will present the third annual Healing Appalachia concert on Sept. 26, 2020 at the State Fair of West Virginia. Proceeds go to non-profit groups fighting opioid addiction in Appalachia.
- "Country Squire"
- "Bus Route
- "All Your'n"
- "Feathered Indians"
- "Born Again"
- "Tulsa Turnaround"
- "Shake the Frost"
- "Nose On The Grindstone"
All songs written by Tyler Childers except "Tulsa Turnaround," written by Alex Harvey and Larry Collins.
Tyler Childers: vocal and acoustic guitar; Craig Berletic: bass; Rod Elkins: drums; James Barker: electric guitar, pedal steel; Jesse Wells: fiddle, mandolin, baritone; Chase Lewis: keys.