This is going to be a long one, so faint of heart turn back now.
A small controversy has been brewing lately that involves the oh so coveted opening slot for Hank Williams III’s upcoming West Coast Tour. It started when Lucky Tubb was interviewed by Outlaw Radio Chicago, in Episode 74 back before Xmas, and announced that he would be opening the tour. Apparently that news was premature, because when the tour dates came out, former football player turned country act Kyle Turley was slated as the opener.
This was a double letdown for some, because some fans were hoping and expecting to see Lucky Tubb, and a lot of those fans also have some strong opinions about Kyle Turley and his music. Then rumors started flying about how Hank III and Lucky were on the splits, and Hank III wasn’t answering Lucky’s phone calls, prompting Lucky to lose it, jump in his car and drive all the way to Nashville to confront Hank, who refused to see him.
I don’t write a gossip column, and my #1 goal is to keep this scene in tact and moving forward, and with this goal in mind, I sat down with Lucky Tubb after his set at this last weekend’s Cash Bash to talk to him about what had happened, and hopefully clear the air:
I thought that Lucky Tubb said all the right things and he’s a stand up guy for that. There is no doubt he is disappointed that he will not be opening the tour, because he wants to do what is best for his music. Yes, I heard the pause at 4:17 when I referenced Kyle Turley, but again he swallowed his pride :
“If you love Hank then you’ll support the opening act like everyone supported me.”
Which brings us to Kyle Turley.
Some, not all, but some have unfavorable views of Turley because they think his music is pop, because he’s friends with Darius Rucker, because they think he was an asshole when he played football, whatever.
When I first reported that Kyle Turley was getting into country music and playing with Hank III, I honestly wasn’t even paying that much attention to the music, I just thought it was refreshing to see someone with a name outside of country, actually starting a music career from the ground up and hanging out with underground artists instead of selling out every chance they get to corporate Nashville.
Every week someone with a name “goes country.” Last week it was Norah Jones. This week it’s WWE’s Mickey James. When I saw Kyle Turley I was impressed that finally someone was doing it for love of the music and not love for the money.
And if you think differently about Kyle Turley, I have to politely disagree. The way to power and money in Nashville is NOT through Hank III, trust me. That is the path to getting the same black ball status Hank III has enjoyed for a decade. At $20 ticket prices in mid-sized venues, a Hank III opening spot is no delivery from a Brinks truck. And besides, one of Kyle’s first music tours was a 16 date stint that all went to the Gridiron Greats charity assistance fund. Say what you want about Kyle, but he’s doing it for a passion for his music.
And as for that music, some people have been calling it “pop,” or otherwise criticizing it. I find it hard to call it pop country. Pop country has a very easily-definable formula that I don’t hear from Kyle. Do I like his music? Not particularly, BUT, all the man has out there right now is a three song EP. His full album is not out yet. And I’m not saying this as some positioning statement, but I honestly do hear some potential in the very little we’ve heard from him so far: some of the phrases he turns shows to me that he has a little something and can’t be just discounted as a pop country hack out of pocket.
I’m not putting the Saving Country Music stamp of approval on his music. I’m not recommending it. And I’m not going to have to back track from any statement I’ve made about his music if it turns out not to be good. All I am saying is the same thing Hank III, Lucky Tubb, and Kyle Turley himself is saying: GIVE HIM A CHANCE !!! Because then if you still don’t like him, someone can’t say to you that you had your mind made up before you even saw him.
If Kyle Turley opening goes over like a lead zeppelin, then it will look bad on Hank III as well, and Hank III knows that. That is why Kyle opened for Hank III at Layla’s in Nashville the day before Xmas eve in December, and to a man, everyone who I heard from at that show said he was better than they expected him to be.
Kyle Turley was interviewed on last week’s Outlaw Radio Episode 83. Jashie P asked him some tough questions, and Kyle Turley responded honestly. I can’t say I was happy with all his answers, like when he talked about his friendship with Darius Rucker, but the man deserves props for answering all the questions honestly, and NOT pandering to an audience or just telling us what we all wanted to hear. Kyle has played in stadiums with 60,000+ fans booing him. Trust me, he’s not going to lose any sleep if he can’t win everyone over, and he may even relish being hated or being portrayed as the bad guy.
Kyle also talked extensively about his love for Hank III’s music, and how he felt like the industry was keeping Hank down. That is the same industry that’s proping Darius Rucker up, and I hope to talk to him about these and other issues when I see him perform in two weeks.
And I will judge his music, honestly and fairly, with as few preconceived notions as I can, just like I try to do with any artist. And that is all Hank III and Kyle, and even Lucky Tubb are asking us to do.
I’ve said my peace. Now is your chance below.