1st Tyler Childers Show in 16 Months Caps off Under the Big Sky Fest
As an independent country music fan, you have to stop viewing the world with an underdog’s mentality. Tyler Childers isn’t just a superstar in the country musical realm that exists wholly separate from mainstream country radio play and major award shows. Tyler Childers is a superstar, period, competing and often beating many of his mainstream brethren when it comes to streaming numbers and other metrics on a weekly basis.
When Childers rolled up to the Under The Big Sky Fest in Whitefish, Montana Sunday night (7-19) to play his first show in some 16 months, it wasn’t to warm the stage up for the big mainstream band that had blown in from Nashville in the Brothers Osborne, it was vice versa. And that’s the way it should have been. Tyler Childers is a bigger act than the 3-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year.
A lot has changed in the last 16 months for Tyler Childers. After having to cancel his extensive, 43-date arena tour with Sturgill Simpson after performing only 12 of the shows (the last was Charleston, South Carolina on March 10th), Childers has gotten sober, he released a surprise album, and he’s seen his popularity and mystique only grow, especially behind the continued popularity of his album Purgatory.
Where most of the other big artists in country music have announced tours, Tyler still only has a couple of one-off events on the calendar, including Big Sky Fest, which was a commitment he’d made the year before. So there were a lot of question marks about what exactly to expect from Tyler.
Like most all the acts that came out on the stage at Under The Big Sky Fest, Tyler Childers was caught off guard by the sheer number of people present in the crowd, and their pent-up enthusiasm after the pandemic. “What are you doing?” Childers said, surprised by the reception. “How have you been?”
Childers took everyone to church to begin the set, surprisingly not clenching an acoustic guitar, but standing there naked-handed, a little bit unsure what to do with them, while he sang the Hank Williams spiritual “Old Country Church.” This led into Tyler’s unreleased and excellent “Take My Hounds to Heaven.”
From there Childers did pick up the acoustic guitar, and turned in a rousing set of many of his signature original songs, along with covers such as Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” popularized by Sammy Smith, “Tulsa Turnaround” made famous by Kenny Rogers, and ended with his epic version of “Trudy” by Charlie Daniels.
Some of the conversation after the set was about what Tyler Childers did not play (see full set list below). There was no “Lady May,” “Feathered Indians,” or “Whitehouse Road”—all three of which have now been Certified Gold by the RIAA, and “Feathered Indians” as Platinum, speaking to Tyler’s wide popularity. Tyler also did not perform an encore, though this was likely due to noise restrictions, not Childers blowing off the howls from the crowd for more. His 90-minute set included 20 songs, and ran as long as it could.
With only a few one-off engagements currently on his calendar—including two nights at Red Rocks that sold out almost immediately, and a performance at the Hinterland Music Festival in Iowa on August 7th—fans felt like they were getting something rare by seeing Tyler Childers live at all. And after three days of affirming the power, importance, and rising popularity of independent country music at Under The Big Sky Fest, it was just about the perfect encapsulation and ending.
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Stay tuned for a full recap of Under The Big Sky Fest. You can also check out further coverage of the fest on the Saving Country Music Instagram feed.
1. Old Country Church
2. Take My Hounds to Heaven
3. Country Squire
5. Tulsa Turnaround
8. Born Again
9. All Your’n
11. Long Long Time to Get Old
12. Help Me Make It Through The Night
13. Rock Salt and Nails
14. Shake The Frost
15. Bus Route
16. Deadman’s Curve
17. Honky Tonk Flame
18. Universal Sound
19. Peace of Mind
Keepin it Country
July 19, 2021 @ 10:59 am
Wow Trigger, sounds like you’re having fun in Montana. Enjoy it man. Wish I was there!👍
July 19, 2021 @ 11:15 am
No Whitehouse Road, Feathered Indians, Nose to the Grindstone or I swear? Damn
July 20, 2021 @ 10:51 am
Yeah, I was there and the whole set felt kind of weird without the hits. I mean, it was damn good to see him play and it all sounded great, but any reason musicians usually give for not playing popular material (trying out new stuff, getting tired of playing the same songs each night, etc.) don’t hold water here. Nobody seemed pissed, just disappointed afterwards. Overall, an awesome weekend with so much great music that nobody was gonna cry over missing a song or three.
July 19, 2021 @ 11:38 am
I am so glad live shows are coming back. I really miss them and hope to see Tyler at some point in Florida.
July 19, 2021 @ 11:56 am
Its worth noting that perhaps Tyler not playing on every song is that he can’t (yet) … he spent a good portion of the last year with his arm in a sling.
Also, Take My Hounds to Heaven, Purgatory and Peace of Mind had brand new radically different musical arrangements than on the albums or prior live shows. Only Hounds was arguably an improvement on the prior version, but I’m glad we got Purgatory at all with a full electric band. I think a couple of setlist choices adding Whitehouse and Feathered in place of covers like Tulsa and Trudy could have turned a very good performance in front of his biggest crowd to date into a legendary one.
July 19, 2021 @ 12:26 pm
Good note on the shoulder injury (I think Tyler called it his “clarinet”). I took the lack of guitar as a change in arrangement and aesthetic, and I’d think he’d be healed up by now. But maybe playing for an extended period is still tough.
Jumpin' Jack Flash
July 19, 2021 @ 12:22 pm
Folks probably rioted that he didn’t play Feathered Indians. Good to see Universal Sound still on the set. Lowkey one of his best
July 19, 2021 @ 12:34 pm
Well this is my idea of news. I love seeing the coverage of big indie festivals. It hurts to see artists grow out of the songs that made them stars. But this was a weird year in Tyler’s career trajectory, and he looks to be sturdy in his direction. Blind Ivan is just now posting youtubes of Tyler and the whole fest https://youtu.be/mFoR5YeO8LU Tyler definitely is the guy leading the heathen to the Old Country Church. Powerful stuff.
July 19, 2021 @ 12:40 pm
Did one of his guys switch to pedal steel? I haven’t listened to a ton of his stuff but I recall hearing it on the records. Anyway glad you got to go, safe travels!
July 19, 2021 @ 1:06 pm
James Barker plays it, and Jesse Wells will often switch to guitar at those times I believe? I think that’s the pedal steel in front of him in the pic actually. Just my recollection from the Red Rocks video, I haven’t been lucky enough to catch them live for real. Definitely a multitalented band.
July 19, 2021 @ 1:41 pm
James Barker is officially the steel guitar player. He’s always had long hair, so I didn’t recognize him at first, but it’s the same guy who’s been with Tyler for years. He’ll also play regular electric guitar at times, as will fiddle player Jesse Wells.
July 19, 2021 @ 4:10 pm
Based on what I’ve seen live and online, I can’t imagine that band without Jesse Wells. What a beast of a musician!
July 19, 2021 @ 1:10 pm
I love Tyler, but his setlist doesn’t change much. I saw him 2+ years ago and his setlist was almost the same as this. Probably won’t go see him again until he has a few more albums. Unlike people like billy strings who change it up a lot.
July 19, 2021 @ 8:27 pm
He was not sober. Everyone in my group noticed. It may not have been booze, but something different. Isbell was the star of the weekend. Don’t know why his wife didn’t play with him. Not enough toilets or booze from the overbooked event. Had to wait 30 minutes for a beer in VIP. The sound was horrific. Not complaining just being critical. It was a beautiful festival though.
July 20, 2021 @ 7:24 am
Uh, from what I saw on YouTube, that boy was NOT sober…
July 20, 2021 @ 8:02 am
My take on the setlist is this the show he currently has worked up with his band, and there’s not a lot of need to work up a new one, because they have so few shows on the calendar. Remember, he actually releases an album last year, and there was a question of whether he would tour behind it, or feature any of the material. The answer so far is “no.” I also think one of the reason favored songs were not included was because of the time constraints due to it being a festival set. Nobody played a single note after 11:00 p.m. all weekend. It’s a huge site, but there are neighbors.
As for him being sober or not, I don’t think we can take him making funny faces while singing as a sign he’s not sober. Maybe he wasn’t, I really have no idea. But standing feet from him in real time, I didn’t get any indication he was wired. I just think he really gets into the music, and makes weird faces.
July 19, 2021 @ 1:57 pm
Ngl, kinda odd seeing pictures of Tyler without a mustache or beard lol
July 19, 2021 @ 2:29 pm
He hasn’t done encores for quite a while. Maybe he picked that up from Sturgill.
July 19, 2021 @ 6:53 pm
99% certain there was no encore because of whatever noise restrictions or agreements between the community and festival. Timmy Ty ran the clock all the way to 10:59 before he said goodnight to everyone and the stage was clear by 11 on the dot.
July 19, 2021 @ 8:11 pm
I saw him at another festival a couple of years ago (Pickathon), and he played a big loud electric number, and then picked up his acoustic guitar and you could tell his plan was to finish with “Nose to the Grindstone.” Then I saw him look down at the clock on the stage and it said he only had a minute left. So he told a terrible queef joke and walked off the stage.
July 19, 2021 @ 2:34 pm
Can’t say I love the new arrangements. But, I’ve never been terribly impressed with the band behind Tyler.
Caught John R Miller last night in Nashville. The Engine Lights are TIGHT right now. Unbelievable set even if a lot of it was note-for-note from the album. See them on this album tour if you can.
July 19, 2021 @ 4:14 pm
Totally agree on the John R. Miller comment. I saw them in Atlanta Friday and they blew my pretty high expectations away! Great first show in over a year.
July 19, 2021 @ 4:36 pm
Was volunteering for the fest, the whole weekend was great!
July 19, 2021 @ 7:04 pm
Loved the new arrangements of some old songs and the jam band feel during Universal Sound in particular too. The Food Stamps were feeling themselves and it felt like they were all clicking together after a year and a half off the road.
The closing Trudy cover was epic and I figured they were trying to squeeze out every last minute of their time on stage.
Tyler nailing Help Me Make It Through The Night was worth the price of admission for the entire weekend alone.
I bet he’s sick of singing Feathered Indians and I don’t blame him. I didn’t need to hear it and I was shocked at the crowd’s nasty response.
July 19, 2021 @ 7:54 pm
Anybody that has seen Tyler more than a few times, knows that Tyler does not do an encore! It ain’t no Marvel movie, there is nothing after the credits!
July 20, 2021 @ 4:50 am
I’ve been a HUGE FAN of Timmy Tyler for years now. He has created a different genre of music. I saw him live on New Year’s Eve 2019 in Pikeville, KY and yes he does do encores. It HAD to be the noise restriction code/time to not have one. He did 2 encores the night my wife and I saw him. 1 with band and 1 with just him and his acoustic while sitting on a barstool. AWESOME!!! He’s at his very best that way IMHO. Timmy doesn’t need anyone to make his music very enjoyable
He grew up 30 minutes away from me along Rt 23, better know locally as the “Country Music Highway”. If not familiar with the Rt. 23 I’m certain you’d recognize the names on the signs along that stretch of highway. The Judds, Keith Whitley (although he’s from 30 miles West of Rt. 23), Ricky Skaggs, Loretta Lynn and her sister (Crystal Gayle), Jamie Johnson and the list just keeps going. All superstars and legends in Country and Bluegrass music. Tyler got his name along this infamous 60 mile stretch of highway and it happened very quickly. If.tthat says anything about his music.
My daughter was there for all 3 shows and the set was never the same. He did do “Feathered Indians” on 31st but not on the 2 previous nights. No “Shake The Frost”and a couple more of his bigger hits for our show.
His style of music has influenced a generation of up and coming stars. Ones to watch out for in the near future from this same area includes: John Bassin, Logan Halstead and Cole Chaney who just released his 1st album “Ill Will Creek”. You can watch their videos on YouTube to judge for yourself.
Lowell George Wanna Be
July 20, 2021 @ 3:54 pm
1st time seeing (or hearing, for that matter) this 30 year-old was the 7.18.21 show in Whitefish … pretty impressive, really. He’s got the songwriting/stories, easy listening Waylon/Willie-type chord changes and the talent behind him on stage. Being from deep-South Alabama and growing up on Hank, Jr., Waylon, Willie, Jeff Jeff Walker, etc., I can tell you this dude Tyler Childers can beat the dog shit out of any radio-played act today … with or without alcohol.
July 21, 2021 @ 7:55 am
I saw Tyler last year at the Ryman, just before then pandemic. Such an awesome experience that my wife will cherish for the rest of our lives. I hope everyone who had the privilege to attend the festival realize that stars like Tyler burn bright, but they do not burn forever. Soak it in, and appreciate the gift. Before you know it, you will be talking about the good ‘ol days of outlaw country resurgence.
July 22, 2021 @ 5:03 pm
Where did you hide that money