Ernest, Zach Top, Sierra Ferrell & More Tribute Keith Whitley

Ernest / Sierra Ferrell / Keith Whitley / Zach Top / Jesse Keith Whitley


Country music legend Keith Whitley is gone, but he’s a long way from being forgotten. If anything, the strength and influence of his legacy has only increased over time, and that was illustrated on Saturday, April 20th during the first day of the Two Step Inn Fest in Georgetown, TX, just north of Austin.

Rain would truncate the day’s festivities, but not before a tribute came together to toast Keith Whitley, hosted by Ernest who’s promoting his new Whitley-inspired traditional country music album Nashville, Tennessee. He was assisted by a host of the top-named artists in independent country who were all on site for the festival.

With Ernest’s band acting as the house band, the son of Keith Whitley, Jesse Keith Whitey, came out in a T-shirt of his mom Lorrie Morgan to sing a few songs for pops, including a song the younger Whitley wrote while visiting his dad’s grave that incorporates the names of some famous Keith Whitley songs into the verses.

Then Ernest introduced Drake Milligan, who was fresh off the main stage playing his own set to sing “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Then Ernest took center stage himself to sing “Miami, My Amy” before introducing Sierra Ferrell to sing “When You Say Nothing At All.”

Ernest then introduced his steel guitar player Chandler Walters, who’s been creating his own buzz lately, and has been an integral part of putting the steel guitar sound back in popular country music. Walters sang “Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her” before stepping back behind the steel for the rest of the set.

“Country is in real good hands, ladies and gentlemen,” is how Ernest introduced Zach Top. Similar to Drake Milligan, Zach helped open the main stage of the Two Step Inn on Saturday. “I’m glad I don’t have to sing my crappy songs,” Top said taking the stage, always humble. “I get to sing some good ones.”

Zach Top is one of the most buzzed-about artists in country music after the release of his new album Cold Beer & Country Music. Top co-wrote every song on the new album with producer Carson Chamberlain, who is the Kentucky native that played steel guitar and was the bandleader for Keith Whitley all the way up to the country legend’s death in 1989. It was only fitting that Top closed out the tribute.

Zach Top performed “I Never Go Around Mirrors,” and Hannah Dasher showed up impromptu to sing some harmonies with Zach and Ernest. Then Zach Top closed out the tribute by performing Whitley’s “Hard Livin’.”

Two Step Inn festivities were cut short on Saturday due to inclement weather. Sets by Ryan Bingham, Sammy Kershaw, and Ernest’s solo set were cut so that Ian Munsick, Martina McBride, and Saturday’s headliner Cody Johnson could get in full sets before torrential rain moved into the area.

For more coverage from Two Step Inn, following Saving Country Music on Instagram, and stay tuned for a full recap of the festival.

Ernest and Jesse Keith Whitley
Sierra Ferrell singing with Ernest
Ernest and Zach Top cutting up
Drake Milligan
Jesse Keith Whitley watching the tribute to his dad
One final shout for Keith Whitley
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