On The Frustrations with Tyler Childers’ Output and Appearances
At this moment, Tyler Childers is the top artist carrying forward the torch of the country music revolution that was inspired by the Outlaws of the 70s, taken up by the punk-gone-country scene of the 90s, shepherded to a new level by Hank Williams III in the early 00s, and brought to the point of challenging the mainstream by Sturgill Simpson in the 2010s. Yes, there’s Zach Bryan as well, but he’s kind of his own phenomenon. Tyler Childers is the one through the continued success of his album Purgatory who continues to disrupt pop country’s hold on the genre, and represents the unbroken continuation of the insurgent country movement.
Tyler Childers could be selling out arenas across the country right now, and cleaning up in Europe. This was verified by the appeal for the arena tour with Sturgill Simpson that ended up being mostly canceled due to the pandemic. But Tyler’s perfectly content with playing Delfest, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic instead, and spending most of his time off the road. It was the latter event where quite a few attendees got up in arms because Childers did not play many of his most recognizable songs, and instead focused mostly on new songs and covers. A viral Tik-Tok video criticizing Childers raised a lot of discussion after the event.
But part of the problem was that Tyler Childers was only given the time for an 11 song set to begin with. Here is one of the biggest artists in country music at the moment playing opener for Jason Isbell. In truth, Willie’s whole 2022 Picnic was poorly conceived by the promoter C3 Presents. Activating the ugly and inappropriate 02 soccer arena as the venue meant only being able to have one stage, so there were no members of Willie’s extended family performing like Paula Nelson or Raelyn Nelson, no oldtimers like Ray Wylie Hubbard or David Allan Coe who’ve performed so often in previous years, and shorter set times for everyone to go along with $15 beers.
These reasons and many others were why yours truly skipped out on the event, despite it being only 30 minutes from Saving Country Music headquarters. When Tyler Childers played at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival a few weeks ago, he played for 90 minutes, included some of his bigger songs, and everyone walked away happy. Still, would it have killed Tyler to light into a little “Lady May” or “Feathered Indians” at Willie’s 4th instead of Charlie Daniels and Grateful Dead covers? Probably not. But it’s Tyler’s prerogative to play whatever he wants, and he’s at the end of an album cycle when artists regularly work in more covers and trot out new material.
Forget the Bros who only know Tyler Childers through playlists, and expect him to play “Whitehouse Road” at every show, despite Childers rarely or never playing the song since getting sober. How about being more in the moment, and enjoying what’s happening?
But the bigger issue here is that people just want more Tyler Childers, and you can’t blame them for that. If he was playing two hours sets on his own tour, most everyone would be leaving satisfied. But he’s not, even though it feels like he should be. Childers has enough unreleased songs floating out there to release two new albums, yet his last album Country Squire felt short with only nine songs, and was released three years ago now.
There is an insatiable appetite for all things Tyler Childers out there at the moment, and instead of seizing the opportunity, he’s resting on his laurels, and living off the mailbox money from Purgatory. The recent pregnancy announcement from wife and fellow performer Senora May could have spurned some additional activity before the little one arrives, but Childers instead took it as another reason to stick closer to home.
So demand for Tyler Childers is outpacing supply. It’s an issue SCM saw brewing a while back. It’s also an issue that supporters of the independent country music revolution are familiar with. The whole punk-gone-country thing lost its momentum years ago, and Bloodshot Records went belly-up and was sold off amid scandal. Hank Williams III hasn’t really been heard from in years. If we’re to believe Sturgill Simpson, he’s officially retired. Even Shooter Jennings says he’s no longer touring, and will focus on producing.
It seems like every time one of these guys gets to the top, they jump off. About the only top-tier country music revolutionary with his foot still on the pedal is Cody Jinks. We’d all love more music and more opportunities to see Tyler Childers. That’s not being selfish, necessarily. That’s just being a fan. But we would also love to see Tyler Childers continue to hammer on so he can remain a thorn in the side of Music Row, and an inspiration and rallying cry for the country music revolution.
But one of the reasons the appeal for Tyler Childers is so robust is because he’s the real deal, because he’s not taking the big payday even though it’s well within his grasp, and that he values his time back in Kentucky where he’s close to the inspirations, and the language, customs, and characters that go on to be included in his songs. We appreciate Tyler Childers because he’s unspoiled and authentic. Eating catered food in the bowels of an arena for nine straight months may not just sound un-enjoyable to Tyler Childers, it just may injure what makes him cool and important.
And so it’s imperative that we all be a little patient and understanding. New music will probably arrive soon enough, as will hopefully more opportunities to see Tyler Childers perform live, and hopefully for more than 45 minutes, and hopefully with beer cheaper than $15 a swig.
Meanwhile, it’s next man and next woman up in the country music revolution—with the next artist that is hungry, driven, mad as hell, and inspired by their predecessors stepping into the void to continue the work of returning the power in country music back to the artists and to the people of country music.
July 13, 2022 @ 9:55 am
Dude finally got done fixin up that 24′ long vessel, let him enjoy it a little.
July 13, 2022 @ 9:56 am
Well written Trig. Here’s hoping for new music sooner rather than later. Saw a tiktok of him driving a wagon with a pair of horses down the road, seems like he’s enjoying not being on the road, and I can’t blame him.
July 14, 2022 @ 4:53 am
Well said Trigger. We gotta let the damn dude live a little and for the reasons why we like him in the first place.
July 13, 2022 @ 9:56 am
My prediction is Tyler’s next album is going to be so different than anything he’s done previously, pull a play from the Sturgill Sound and Fury playbook. I think he’s feeling the pressure of stardom, a hungry fan base, and the limitations of country music sound and aesthetic.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:40 am
“the ugly and inappropriate 02 soccer arena” I was at Willie’s Picnic and thought that venue was a great choice. Plenty of breezy shade, clean rest rooms, decent food and bevs. I was there all day, saw every act and had a blast! Tyler’s set was easily my favorite of the day along with Charlie Crockett. Allison Russell, Steve Earle and Asleep At The Wheel were also very good and of course it was great seeing Willie who cancelled his 2 appearances this year in my town New Orleans so I decided to catch him in Austin. Jason Isbell was a total bore until he did a Tom Petty song, American Girl at the end. His was the only set where everyone just sat for. Midland and Bros Osborne were too bro country for my tastes. A lot of people seemed to be there just for Tyler as many could be seen leaving after his set which seemed kind of silly to me.
July 13, 2022 @ 11:53 am
I think he did that with his last album “Long Violent History.” My prediction is his next album is Gospel or bluegrass-inspired, or a combination of the two.
July 16, 2022 @ 12:40 pm
Purgatory was an amazing album. Bottles and Bibles was a really good album. Country Squire was abysmal. I’m afraid fame has ruined him like it did Jamey Johnson. “Whitehouse Road” is one of the greatest songs since 1976. You don’t have to pander to fans, but you also should give them what they pay for, to some extent, when they give you money, pay for gas and concessions, possibly pay for a hotel, and take off work to see you. I hope his next album is more like Purgatory and nothing like CS. That didn’t even sound like Childers, vocally and musically. Major letdown.
I don’t want to listen to Childers make music I don’t like. I like honest, gritty country music. That’s what I want to hear from him. I love Pearl Jam, Sturgill, and Shooter, but I don’t want to hear them making experimental stuff. As a fan, I’m allowed to have that opinion just like the singers are allowed to make what they want. But they don’t have to like what fans may expect, and we don’t have to like everything they release.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:10 am
I was at the Willie Nelson show and I largely agree with your assessment above. I’ll add that I think another problem with that set was that Tyler’s stage demeanor was (and has been) odd and seemingly abrasive to many in the crowd.
He could have made the set more accessible if Tyler had peppered in some stories or anecdotes that his fans would have eaten up. Instead, we were treated to very little in terms of addressing the audience, save for a few near-indecipherable statements, including a rambling story that he kept going un-interrupted for several minutes, even while a fan was filmed proposing to his girlfriend in the front row.
He is truly inscrutable and enigmatic artist, which is certainly part of his appeal, but his fan base, as you rightly point out, just wants more from him – something that he seems hesitant to deliver.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:44 am
I thought his set was great, my only issue is of course that it was too short. “odd or abrasive”? I did not think that at all and I’ve watched the entire set again on Youtube. I guess many like you want him to just be another cookie-cutter country star. Thank God he is not!
July 13, 2022 @ 11:38 am
Everyone in my section was visibly perplexed by Tyler’s speech and I saw many heads shaking in confusion. Perhaps he wasn’t projecting clear enough to be heard clearly where I was sitting.
Regardless, I have no idea how you could read my comment and come to the conclusion that I “want him to just be another cookie-cutter country star.” That’s just asinine.
July 13, 2022 @ 11:55 am
There have been a lot of complaints about the acoustics of that arena for music performances. It wasn’t set up for sound. It was set up for soccer.
Tyler Childers makes weird, intense faces while singing. They seem to have become more intense over time. It’s just a byproduct of his intensity.
July 13, 2022 @ 12:20 pm
That was the first concert held there although I’m sure there will be many more. It sounded great up close and not loud enough the further back you got. They could have used more speakers toward the back. Tyler did sound like he was mumbling while that guy proposed to his girl and it was up on the screens but that was the only time it was hard to hear him. I thought him and his band were great plus I like the fact that he just doesn’t play all of his hits every time he is on a stage. “Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Help Me Make It Through The Night” were 2 covers we loved hearing. I do wish they had a few less artists and let some others play longer but I guess they wanted to have a little something for everyone.
July 13, 2022 @ 12:08 pm
I think another problem with that set was that Tyler’s stage demeanor was (and has been) odd and seemingly abrasive to many in the crowd.
He could have made the set more accessible if Tyler had peppered in some stories or anecdotes that his fans would have eaten up.
September 10, 2022 @ 10:21 pm
Not sure how it was done with my name but I did not write that.
July 16, 2022 @ 3:53 am
I absolutely love Tyler’s music it’s like a breath of fresh air for country music today Tyler, Sturgill,Zack and others I hear on Sirius xm outlaw country.
July 14, 2022 @ 9:43 am
Part of his time has been taken up with his Hickman Holler Relief Fund. Kentucky had devastating tornadoes rip through the western part of the state last Dec and I know HHRF is helping with that. Mayfield, Ky was pretty much obliterated. Tyler helps this state A LOT. He helps deliver water to counties that don’t have clean drinking water, performs pro bono at fundraisers to help, and generally gives back to the state that helped put him on the map. He and Senora live on top of a mountain with no cell phone service (they live where I’m from), he may be right where he is for a while.
In the meantime, check out Ian Noe, Logan Halstead, Margo Price, Cole Chaney, Arlo McKinley, John R Miller, Kelseyville Waldon, Abby Hamilton, Grayson Jenkins, Eric Bolander, or Magnolia Boulevard if you need an indie fix.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:18 am
For me, having seen him headline in multiple cities a bunch of times years ago and being disappointed that his big co-headline tour with Simpson was cancelled (and I never got my refund), I’m kinda tapped out on Childers for the moment.
The silence and withdrawal from the spotlight by these luminaries (Simpson, Childers etc.) lately kinda translates to “out of sight, out of mind” for me. Trouble is, nobody seems to be holding up the tent-poll for indie country in the same way lately, despite some folks trying.
I see Charley Crockett just announced his, like, 20th album in five years today? I’m mildly interested in that – new single does seem to go in a direction I’ve been hoping Crockett would revisit (soul and funk). So far though, 2022 has been kind of a sleepy year in country music for me. Nothing’s really standing out like Simpson and Childers used to. Nobody’s really stepped up in the same way, in their absence.
Eric (Waitin' in the Weeds)
July 13, 2022 @ 10:37 am
I lost a lot of interest in Sturgill when he shit on his first album, which I really enjoyed. It’s one thing to not directly placate your audience, but it’s another to say that they never liked their beloved first album. In a large way that ruined it for me.
July 13, 2022 @ 1:22 pm
Yeah, Sturgill has said a lot of stuff that hasn’t sat well with me over the years too. Disowning his back catalogue, throwing shade at Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton etc. Sturgill likes to talk shit for the sake of talking shit. A lot of fans love that aspect of his persona. I don’t. Talking shit for the sake of it isn’t a quality I admire in most people. Admittedly though, I still love the guy’s music and he’s a major reason I got into country years back (around when Metamodern was released).
July 14, 2022 @ 6:12 am
Sturgill may or may not be right about Dave Cobb depending on everyone’s perspective of Dave. But the truth of the matter is that Sturgill as a solo artist has produced two great albums in his career and both were produced by Dave Cobb. The rest of his catalog is occupied by an ok album, a horrible album, and a couple bluegrass covers albums. Who is most responsible for the two standouts is a matter of opinion I guess.
July 14, 2022 @ 7:24 am
I beg to differ. His catalogue from the first to the last is a masterpiece.
July 19, 2022 @ 9:55 am
If you’re calling S&F the “horrible album,” you’ve truly ruined your credibility. I’m also assuming that means you think Sailor’s Guide is the “ok album.”
That’s incredibility laughable, even while taking the subjectivity of it all into mind.
Neil Young’s Potatoest
July 13, 2022 @ 3:02 pm
Yeah, making a bad album (Sound and Fury) then talking shit about the music he made that people actually liked isn’t the most endearing thing.
I’m fine with Sturgill staying retired. He got the most out of his limited talents. Moving on.
July 13, 2022 @ 6:28 pm
Sound and Fury is an excellent album, despite the whining we have to hear from the country purists on this page.
July 13, 2022 @ 8:04 pm
Sound and Fury is absolute dog shit.
July 14, 2022 @ 10:58 am
I love rock. Classic rock, indie, alternative, grunge, psychedelic, you name it.
I also love Sturgill Simpson.
Sound and Fury was a terrible album, in my opinion.
July 19, 2022 @ 9:56 am
Couldn’t agree more. Sound & Fury is a true masterpiece in the scope of a musical career. That so many people hate it because they don’t like the move is just further proof.
July 20, 2022 @ 4:27 am
That’s not it chief. I’m way deeper into the rock/metal/noise rabbit hole than I am country – it seems like S&F is liked by people who typically don’t listen to that type of music. Compared to the artists SS was trying to emulate on that album, he sounded absolute shite. Just like how people went all gooey for “A Sailors Guide…” because it had some horns on it, which just showed who had ever listened to a soul LP before and who hadn’t. Being “unique” within Country is not the same as being unique.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:38 am
“limited talents” “Sound and Fury is absolute dog shit”
Tell us you don’t know a thing about music without telling us.
July 16, 2022 @ 12:45 pm
Sound and Fury was absolute dog shit. Was he trying to be a bad version of Nine Inch Nails to spite those who like him? It was simply terrible, in my opinion and the opinions of many. If you like it, listen to it and enjoy it. Your opinion is no less wrong or right than we who hated it
July 14, 2022 @ 12:46 pm
I guess I’m the right type of weirdo for this kind of thing. I think Sound and Fury’s a masterpiece, as was the anime. I follow this scene for the country stuff, but love it when they push into something different. Country is pretty limiting, and when too traditional, it can come off as derivative for me. Black Ribbons is my favorite Shooter album, and I really like Countach, too, so I wasn’t surprised I loved S&F.
July 13, 2022 @ 12:37 pm
I dunno, man, I feel like there has been a HUGE number of great independent country albums out over the last few years. Maybe there’s less attention to any single one of them because there is a larger scene now overall. There are a ton of people who have taken the Tyler Childers and Zach Bryan sounds and made their own thing out of the influence, as well as more traditional honkytonkers, as well as weird stuff that’s harder to categorize.
July 13, 2022 @ 1:35 pm
Yeah, I’ve loved a lot of new country albums and artists in recent years. Charles Wesley Godwin, Brent Cobb, Joshua Ray Walker, and Mike & The Moonpies have been major standouts for me. I mean this year though, 2022. I just cannot get into Zach Bryan at all and nothing else has really captured my attention in a major way. 49 Winchester’s latest is a bright spot but I’m reluctant to say it’s a great album by a great band (yet). I guess I’m feeling a little jaded lately.
July 13, 2022 @ 4:44 pm
Give Ryan Culwell a shot.
July 14, 2022 @ 5:17 pm
I agree as to Ryan Culwell and also want to point you to David Quinn. His 2022 album, Country Fresh, is excellent, as his his 2020 album.
July 15, 2022 @ 7:08 pm
I have been playing Charles Wesley Godwin a lot over the past few months, and telling everyone I can about him. He has some outstanding poetic lyrics. A couple of weeks ago, I started listening to the Union Sound Treaty videos on YouTube, which is good stuff to, but you can defintely hear how CWG has matured.
Mary Whitmire Harrell
July 13, 2022 @ 9:49 pm
You have a Great Voice, and you sing your heart out, and you also have one of the best bands that I’ve ever heard. Keep Singing!!!
July 13, 2022 @ 1:59 pm
Move on to Sierra Ferrell and Nick Shoulders, they’re more fun than Childers and Sturgill anyway (whom I still like, but was never a super fan of either). Nick and Sierra are always putting new stuff out on YouTube/Bandcamp. I know Zach is keeping fans happy with new music, but that stuff isn’t for me…
July 15, 2022 @ 4:31 pm
I agree that they’re more fun than Tyler and Sturgill, but sometimes you need a good heartbreaker from Tyler that those two can’t match. That’s when you need some Willie Carlisle in the mix too.
Eric (Waitin' in the Weeds)
July 13, 2022 @ 10:23 am
If the music is good enough, he shouldn’t have to tour 200 dates a year. Not an equal comparison but Tom Waits rarely toured and that didn’t hurt his niche appeal.
July 13, 2022 @ 12:39 pm
Tom Waits was in a different era. he hit big on indie /college radio just as the CD revolution was happening and people were making more money than usual on reissues of their vinyl, plus there was a big boom in GenX’ers becoming interested in vintage sounds partly for that same reason. He had niche appeal alright but it was part of a larger boom in things like world music and the very first stirrings of underground independent country and a number of other factors that aren’t at play today. All artists have to tour more now beacuse the economics are so different now than they ever had been, all because of streaming.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:51 am
Excellent, excellent article. I’m glad you addressed this issue properly.
I think the festival bubble is about to pop and some of that frustration was directed towards Childers and his abbreviated 4th of July set. The review in the Austin Chronicle claimed a “noticeable audience exist after Childers’ set.” One fan claimed over 1/4 crowd. So, most were there to see Childers too early, too little.
We normally don’t purchase tickets to concerts until the day of the event. With travel, weather, and artist cancellations, it just saves us the headache and there are always tickets available on the secondary market (usually below face value). But, with Zach Bryan on two of the three Outlaw Fests we will be attending, we purchased tickets ahead of time expecting the phenom to sellout the concerts. That hasn’t been the case. In fact, most of the festivals including Zach Bryan haven’t been sell outs this summer. That’s because his fans won’t pony up festival prices for 1/2 an hour 4 pm supporting set. I see them on social media confirming as much with each other. Smart kids.
It helps that Zach Bryan is touring like a mad men and if you miss him at a festival, he’s probably coming back as a headliner to your city or a neighboring one while the only time to see Tyler in concert these day are these bloated festivals. I have to wonder if we we’ll see a shift back to regular headlining concerts being more popular than festivals in the near future.
“Forget the Bros who only know Tyler Childers through playlists, and expect him to play “Whitehouse Road” at every show” …. I blame and hate Joe Rogan for the Jeep driving, “Whitehouse Road” blaring Bros and I hope this creative shift weeds them out.
“How about being more in the moment, and enjoying what’s happening? ” Amen. At 45, that’s where I’m at in life. Live in the moment, don’t rush things and avoid change for the sake of change. But, society is very impatient and always looking for the next big thing or payoff.
It’s awful in sports, too. I’m a huge Steelers fan and they were running off Ben Roethlisberger for years, while I’m enjoying 5 more 4th quarter comeback wins last season (most of which his early poor play put them behind). Instead of enjoying the future HOF in his last starts, fans have been more focused on his replacement. I wanted him to return for one more season this year, because you never know what you had until it’s gone.
And there’s no respect for artistry anymore. For too many fans, attending a concert is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Look at me selfies, “I payed money to hear this song,” and fucking beachballs! What ever happened to letting the artist be an artist? I still think Tyler is the best in the business, but I’m partial because he’s given the people of this region a true voice. I think around here (unlike in Texas), we have a lot more patience with Childers and respect the artist and his process.
July 13, 2022 @ 3:11 pm
Hoptown, you are onto something about some of these dim witted, self absorbed festival goers. Somebody here just mentioned a dude proposing to his gal during a live show, right up front and center. Man, that is so blatantly disrespectful to the artist onstage. DONT hijack somebodys show. Its not about YOU. Its emblematic of the vanity and selfishness of the current young generation. You mentioned the selfies, thats become a pet peeve of mine at live shows. Im semi okay with the occasional cell phone snap or brief video of the band, but some of these folks are beyond obnoxious. Ok, rant over.
July 13, 2022 @ 8:27 pm
Well I am guessing you didn’t get tickets to the show in Pgh if you normally wait til last minute and are also seeing him a few times this fall. I told my wife i might owe a beer to Hoptown at the show, but you can probably hear most of it from the street so maybe I’ll see you before. Of course, if the second hand market is as crazy as it is now, I may be listening from the sidewalk myself.
July 14, 2022 @ 4:22 am
We will be seeing Zach Bryan abbreviated, supporting sets at two Outlaw Fests (Darien Lake, NY – one of the best lineups for an Outlaw Fest ever: Willie, ZZ Top, Zach Bryan, Charlie Crockett, War and Treaty – and Columbia, MD). Unfortunately, the Zach Bryan headlining PGH date was announced later and it’s the Monday after the Outlaw Fest in Columbia, MD and the following weekend we’ll be in Lewisburg, WV for both nights of Tyler’s Healing Appalachia Concert.
If I was in my 20’s, no doubt we’d do it all. But last year, we didn’t make it to Charolette for our 3rd and final of our planned Outlaw Fest tour. After back to back stop in Va Beach and Raleigh, we opted to stay an extra night in Raleigh to rest. So chances are slim we’ll see you at Zach Bryan at Stage AE.
We also got squeezed out of an Avett Bros concert originally scheduled for August 15th at Stage AE, then rescheduled for the Saturday night of Healing Appalachia.
We are going to see Chris Knight at Club Cafe Sunday August 21st if that fits into your schedule.
Wilson Pick It
July 14, 2022 @ 9:46 am
I think Outlaw Fest has it just right. 5 artists, one stage, each gets a decent amount of time for the set. Some of these festivals are just ridiculous with the number of artists, multiple stages, and sometimes you only get a short set from the artist you really came to see.
July 13, 2022 @ 10:59 am
I may have asked this on other unfitting occasions already, but does anyone know if John Fullbright is planning to release new music at some point? It’s been almost a decade :-(.
July 13, 2022 @ 11:09 am
I know. 🙂
July 13, 2022 @ 8:12 pm
July 14, 2022 @ 2:52 am
New album out in September.
July 14, 2022 @ 10:08 am
Thanks. Funny enough, when you google him, what comes up under “People also ask” is “what is John Fullbright doing” and “Where is John Fullbright.”
July 14, 2022 @ 6:27 am
I was hoping my smiley face would be enough of a clue. There will be new music out in the very near future.
July 14, 2022 @ 8:44 am
Great news! Hey Trigger if / when official I figure this ought to be make your “most anticipated” list? If anyone here has a chance to see him live, please do yourself a favor and go.
July 13, 2022 @ 11:01 am
If you get to a point early in your career when you can write a song about jacking off, put it on a 9 song album, and still have everyone love it wholeheartedly, it’s hard to imagine you having a normal career going forward.
He’s an odd duck. Always a good reminder that money doesn’t usually change a person, it just amplifies what was always there. As another commenter pointed out, it wouldn’t shock me to watch him take the Stu route and start working on some eclectic projects.
I think we all want him to be the biggest star in the world, but some guys just don’t want that responsibility.
July 13, 2022 @ 12:28 pm
This was a great wrote up!
July 13, 2022 @ 12:35 pm
oh shit, you mentioned Raelyn Nelson. we need more from her, and she needs more attention- she’s a punk country artist in the Hank III vein as well as a Willie granddaughter (I think).
July 13, 2022 @ 12:45 pm
He’s good but I’m not going to get elbow to asshole with a bunch of Joe’s just to see him. There are plenty of legends and other artists out there making great music you can go see. Also if you are so bent out of shape that he won’t entertain you, maybe write your own fucking songs. Once you get a good one and another, pretty soon you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks and you are your own source of entertainment. There are shitloads of telecasters for sale at this very moment! And if you need “credibility” you can get a blue collar job in two seconds right now. Shit I got a job offer yesterday just while buying saw blades. And good for Tyler, fuck doing what people tell you to do if you don’t want to do it. I always had a lot of respect for Willis Alan Ramsey.
July 13, 2022 @ 1:36 pm
How about Raelyn Nelson …
She has a Great voice.
July 13, 2022 @ 3:50 pm
I’ve seen him twice and loved both, once before he became huge and was stoned half the show and another at the Ryman where he brought out Ricky Skaggs. Hadn’t he toured and played live music for 10 years before anyone knew his name? I’d love new music but he’s worked to get where he’s at so he should enjoy it. If I could’ve worked hard the last 10 years and got to a spot where i could relax and live a little you better bet I would. But then I see the point where he could change country music forever and think what if…
July 13, 2022 @ 7:45 pm
Meh – there’s such an enormous bench of rising talent (Ferrell and Crockett and Walker and Miller) that I will happily see one star choose to fall, giving room for another to rise. It’s a great moment in real country music – let’s enjoy the ride.
July 14, 2022 @ 1:05 pm
I’m with you on all of those, but can’t put together which Miller you’re referring to? Maybe I’m just drawing a blank.
July 14, 2022 @ 1:21 pm
Sorry – John R. Miller. Yeah, that was vague. But he’s great.
July 14, 2022 @ 2:41 am
Whatever it takes for him to not totally douche out like so many others long-term works for me. I imagine this is a super hard industry to live in year after year and as long as he does not go down the path of so many country artists that turned goober and quit country, I am happy. A new album will come.
Sturgill is a goober and plays with keyboards for music, Corb quit making legit tunes and loves gimmicks, DAC lives on another planet, Charlie Robison has but also does not have a voicebox, Hank 3 only talks about Satan and that is boring, Ray Wylie plays simpleton blues rather than incredible country that he used to, John Fullbright puts out one album per lifetime, Parker Millsap reverted to a 13 year old girl, Steve Earle now grunts and barks in his songs, and Paul Cauthen pretends his tractor is actually running while he bumps along saying yiggidie diggidie.
We should cherish guys like Childers, McMurtry, Slaid Cleaves, Terry Allen, Moonpies, and the Troubadors – they stay true to what we should all love!!
July 14, 2022 @ 10:13 am
Are you referencing Corb Lund above? I strongly disagree with that one I think he making great music still.
July 14, 2022 @ 2:30 pm
I am yes. I will give you that nod. I just look at the near perfection that was Horse Soldier and the beauty of Losing Lately Gambler and compare it to the last few and it pales in comparison (in my humble opinion as always). He is utilizing Grant less and there is less substance in the songwriting. I think that John Evans is a bad influence on him. I still have hope though.
July 14, 2022 @ 3:12 pm
I can see where you are coming from for sure. Losing Lately Gambler is probably my favorite Corb album! I do agree the more recent albums haven’t been as good but he did set the bar high. That being said I did really enjoy Agricultural Tragic.
July 14, 2022 @ 5:59 am
There is still a lot of fallout from Covid for touring musicians. It seems daily someone announces canceled tour dates, many venues still require covid passports or negative tests, and the economy is in free fall. I think it’s a smart move by Tyler to let things settle, play a show here and there to keep his name out there, and then be ready for to come out next touring season with a new album and tour that fans will be desperately wanting by then.
Too many artists after oversaturate the market with themselves after initial success only to flame out quickly. Tyler is playing the long game.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:53 am
I know it has become popular to set aside Jason Isbell for his in-your-face politics, but there is no way on Earth that it is inappropriate for Tyler to play before Jason, particularly at a festival. I’m not into (most of) Isbell’s politics either, but he gets dismissed from these conversations about who shaped what country music is over the past ten or fifteen years WAY too much. Without Isbell’s work with DBT, Southeastern, Something More Than Free, and so on, we might not have been able to be at a point where Sturgill, Tyler, et. al. could break out the way they have.
July 14, 2022 @ 7:08 am
Jason Isbell is definitely been an important part to this thing. I didn’t mention that here, but I did in an article earlier this week about the dwindling important of radio:
Jason Isbell is definitely a headliner-level artist. Tyler Childers just happens to be much much bigger, to the degree where there is no question he should have played after Isbell, and been given a much bigger set. He also rarely plays live, where Isbell has been out there on tour pretty regularly. That’s the whole reason we’re having this discussion. That said, Isbell deserved more time too. He’s a big artist that shouldn’t be shoehorned into a smaller slot just because the promoter wanted to utilize a new venue as opposed to the usual 2-stage setup for the 4th Picnic. This was a logistics issue.
July 14, 2022 @ 9:56 am
@Trigger- You’re right. So many people forget about Long Violent History. Yeah, it’s not what his average fan was hoping for, they want to hear that voice. But those fiddle tunes on LVH are beautiful and are another example of Tyler’s roots shining through in his Music.
I would love to see him build on those old time fiddle tunes and throw a little Kentucky Bluegrass in there, with of course some hard hitting lyrics and those soul piercing vocals.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for him. But I also hope he’s enjoying the time with his friends and Family- because that’s what life is all about!!
July 14, 2022 @ 7:25 am
I don’t think Isbell sells out the venues he plays. I could be wrong, but I don’t hear about him selling out. Tyler does. Anyone been to a sold-out Isbell show recently?
Why we are on the lineup for Willie’s 4th of July concert, what the hell did Steve Earle do to deserve a 1 pm time slot? Before Willie’s son Particle Kid (2 pm). Earle has been more important to the country music landscape than Childers and Isbell combined and he was slotted 1 pm!
July 14, 2022 @ 8:17 am
Same reason that Tritt had to open for Gilbert.
It is not about the past. It is about the present.
July 14, 2022 @ 8:23 am
Hit a show in December of last year on the leg of his tour with Morgan Wade as his opener.
Great show, but it was not sold out, even with that bill. Sunday show, 7K seat arena that probably has a concert capacity of 5K or less.
July 14, 2022 @ 12:29 pm
With a lot of these Nashville-based Americana artists, there is a perception they are much bigger than they are because of the outsized amount of media coverage they receive, and their large Twitter presence. Again, I don’t want to discount Jason Isbell, because he is a headliner, and does have a decent fan base. But it’s nowhere close to Tyler Childers, though you may think otherwise because for every Tyler Childers article you see, there’s ten on what Jason Isbell said on Twitter.
This same thing is happen at Under The Big Sky Fest this weekend in Montana. Zach Bryan is playing BEFORE Margo Price, and in the middle of the day. I do agree that artists should have to “pay dues” and respect should be paid to oldtimers, but Margo Price is not a draw anywhere except Nashville and maybe LA. It’s just the outsized attention she has received for being an outspoken country star makes people think she’s huge. She doesn’t sell tickets, she doesn’t sell albums, and her streaming numbers are paltry. She also happens to be great live and is a good name to book for a festival. But she is one of the benefactors of the smoke and mirrors of the industry, and how the mother brain aspect of the Nashville-centric mindset clouds reality.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:39 pm
Very interesting. I absolutely had the perception that Isbell was bigger than Childers. Spotify numbers aren’t even close if that’s any indication. DBT is even still bigger than Isbell, which is just as much of a surprise to me.
I like them all.
July 14, 2022 @ 7:31 am
Also, here’s a link to Doug Freemam’s review of the article for the Austin Chronicle. Freeman writes there was a “noticeable audience exit after Childer’s set.” Boots on the ground put that number at least 1/4 of the crowd.
I’m sure the beer vendors and event organizers wish in retrospect Tyler was slotted ahead of Isbell too.
July 14, 2022 @ 7:32 am
Saving Country Music Headquarters lmao. Good one. Mom’s basement?
July 14, 2022 @ 11:42 am
Tyler’s voice is terrible now. I can’t listen to him anymore. I wasn’t able to give his last album away. I miss the old Tyler and the small venues. I’m happy to say I seen him when he was hot.
September 10, 2022 @ 10:26 pm
Tyler’s voice sounds better than ever since he stopped drinking.
September 11, 2022 @ 4:26 am
I just heard Angel Band. Awful. I rest my case. Let’s hope he doesn’t butcher Take my Hounds like he did Peace of Mind.
July 14, 2022 @ 12:59 pm
I understand that Tyler Childers is the point of this article, Trig, but it brings up something I’ve always taken issue with or failed to understand. Maybe I just missed it, but I never thought Hank III was as big of a deal as you make him out to be. I get that he injected some new energy into country, but it always seemed like more of a blip on the radar than a sea change. Maybe I’m just not seeing the through lines because I could never really get into Hank III. What of significance do you think remains from that time, either in artists that are still performing, or a continuing influence in the “genre” as a whole. I guess maybe you could argue Sunday Valley–>Sturgill Simpson, but I’m not sure that’s truly a result or even the same thing.
I’ve been here since the Hank III vs Shooter stuff, and I always felt this way…that Hank III was too far outside, too unpalatable to a larger (but still non-mainstream) audience, to carry a lot of water in whatever this alt-country / Americana thing is.
Not trying to pick a fight, as I think he was kind of what led to you starting this site in the first place (which I have enjoyed and appreciated for years). Maybe I just answered my own question, ha.
July 14, 2022 @ 3:38 pm
I’ve been waiting for Trig to respond, but I can’t any longer.
There wouldn’t have been an Outlaw movement revival in country music without Hank III. Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’ was released in 2002, Sirius XM launched an Outlaw Station that still to this very day spins a Hank III song every hour.
There wouldn’t have been a Shooter Jennings, Hellhound Glory, Lucky Tubb, BOB WAYNE, .357 String Band, or Justin Townes Earle without Hank III.
Hank III made it popular for underground stalwarts like Wayne Hancock and JB Beverly to get their due.
It was a different era back then making it impossible for Hank III to see the success Sturgill and Childers is having now, but that makes the success he had even more remarkable.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:09 pm
I was here for that era. I appreciate all the guys you mentioned, but the way I see it is that of all the names you listed, the only ones that had a sizeable impact out of this (then) very niche scene were Shooter and JTE, and I think they were going to get a shot regardless because of their last names.
Hank III’s flavor of country music was too hokey and too abrasive to have legs. Bands relying more on “fuck you” attitude than talent aren’t destined to stick around when their fans grow up. He seemed to coast on the novelty of being an edgy version of his grandfather. To each their own, and I know talent is pretty subjective, and that my opinion is tainted by him just never being my cup of tea.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:45 pm
Hank III’s music wasn’t accessible or palatable to every country music fan; his music didn’t have mass appeal, so his popularity was always going to be limited. But, this was a time when country music radio ruled with an iron fist, CMT still played music videos, and award shows matter. Hank III’s abrasive, punk, DIY novelty was the “fuck you” to country radio and the big machine. His epic battle with Curb was the first in a larger war against the country music industry. He flipped Nashville on its head, broke the machine and blew open the door for all independent artists.
July 14, 2022 @ 4:52 pm
Along with what Hoptowntiger said, Hank3 created the template for the artists to come after him. When artist manager Marc Dottore started managing Shooter Jennings early in his career, and later Sturgill Simpson, it was inspired by watching what Hank3 was doing, but thinking it could be done in a way that could rise to the mainstream if handled differently. Dottire has said as much to me and interviews. Hank3 was the instigation point. Sure, he never rose to the stature of Sturgill and more certainly not Tyler Childers, but that doesn’t mean his influence wasn’t massive, and doesn’t still linger today.
July 14, 2022 @ 6:24 pm
Fair point if that’s true about management. Still seems like someone was going to see some appeal in giving the son of Waylon a shot regardless, especially with the added marketing potential with his backstory of fronting GnR and his own similar band.
Posted a longer reply to Hoptowntiger above, but didn’t address the satellite radio station. Not going to argue with that one.
Mostly I never understood the appeal myself I guess, and stylistically I see more throughlines from the earlier Whiskeytown / Uncle Tupelo / Bottle Rockets / Slobberbone stuff to the Americana stuff that’s hugely successful now.
July 14, 2022 @ 3:35 pm
On a not unrelated note: I’ve been having this sense for a while that somebody from this scene could break out into the mainstream big time, I mean like global superstar level. Not in the Taylor Swift way, as in somebody who was a pop star disguised as country artist from the start, but somebody genuine like Tyler Childers or Zach Bryan or even Charles Wesley Godwin (he would be my preference). The way Nirvana broke out in the early nineties and pulled up into the mainstream a whole scene that was brewing underground for a decade or two. Of course we would be pissed like hell that the unwashed masses broke into our sanctuary, but I’m telling you man, the stars are aligned for this to happen. Either that or I’m overgeneralizing the love I have for this music…
July 14, 2022 @ 4:13 pm
Ok never mind that, the official country music holiday has begun where I’m at. I’m starting with Arlo.
July 16, 2022 @ 12:22 pm
Tell me you snort Tylenol when you have a headache without telling me you snort Tylenol when you have a headache but don’t actually post a video clip of you snorting Tylenol when you have a headache because I do not actually want to ever see anybody including you snort Tylenol when they have a headache because you’re not supposed to snort Tylenol whenever you have a headache so please just don’t ever go and snort Tylenol whenever you have a headache
July 16, 2022 @ 2:55 pm
No Tylenol where I live so no worries.
July 14, 2022 @ 5:55 pm
Billy Wayne Ruddick
July 15, 2022 @ 12:51 pm
Backroads and the Big Sandy
July 14, 2022 @ 8:01 pm
Drove 5 hours and spent a day getting closer to Tyler’s music. Spending some time in Paintsville, Van Lear and if your feeling like hard core backroads finding Whitehouse road, don’t recommend that in a car. Creeks looked like they could have arrowheads at every bend but wasn’t brave enough to jump out and walk them after the banded Clovis. Forget the big shows and listen to the music where it came from. Wished we would have headed south to Vergie. Drive north up the Big Sandy and crank up Loretta and Jack White. The amount of music that has came from those hills is amazing.
July 14, 2022 @ 11:22 pm
Question. Sometimes I get the feeling that many Americana/country artists quietly have a superiority complex. It’s almost like they don’t want their music to reach the masses or become mainstream because they don’t think the masses are worthy and that it would degrade the artistic superiority they feel compared to the mainstream radio stuff. Could that be a reason Tyler, Isbell, Sturgill and others refuse to go after “big time” success? I have no idea, and I could be 100% off base, but it’s just something I sense. I would be interested in Trigger or anyone else’s thoughts.
July 15, 2022 @ 9:23 am
Well, it doesn’t help that many Americana/independent fan bases accuse artists of “selling out” if they extend a hand towards the masses. The fan bases like to keep an exclusive club. Throw in the self-destructive Western belief that artists must suffer to be great as well.
July 15, 2022 @ 9:32 am
I think you have to regard all of these artists differently. I definitely think at times, Sturgill Simpson has had a superiority complex and believed the best way to express his creativity is by pissing off his own fans, as if that validates his creative autonomy. At other times, he’s been incredibly humble. Sturgill has two personalities.
I think Jason Isbell and his wife Amanda Shires want to be superstars and as “popular” as they can be, while still holding onto their integrity as artists. They’re also both self-defeating in how they’ve allowed politics to cloud judgements on their music, and limit their audience in a way where their social justice message is innert, and is just pandering to a constituency.
As for Tyler Childers, I think he’s a country boy who is just trying to keep his head on straight in an unusual situation he never thought he’d be in. He outkicked his coverage, and is just trying to do right by himself, and the world, while doing his best to remain grounded.
July 16, 2022 @ 1:40 pm
One thing I totally forgot until I read Bibs comment is how much Childers hates, loathes and despises the Americana label. I don’t rule out that’s another reason he shies away from playing songs from Purgatory and he’s seeking a different creative avenue.
July 16, 2022 @ 5:29 am
Colter Wall has also not been touring or put out an album in two years! Luke Bell, one of the best talents in country music, only had one album! I think people focus too much on liking who’s popular at the time and forget about the quality music that’s already out there. Of course, I’d love to see Tyler come back to my small town or Colter in my favorite small venue but those guys just want to live quiet lives that mean something and for that, I don’t blame them!
July 16, 2022 @ 10:49 am
Very well-written. Not very well researched. Hard to believe the same guy who wrote this mostly poignantly worded & eloquently structured article is the same guy who, within that same article, claimed Tyler’s last album was ‘Country Squire’. I guess ‘Long Violent History’ from 2020 has been somehow “unreleased”? I didn’t even know they could do that. Impressive! I saw Tyler open up for REK, Jr. In south Texas in early 2019 & he was absolutely amazing. I have heard a few friends who’ve seen him more recently all complain about the same issues regarding those setlists though since Tyler got sober. If you’re going to waste your talent on being sober, stop doing it at the expense of your fan base, Tyler!
July 16, 2022 @ 11:02 am
No disrespect was meant to “Long Violent History,” but I think most would agree it’s not an original album of new studio material, which is what the discussion is about here. It’s sort of its own animal with one original song. Myself and others also discussed the album later in the comments section.
July 16, 2022 @ 12:07 pm
Oh well thanks for clearing that up. I suppose my remarks were a bit under informed. Nobody tells me nothing! There are still so many great artists that have never disappointed me & I’ll never forget the greatest concert I’ve ever attended in my life because it was My very 2 favorite artists together in Houston at the White Oak 3 yrs ago….Benjamin Todd & Lost Dog Street Band with The Devil Makes Three!! Take them over Tyler, Surgical Simpson (whatever her name is), Davy Crockett, & the whole lot of them other self-important fartknockers any day of the week
July 16, 2022 @ 12:17 pm
Thanks for the clarification. I’ll make sure I’ve got the big pic before opening my big mouth moving forward lol…it’s convos like this that make me appreciate my fond memories from the best concert I’ve ever attended as it was my two favorite artists together on one bill at the White Oak in Houston back in late 19′: Benjamin Tod w/ Lost Dog Street Band & The devil Makes 3….they both make rather short work of the collective artistic & musical crafts of the whole lot of Tyler, Surgical Simmons, Davy Crockett, & company. You never catch them straying far from what made you first really fall in love with their work & if they’re gonna experiment, you can take comfort in knowing you can trust their tasteful judgment to ever lead them to a place where their audience & fans are going to be left feeling cheated or shortchanged. That security as a fan has been lost on me with respect to Tyler (& Purgatory/CountrySquire/live@redbarn have always been right up there among my favorite music) his new stuff & material inspired by this new found sobriety can all go to the burnpile….it does nothing for me
What I Said
July 29, 2022 @ 4:22 am
A very late reply to this but my excuse is that I just saw it.
Personally I suspect that a huge part of the reason for Tyler’s reclusiveness at the moment is because the guy is trying to stay sober and it’s not easy for him. One thing that’s taught at “get sober” school, whether it’s AA meetings or rehab or whatever, is that if you want to stay sober, you have to stay away from the routines and people and places that usually involved drinking or using. At least at first, until one is more committed and more comfortable with their sobriety. An ex of mine went through all that and I remember that staying away from certain of his friends and coworkers was a big deal and he thought he might even have to switch jobs just to get away from them. In Tyler’s case, I think that touring and drinking/drugs went hand in hand, and he’s got to get more comfortable with his sobriety before he tries to learn how to tour without drugs and alcohol. It can be a lot harder than you might think if you’ve never been addicted to anything. Any behavior that usually involved drinking or using can lead one right back into their old life.
There is also the fact that his wife is pregnant and covid is raging again and he wouldn’t want to go out on tour and bring covid back to his pregnant wife. But I strongly suspect that mostly it’s the sobriety issue–he’s TRYING to stay sober, but he’s not guaranteed to. He’s just doing his best. If he’s no longer performing Whitehouse Road, that makes me more sure that I’m right: He’s avoiding triggers and things that romanticize his addictions, and that song certainly does that.
Just something to think about.
November 16, 2022 @ 6:41 pm
Childers is a sellout K-Mart cowboy. He chose to support BLM whose riots spread covid and violence across the nation. Stores not looted were burned. The leadership stole the donations for themselves and are being investigated world wide for theft. Racism is dumb. People who jump to conclusions are equally stupid. Everyone who doesn’t agree with Childers is a racist and a Nazi apparently…
Not another dollar or second of my time till Tyler takes a knee for the second time.