Tyler Childers On His Music: “I’m Calling It Country”
Tyler Childers has had one whirlwind of a week. Currently touring through Europe, he flew in express to Los Angeles to attend the Grammy Awards where his song “All Your’n” was up for Best Country Solo Performance, eventually losing to Willie Nelson and “Ride Me Back Home.” There’s no lost dignity in that.
“Went over to Grammy’s house and found her with Willie Nelson…can’t blame her though,” Childers said after the show. “Had a blast taking the lady out. She looked beautiful, and I’m a lucky man. Saw Lizzo perform, which good Lord…she’s a bad woman! Totally worth the flight from Norway just to see that. Caught a brief yack with the Mr. and Mrs Prine and hugged Shooter Jennings neck. Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement and all the support. Now back to the road, and the honest work.”
Hanging out at the Grammys was not the only high-profile appearance Tyler Childers made recently. The Kentucky native was featured on NPR’s World Cafe on Monday during a 30-minute segment, and once again voiced his concerns for the state of country music, and how he feels Americana is more of a distraction than a solution.
“Well, I was intending to ruffle some feathers I suppose,” Childers said about his moment during the 2018 Americana Music Awards when he accepted the Emerging Artist of the Year award, and later said Americana “Ain’t no part of nothing” after the announcer mispronounced his name.
“It was at The Ryman, which is the Mother Church of Country Music, and they’re holding the Americana Awards, which I feel is a big hindrance in maintaining true to roots country music,” Childers told World Cafe. “Everybody always talks about the state of country music and puts down commercial country like something’s got to be done, and they need to be elevating artists that are doing more traditional country, and then we’re not calling those artists country artists. We’re put into this Americana thing, which is what it is, and I don’t really know how to define what Americana is. We’re our own thing, it’s a new time, and I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m calling it country. I think a lot of times, it’s kind of become just a costume.”
Tyler Childers also spoke on the program about the importance of humor in country music. “It’s important to show all the human experience. And in order to do that you got to have humorous songs and sad songs. Somebody that encouraged me to not take myself so seriously was John Hartford.”
After Tyler Childers gets back from Europe, he’ll be embarking on a big arena tour with fellow Kentuckian and producer Sturgill Simpson (see dates).
January 28, 2020 @ 12:04 pm
A-fucking-men! When saw the NPR post, I was worried he’d become “an NPR artist.” But, he doubled down. I hate the Hallmark Americana marketing ploy!
It’s time we take our Country music back!!
January 28, 2020 @ 2:02 pm
Sorry, my man, whether we like it or not – Tyler Childers IS an NPR artist. The media pick up on, anoint, classify, and put artists wherever they like. Just because Tyler’s denying he’s “Americana” doesn’t mean he’s not (knowingly) benefiting from the usual “Americana” media outlets, like NPR.
Most casual listeners aren’t coming across Tyler for the first time on CMT or their commercial country radio station, they’re coming across him on NPR or Rolling Stone. First time I ever saw/heard Sturgill Simpson years back was from his NPR Tiny Desk concert. They were pitching him, unofficially, as “Americana” and I’m gonna wager he got way more fans out of the gate with that implied classification.
January 30, 2020 @ 2:26 pm
What is “NPR artist”? Anyone who is on NPR? That is a LOT of artists then who have NOTHING in common. Kind of like “Americana”.
January 28, 2020 @ 12:18 pm
You mad, bro?
Maybe this is to pump up the white trash at his crowds.
Wilson Pick It
January 28, 2020 @ 12:47 pm
White trash lol. All you’re doing is proving that Americana is an elitist term.
January 28, 2020 @ 1:09 pm
How interesting …
How would you classify yourself?
I dare say a lot of the people you refer to as white trash, would be amongst the first of the population to stop and help, in an emergency. Would lend a helping hand to their neighbors, or strangers.
January 29, 2020 @ 2:45 am
Nice Di. Most people judge others by looks and or hearsay. He said She said are 2 things we ALL would love to live without. In 08 myself, a buddy,his 5yr old, my 5yr old and our babysitter were returning home from camping all weekend me driving sober as sober is. Seriously y’all. I’m sober we get pulled over less than 2 miles from home cuz sheriff. Couldn’t see the temp tag clearly taped in the back window of my buddies blazer. Well. I explain where we been ALL weekend which was about 30 miles from anything and now we’re less than 2 miles from my driveway AND this Barney Phife ass of a deputy tells me to get out and take sobriety test cuz the blazer smelled of “trash n booze:”. No problem I tell him cuz I haven’t had a drink ALL day and what he was “smelling” was our trash and empties from camping 3 days. He has my class A CDL in hand and orders me to do his version of a road side sobriety test which I Aced without flaw. I’m standing there politely,respectfully waiting for him to hand me my license back when he looks me over like I’m trash cuz covered with tats and in swim trunks shirtless he says to me ” What gang are you down with”? Huh I had to do a double take. I was in disbelief I just passed his bs road side test.was honest and respectful with him and he calls me white trash cuz of my ink and he was mad that I wasn’t drunk. But he gonna mess up my cdL license because he could. I let him know REAL quick. He was the trash and on the wrong side of the river
January 29, 2020 @ 6:32 am
Your story made me think of these Mike Cooley lyrics in the Drive-By Truckers song Guitar Man Upstairs.
When I was sixteen I had a little trouble with the law
He said “Boy come here” I said “Boy yourself
I ain’t done nothing wrong”
He grabbed me by the arm and He went upside my head
Nobody saw nothing
But I got a little spot where my hair ain’t grown back yet
Or Henry Rollins writing about being regularly harassed by LA cops in his Black Flag days in the eighties.
January 29, 2020 @ 7:51 am
Sorry that you were harassed.
Unfortunately, a lot of law enforcement officers could be classified as loose cannons.
Have said before that i can’t stand the FBI.
My FBI special agent husband knocked me down, and broke my right arm in two places.
I am all too aware of what a**holes most of these people are. Their arrogance is off the charts.
That being said, there are a few REALLY good law enforcement officers out there. And, i really appreciate all of the good ones, and their families.
Had the pleasure of marrying a dear friend, who was ISP, (Indiana State Police), former Deputy U.S. Marshal, had been loaned out to the D.O.J. working undercover, mainly narcotics, in Miami. And a former Marine.
He was a Great guy. And most importantly, a real man, and a gentleman.
On another note …
I love the suit Tyler is wearing in this picture, and i think Senora May’s dress goes perfectly with it.
Just my opinion, but looks like they are rocking, a late 1800’s, early 1900’s, SouthWest vibe.
February 1, 2020 @ 7:45 am
‘ he was mad that I wasn’t drunk’
Sadly that’s probably what it boiled down to. He wasn’t smart enough to accept his mistake, apologize and be on his way.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:58 pm
Somebody drank too many PBRs after his boyfriend left him.
January 28, 2020 @ 8:07 pm
Oh cool, a homophobic joke.
January 28, 2020 @ 8:42 pm
Oh, cool. A joke cop. Just write the ticket and be on your way. FYI there are a few hetero guys that still drink PBR.
February 1, 2020 @ 7:42 am
LOL! Joke cop. Nice.
February 1, 2020 @ 2:29 pm
Found the Florida Georgia Line fan
January 28, 2020 @ 12:23 pm
I joined the AMA when it first started up. Hung in for a couple of years the. Did not renew my membership. Didn’t seem to be doing anything except promoting its annual show. Not much different than the CMA, ACM and Grammy except it never really achieved any kind of importance relative to those others. Americana, meh.
January 28, 2020 @ 1:30 pm
As fun as it is to talk about, this whole “country” vs. “Americana” debate is unnecessary hair splitting over semantics at best, and obtuse or disingenuous at worst.
There’s been reactionary, traditionalist “back to our roots” movements in country music for decades (since the 60’s at least) and those artists almost never get the commercial backing they deserve. Popular tastes don’t always align with those traditional-minded artists. It is what it is. Nothing wrong with it.
So, what happens? Since those artists can’t compete commercially with the big mainstream country artists, a new “genre” (ie. Americana) is loosely established (by fans, by media, whoever) to give those artists better footing, to get better media coverage and find an audience who might otherwise correlate “country” with “mainstream trash” (justifiably or not). Lumping in Tyler Childers with, say, Sam Hunt and saying they’re both “country” isn’t very productive or meaningful.
Here’s a thought experiment – say you have a music fan friend who has no knowledge of country music at all, maybe they’re a little elitist about their music tastes and are the type to say “I don’t listen to country” based on what they heard on commercial radio, but you think they’d enjoy listening to Tyler Childers. Would you say, “hey, here’s a country artist I think you’d enjoy” or “hey, here’s an Americana artist I think you’d enjoy.” Which phrase would they react best to, and in turn make that first listen more enticing or palatable?
January 28, 2020 @ 1:46 pm
Interestingly, our local “Adult Album Alternative” format commercial radio station with the tag “World Class Rock” is now playing Tyler Childers (which could then be followed by Matchbox Twenty, Train, or an old Smashmouth song). Strange times, but good for Tyler I guess.
January 28, 2020 @ 2:02 pm
shades of am radio in the 60.s and 70’s where you’d hear elvis , beatles, herp alpert , carpenters , stevie wonder, kenny rogers , mason williams , glen campbell, charlie pride, barbara streisand and the monkess ALL PLAYED BACK TO BACK …..AND ALL DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER .
compare THAT scenario to ‘country’ radio today ……ALL THE SAME
January 29, 2020 @ 5:20 pm
WWCT in Peoria?
January 30, 2020 @ 7:20 pm
I live in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area where our AAA station (Ann Arbor’s 107-1, WQKL) has played Sturgill Simpson (even before he pivoted away from traditional country), Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves more than its pop country formatted sister station (which thankfully is not a Nash FM and still programmed locally). It’s a Cumulus station that follows a set playlist six days out of the week but on Sundays they have a wide variety of specialty programming that almost makes them seem like a college station.
January 28, 2020 @ 1:53 pm
I would say, “here’s a real country artist I think you’d enjoy.” I would never, ever use the term Americana when describing an artists I like, because the term is undefinable, made-up, a marketing ploy. There’s no real genre that is Americana.
If we abandon the institution that is country music just because it’s easier for outsiders to consume it, then we are forsaken country music’s soul and doing a disservice to the country music artists that helped define the genre.
We don’t cut and run because it’s easier. We work and fight so Tyler Childers catches on and people demand programers to play his music on mainstream platforms instead of Sam Hunt.
Americana started off as a retirement home for aging artists that no longer had mainstream appeal (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash). I was fine with that at the time, because their time had passed. But, when this fictions genre started syphoning off new talent, talent that can actually help define and grow the genre, it became a liability. Imagine if in the 80s Randy Travis jumped to a imaginary genre because he couldn’t initially get radio play. The Urban Cowboy movement would have continued and there would have be a neotraditionalist movement. Or if Chris Stapleton ran away to the Americana genre, Bro Country would still be dominate in the genre.
January 28, 2020 @ 1:56 pm
“and there WOULDN’T have be a neotraditionalist movement”
January 28, 2020 @ 2:23 pm
Every genre term is a marketing ploy, including “country.” “Country” wasn’t even always “country”. It was “hillbilly” at first, to sell records, because it had to be defined somehow for commerce – or else it might’ve died on some hillside or holler somewhere and nobody would’ve ever heard about the Carters. Not to mention commercial radio play and commercial sponsorship. Country was always a product. Always marketed to the widest audience possible.
I’m not saying anybody should cut and run, or that we should lose artists to the “Americana” genre, only that it seems the “country” genre term has already been poisoned. If it helps an artist find an audience, why fight the “Americana” term? I see Tyler fighting it, but come on, he’s benefiting from that term and the controversy.
Also, why not market to outsiders? I was an absolute outsider five years ago, until I heard Sturgill’s NPR Tiny Desk concert. I never even liked or listened to NPR, still really don’t. I heard about Sturgill from a friend and googled him, and that NPR concert was the first thing that popped up. I didn’t even realize there was anything like that happening in “country” at the time. Blew my mind really.
I now consider myself a “country” fan. I’ve been to a lot of country concerts and bought a lot of country albums since then. I’d like to think my “outsider” dollar is helping country music. Wouldn’t it be nice if more people were introduced to good country music regardless of the genre term or media outlet that might’ve enticed them to give it a chance in the first place?
January 28, 2020 @ 3:04 pm
On the term Americana, I kinda have reason to believe it was where the old alternative country movement transitioned to as artists began to pick up more roots based influences. Its definition has changed immensely over the years, I wouldn’t regard it as a retirement home. I think the genre is good for country music.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:56 pm
Yeah. The alt country acts like Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Whiskeytown (Ryan Adams) …. but today, they would get play on Outlaw Country or some other Sirius station and covered by Trig and other media outlets. Those artists were regulated to strictly college radio station back then. You’d think with social media and streaming platforms those artists would find more traction today.
November 22, 2020 @ 5:57 am
Bob wills once said he was [not a “hillbilly” act]
I’ve been into “alt country” since guitartown and copperhead road. I liked americana since the movie La Bamba came out.
What would we call those Mike Ness albums? Country, Rock, Americana, Punk, spoken word?
I used to sit on my friend’s back porch on acid in and just out of hs, 30years ago. These dudes were into Live, mmbtones. Except on acid. Just Willie Nelson. Was Willie a jamband a country artist or a pop singer(while we were on the trip)?
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:35 am
…Chris Stapleton is literally the worst possible example you could have chosen, haha.
He got his start with The Steeldrivers.
He tours with guys like Brent Cobb, Yola, MKB, and Marty Stuart.
All of his solo albums have been produced by Dave Cobb.
He got his big break on a duet with Justin Timberlake.
Like, if you’re looking for the ur-example of how the existence of the “Americana” label can help foster growth and creativity in the country mainstream, it’s Chris Stapleton.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:44 pm
Back on the old nodepression.com site (back before Freshgrass bought No Depression and it was still a socially interactive site), one of the regular commenters once wrote that whenever he said he listened to Americana music, it was as if he was lying about something, but he wasn’t sure what.
I never use the term Americana to describe the music I like, even though I like a lot of artists that are called that. It’s a term that feels artificial to me and I just never liked it. (I liked alt.country OK). And it has its own problems, like when people remark that its name means American, but it’s predominantly a white genre. Or people bitching whenever a person who isn’t American gets recognized by the AMA, even though they may be beloved by roots music fans. If I was to describe people like Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, and Jason Boland, I’d probably say “good country” to make the distinction. People like Isbell and Hayes Carll I would probably identify as roots/folk rock.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:57 pm
January 29, 2020 @ 8:46 am
Despite my (possibly, obnoxiously) contrarian comments in this thread, I’m not necessarily defending “Americana” as a genre term. I rarely use the term “Americana” and I agree it doesn’t totally describe, or fully encompass, any particular artist or song. It’s a highly subjective, nuanced, and loaded term.
However, I ALSO refrain from using terms like “good country” or “real country.” Not saying you are, but I usually find that folks who use those terms are just trying to virtue signal, fake their knowledge, fake their allegiances, or play cool.
One of the things that made me want to dig deep into country music not too long ago was growing up always hearing stuff like “I don’t listen to country, except the ‘real’ stuff like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.” That dissuaded me from exploring country music for a long time because it made me think the genre was dead, with its few “real” artists long gone. But, eventually after stumbling on Sturgill I thought “wait, this is really good, this can’t be a fluke – there has to be more like this.” There sure was, and I’m glad I got over the pretension of genre terms, value judgments, and name dropping old dead icons.
“Good” or “bad”, “real” or “fake”, like “Americana”, are also highly subjective terms.
January 29, 2020 @ 9:25 am
I don’t use the term “real country.” I’m not from the country and did not grow up loving country music. It was just another type of “old people music” to me as a kid growing up in the NYC area. As my tastes in rock music took a turn for the roots, I listened to a lot of blues and country influenced rock and roll and then eventually found my way to straight blues and country artists. Another reason why I don’t use that term is that I’m not a country purist. But I do think there’s a lot of bad music being marketed as country music and that’s the stuff that the general public is more likely to think of as country music. And so if I say I like “good country music,” I’m trying to communicate better as to the type of music I like and don’t like. I don’t have to worry too much about virtue signaling, because most of the people in my real life world aren’t much interested in any form of country music.
January 29, 2020 @ 5:30 pm
If you ran into someone who only ever had Velveeta, how would you introduce them to Asiago cheese?
I cherish the heritage and history of country music. Despite being born in 1976, I think its best era was from the late 70s into the very early 80s. I don’t want to abandon those artists and songs by rebranding what used to be country music. Especially right now when Appalachian, mountain music is on the rise.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 30, 2020 @ 12:06 pm
I would start them off with good cheddar, or even a brie, before working them up to hard cheeses.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:44 am
Yeah, I don’t think anyone actually says “I listen to Americana.”
I usually go with “Singer-Songwriter stuff” or “That weird nexus of roots, rock, folk, and blues.”
November 22, 2020 @ 6:03 am
I caught HC smoking a roach in the hedge outside our little radio station one Sunday along time ago. I fired up a bigger roach and he played live free or die on air.
Was Hayes gangster rap that Sunday or was he a cowboy poet? College rock or aaa?
January 28, 2020 @ 2:40 pm
I don’t see it as Tyler fighting the term Americana.
I see him calling it out as some bullshi*
January 28, 2020 @ 3:08 pm
If Tyler doesn’t know what Americana is, how the heck can we know? The answer is we do not. I respect him more rather than less because he speaks the truth about “Americana”. NPR and other leftists groups want to champion Americana because that is a place where liberal artists under the large umbrella of country music can go unless they are mainstream enough that they can be liberal in the country genre, like ole’ Willie.
Sorry, but Americana is as much a political thing as anything else. May have not started that way, but it “seems” that is where they are now. They are just another “veiled” organization with similar views to the Grammy’s. On that note, it is no surprise who usually wins the Grammy’s. And I might be ostracized for saying this, but what helped Tanya win her Grammy’s this year was the presence of Brandi Carlile in the project. It was just another way for the Grammy’s to make their statement in the county music realm. Mind you, Tanya is good enough on her own to win.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:25 pm
Tyler’s playing the game. He rejects, or at least plays dumb about, “Americana” all the while benefiting from the association. He’s playing coy and appeasing as much of his fan base, and potential fans, as possible. Just like Johnny Cash did (and Willie does). He “walked the line” (sorry) of controversy to appeal to both conservative fans and the lefty hippies/hipsters.
I don’t disagree with your analysis about the politics of it all. There’s absolutely a right/left political dynamic to country vs. Americana, and the media and awards etc. That said, let’s let the music speak for itself. We can all accurately guess where our favorite artists stand politically, but whether you chose to reject them for it (or the media outlets that support them) is a matter of your own personal biases, not theirs.
January 28, 2020 @ 4:39 pm
I cannot disagree with anything you stated. Very well put.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:50 am
I don’t think anyone disagrees that Brandi Carlile’s presence helped Tanya win…some of us just think it’s because Brandi Carlile is fucking awesome and makes great music, haha.
January 28, 2020 @ 3:35 pm
I listen to 650 WSM am. You can stream it for free and depending on your locale it comes in all over the place, particularly on the weekends. I consider WSM to be “The” Country station of Country Stations. They play a nice balance of the Real Deal classic stuff and also play Tyler Childers and Cody Jinks, Aaron Watson, Jon Pardi, Midland, Mo Pitney and some of the other more traditional sounding acts. Nobody complains that I’m aware of and although they do play Bro-acts too, you never have to wait long for the good stuff.
Trigger has been pointing out a steady but slow rise of acts invading the mainstream that are challenging the dominance of the Bro, Metro-Bro and Boyfriend acts. In my area, Cody Jinks and Aaron Watson and Jon Pardi are getting loads of airplay on our “Country” stations. So, I do think there’s been improvement compared to where we were just 5 years ago. Who knows, maybe the ship is ever so slowly turning in the right direction, I guess time will tell.
Americana is currently miles from where it was when it started, and I know a lot of folks are commenting on the increased importance of politics in who wins awards and why. And frankly, I’m feeling like Americana (Whatever it means this year) is a bit too focused on demographics and politics, and less focused on just rewarding great artistic achievement. Quite a bit of what is considered “Americana”could not honestly be described as country. Not knocking the artists themselves, they are what they are, but you can’t label them all Country. For example, Mavis Staples is currently enjoying huge popularity in that realm. Would you honestly describe her as a Country artist? How about The Milk Carton Kids? By their own admission they are not Country Music. Graham Nash was honored by Americana, would you call him a Country artist? I could go on with more examples.
Dale Watson was told by the Americana organization that his brand of music as well as Western Swing and Rockabilly were all “under the umbrella” of Americana, so don’t go off and start your own thing. According to Dale, he told them “if we are under your umbrella, then most of us are out here getting wet.” Meaning: the folks getting recognition and winning awards have almost nothing to do with traditional Country Music and Western Swing. This is why he went on to form the Ameripolitan organization, to reward people in the traditional genres who are being ignored by Americana. Personally, I like what Dale is doing and I’m a supporter of it, but I am ever hopeful that Mainstream Country may right itself to some degree.
January 28, 2020 @ 7:57 pm
January 30, 2020 @ 2:09 pm
The term “Americana” is a marketing term and means nothing to me. Who cares about genres? My criteria of ALL music is I either like it or I don’t.
January 28, 2020 @ 4:01 pm
Seen him in Dublin on his tour of Europe. He was awesome and his band were superb. Put on a really great gig.
January 28, 2020 @ 5:19 pm
How Cool, Belfast!
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:52 am
Ayyyy, I was there as well!
They sold out too quickly for me to snag a ticket, but the bouncer took pity on those of us who came out anyway to try to buy a spare, and let me and a few others in.
January 30, 2020 @ 9:51 pm
January 28, 2020 @ 6:50 pm
Country is the best way to describe Tyler Childers’ music to most people. If you say Americana, a large chunk of people will have no idea what you’re talking about. So, it makes sense why he’d make this argument.
The leaders of the AMA suck at marketing. I think Americana is a fine term to describe everything including Childers, Alabama Shakes, Isbell, Margo, The Band, Sam Bush, Keb Mo, etc. Music isn’t completely siloed into separate genres, so i like that all of this music can be grouped into one community.
But, until the official group can figure out how to brand itself, I don’t blame individual artists for preferring labels that are clearer to the general public.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:54 am
I also think that Childers is MUCH more overtly country than the rest of those guys.
January 28, 2020 @ 8:16 pm
January 28, 2020 @ 8:20 pm
Americana – term used by the “woke” mustache twisting urban dorks who go to ax throwing bars in $170 flannel shirts and too-tight skinny pants sipping craft beer and smoke infused bourbon 🙄
Traditional country- term I use to describe the music I love….while I enjoy a nice ipa 😂
January 29, 2020 @ 6:16 am
Tiresome comment. And as someone who loves a lot of artists under the Americana umbrella and who has seen a lot of them in concert, one I don’t related to at all.
January 31, 2020 @ 2:44 pm
“the “woke” mustache twisting urban dorks who go to ax throwing bars in $170 flannel shirts and too-tight skinny pants sipping craft beer and smoke infused bourbon” What stupidity. And I don’t ever like that term “Americana”.
January 28, 2020 @ 8:40 pm
I’ve attended AmericanaFest in Nashville for several years. At this multi-day, multi-venue event, I’ve been able to see showcases by everyone from Tyler Childers to John Prine to Blind Boys of Alabama to Orville Peck to the Milk Carton Kids to Sarah Shook. Sure, these artists cover a variety of country styles, but also blues, gospel, folk, and soul. What brings them all together is that, by and large, they are ignored by the radio stations that control their genres. So instead they’ve found an audience that buys their music and attends their shows and honors their contribution. What’s wrong with that? Why can’t these artists be “Americana and….?” Americana and country. Americana and blues. Americana and gospel. Americana and folk. Americana and soul. Americana fans are viewed as “elitist,” often on this site, when actually all they want is to celebrate great music regardless of an artist’s age or gender or sexual orientation or commercial viability. If that’s a political statement, that hardly seems like something to be discarded to force artists into little boxes.
January 29, 2020 @ 12:01 am
I try to support anything that supports good music, including Americana and AmericanaFest, and have for years. That said, Tyler has a point. There’s nothing wrong with Americana. There’s something wrong calling country that’s actually country Americana while ceding the term “country” to what they’re playing on the radio.
Robert's Country Blog
January 29, 2020 @ 6:42 am
He does make some valid points, but Americanafest is the first place I saw Tyler Childers, and he is still in the Americana Music Association member directory. The Americana Twitter retweeted the NPR article, and Americana radio stations frequently play his music. If he truly has some deep-seated ideological problem with Americana, why is he a member in the first place? I’ve seen him a few times, and I’ve given him positive coverage on my page, but even though I generally agree with his point, doesn’t it appear that he is biting the hand that fed him ?
January 29, 2020 @ 8:25 am
Look, I’m conflicted on this subject, and see it both ways. I’ve been to AmericanaFest the last five years or something, always attend and cover the awards show. That said, I do think it’s troublesome to call actual country bands Americana. There’s a little part of me that wonders if Childers is sort of calling something like Saving Country Music out in his recent comments. And if he is, I’d respect that. This is a very difficult subject, but I’m not opposed to him addressing it and stimulating important discussion.
January 29, 2020 @ 9:04 am
Am still waiting for some entity to get their head out of their behind, and do everything they can to launch Sierra Ferrell.
She has real talent.
Learned of her through one of your Americana articles.
No harm, no foul
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2020 @ 10:59 am
I would agree that it’s definitely inaccurate to call someone like Childers “Americana.”
To wit, he’s honestly a touch too heavy on the country for me, since the vast majority of what I listen to is on the Americana/Texoma side (Isbell, the Earles, Turnpike, WCG, Moreland, etc).
January 29, 2020 @ 2:22 pm
To my ears, Turnpike is just as country as Childers, just a more Texan flavor of country as opposed to Childers’ Appalachian influenced style.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 30, 2020 @ 11:42 am
See, that “Texan flavor” sounds to my ears like a blend of that hardcore Childers/Colter/HTM-era Sturgill style with the likes of Tom Petty or Mark Knopfler.
To be clear…that’s a feature, not a flaw in my eyes! I grew up listening to Petty and Dire Straits, and the first country album I ever truly fell in love with was “I Feel Alright” by Steve Earle, which is very much the same aesthetic as Turnpike.
January 29, 2020 @ 6:25 am
Labels on Music always go wrong, whether its country, american, folk music, etc. A similar argument happens in the blues vs blues rock arena. Its all so stupid. Good music is good music.
Here’s a question for Tyler; Is he prepared to call up all of the radio stations, web sites, satellite stations that call themselves Americana and say “Don’t play my music”.?
Don’t think so. If he does, I hope they ignore him because his music deserves to be heard.
January 29, 2020 @ 7:42 am
That would a monumentally stupid thing for him for him to do and he doesn’t strike me as a monumentally stupid person. Other straight country artists are covered on “Americana” entities, as a lot of (but not all) roots music fans love hard country music (or as Tyler calls it, “true to roots country music”). I’m guessing he won’t be upset if his very worthy album “Country Squire” doesn’t get an AMA best album nomination this year.
January 29, 2020 @ 9:07 am
These “Is it real country or not” and “Americana vs Country” arguments are getting pretty old. If you like it listen to it. If you don’t….well don’t.
January 29, 2020 @ 9:29 am
I say this knowing that it’s probably not the “right “ answer to all this. I know why many of you find this important, so no need to reply… I get it. And no disrespect.
But damn, it’s so nice not to give a fuck. I’ll probably put some Tyler on the ole stereo later, probably some other genres too, and not worry about what people want to call it. In some ways this is all just noise, and I’d rather listen to the noise coming from my speakers…
January 29, 2020 @ 11:18 am
Ok I see the irony in saying that I don’t care about this and then posting again…. but I couldn’t help notice the irony of discussing this, in the context of what song he was just nominated for. I think it’s funny to have this convo about him being a country artist, in the context of the Grammys, when the song he was nominated for seems like something other than country to me (and I assume to others). All the more reason this is a bit silly. If he is hell bent on the “country” label, why make that song a single in the first place? This conservative (not in the political sense), attempt to define genres gets tricky, pretty quickly. I’m not sure that the perceived payoff is worth it….
January 29, 2020 @ 9:33 am
Americana is a catch all now. It’s where ya go when you’re old or “woke.” You get to drop “F” bombs for artistic purposes. And if TC keeps writing songs like, ” Ever Lovin’ Hand, i” it’s where he will stay. Sorry, I’m butthurt on that song. ha!
January 31, 2020 @ 2:45 pm
January 29, 2020 @ 9:48 am
I am reminded of the movie “Diner” where Shrevie has a system for organizing his record albums. He gives his wife a hard time about this, and his wife says something like “I just wanna hear the music”. I love real country and don’t worry about the labels. I just enjoy the good country music that is out there! Whatever the groups, corporations, etc call it.
January 29, 2020 @ 9:52 am
Anyone pretending to not know or understand what “Americana” means is being intentionally ignorant. Look, the genre term “country” has been watered down to mean folks like Thomas Rhett. Music with blue collar or classically country themes, but no real semblance of country instrumentation or composition. Literally everyone with ears knows this. You may not like it, but you know it. Label it good or bad, its just the way it is now. Americana means someone with these same themes but musical leanings more towards a traditional or “primitive” sound to their instrumentation or composition. Again, if you have ears, you know this. Musicians and music critics love to pick and choose when to get frustrated with genres. On one hand, they love to say that genre labels are stupid and meaningless. That is until you give them a genre they disagree with and now all of a sudden its a big damn deal. The bottom line is this: in 2020, Americana has an articulate and concrete meaning, and everyone knows it. If people like Tyler want to get lumped into the “Country” genre then he better fire up that synth and download purchase a banjo-replicator extension for his macbook because thats what it will take.
January 29, 2020 @ 5:47 pm
Here’s the top 100 Americans albums of 2019
Please, almighty and knowing, tell me what the following artists have in common:
Sheryl freakin Crow
Then explain to me how I’m playing ignorant because I can’t connect the dots.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 30, 2020 @ 11:50 am
All of those artists write their own songs, and record those songs with real instruments.
January 30, 2020 @ 2:10 pm
So Nine Inch Nails or Tool would fit on that list?
Cool Lester Smooth
January 30, 2020 @ 5:52 pm
Both Reznor and Tool use electronic elements in their music.
Now, if you want to say that Tom Petty would fit on this list, go for it.
Anyway, the only person out of place on that list is Santana…and African Speaks is very much an out of place album for him, and one which absolutely tracks as Americana.
January 30, 2020 @ 9:50 pm
Umm, an electric guitar uses electronic elements. I just laugh at all this arguing over genres. I either like it or I don’t. And I’m a huge fan of Tyler Childers and Nine Inch Nails. And of course Santana, at least most of their music.
January 30, 2020 @ 5:46 pm
January 29, 2020 @ 2:37 pm
As an alt country die-hard, I figured I would weigh-in. I tend to not much like artists I consider to be Americana. To me, Americana brings to mind something like slow, gentle bluegrass – no electric guitars, slow or mid-tempo songs, people standing in a field for the music video, etc.
I love Tyler Childers. To me, that dude is straight up country. Hell, he is the definition of country. I guess if I were to differentiate him, Cody Jinks, and Mike and the Moonpies from the stuff on the radio I would call it Underground Country.
And all of this is separate to me from alt-country, which at it’s core is some mixture of rock and country, where the sound can vary from song to song depending on how far the dial is turned either way. Uncle Tupelo invented it, as far as I’m concerned.
Bottom line to me is that to call Tyler Childers something other than country is a disservice. Let’s call Luke Bryan, etc. something else if we need a new name. They are the ones that sound different, not Tyler.
January 29, 2020 @ 3:25 pm
Alt country fanatic myself; americana has actually absorbed most modern forms of what was once considered “classically” alt country. Son Volt is a great example, and there are several others. That being said however, I would agree Childers is country and does not capture alt country sound even if placed in the Americana realm.
January 29, 2020 @ 5:39 pm
Cool Lester Smooth
January 30, 2020 @ 11:54 am
Yeah, I might even call it “Indie Country,” but Childers, Jinks and Mike and the Moonpies are all resolutely country…which is part of why I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I do alt-country/Texoma/Americana stuff, haha!
(And I say this as someone who saw Childers live overseas last weekend!)
Something Always Told Me They Were Reading Tommy Wrong
January 30, 2020 @ 2:16 am
I don’t know what to call anything any more. I played a Tyler Childers song to my nephew (in his twenties) the other day, and he said it didn’t sound like Country to him.
Maybe because there was no rapping in it.
January 30, 2020 @ 2:14 pm
BTW, the shows with Tyler and Sturgill have been amazing so far! I’ve heard 2 Sturgill sets and he has never been better. (have yet to hear a Tyler set)The first night he played the entire new album and then the hits like late last year but since he has mixed them all up. The new songs do not sound like the album versions at all. Cannot wait ’til they hit Austin in March.
January 31, 2020 @ 2:46 pm
He is tearin’ it up over in Europe!
Tolhuistuin (Paradiso Noord)
January 29, 2020
01 All Your’n
02 Feathered Indians
03 Whitehouse Road
04 Long Long Time To Get Old
06 Shake The Frost
07 Chase Lewis Intro
08 Country Squire
09 Bus Route
11 Instrumental Intro >
12 House Fire
13 Craig Burletic Intro
14 Redneck Romeo
15 Born Again >
16 Tulsa Turnaround
17 Tennessee Blues
18 Rodney Elkins Intro
19 Deadman’s Curve
20 James Barker Intro
21 I Swear (To God)
22 Honky Tonk Flame
23 Universal Sound
24 Chat & Jesse Wells Intro (with “Wrecking Ball” tease)
Tyler Childers – lead vocals & acoustic & electric guitars
James Barker – pedal steel & electric guitar
“The Professor” Jesse Wells – fiddle, electric guitar, & banjo
Chase Lewis – keyboards
Craig Burletic – electric bass & backing vocals
Rodney Elkins – drums
February 1, 2020 @ 6:23 am
“All Your’n” was played at my wedding, but the rest of that album is terrible. Maybe he’ll make a better one next time around, because he’s needed in country music