Tyler Childers plays at Louisa's SeptemberFest

Paying homage to his roots, Lawrence County native Tyler Childers, along with his band, “The Food Stamps,” took the main stage on Saturday night at Louisa’s bicentennial celebration of “SeptemberFest.” Stationed in downtown Louisa, this year’s weekend-long celebration marked the festival’s 200th anniversary.

According to the Lawrence County SeptemberFest Facebook page, an estimated 19,385 people were in attendance and cheered Childers along as he performed songs such as “Housefire” and “Country Squire” from his 2019 album “Country Squire.” From the 2017 release “Purgatory,” Childers also sang “Lady May,” a beautiful love song presumably written to his wife, fellow Kentucky singer/songwriter Senora May.

During the concert, Childers noted he had played the festival twelve years ago and mentioned Louisa was home to several idols as he glanced in the direction of Noah Thompson, Season 20 “American Idol” winner who was also in attendance and had performed the night prior.

Between songs, Childers interacted with the crowd, and a smile crossed his face as he announced he and his wife were expecting a child. He urged the crowd to be on good behavior and to take care of his hometown and said he would not be the blame for any messes or misbehavior taking place during the performance.

“Precious years of memories, oh, what joy they bring to me,” Childers belted an upbeat, soulful rendition of “The Old Country Church” (cover of Hank Williams). Having grown up singing hymns and gospel music in a Baptist church choir, the song was a nod to his upbringing and a taste of what may be featured on his upcoming album.

Just before Childers departed the stage, Harold Slone, Louisa’s mayor, announced a street located in the city’s downtown area would be named in honor of Childers.

Collectively, Childers’ music is a fusion of bluegrass, folk, country, and gospel. Melodies and chord structures comprised of stringed instruments such as guitars, bass, steel, and fiddle, along with keys, provide a canvas for Childers to paint his lyrics upon. Stories and tall tales interwoven with real-life events and experiences make up his lyrics; Appalachia, coal mining, struggles, and relationships are among many topics covered by the artist.

Childers grew up minutes from US Route 23, also known as the Country Music Highway and home to numerous artists such as Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, and Chris Stapleton. In reference to the idea that successful country music artists are born and bred in the area, bottles of commemorative water entitled “It must be something in water!” could be purchased from a festival vendor.

From social media, including Facebook and Instagram accounts, on Thursday, September 8th, Childers shared videos of two renditions of the single, “Angel Band,” one entitled “Jubilee Version” and another “Hallelujah.”  Each video features different sonic palettes: one with horns and the other with more focus on stringed instruments. The video stars the same charismatic character from 2019’s “All Your’n” and “House Fire” videos. The character commits several befuddled antics, dies after being kicked by a horse, and ends up in Heaven with people from all nations, referencing the spiritual essence of the song. From YouTube, the Jubilee version has received 15,000 likes as of September 11th, with one user commenting, "If they don't play this song at my funeral, I'm not going."

The single is a glimpse into “Can I take my hounds to Heaven?” which is Childers’ upcoming album, which is slated for release on September 30th and can be pre-ordered from his website:

Darrell Lovitt, Freelance Reporter for The Kentucky Daily

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