What a year it’s been for one Mr. Tyler Childers. A list-topping album, Purgatory, countless sold out shows across the country, and impressively hirsute to the point Samson would blush. Oh yeah, and his voice is absolutely incredible. So realistically, Childers’ banner year shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, nevertheless, if there was any doubt, let the record show that Childers’ last Nashville show of the year spat in the face of such cursory notions.
I’ll be honest, there are few rooms tougher to navigate whilst sold out than the Basement East. It’s one giant slab of concrete with a sea of people to traverse in order to reach the bar side. But I’m sure I don’t have to over explain that to any of the fine show-going folks that read Now/It’s (if there are any of you…). All that to be said, it was a gauntlet to try and make it to an even remotely decent spot for the photos that coincide with this recap (review, rundown, whatever you want to call it), and as you’ll see, they’re…. limited (for which I apologize in advance).
But we’re not here to hear (figuratively speaking) the writer’s Apologia for less than optimal photo circumstances, we’re here to read about the sold out Tyler Childers show, damn it (or at least, I assume so)! Anyway….
Tyler Childers is an interesting figure in country music - touted as a protege of Sturgill Simpson, blessed by Dave Cobb, and supported by Margo Price, Wheeler Walker Jr., and the like, however, he seems to be one of the most disinterested member of the counter-country movement. In fact, he almost seems reticent to stake out a soapbox for himself to shout from atop, which is totally fine, if not disarming.
Nevertheless, Childers does take time to speak at length, mostly to be profoundly effusive toward his highly talented players, but when he’s not complimenting the players behind him, you’d think he was making proclamations upon the Mount with the way his audiences listen with bated breath.
Seriously, it’s pretty amusing how quiet and attentive Childers’ otherwise caterwauling crowds get when he chooses to tell a story about his friend who moonlighted as a competitive body builder turned railroad worker, or his Chillicothe, Ohio RV psychedelic gummy story (they’re all worth listening). The way folks in the crowd cling to his every word is something to marvel at. In a way - thanks to someone like Sturgill Simpson or Margo Price - this new wave of country artists become de facto philosophers for a new generation of country fans, which ultimately can benefit society as a whole when you consider the fact that what Simpson, Price, and Jason Isbell preach is far more depth-ful than your average country singer.
But Childers doesn’t seem to embrace it the same way. It almost seems like a burden, like when he pays homage to his Eastern Kentucky roots and a small group cheers in the crowd. He seems jarred for a moment, and then continues as if they never made a peep. It’s as if he’s so talented, he carries the weight of country music’s continued aspirations upon his shoulders, whether he likes it or not. In the end, the thing that’s for sure is that Childers just wants to play some country music, and damn does he play it well.
Childers’ path will be one of continued success and even greater intrigue. Will he fully assume the role of country prophet, or will be let such an ascription land upon someone else, and continue on what he views as his most true pathway. Whichever one it may be, I can say this with certainty, it will be a career worth watching, as Tyler Childers is as good as they come.