Saturday, March 3 - Doors 8pm - $12 adv.
Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that's simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold.
The album, co-produced by Grammy Award winners Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, is a semiautobiographical sketch of Childers' growth from wayward youth to happily married man, told in the tradition of a Southern gothic novel with a classic noir antihero who may just be irredeemable. Purgatory is a chiaroscuro painting with darkness framing light in high relief. There's catharsis and redemption. Sin and temptation. Murder and deceit. Demons and angels. Moonshine and cocaine. So much moonshine and cocaine. All played out on the large, colorful canvas of Eastern Kentucky.
Childers had been searching for a certain sound for his debut album for years as he honed his craft, and was finding it elusive when his friend, drummer Miles Miller, introduced him to Simpson, the Grammy Award-winning musician and fellow Kentuckian. Childers sent Simpson a group of his songs, then went to visit him in Nashville.
"And he said, 'There's this sound. I know what you're trying to get at, the mountain sound,'" Childers recalled. "'So I asked, 'What are you doing?'"
Intrigued, Simpson enlisted the aid of Ferguson, the Grammy Award winning sound engineer. They assembled a band that included multi-instrumentalists Stuart Duncan, Michael J. Henderson and Russ Pahl, bassist Michael Bub and Miller on drums, of course, and helped Childers make a debut album of consequence that announces an authentic new voice.
"I was writing an album about being in the mountains," Childers said. "I wanted it to have that gritty mountain sound. But at the same time, I wanted a more modern version of it that a younger generation can listen to—the people I grew up with, something I'd want to listen to."
A singer and songwriter whose music combines a contemporary lyrical outlook with a sound that harks back to country music of the '60s, Kelsey Waldon was born in the rural Kentucky community of Monkey's Eyebrow. She grew up listening to classic country music and absorbed the influences of artists like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, and Merle Haggard, as well as bluegrass icons like Ralph Stanley and Ricky Skaggs and celebrated songwriters like Guy Clark. When Waldon was 13, her parents split up, and she took up the guitar as she turned to music to make sense of the pain of growing up in a broken home. By the time she graduated from high school, Waldon was determined to make a career out of music, and she initially chose to skip college in favor of moving to Nashville. Waldon supported herself with low-paying jobs while playing bar gigs when she could get them, learning to perform by doing.
In time, Waldon decided to gain more book learning about the world of music, and enrolled at Nashville's Belmont University, where she studied songwriting and music business. As Waldon began putting more of her personal experiences in her songs, her following grew, and in 2007 she released a five-song EP, Dirty Hands, Dirty Feet. A full-length album followed in 2010, which she released herself under the alias Anchor in the Valley. Two Kelsey Waldon EPs followed, 2011's Anybody's Darlin' and 2012's Fixin' It Up, but it was her first proper album, 2014's The Goldmine, that proved to be her creative and commercial breakthrough. Produced by Michael Rinne, The Goldmine captured Waldon's tough but emotionally powerful honky tonk sound as well as her personal songwriting, and the album earned rave reviews and an enthusiastic reception from Americana and retro-country fans. In 2016, Waldon returned with another Rinne-produced effort, I've Got a Way.