‘Damn good gig, good damn crowd
Good God, for cryin’ out loud
Coming off stage I was mighty proud
Then I don’t know what happened’
I don’t claim to know what happened next either, but every other line of this verse of Tyler Childers’ song “I Swear To God” was spot on. It was a good gig, a phenomenal crowd, and yeah, he had a lot of reasons to be proud. Childers finally graced Oklahoma City at the Tower Theatre this past Saturday night. It was easily one of the most anticipated shows of the year, having sold out within an hour of going on sale. Unless I’m mistaken, that’s the fastest sell-out the Tower has had to date. In my humble estimation, Childers is at the forefront of country music’s future. That may not be a burden he wants, and I doubt he’s comfortable with it. Yet, it’s undeniable. Childers, along with Colter Wall and Sturgill Simpson, prove that country music’s best days are further up the road rather than in the rear view mirror.
Dammit, I’m calling shotgun.
The show was one of the last dates of the “Sludge River Roadshow” tour of 2018. If the band was weary of the road, it certainly wasn’t evident. In fact, they seemed to have been pretty energized coming off of playing some legendary venues before OKC. Just prior, there were two nights at Gruene Hall in Texas, and Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa for their official first show in Oklahoma. Indeed, a couple of the boys were proudly sporting their newly acquired Cain’s t-shirts on this night.
A blistering “Whitehouse Road” opened the festivities, and Childers and the band rarely let off the accelerator the rest of the night. Even the quieter, mid set solo acoustic portion bristled with a potent energy. Childers works an audience like a seasoned expert. It’s a testament to his talent, that at such a young age he can command the stage like he does. Whether it was “Messed Up Kid” or “All Your’n”, the energy level never wavered. The setlist is well written, with a nightly substitution tossed in here and there. “Follow You To Virgie”, “Nose to the Grindstone” and “Lady May” were personal highlights of the solo acoustic portion, but “Bottles & Bibles” was right there with them. Hell, the whole show was simply fabulous. I couldn’t muster a single complaint if forced too.
What took Childers so long to schedule dates in this portion of the country? Perhaps there was a question of how these songs, born and raised in eastern Lawrence County Kentucky, would translate to an OKC crowd. I have no doubt Childers got his answer. Despite his no-nonsense approach on stage, at times he seemed genuinely tickled with the audience’s adoration. This crowd knew all the songs. They knew all the words. They knew when to participate. And not just, ‘GODDAMN FIRE IN THE HOLE!’. This might have been the best audience I’ve been a part of at the Tower. They done good. Really good. So yeah, Walking off that stage after the night ending cover of Charlie Daniels’ “Trudy”, Childers had plenty of reasons to be proud. Everything Tyler Childers can be found here: https://tylerchildersmusic.com/
Warming up the audience and the stage this night was Town Mountain. A five piece bluegrass band, they quickly, and easily won over the audience in what could have been a tough spot. Opening for Tyler Childers, can’t be an easy task on any given night. On occasion I’ve seen the OKC crowd be less than respectful to an opening band. That couldn’t have been further from the case here. The Town Mountain boys set the night’s tone with their opening set, and reaped the reward of a captivated audience.
I really enjoyed their set. They’re polished players that bring a fresh approach to a traditional music form that is in constant evolution. Bluegrass is real love of mine, and Town Mountain really impressed me, and I think the rest of the audience saw it similarly. The moment the band broke into their stunning cover of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”, the crowd erupted. In fact they sung along so powerfully, the band seemed pretty impressed themselves. The band has multiple releases available, but focused their energy mostly on their new release “New Freedom Blues”, Highlights for me were “5 Shots of Whiskey”, “Underdog” and “Witch Trials”. Town Mountain is a band that I really hope makes it back to our town soon. Maybe an upcoming spot on with the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival? I sure hope so.
Definitely check them out. More information on Town Mountain can be found here: https://www.townmountain.net/home