By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace
Earlier this month, I got the chance to check out Tyler Childers on his Country Squire Run. This show was the first of two nights in Atlanta, GA on December 21st, 2019. He initially sold out this date during pre-sale and they added a second date on Sunday December 22nd. I was only able to get a ticket for Saturday night, but I know both nights were amazing sold out and packed shows. This is kind of crazy to me because the last time I saw Tyler Childers was on March 28, 2018 at a small venue in Florida that only held 300 people. This show was a huge upgrade from that at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA which holds around 2600 and was packed. The opener for this two night run in Atlanta was Liz Cooper and The Stampede and I will start with their set.
I honestly did not know what to expect with Liz Cooper and The Stampede. I had listened to some of their music on Spotify and they appeared to be a psychedelic folk rock trio. On this evening, they leaned more to psychedelic rock. From what I have been told, they played new material so we didn’t get any songs you would be familiar with such as “Mountain Man”. Most of the songs were heavier rock tunes that went into psychedelic jam territory. I did enjoy their groovy bass player and you don’t always find bass players with the skill this guy has. I somewhat enjoyed their set, though I don’t know if their choice of material matched the expectations of a crowd awaiting a country singer like Tyler Childers. I look forward to the chance to see them live again in the future.
Tyler Childers came out and got right into it with “Honky Tonk Flame” from his amazing 2017 album Purgatory. This lead to other tracks off that album like “Universal Sound” and “Born Again”. The first cover song of the night came in the form of a great tune called “Tulsa Turnaround”. This was a Kenny Rogers cover and I loved hearing Tyler Childers and The Food Stamps do it. Up next we got the title track off his newest album called “Country Squire”. This is one of my favorite tracks off the new record and I was glad to hear it live. In fact, this song started a run through the entire Country Squire record which was awesome to get live. A real highlight was the live version of “House Fire”. Tyler picked up an electric guitar for this song and kicked it off with a long instrumental called “Reuben’s Train”. From there he did an awesome version of “House Fire” that is actually much better than the recorded version and is a song you must hear live. I also know he doesn’t do “Matthew” as part of his sets every time and this felt special to get the entire album here.
“Matthew” also began the acoustic run for this show which included “Nose To The Grindstone”, a rare “Banded Clovis” and “Follow You To Virgie”. It was amazing hearing the sold out crowd singing along to older tracks like “Follow You To Virgie”. I would say the crowd was just as much a part of this show as the band was. Following this acoustic run, we got a second cover of the night with the awesome Bobby Charles song “Tennessee Blues”. This is a wonderful cover that not many in the crowd will be familiar with. I’m happy to see Tyler covering these obscure classic tunes.
After that cover, we got a run of 3 big songs from the Purgatory album. This included “Feathered Indians”, my favorite from the record “Whitehouse Road” and “I Swear (To God)”. Following that song there was a brief break before the encore. I say this is brief because while the lights went down, the band never left the stage. The crowd knew what was happening though and gave Tyler one of the loudest reactions of the night. He finished the evening with a Charlie Daniels cover that he often does called “Trudy”.
If you get a chance to see Tyler Childers, I highly recommend it. His stock is only rising and I fully believe his next headlining US tour will be in amphitheaters and arenas instead of large theaters. In fact, he’s already doing a run of opening dates next year with Sturgill Simpson and this tour is going through and has already sold out some of the nation’s biggest arenas. Tyler still has one show left in 2019 on New Years Eve in Pikeville, KY with Todd Snider and Darrell Scott opening. If you can’t get a ticket to that one, get a ticket to one of his shows opening for Sturgill Simpson. You can find all of his upcoming dates at his website. While you’re there, check out his new record titled Country Squire which features in many best of 2019 lists including my own. This was my final show for 2019 and my final show of this decade. Look for more live show and festival reviews in 2020.