I’m down here at one of my favorite yearly functions in West Virginia at the all mighty V club in Huntington. This event has turned into a yearly endeavor for me. His year one anniversary was done on his couch in the living room, and I could not make year two. However, since year three I have faithfully covered every year in person.
He finally did enough convincing that this was going to be a big deal, and to be honest I was already beyond interested in many of the bands that he featured on his show. I also wanted to make the trip up to Dingess West Virignia to see the utility barn he turned into a bar.
We had talked many times prior to ever meeting for the first time in person, and immediately had a connection with each other as both of our brands were just beginning to take shape. We both had visions and although they were different ones, they both benefited the same kind of music. I’ll admit I cover other kinds of music than he does in some ways, but our passion was the same.
He began this with absolutely nothing folks. Mr. Brandon talked with me and even though he had an idea of a direction, and a vision, he didn’t really know how to even DO a podcast….but GUESS WHAT? HE TOOK THE INITIATIVE to learn and perfect his craft to achieve success like none other in his region. He had history knowledge like me, and read books and studied how this works. HE IS a prime example of the American dream.
I stayed in the Ashland Kentucky area once again, as I have in the past three years accept last year when we booked an Ohio room instead. I’m an intense creature of habit and I have my go to hotels I like, and the Days Inn off route 80 is one of them. This hotel has a pretty ample free breakfast but what I like the most is you can request a late check out for 1:00, also if I get there early many times my room is ready at noon. Days Inn Wyndham Ashland Kentucky is where I always stay on this event.
I found a KILLER SPOT out there for a rack of ribs, Reno’s is one of my go to places for a GREAT rib eye up there. But I stumbled upon a place called Smokin’ J’s Rib And Brewhouse, not far from the hotel. For 20 bucks I am still to this day astounded by the amount of food I was given, and how friendly the staff was. That young man earned a 7.00 tip on a 20.00 meal. The service isn’t the only factor that impressed me about this establishment however, another thing was the extreme use of perceived value that was implemented there.
The portions were very generous but the taste of the food was so good you will pay more for it. The Mac and cheese was just plain old Mac and Cheese but it was made different, and that little kick it has makes you think it’s worth more. Honestly when I dine out and it tastes soooo good I don’t care how much I spend. it was FRESH and made with better ingredients, and you could tell it was made better.
The waiter did a good job on suggestive sales to boost my ticket total up. Appetizers are such a high markup and great way to make a 10.00 meal 20. I didn’t get one, but he sure made them sound delicious and THAT IS a good employee. It is a server’s job to generate a high ticket out of me, by way of suggestive sales and conversation. This place was well managed and has well trained staff, tried to stump him on things and he knew the products well.
They had a NICE stage and the main bar COULD BE used for live music, however I’m not sure if they have the knowledge for booking it yet. I have pointed them out to an Illinois booking agent, and one out of Texas as well. I hope in the future I can maybe cover some shows out there.
Mr. Tony Harrah opened the show tonight with his band. I had an opportunity to talk with him on quite a lengthy interview, and you can read about that HERE. He is preparing his new album called Unicorn, that will be out this summer he said. He opened with a song called “Good Man” from that upcoming album. It was an absolute pleasure to get to see him play again on this particular show, and he played a very good set last year as well. I heard “Good Man” the other day and it reminded me to call my own mother, shame on me.
This man represents sorrow and loss, and good times all melded into one eclectic set mainly because he has actually lived many of the scenarios he portrays in his music. He has had loss in the form of his late wife whom passed on at an early age, and affected Mr. W.B. GREATLY as he identified with him upon the similar situations of his own life.
And as the folks pour in for this wonderful night, he played an energetic version of the song “My Old Town” from the Putnam Prohibition album “Oklahoma Blues”. Part of his band tonight was Mr. Anders Bush on the upright bass, who was in Putnam Prohibition as well. Mr. Jeff boggess on guitar, Mr. Mark Coppala on harmonica and Mr. Jeremy Roberts on drums.
“Family Tree” was a well written song and perhaps the most cleverly written song on his set tonight, however the song on his “Oklahoma Blues” album called “Here I Am Lord” was one that spoke to me the most as an individual. He displayed some great emotion in the song called “Miller’s Farm” before he played a solo song for Mother’s Day called “Easter Sunday Morning”.
He explained that he had just had a fight with his mother, and it reminded him of his youth, before he played ‘Easter Sunday Morning”. All of his songs he has such vivid stories and influences for, and that is what makes him so special. He was a truly special first act here tonight, but just as integral and exciting as the last act tonight.
The Winetree was another wonderful duo that has been featured on here before, as well as festivals like Kickin It On The Creek and others I cover yearly. Mr. Ryan Harvey and Mr. Isaiah Muller make up this Kentucky duo, with old time heartwarming harmonies that generate goosebumps on the hardest of souls.
Their first song was one called ‘Kentucky”, and they followed that with a newer song called “Coyote Songs”, which also displayed a somber fiddle sound accompanied by some really riveting harmonies. Their stage presence for a small unit far supersedes a simple duo, and makes you feel like you are watching a large band. The lyrics on this song were absolutely vivid and enthralling as it described the pines slowly blowing in the breeze.
“Banks Of The Ohio” was next, followed by a great break up song called “Willie Nelson Cassette”. That song made me remember my tape deck in my old 79 Chevette that ate my Red Headed Stranger tape in high school. I never did have an ex girlfriend steal my tapes but I did loose a few of them by old tape decks for sure. “Bottle Rockets” was next from their album you can get on Bandcamp, and their last song was called “Ramona”. My friend Mr. J.J.Waters from the Honky Tonk Heroes told me that night the song “Ramona” was written about his grandmother.
Mr. Justin Payne is a man from West Virginia that showed up for the fourth anniversary with a hospital bracelet on! He has a very unique voice much like the rest of the acts on the stage tonight. This young man plays every once in awhile around the area, and from his “Coal Camp” album he played the song called “Piece Of My Life”.
From his album “No Place Lower Than High” he played the song called “She Never Will”. It was truly good to see him again here in West Virginia. Many of these people playing here tonight have a long history of being friends with Mr. W.B. Walker, and they all have been to his bar and grill parties. W.B. Walker personally believes in each and every one of these bands here tonight, both musically and as personal friends.
Mr. Jon Bassin played a song called “Appalachian Moon”. This song has some DAMN GOOD lyrics in it about lost love and love that has gone wrong. Lines like ‘I’m the tip of the arrow in mid flight” make this song a undiscovered masterpiece. I’ll tell you what I do NOT usually rave about a song by putting in the lines like that, but this one was so well written I had to.
I delved into his other songs like “Great John’s Owls” and others, and he compliments these other acts quite amicably, as his messages are a little more on the darker side of things. He does maintain his own style while equally having a similar direction to the other Appalachian artists.
Miss Chelsea Nolan played a few songs for us tonight beginning with a cover of “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, by Hayes Carll. She stopped by my website last week to chat with me and you can read that HERE. This will give you a little better perspective of where she is from, and what inspires her.
She played a song that she recently wrote called “Camel Wide Blues”, along with one she played at the Southgate House during Hagfest this year called “Serious Song”. She often describes her own songwriting ability as not as serious, however I digress with her on that, because the song “Build A Fire” is absolutely amazing in it’s own right.
She played a story song about an old bootlegger that she used to have in her area she grew up in, as her county was dry. The song was called “Bootlegger”. Miss Chelsea Nolan is one of most positive and most happy individuals I have ever encountered, and every time I met her she is always so happy to be where she is..playing music.
Mr. Coby Langham and his citizen’s band was on top of things tonight, as this venue began to fill up. This is a sold out show tonight, so this young man played to a packed house here. His first song tonight was his song called “Years On The Road (The Truckin’ Song). Followed by his song called “Skate N Bowl”.
HERE is where you can read his album review of his new album Mr. Joshua Wallace did, and I have covered his set many times. As usual he brought along his entourage of talent like guitarist Mr. Jason Sinkhorn who played “Old Poseiden’s Daughter”. They played the song “All American” off the album called “Years On The Road”.
“As the Crow Flies” is also off the “Years Off The Road” album, and also included in his set tonight was the ever popular song “Heroin Girl”, and another called “Highs And Lows”.
Mr.Bob Sumner came down today to play a set for us. Now, my friends I want to emphasize on one factor here..I am not going to pretend I know everyone and every band…I do not. I have never heard of this man until now, and that is why I love these shows and festivals and the like, to learn these bands. My only regret is that I didn’t get to talk with him at all, and I plan to soon change remedy that problem with him.
He played a new song called “Greetings” , which I caught part of as I was eating really quick before I caught some songs off of his debut album called “Wasted Love Songs”. One of those songs was called “All Your Dead Things”, which was a really good slow song. He also did a fantastic cover of the Mr. Bruce Springsteen song called “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” by request of Mr. W.B.
His last song was the last song on his album called “Ticket To Ride”. His soft and calm vocals make this song a very somber about life after life and not hurting anymore, it has references to Jesus and Judas only I noticed he mentioned gold and actually it was silver he was given. This song is a whopping 5 minutes long and very descriptive from the start, and a great way to end a set.
Mr. Justin Wells is a man that needs no formal introduction from me on here, I have featured him so many times in articles. This was the first time I have witnessed him with a full band since the final Fifth On The Floor show in Lexington KY. Back then Mr. Tyler Childers was just beginning and opened the show for them, and I got to have a pre fame picture with him.
He played “The Screaming Song” that he wrote for his little nephew, and this was the first time I have heard this song live, as it’s on YouTube. I enjoy his signature vocal growl he posseses that adds attitude and grit to his true to heart lyrics and his inventive original music. He once told me this weekend “You know Gary my wife and I we have a house and some land, and I’m fortunate enough and lucky enough to be able to raise my kids doing this…I’m very blessed”. That attitude and that MUSIC BOTH make you want to continue buying his music and his shirts to keep him rolling into YOUR TOWN, after all WE enable him to continue to be a traveling picker. He is as humble and as loving a person as you’ll ever meet.
“Three Quarters Gone” was in his set tonight as well as my favorite song “Going Down Grinning” . That song was the one on Dawn In The Distance that spoke to me the most as an individual, not matter what happens to me I’ll go down Grinning. Also the song “The Highway Less Taken” was in the set and was good, tires with no tread and the references to not getting rich playing music are truthful folks. I never realized how rough their lives were until I started following them around.
“Can’t Break My Heart” was next from his Dawn In The Distance album along with “Another Night Lonely” which always paints a dark and poignant picture in my mind when I sit back and let the song speak to me. Now he played a few more new songs for us tonight called “Ruby” and another called “It’ll All Work Out”. I was given permission to let you know the names of those songs. He told me some about the new album, and said it will be a different direction this time.
He closed his set with “Still No Rain” and finally he played “The Dogs”. I believe many can relate to The Dogs because it’s REALLY NOT easy to take the music business personally, and overlook the politics of it all. Even for the media people who often get swept under the rug, it’s a VERY competitive thing here.
The Horse Traders joined forces tonight for the first time in many many months to raise money for the charity of their choice. Even I threw 20 bucks in and got a vinyl and some stickers from them last night. Mr. Travis Egnor, Mr. Patrick Stanley, Mr. Brandon Mooney make up this West Virginia powerhouse band that is highly beloved by many of Mr. W.Bs fans.
I wanted to delve into their discography for this article here, because I’m not sure if they will ever play again. I’m not sure IF THEY even know, but they sure were nervous going into the show. These young men put EVERYTHING into the show when they are up there, and you can FEEL the connection they have. I’m not sure what got in the way of the band nor am I at any liberty to scrutinize or speculate, but as a journalist it’s my job to document FACTS….and the fact is they played a GREAT set and enjoyed being up there.
“I Don’t Mind” was first and by far my favorite song on their entire list. It is the song with the distinguished notes in the beginning and the melody that we love the most, and set the tone for the second portion of this show. For me the song brought me to mind of my divorce and the amount of rules I had to follow, even though I really don’t drink much anymore. That’s one of those songs you can interpret either way.
“Hey Carolina” was played tonight, From the ” I Don’t Mind” EP they played all the four songs, “Hey Carolina” is a good cruising tune when the wheels are rolling. Additionally played from this album was a song called “Mark Twain” and another called “Even Mountains Can Fall”. They also played the song called “19”, and another called “Ain’t No Ash Will Burn” which I have heard Mr. Tyler Childers play it with Miss Senora May, and I have heard many others play that song.
I remember when I met them at Outlaw Fest in 2014 they gave me their new album called “Did You Forget To Leave This In Durango”, tonight they played the song called “Cheap Wine” which was a bout a lousy father, and was on that album. I’m not totally sure if there will be any more future shows for these young men, but if there are you can damn sure bet that I will be on point to report on them.
Country Music Legend Mr. Billy Don Burns came tonight to play a few songs for us tonight, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I just got to see him a few weeks ago in Mississippi at Outlaws On The River, and you can read about that HERE. One of his older albums has just recently been re released on Rusty Knuckles record label, and I have heard a rumour of it possibly going to vinyl.
He played “Stranger” and “Hank Williams Lonesome” for us before Mr. Colter came on for the main act tonight. We got to have an enjoyable chat about some history he was a part of, and I got to tell him about some things I have of his past in my collection. I’m going to try my best to get every piece of his work, and my next endeavor is getting my hands on his Mel Tillis cuts from the 1975 album called “Best Way I Know How”.
Mr.Colter Wall was the main act tonight and as Mr. W.B. announced the first person to book him the United States was HIM.He always begins every set I ever saw with “Thirteen Silver Dollars” from the self titled second album. He also played “Calgary Stampede” which is an old Wilf Carter classic.
He put his own signature vocal spin on the ANCIENT CLASSIC song “The Big Ball’s In Cowtown” originally recorded by Hoyle Nix. He and his brother Ben modeled their band The West Texas COWBOYS after Bob Will’s West Texas PLAYBOYS, and also structured their music the same often beginning with fiddle double stops and very little drums. It was not written by him but in 1949 he was the first to record that song on Dallas based Star Talent label. I love to research those small labels that recorded obscure Country Music.
“Motorcycle” was one that got the entire crowd singing along to, and has that feel good melody that we all enjoy. He introduced the boys, Mr Patrick Lyons, Mr. Jason Simpson and Mr. Jake Groves were up there with him. Then he said well we might as well get this one out of the way, and barrelled into “Kate McCannon”. That song and that album really helped my dying father pass on, he listened to that song inherently for a year.
He played a new song called “Western Swing And Waltzes” along with the song “You Look To Yours” from the self titled second album. Keeping up on the matters of the second album he played a very good “Me And Big Dave” written about our buddy Big David Vaughn Lindsay from Bowling Green Kentucky.
From his debut album he played “Sleeping On The Blacktop” before he played a REALLY entertaining version of Mr. Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother”. Mr. Colter Wall has such a magnetic stage presence and a true western ambiance with a flare for showmanship. His stage shows are more than just amazing, and he doesn’t have to have special effects of anything fancy. All he needs is his guitar and a band to help him embed his trail songs into your mind.
I want to take the time to personally THANK Mr. W.B. Walker for once again inviting me to do this every year like he does. To all of the bands for allowing me to print all this, and to the ones that called for interviews and all else the bands help me do to make these articles possible.
Most of all TO YOU MY READERS for always logging on and supporting what I do on here, because without YOU I could not do this job here. Week after week , and daily some of you keep me afloat on here by reading the various things I make and I thank each and every one of you form the bottom of my heart.