It's been a banner year for Lawrence County, Kentucky, native country artist Tyler Childers.
Childers, whose touring band The Food Stamps hail from Huntington, has played some of the world's biggest festivals, from Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza to Newport Folk Festival, has opened for John Prine and Jack White, and has played the Mother Church (the Ryman Auditorium) and the Grand Ole Opry.
On Wednesday night, Childers put another first notch in his belt, winning the Emerging Artist of the Year Award from the Americana Music Association at its awards show in Nashville at the famed Ryman Auditorium.
Childers, who burst onto the national scene with his Hickman Holler/Thirty Tigers debut "Purgatory," produced by famed fellow Kentucky country rocker Sturgill Simpson, beat out Courtney Marie Andrews, Anderson East and Lilly Hiatt to win the award.
Childers is in good company. Past winners include Amanda Shires in 2017, Margo Price in 2016, Shakey Graves in 2015, Sturgill Simpson in 2014, Shovels & Rope in 2013, Alabama Shakes in 2012, Mumford & Sons in 2011, Hayes Carll in 2010, Justin Townes Earle in 2009, Mike Farris in 2008, The Avett Brothers in 2007, The Greencards in 2006, Mary Gauthier in 2005, and Mindy Smith in 2004, the first year for the award.
Childers, who played "Nose On the Grindstone," one of his songs about the opioid crisis in Appalachia, was one of an elite group of musicians who got to perform on the show.
Other performers included K.D. Lang (stylized as k.d. lang), Buddy Guy, Irma Thomas, Rosanne Cash, John Prine, Robert Earl Keen, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, I'm With Her, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Mary Gauthier, Anderson East, Lilly Hiatt and Courtney Marie Andrews.
Dressed in a Col. Sanders-esque white suit and black bow tie, Childers, who also now lives in south-central Kentucky, gave an acceptance speech that was drawing a lot of social media attention after he brought some fire and brimstone down upon the modern country music scene.
Childers did not take too kindly to host CBS News' Anthony Mason, mispronouncing his name multiple times.
"I am not sure how this came about, but best I can tell (is) you left the back door open and now there is a stark raving hilljack in your living room, covered in goat blood and dying to rant about how Americana hits them in the same places as the words Appa-lay-chia and Childers," Childers said, drawing out the long "I" mispronunciation. "It crawls up my spine. My name is Tyler Childers. I am an Appa-latch-ian artist from the foothills of eastern Kentucky, and I play country music. As a man that identifies as a country music singer, I feel Americana ain't no part of nothing, and this is a distraction from the issues that we are facing on a bigger level as country music singers. It kind of feels like purgatory."
Before carpet bombing the country music industry, Childers did give hearty shoutouts to the folks who have helped him along the way and have been there to support him from the beginning.
"I want to thank Senora May for being my rock, Miles Miller (Sturgill Simpson's drummer) for being my buddy, and everyone else that I thanked on the album that's available at Grimey's, at Pop's Resale in Lexington, Kentucky, and when I get the time to stock them up, at Picker's Paradise in Irvine, Kentucky."
Childers is playing back home in Kentucky on Saturday night at Byron Roberts' farm festival, Kickin' It On the Creek.
While that festival is sold out, there are some tickets available for his only other West Virginia concert remaining in 2018. Childers is headlining Healing Appalachia, a fundraiser concert set for Saturday, Oct. 6, at the State Fair of West Virginia fairgrounds in Fairlea. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the day of the concert if not sold out. Performing will be Childers, Kelsey Waldon, Justin Wells, The Wild Rumpus and The Half Bad Bluegrass Band.
Get tickets online at www.etix.com/ticket/p/6169191/healing-appalachia-fairlea-the-state-fair-of-west-virginia.
Hope in the Hills is a group formed by Huntingtonians Ian Thornton and Keebie Gilkerson, of Whizzbang BAM Booking and Management, with a board of directors. The hope is to produce events with the intent to raise funds to benefit projects and programs aimed to eradicate addiction in the greater Appalachian region. The goal is to create a prosperous Appalachian region free from addiction and to send more funding to those who are fighting addiction and working in recovery.