Tyler Childers and band at Bonnaroo’s That Tent Friday, June 8, 2018.
Hayden Goodridge | MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Tyler Childers brought a bit of Southern-fried country-rock to Bonnaroo’s That Tent Friday afternoon.
Childers’ music breathes American authenticity, as the Kentucky artist’s sound seems to draw much inspiration from the Outlaw Country style of artists such as Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard in. The 1970s and beyond. While Childer’s sound is undeniably country, it defies the common themes dominating pop-country charts today, instead looking to the musical past for its inspiration.
The songwriter’s most recent record is titled “Purgatory” and was produced by the progressive-country artist and mentor Sturgill Simpson — another act performing at this year’s Bonnaroo.
As the scraggly, red-headed Childers and his posse opened their set, fans quickly caught on to the group’s relaxed-but-engaging energy. His raspy, Southern-accented vocals were backed by various bluegrass instruments, including a lap steel guitar and fiddle.
The band’s setlist traversed themes ranging from Appalachian hardship on “Born Again” to substance abuse on “Charleston Girl.” Although the subject matter of his songs was varied, Childers’ genuine songwriting talent remained consistent.
For the closing song, the band left the stage to allow the Kentucky singer and his fingerpicked guitar to be the audience’s sole focus. Before launching into the track, he announced: “This song I wrote for a lady. Lady May.”
With a melancholy look in his eye, Childers began the opening line: “I’m baptized in your name / Lovely Lady May.”