Tyler Childers plays surprise show at Kentucky music festival after COVID cancellation

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Paintsville born, Lawrence County raised country music star Tyler Childers made a surprise appearance Friday night to play at a small Eastern Kentucky music festival in the county he grew up in.

After Asheville, N.C. based bluegrass/roots group Town Mountain announced on social media Friday morning that they’d no longer be able to perform at the second annual Fallsburg Summer Stage in Louisa that night, Childers and his band The Food Stamps — Rod Elkins on drums, Jesse Wells on fiddle and guitars, James Barker on pedal steel guitar, Craig Burletic on bass and Chase Lewis on keys — stepped in at the last minute to fill the void.

It was an intimate set form Childers and his band mates that lasted nearly two-hours for the couple of hundred bluegrass and folk music fans in attendance. The concert was a stark contrast to his recent Kentucky performance with a sold-out crowd of 16,000 at Rupp Arena with with Sturgill Simpson in February 2020.

Childers remarked during the performance that he and his band were in nearby Huntington, W.V. rehearsing when they caught wind of Town Mountain’s cancellation due to COVID.

“We were all speculating on who might get the slot now that Town Mountain wasn’t playing it. We were like, ‘Well heck, let’s see if they’ll have us,’” said Childers. “And here we are.”

Country music star Tyler Childers made a surprise appearance May 20, 2022, to play at a small Eastern Kentucky music festival. The Fallsburg Summer Stage is held in Lawrence County, where the bluegrass musician grew up.
Country music star Tyler Childers made a surprise appearance May 20, 2022, to play at a small Eastern Kentucky music festival. The Fallsburg Summer Stage is held in Lawrence County, where the bluegrass musician grew up.
Country music star Tyler Childers, center, and his The Food Stamps were in West Virginia when they heard about Town Mountain’s COVID cancellation for the Fallsburg Summer Stage festival.
Country music star Tyler Childers, center, and his The Food Stamps were in West Virginia when they heard about Town Mountain’s COVID cancellation for the Fallsburg Summer Stage festival.

Childers has forged a strong bond with Town Mountain over the years, joining them for a 2018 recording of “Down Low” on their album ‘New Freedom Blues’ and having them open for him at Red Rocks concert amphitheater in Colorado the following year.

While “Down Low” didn’t make an appearance during Childers’ set, several other of the artist’s hits and favorite covers did make the cut. Among them were originals “Honky Tonk Flame”, “Bus Route”, “Deadman’s Curve” and “House Fire”.

Childers also mixed in several covers including Kenny Rogers’ “Tulsa Turnaround” and fellow Kentuckian S.G. Goodman’s “Space & Time”, the latter of which he recently debuted during a “Healing Appalachia” livestream performance benefiting Hope In The Hills.

Country music star Tyler Childers made a surprise appearance May 20, 2022 at Fallsburg Summer Stage, playing for a couple of hundred fans.
Country music star Tyler Childers made a surprise appearance May 20, 2022 at Fallsburg Summer Stage, playing for a couple of hundred fans.

Wow!

Posted by Fallsburg Summer Stage on Friday, May 20, 2022

Despite the surprise factor accompanying his Friday performance, the show in Fallsburg/Louisa wasn’t Childers first. That came nearly 16 years prior during the local gathering Hollerpalooza in 2006. That show was only his second paid gig at the time and served up a full circle moment for Childers, who got to return home to play at one of the first places he was given the chance.

And Childers wasn’t the only local act garnering national attention who had a homecoming this week. Earlier in the week another Lawrence County High School graduate and “American Idol” season 20 winner, Noah Thompson, returned home to Louisa for a parade and concert ahead of his going for the “Idol” title.

Tyler Childers and his band played for nearly two hours at the small Eastern Kentucky festival.
Tyler Childers and his band played for nearly two hours at the small Eastern Kentucky festival.