Even In His Youth: 20-year old Tyler Childers has the blues


Not even old enough to buy whiskey, or play at some area bars, Tyler Childers brings his bluesy version of Americana to the V Club tonight.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Tyler Childers has the blues. You can hear it in his voice, and in the songs the 20-year old Paintsville, Kentucky native sings.

It’s in the lyrics, in songs about whiskey and women, songs like “If Whiskey Could Talk,” “Hard Times,” “Silence,” and “Bottles and Bibles,” the title of his 13-song debut CD.

Despite not being old enough to even buy whiskey, or get into some bars to play, Childers has been developing a following in Huntington, thanks to his soulful voice and his distinctly Appalachian version of acoustic Americana.

Tyler Childers plays the V Club Saturday night with Sasha Colette & the Magnolias and The David Mayfield Parade.

Childers will play anywhere to make fans and meet new people. He recently played Qdoba Mexican Grill in the Huntington Mall. The crowd loved it, he said.

“It was nice,” Childers said over the phone, drawing out “nice” with an accent and a twang you’ll no doubt find around Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

“It was a smaller place, more intimate, but it was a receptive audience. You meet cool people wherever you play, and I met some cool people there.”

It’s meeting cool people who love his songs that’s helped Childers, now living in Lexington, get more shows, this, in spite of his youth.

“It’s hard to get into bars to play, but I understand it. Everybody and their brother plays music, or thinks they do. But if you own a bar and you’re like, ‘You got to be 21,’ that takes out half of them. That’s that much more people you don’t have to deal with on a daily basis coming in saying ‘Hey you want to check out my demo?’

“And then there’s the whole liability thing; something happens, and here he is, and he’s not 21. It sucks, but I understand it. It’s just, there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t 21 yet and who have real talent.”

Getting his foot in the door at Huntington’s V Club has helped springboard Childers into a busy 2011.

“Getting into the V Club, I just went into one of their open mics one night, and everything I’ve got so far has been through that. That, and [V Club promoter] Don [Duncan] and Ian [Thornton] and them boys telling other people. But, in Lexington, I haven’t had much luck yet.”


Childers said everyone has the blues, in a sense, it’s just that not everyone turns it into songs.

“We’ve all got problems that we go through. I know I’m just 20 years old and people might be like ‘What does he know about the blues? He hasn’t been through anything.’ But I’ve went through my stuff just like everyone else. The thing is to take those emotions and concentrate on them and turn it into a song and make people understand what you’re going through, and believe you, and feel your pain and heartache.”

Hearing Childers voice puts any doubt to rest that he feels “it,” deep down.

“The voice thing is really big, that’s where it’s at for me. I can play guitar well enough, but where I try to bring it home is by the way I sing.”

On the subject of “home,” singing and playing the blues, and uniquely Appalachian accents and voices, Childers, heavily influenced as a youth by Robert Johnson and “Sun” House, said being around the latter influences the former.

“Being from Appalachia, we’re just really lucky to live where we live. The people you meet, and the way they talk, just, everything they say is a song. Our language is so colorful, the way we explain things, and exaggerate things, like a bunch of old men sitting around a barbershop. That’s what really helped out my songwriting, was just listening to people.”

Childers said it should come as no surprise to people that an Eastern Kentucky boy would win so many people over so fast with such talent.

“As far as talent, this area is full of it, everywhere you look. People are raised up singing in church, playing piano, or grow up playing bluegrass.”

And, small world that it is, Childers said it was another Eastern Kentucky singer-songwriter, already known for her own soulful voice, who influenced him as a teen.

“One local influence was Sasha [Colette]. I first saw her when I was 15, and I had just started writing songs, and, I just thought she was the coolest thing on Earth,” he admitted with a laugh.

Having the support and positive feedback from so many people has helped Childers move his songs out into public over the past few years.

“It’s kind of nerve racking sharing songs you wrote in public. You sit around and think about them and write them out. And of course you like it, because you wrote it, but it could be a success or an embarrassing failure. It’s always neat seeing what other people think about your songs.

Knowing that his songs have touched people is what it’s all about for Childers.

“It really means a lot, people like Don [Duncan] and the people who’ve come out to my shows at the V Club. Like, Adam Barraclough, any show he knows that I have in Huntington, he’s been there. Just to have people who follow you, and want to know about your music, that your songs mean something to people and reach them, it means everything to me.”

Tyler Childers, Sasha Colette and the Magnolias, The David Mayfield Parade
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, August 20, 10 p.m.
Cost: $8 adv., $10 DOS
Info: www.vclublive.com

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