Here at Capture Kentucky, I’ve said many times that it is always a great time when an artist returns to their hometown or state to play a show. On the flipside of that coin, is seeing a community rally around a young artist who they feel has what it takes to “make it”. What if both were to happen on the same night? Would my brain explode?
To answer those questions, let’s set the scene a bit. Wolfe County, which nestles the tiny town of Campton, is home to an established artist and songwriter in Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy has written or co-written many popular songs and even a few number ones. His biggest song to date is titled, “I Drive Your Truck”. The song was released by Lee Brice and went on to win the CMA award for Song Of The Year. Jimmy has been in Nashville for years, but he always wanted to come home and play a show.
Entering the story here, is a young man that you’re very well aware, if you’re a reader of this site. I’m talking about Tyler Booth, of course. Tyler is the hottest thing since sliced bread in Campton. So after Jimmy discovered how talented Tyler was, he decided that he wanted to write with another Wolfe Countian. That’s how these two artists got together for the show that happened at the old Campton grade school.
The night was filled with love, laughter and some of the top talent in the state. Honestly, the talent that filled that small room on a hillside in Eastern Kentucky could hold their own against anyone.
First onstage that night was a young lady that I first encountered at the Mountain Arts Center Christmas Show. Rachel Messer is from Fort Gay, WV, which is essentially just across the river from Louisa, KY. As Rachel began singing, I kept thinking to myself, my goodness her tone is very similar to Dolly Parton. It was almost uncanny and just beautiful. As her acoustic set continued, Rachel took a moment to address the crowd and confessed that she was in fact, a huge fan of Dolly Parton. A-ha! I knew it!! Rachel is a very talented young lady and some of my favorites on the night were the Merle Haggard track, “Mama Tried”, Chris Stapleton’s “Scarecrow In The Garden” and of course Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Oh, and you should hear this young lady yodel!! My goodness!
Next on the stage was another local young man named Shefton Kash. Shefton has had his own success in the past. Many may know his song, “Hank’s Whiskey”. Shefton is very comfortable onstage and his banter is nearly as smooth as his voice. If I had to pick an artist to compare Shefton to, it’d be a more mellow Keith Whitley. Highlights for me were the aforementioned “Hank’s Whiskey”, the Randy Travis track, “Forever And Ever, Amen” and a fantastic tribute to Troy Lee Gentry of country duo Montgomery Gentry. Troy Lee tragically passed away after a helicopter crash last September. Shefton sang the George Jones classic, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”.
It was now time for Campton to receive one of its own back home. Jimmy Yeary was presented with a plaque inducting him into the Wolfe County High School Hall Of Fame. He wasn’t choked up, but he certainly was grateful.
Jimmy took his time to put on an acoustic storyteller style set. He gave us insight into most every song he played on Saturday. One very memorable moment for me, was when Jimmy brought his son Aydan onstage, so he could sing his song, “He Don’t Know That Yet”. The song was particularly touching and although Jimmy couldn’t tell us who recorded the song, he did say that it would be released soon.
Jimmy tapped his toe, picked around, sang some hits and just genuinely enjoyed himself. The crowd certainly did as well. The small room had nearly 400 people in it and there were several sing-a-longs on the night.
It was fascinating to hear all the recognizable songs that Jimmy had written. He spoke of artists like Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and so many more. It was easy to see why so many in Nashville are drawn to him and his work.
Sometimes, when you see a performer, you get a fake personality and you never really get to feel as if you “know” the artist. Jimmy is a talker and let me just say that his personality is as magnetic as his songs.
Towards the end of Jimmy’s set, he invited Tyler Booth out onstage with him. Jimmy spoke very highly of Tyler and his voice. He mentioned how many of his Nashville friends had already written with Tyler and that he was looking forward to writing with him soon.
Jimmy asked Tyler to sing one of the songs that he has written. To the crowd’s delight, Tyler played them an unreleased song titled, “Palomino Princess”. Jimmy sat back and just enjoyed what he was witnessing from four feet away. You could see it in his eyes, Jimmy believes in Tyler, as do I and most in Wolfe County.
Jimmy asked Tyler to sing one with him before he turned it over to Tyler and his band, The Asphalt Outlaws. Tyler chose the Merle Haggard classic, “Mama Tried”. Jimmy put in some mighty fine picking as Tyler delivered a booming performance. In hindsight, it seemed like a poignant moment, almost as if Jimmy was passing the torch to a talented young man for safe keeping. It was wonderful.
Closing out the night, Tyler and his band of Outlaws took to the stage with a sound so big that they probably heard ’em all the way in Lexington. After three acoustic sets, it was time to get a little rowdy!
The crowd had been in their seats for most of the night, but when Tyler hit the stage, you’d have thought Elvis was up there. Many left their seats and crowded the stage, knowing that there won’t be many times they’ll be able to see Tyler in such a small venue, especially at home.
I chose to cover this show for a multitude of reasons. The main reason? I wanted to see and feel how others felt about Tyler. I wanted to see if they were there just because of all the hype or if they genuinely knew his music. Needless to say, I got my answer. Campton, much like Jimmy after Saturday night, believed in Tyler whole-heartedly and would do all they can to help him chase his dream.
As for Tyler and the band’s performance, I’ve said many great things about Tyler in the past, I’m not going to rehash that. What I want to tell you is something a bit different. See Tyler is a quiet guy. He doesn’t have a lot to say. He has been working really, really hard to improve his show and stage presence. I’ve been watching him grow for roughly a year now. I know where he came from and where he is now. Saturday’s show was the jolt of confidence that Tyler needed. He needed to know that others believed in him, so he could truly have the confidence to believe in himself. Tyler grew up on Saturday. He became an artist, not someone just going through the motions.
Was his performance perfect? No, but that’s what made it awesome. Tyler connected with people. He watched the kids sing his lyrics back to him. He heard the crowd scream “Hell Yeah” during “Hank Crankin’ People”. He became the show instead of being a part of it. Now that he has figured that out, the sky truly is the limit for this young man.
Saturday was an incredible night and unlike any other show you will ever see. The reason is twofold, you have a special homecoming for one artist and a vote of confidence for another. The love of everyone there was focused and genuine, which is something you can only find in a small close-knit community like Campton. It was a hugfest and it felt a lot like a family reunion. Saturday was the perfect homecoming for Jimmy and the ideal launch party for Tyler. Thankfully, my head did not explode.