The Levitt AMP Whitesburg Music Series kicked off on May 31st with Dave Adkins and Larry Cordle. A little history about the Levitt AMP Music Series can be found here https://grant.levittamp.org/
The Levitt AMP Music Series is a 10-week concert series with different genres of music performed each week, all concerts are free to the public. The venue had to be an underused public space. Whitesburg’s space is the Mountain Heritage stage in downtown Whitesburg. The stage used during the Mountain Heritage fall festival, but it is rarely used any other time of the year. In all, there were 15 grants awarded this year, with Whitesburg being the smallest community to receive a grant. The impressive thing about that is Whitesburg was also number one in the online voting across the country. A quick look at the map on the Levitt AMP website shows that Kentucky has three communities that received these grants, which also the most across the country. That shouldn’t be surprising with the amount of musical talent that has come out of Kentucky in recent years.
Bluegrass was the genre represented for the first show. Whitesburg’s own Sunrise Ridge got this rainy night underway with right at an hour long set. Included in their set were original tunes with some very well done covers, including my personal favorite “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”, which was written by Darrell Scott, who was born in London, KY. I’ve heard Sunrise Ridge cover that song a couple times now and it gets better every time I hear it.
Now I’d be lying if I said I was familiar with the two gentlemen that were tonight’s headliners. I don’t consider myself a bluegrass fan, but that is my misfortune because I should have at least been aware of both award-winning artists. They both are from Eastern Kentucky with Dave being from Elkhorn City, KY and Larry being born in Lawrence County. Elkhorn City is only about fifty miles away from Whitesburg, so I most definitely should have been familiar with him. Both are also award-winning singer/songwriters with multiple number one hits to their credit.
Dave Adkins most recent single “Blood Feud” (featuring Larry Cordle) is about the Hatfield-McCoy feud and has been number on the Bluegrass Today Top 20 charts three separate times since its release. Dave’s version of “I Can Only Imagine” has been number one twice on Bluegrass Today Top 20 Gospel songs chart. He’s also been nominated for and won a host of different awards throughout the bluegrass industry.
Larry Cordle’s break in songwriting came in the early 80’s when Ricky Skaggs had a number one hit with Larry’s song “Highway 40 Blues” and the rest, as they say, is history. According to the bio on his website, Larry’s songs have appeared on projects that have sold to date more than 55 million records. Artists like Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire and many more have had success with Larry Cordle penned tunes. Kentucky’s newest favorite son, (Who is also a native of Lawrence County) Tyler Childers, credits Larry as a huge influence and it was easy to see why. Larry and his band have been nominated for two Grammy’s and have had numerous number ones on Bluegrass and Americana charts. They also won two IBMA Song of the Year Awards for their songs, “Lonesome Standard Time” and “Murder of Music Row”.
To say that Dave and Larry know what they are doing when it comes to Bluegrass and Americana music is an understatement. I don’t pretend to be an expert or even a moderate fan of Bluegrass music, but these folks performed an awful lot of hit songs for the crowd in Whitesburg. And let me just say that those that braved the rain for this outdoor show were not disappointed! I know that I’ll be digging into these artists a bit more and I encourage you to do the same. Until next time!
Be sure and check the website listed below for a schedule of the upcoming artists at the Whitesburg Levitt AMP Music Series