Welcome back!! After a peaceful night of much-needed rest, I started my day off with Luna and The Mountain Jets. David and Teresa Prince are two of my favorite folks on this planet. A day with those two in it is always a wonderful day. I have never, nor will I ever, hear anyone say a bad word about them. Their set was the morning fuel that I needed to get going. Great music, warm smiles and seeing so many friends up and at it to see these folks was perfect.
My favorite performances were “Pepsi Girl”, “That Thing You Said”, “Firefly”, and of course, “KIOTC.”
Next up was Kyle Crownover. Many folks know of Kyle as he is a tour manager for a certain red-headed Hilljack that played on Saturday night. That’s all fine and dandy, but do not overlook Kyle’s music. His songs are genuine, touching, emotional and when coupled with his beautiful tone, you get a glimpse into what a wonderful soul Kyle really is.
I think “One More You” was my favorite performance, “Sweet Jeanette” was really good too, but I truly enjoyed them all. He even threw in a Kasey Musgraves cover. Kasey is very high on my guilty pleasure list. So that’s an automatic thumbs up for me!
There can be only one Laid Back Country Picker and we are fortunate that he calls Kentucky home. Part musician, part comedian, total sweetheart that just likes to treat people right and play some good country music. What more needs to be said?
Well, I’ll tell ya, Honey does most of the talking, but ole Laid Back sure can pick some fine guitar licks.
“Playing Good Country Music And Treating People Right” is not only his mantra, but it is also a song on his next album. It’s always great to hear “Party Line,” “Truck Stop Sam,” “David Bowie” and of course, “Magoffin County Cadillac.”
Next up was a band that I had not seen or heard. Green Genes, much like Prison Book Club last year, reunited to perform at Kickin’ It On The Creek. I learned quickly that if Don Rogers, Todd Copeland, Brandon Bowlds or Roddy Puckett are on a stage, you’ll thank yourself for being front and center.
I had some lofty expectations going in. I’m happy to report to ya, those expectations were met and exceeded. I’m not convinced yet that we weren’t watching the Grateful Dead in disguise. I loved every note from Green Genes!
By this time, I was starving. I headed back to refuel, so I missed the majority of Jim White’s set, but when the lady started hitting those opera notes, I caught a really bad case of the ole chicken skin! Shewy! That was amazing!
Next up were my buds in Jericho Woods. These folks have played some of my Capture Kentucky shows and I love ’em dearly.
Their showmanship is some of the best you’ll ever see. Cousins Josh Mitcham and Paul Priest formed Jericho Woods and they have had a faithful reserve of talent behind them. Kyle Daniels is an alumnus, and the additions of Aaron Martin and Anna Blanton have elevated their sound to new heights. Jericho Woods performed a wonderful, high energy set that included favorites like “35”, “Stinking Creek”, “Clear Cut”, “One Perfect Sound” and “Weep No More” were stellar.
When they fired up an instrumental and let Aaron and Anna cut loose…that’s when folks really took notice. Great set from some great Kentuckians!!
I’m going to say this though, our community is blessed with four of the best fiddlers in music. Anna Blanton, Chloe Edmonstone, Linda Jean Stokely, and the Professor, Mr. Jesse Wells. I would put them up against anyone. Three of the four were at KIOTC. Noticing a trend yet? The Roberts family knows good music when they hear it.
Next, we took a trip back to the Muddy Delta that gave us Muddy Waters and traveled through the rockabilly days that gave us Wanda Jackson with Nashville’s The Hi-Jivers. I got into a Hi-Jivers rabbit hole on YouTube, so I felt I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Nope. Not even close.
What we experienced was a band at the top of their game, fronted by a ferociously infectious female vocal in Dawna Zahn. She grabbed that microphone with one hand and then our hearts with the other.
Much like Joslyn from Thursday night, Dawna danced the night away. So much so, Byron may need to reinforce that part of the stage. Between those two, there’s gotta be a hole worn out there.
If you enjoy a high energy rock show, Vintage Pistol are your Huckleberrys. These guys are always buck wild on the stage. That’s a wonderful trait that draws me in every time.
I’ve managed a few bands over the years and the one thing I always told them was, if you want to sell show passes, you best be shakin a$$es. Vintage Pistol is ahead of the curve on that one.
Last year we saw these fellas turn a Les Paul on its back as Walt Blythe played a solo while this fella held the guitar up.
This year we saw plenty more shenanigans like playing the guitar behind the head, or jumping into the crowd to play a solo while Gregg Erwin of Magnolia Boulevard joined ’em onstage.
Life is about moments, and Vintage Pistol knows how to make ’em.
I have likely written more words about Magnolia Boulevard than anyone else. I have shouted from every rooftop I could find. Why? Because my gut tells me that this band will be legendary. Don’t trust me though, Paul Reed Smith loves em. That should be enough validity for anyone.
I do have a terrible habit of just letting everything go when I watch Magnolia Boulevard. I focus intently on the music and I often get so lost in their performances, that I don’t really take many notes about what songs they played.
I do remember closing my eyes and soaking in “My Sister”, “Strong-Willed Women”, “Ride” and a totally amazing cover of Fleetwood Mac classic, “The Chain.”
Magnolia Boulevard has this uncanny ability to allow the voice of Maggie Noëlle and the voice of guitarist Gregg Erwin to shine without stepping all over each other. If Maggie is belting out a huge note, Gregg is waiting on her to begin her descent, and then he swells his guitar volume up to take the baton and deliver a mind-boggling performance.
Need more evidence about the performance being mind-boggling? I’d say this fellas face during Gregg’s solo says it way better than I can.
Magnolia Boulevard heads out on tour in late October and throughout November as direct support with Blues Traveler. If that tour comes near, go. No thanks needed, but you’re welcome.
Byron Roberts introduced our next artist by telling the audience that they were, “About to witness the greatest songwriter alive on our plant.” Hard to argue with that one as John R. Miller and The Engine Lights, the extended version, brought John’s songs to the level they deserve. Considering where we started with his songwriting, that’s not an easy task.
Flanked by Miss Chloe Edmonstone, John Looney, William Matheny, John Clay and an old Fox Club bandmate, Adam Meisterhans. John R. Miller brought many audible layers to punctuate his poignant lyrics and there wasn’t a more beautiful set all weekend.
Now y’all know I love ya, but this set was too good and incredible to not enjoy the moment. If you want to know my favorite tunes on the night, I’ll make it easy for ya…All of them and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Paint me in a corner, I’ll say “Holy Dirt.” I’ve dubbed John R. Miller as the “Hemingway of West Virginia.” He tells stories like no other.
By the time Town Mountain hit the stage, my old bones were telling me it was bedtime. I waded through the crowd and snagged a few photos, but after a few songs, I headed back to the tent and enjoyed their set horizontally. They sounded perfect to my tired ears, but having seen them last year, I already knew they would.
I will say when they tore through their version of the Bruce Springsteen classic “I’m On Fire”, the crowd was ripe and ready and provided the biggest sing-a-long moment of the night…until they hit the chorus of “Down Low”, which was of course co-written with Mr. Tyler Childers.
Town Mountain is one of the best bluegrass bands of all time and we are all beneficiaries of the friendships that the Roberts have forged with these folks.
Also, I was surprised when they brought Arthur Hancock out to play a couple of songs from his new record. Which is quite stellar I might add. It was great to hear Arthur Hancock again though. It was flat-out amazing hearing the debut of “Wolfpen Branch” in flippin Wolfpen Branch!You can check out our review of ‘Alive At Hillbilly Central’ here.
That tiny stage nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, sure has a way of bringing out the best in folks.
As for my buds in The ‘Lectric Wooks, I missed ya last year, and unfortunately, I missed ya this year. Thankfully though, they know I love ’em and will totally understand. I did hear that Teresa Prince did a song with them. If ya have video, let us know!
Their set was the absolute perfect ending for a very long day. I did finally tap out after a few songs though.
I simply can’t believe the amount of talent that gathered in Wolfpen Branch. Kickin’ It On The Creek is our Woodstock. We’re living in a time where history is being made folks. Go to a show, buy some music, buy some merch, buy more tickets. We are the catalyst to propel the folks we love so dearly to the heights they deserve.
Someone will write a book on what we’re living in now. Hell, maybe me. Lol What a great time to be alive and enjoying the Roberts hospitality!
Oh yeah, we still have one more day. It’ll be hard to top these past two days, but I know damn well Mr. Tyler Childers will find a way.