If you’ve been a fan of our site, you’ve likely seen us mention Healing Appalachia several times. We were able to cover the first event, and you can find our coverage from that event, here.
If you’re unfamiliar with Healing Appalachia, allow me to provide you with an overview of the mission and some reasons that this event is extremely important. Healing Appalachia is (now) a two-day music festival that takes place on the fairgrounds of the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The event benefits the Hope In The Hills charity. An organization that is dedicated to helping fight the opioid crisis that grips Appalachia.
In short, the day that 26 people overdosed in one day in Huntington, WV, things had to change and that was the spark needed to pursue meaningful help and eventual change. The throes of addiction are very difficult to treat, and there weren’t a lot of organizations that were focused solely on addiction. Especially in the Appalachian region of our Country, which has been one of, if not the hardest hit regions in the entire world. So with music and events as the vehicle, Hope In The Hills and Healing Appalachia were born from a tormented necessity, and that’s why Capture Kentucky made the nearly five-hour drive to shine a little light on the cause that’s near and dear to our hearts.
While you’re there, we highly encourage you to donate as well. The link for that is right here.
Now we know how and why we made it to this point, let’s shift our focus to the who. Healing Appalachia has brought together a tremendous lineup of artists to raise money for their focused efforts against the opioid crisis. Artists from all over the US have given their time and their fans responded in kind.
Friday night, which we were unfortunately not able to attend, hosted Galactic (New Orleans, LA), Margo Price (Nashville, TN), Lucero (Memphis, TN), Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle (Cincinnati, OH), as well as TK & The Holy Know-Nothings (Portland, OR).
Friday night was capped off by two artists playing a separately ticketed event on the fairgrounds. Limited to only 1000 tickets, Vintage Pistol (Fayetteville, AR) and Logan Halstead (Boone County, WV) helped raise money for a second cause, that of course being the flood victims here in our Commonwealth that was hit so devastatingly hard just a few short months ago.
A tremendous lineup in and of itself, Healing Appalachia wasn’t finished though. As Saturday brought an entirely new lineup full of eclectic artists that were just as eager to help. Appalachian artist Tyler Childers (Louisa, KY) headlined a night of music that featured Arlo McKinley (Cincinnati, OH), Lost Dog Street Band (Kentucky via Nashville, TN), Laid Back Country Picker (Louisa, KY), the Vince Herman Band (Nashville, TN Currently), Jeremy Pinnell (Elsmere, KY), and Tommy Prine (Nashville, TN).
While Saturday night’s after-party featured 49 Winchester (Russell County, Virginia) and Cole Chaney (Boyd County, Kentucky). At the first Healing Appalachia, one of my favorite parts was where many individuals had the courage to take to the stage and share their stories. Focusing on how they’ve overcome addiction and they now want to help others with their battles. Every moment is just beautiful, and their testimony is extremely valuable to others facing those same dire situations.
The music on Saturday began with Tommy Prine. The son of John Prine is really coming into his own and he is poised to release his debut album soon. There isn’t a lot of information out there about Tommy, outside of his lineage and debut single, “Ships In The Harbor.” So I came into his performance with a completely open mind, allowing Prine to paint his own canvas inside my mind, and let me just say, that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As Tommy wove a musical tapestry onstage, my heart followed every single note and his songs brought a calm over me that continued throughout the day. You can definitely call me a fan of this young man, and I am now eagerly awaiting his debut album.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my photo pass in time to provide any photos of Mr. Prine. Those things happen, so my apologies to Tommy if he happens to reads this. For now, you can check out this one from the official Healing Appalachia Facebook.
Tommy Prine – “Ships In The Harbor”:
Next was Jeremy Pinnell. Jeremy is a veteran of the Kentucky/Cincinnati scene and has delivered several of my personal favorite songs from anyone over the years. His being a Kentuckian only makes his performance that much sweeter.
Jeremy’s a no-nonsense kind of guy with a tongue that’s as sharp as his wit. You’re immediately hit with an old-school honky-tonk vibe from Jeremy’s music, and that’s because authenticity is the main ingredient. There’s no clutter, no gimmicks, and certainly no bull$hit. Which, oddly enough, is a breath of fresh air in today’s musical landscape.
Pinnell is not a performer that’s going to jump around onstage, nor is he going to try and crowd surf or do anything else that will take away from his songs. What you see, is exactly what you get. You’re going to get an intimate, laid-back session that expands upon the stories within in his songs. When you write songs like Jeremy Pinnell, there’s no need for gimmicks.
We had the great honor of interviewing Jeremy before he released his newest album, ‘Goodbye L.A.’, and you can check that out right here.
I’m a fan of Leftover Salmon, which is the band where Mr. Vince Herman originally rose to prominence. I’ve spent many hours driving the back roads of Kentucky blaring the classic track, “Kentucky Skies,” especially since Capture Kentucky was born back in 2017. So I was extremely excited when I saw that the Vince Herman Band was announced for Healing Appalachia.
I had not gotten the opportunity to see Leftover Salmon, or Great American Taxi, live before, so I really didn’t know what to expect from Herman’s set on Saturday. All I knew was that an artist with such a vast catalog of music never disappoints, and boy did Vince and the boys prove that notion true. My goodness!!
Seeing the Vince Herman Band perform, with the one and only Professor Jesse Wells on fiddle btw, was like watching Picasso paint. It was an awe-inspiring experience and one that was a delight to everyone in attendance. Vince Herman and his band are true masters of their craft, so keep your eye out for a brand new album from these guys. From what I heard on Saturday, it’s gonna be a barnburner!
It was also great to hear Vince reminisce fondly about times he spent there in Lewisburg and how happy he was to make the trip back to perform. He recently made a move to Nashville, so it was quite the haul for him as well.
Now, I’ll be honest, about halfway through Vince Herman’s set, I kept thinking whoever is up next, they better have eaten their Wheaties, because Vince and his band absolutely lit that stage on fire. I honestly started to feel bad. Well, until I realized that the Lost Dog Street Band was up next.
But before we get into their performance, I want to share something that I witnessed backstage. As Benjamin and Ashley were getting their instruments ready, several fans stopped to tell them how much their music meant to them. One gentleman thanked Benjamin and add that his music saved his life. At this event, witnessing that moment meant a lot to me and helped me grasp a better understanding of how important The Lost Dog Street Band is. Once on the stage, Benjamin even added that their setlist wasn’t written for this event, but he felt that his whole life and his music fit the Healing Appalachia mission wonderfully. Adding that he felt his entire life led him to that moment in time. It was a quite powerful and poignantly beautiful moment.
How do you know a set is going to be pure fire? Well, in this case, before they began their set, as they were checking the mics, Benjamin sang a couple verses and there were several folks singing along before they eventually erupted in cheers. That was yet another nail that drove home how important the Lost Dog Street Band is to so many. Call it a shared pain, a shared battle of a life where no one gets out alive. Something as simple as truly opening up and sharing your experiences can truly change someone’s world. That’s the power of music though. Right? Much like ice cream, you can always find the perfect flavor in music to fit the perfect moment.
Their stripped-down performance was just what the Doctor ordered and it was hauntingly beautiful. There is absolutely no denying that Lost Dog has delighted thousands of music lovers over the years, myself included. With their mixture of Folk and Americana, they showcase the struggles of life, and the decisions we all face, as well as the consequences they bring. Their songs are the very battles that Healing Appalachia helps folks win.
The Lost Dog Street Band gave those in attendance everything they had, they left absolutely nothing on that stage and judging by the crowd response, it was not lost on anyone. The energy they gave the crowd, was soaked up and sent right back to the stage. It was absolutely beautiful.
Once you add in the fact that the Lost Dog Street Band is in the middle of their farewell tour, you can see another layer of why the response was so great. Their retirement is a bitter pill to swallow, but they walk away with an illustrious career, albeit often times reluctantly. Benjamin Tod never wrote a single note of a song for the fame or notoriety. His past as a hobo, a wandering dreamer, is a well known fact, and one he reminds himself of every time he looks in the mirror. 11030 is tattooed backwards on his neck. 11030 is referred to as the Hobo zip code. Which if you add a line connecting the 1’s and a line down the left side of the 3, you spell out hobo. A not-so-subtle reminder to himself to simply keep it real and remember the path that got him here.
If this is indeed my last time seeing them perform, they left one helluva memory for me, and thousands in attendance up on that stage. I truly appreciate the music and the band. I wish them well in their next chapter.
If I may, I want to take another few moments here to commend those brave enough to get on the stage between the sets of music and share their testimonies. No one sets out to become an addict, but it happens. The folks that have recovered from their addiction, and continue to fight everyday are the real heroes at Healing Appalachia. Their testimonies will have an affect someone in attendance, and in that fact, lies the beauty and importance of this event. To those fighting, you are loved. You are heroes. Never forget that.
What can I say about the Laid Back Country Picker (LBCP) that I haven’t already said? Well, if you’re new to the site, welcome. If you’re a reader of the site, you know the story from front to back, but join me as we recount the amazing set, two sets actually, that Laid Back and Honey provided.
So for the new folks, here’s a brief summary of who the LBCP is and why he’s important in the grand scheme of things. As Tyler Childers grew into music, there was an educator by the name of David Prince that took an interest in Tyler’s writings. He encouraged him along and helped him “to make sense of all those strings.” Now I’m not saying that LBCP is David Prince, but I’ve never seen them in the same room together. So there’s that.
Sooooo, if you’ve heard Childer’s true debut album ‘Bottles and Bibles,’ then you’ve heard the guitar stylings of LBCP, as his licks and guidance are prominent throughout. See David Prince is an educator and he took an early interest in Tyler’s songwriting, so his guidance and love are a big part of Tyler’s life. Tyler’s heart, gratitude and respect are often on full display as he has LBCP or Luna & The Mountain Jets share many of his largest stages. From the Ryman to Red Rocks, Tyler always finds a way to include those that have supported him for so long. It’s honestly one of my personal favorite aspects of watching Tyler grow into the artist that he is. It’s a direct reflection of his heart.
As for the music, LBCP and his Honey create a very interesting sound as a duo. With LBCP taking on both lead vocals and guitar, Honey provides the drums and most of the banter between songs. She’s a real chatterbox on the kit, and poor Laid Back can barely get in a word edge wise. At least that’s his version. They make it work though, much like The White Stripes, or The Black Keys, except cooler. At least in my humble opinion.
Laid Back and Honey never fail to entertain, so Saturday was no different in that regard, but what it was, was two of the best performances I’ve witnessed from the duo. Playing good Country music and treating people right isn’t just the philosophy of the LBCP, it’s how he lives his life. Tearing through songs about everything from D.B. Cooper, Magoffin County Cadillacs, Godzilla and everything in-between, Laid Back and Honey’s business was to entertain, and it seemed to me that business was very good!
On a serious note though, David and Teresa Prince are two of my favorite folks on this planet and it does my ole heart a world of good when people are introduced to their art. Seeing many folks lining up for a selfie with Laid Back after their set, gave me a permagrin for the rest of the night. So hit the ole YouTube if you’re unfamiliar, or better yet, slide on over and pick up your own copies of Laid Back’s music. And don’t ya go sleeping on Luna & The Mountain Jets either!
Laid Back and Honey played two short sets at different times, so I mixed photos from both sets below.
That brings us to Mr. Arlo McKinley. Arlo is not only a performer at Healing Appalachia, he’s also an example of someone who has battled his own demons, reclaimed his life, and finds himself owing much of that success to Healing Appalachia and many of the folks who run it. His humility is almost always on display, but as he too searched for the courage up on that stage, he reminded everyone that we’re all humans. We all love, so why not get to know those beside you, here and in life, and love with your everything. Sounds like a solid plan to me.
As for Arlo’s set, my goodness. He was on fire, and his voice was quite possibly the strongest I’ve ever heard it. Mixing in songs from all three of his albums (Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound, Die Midwestern, as well as This Mess We’re In), Arlo added in some cover songs to sweeten the pot. With a strong voice and an arsenal of sad songs, Arlo sat out on his mission to make us all cry. You know it’s true! Don’t act like it ain’t. Lol
For the first three songs, I was in the photo pit, but I’m always a fan of hearing, “I’ve Got Her,” so I thoroughly enjoyed myself in there with that one as the soundtrack. The melody is something I find myself humming quite often, it’s just so daggum simple and catchy! Soon after, Arlo welcomed a special guest up for his performance of “Die Midwestern.” Jeremy Short joined in for that one and the crowd gave the loudest ovation up to that point.
That wouldn’t stand for very long though, as the band gave us a wonderful rendition of the Elton John classic, “Tiny Dancer.” That song was the big spark that ignited the crowd. From that point forward, the crowd was putty in Arlo’s hands, as they became a massive army of backing vocalists. I can still hear those choruses in my head as I’m typing this.
Eventually, we got to “Suicidal Saturday Night.” That song is one of my personal favorite songs from him, and I’m gonna say that I’m not alone in that boat based on the crowds’ reaction. Lewisburg came to enjoy themselves and enjoy themselves they did. The crowd sang back every single lyric and nearly made me cry. Damn you, Arlo, AND the crowd!! Lol
I do want to say, that there is nothing like being in a crowd of thousands of people, singing the same lyrics, sharing the same moment, understanding that your neighbor can become your best friend in a heartbeat, and simply put, we all owe it to music. Isn’t that just the craziest thing?
Soon after, the rain began to fall during “This Damn Town.” It was unfortunate, but it was also beautiful. I know that sounds odd, but when the band dropped out and Arlo led the crowd through the biggest sing-a-long up to that point in the rain, that’s a moment that everyone will take with them. The rain eased up pretty quickly and Arlo led everyone into “Wild Horses.” That song is the home of one of my favorite guitar solos on any Arlo song, and the band brought the heat. It was perfect, and it was my favorite performance from Arlo on Saturday night.
As Arlo began “Bag Of Pills,” the crowd seemingly had a spell cast upon them. Most took a moment and just enjoyed the moment. It wasn’t quite like a hush poured over, it was more like an intense interest, a captivation, or as I said, a spell. It was very interesting, and then the chorus hit and everyone knew what to do.
After that song, I decided to live in that moment as well. I took the time to appreciate seeing an artist that I’ve watched grow for years. He’s been involved with several shows that Capture Kentucky has helped host, and I’ve seen him in many different settings, but none this large. To put it simply, I wanted to share a moment and help him celebrate his success. It’s been a long journey for us both.
As the festivities continued after Arlo, there was one potentially dark moment just after the guitar giveaway, and a video instructing those in attendance on how to administer Naloxone. The crowd alerted those on stage that someone had hit the ground. Without hesitation, those onstage made their way into the crowd to help. As with any medical emergency, privacy must always be protected. I’m not here to discuss the incident, I am simply using the incident to show how important the mission and the Healing Appalachia event is. Saturday’s show has potentially already saved one life. I can not emphasis enough how important the training and resources provided by this event are.
I also want to add that when the crowd began spontaneously singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” I may or may not have teared up. What an incredibly beautiful moment to experience.
Now it was time for the man of the hour. A native Kentuckian, who also spent some time as a West Virginian, was ready to deliver as only he can. Louisa, Kentucky’s Tyler Childers was closing out the main stage and the anticipation became a constant buzz as the lights dimmed for the arrival of Tyler and The Foodstamps. As you can imagine, that buzz became a roar in an instant.
It had been quite some time since I’d been able to see Tyler and the boys perform. I’ve seen them perform a lot in the last five plus years. We’ve been able to cover several of Tyler’s biggest accomplishments. I’ve had the honor of seeing him perform at The Ryman, The Grand Ole Opry, Red Rocks, the Hinterland Festival in Iowa, the Railbird Festival, Rupp Arena with fellow Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson, and now as the headliner for two Healing Appalachia. Thanks to the pandemic, that list doesn’t include Madison Square Garden, but maybe someday we can still make that happen.
A lot of things have changed with Tyler since Capture Kentucky was born back in 2017, but I would argue that his greatest accomplishment is that he made the choice to pursue his sobriety and health. He’s now a much leaner, healthy and seemingly happier young man. His music reflects those changes, and I’m incredibly proud of him. You should be too.
I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect on Saturday night. With his new album ‘Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?” being released on September 30th, would we hear anything new? Would he play more of a “hits” setlist? Well, let’s discuss it. Shall we? Good!
The new album kicks off with a Tylerfied cover of the The Stanley Brothers classic, “Old Country Church,” so it was only fitting that this show too would begin the same way. Tyler and the Foodstamps reworked this one to fit who they are as musicians. That’s an approach they continued as Keyboardist Chase Lewis and Bassist Craig Burletic laid down the funk on the reworked version of “Purgatory.” You can feel the funk in this photo!
“Country Squire” came and went way too fast, but when the first notes of “Shake The Frost” hit…WHOA! I bet folks heard us all “back home in ole Kentucky.” Goodness gracious I’ve missed these fellas and the songs so much. They could’ve walked off that stage after that song and I think all or our hearts would have been full. Thankfully that didn’t happen though!! Lol
I have a tendency to pick one song in the setlist and focus on listening to Drummer Rodney Elkins. “Rustin’ In The Rain” happened to be the one I settled upon on Saturday night and I’m so glad I did. Ole Hot Rod sounded like absolute thunder, and he drove that bus better than ole Ray Dixon ever even thought about!
Tyler and the Foodstamps have been covering the Charlie Daniels’ classic “Trudy” for several years, but man, oh man, did Craig lay down some nasty (totally in a good way) funk on everydamnbody during the breakdown and with the only worthy word I can muster, GLORIOUS! It’s like many fans say, always choose the Craig-side of the stage, especially if ya like gettin’ funky!
Speaking of ole Ray Dixon, “Bus Route,” was so much fun, that even a quick shower couldn’t dampen the spirits of all of us there. Then though, THAT moment came. The one that everyone who has heard it sings it at the top of their lungs. I know you know it, take it away… “LOST AS A BAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL IN A FIELD FULL OF CORN!!” See, told ya! “Creeker” will NEVER get old. That line and song is the signature of Tyler, much like “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the signature of Freddie Mercury and Queen. It’s the same with the Rolling Stones and “Satisfaction.” You will never forget any of those songs. I have a case of the old chicken skin just typing about that moment. Shew!! I bet we could all set through a two-hour show of Tyler just singing that song and we’d beg for an encore.
We were also treated to one of the newer unreleased songs that Tyler has been playing. The track “Percheron Mules” is about Country as Country can get and just like when Tyler finally decides to sing the phone book, it fits in seamlessly in any setlist. Sometimes it just isn’t fair how Tyler can pick whatever obscure topic he wants, write a song about and we all educate ourselves because he’s just that daggum great. Check out this version below from Beth Boylan’s YouTube channel. She’s a friend of the site and a wonderful human being!
The band then took a break, and when that happens, you know that you are about to be treated to something very special. When Tyler takes the stage alone, you are treated to the origins of and the way these songs were originally written. It’s just magical. I could write 10,000 words about the why, but until you experience it, it’s just words. So I’m going to shut up and let you experience his performance of “Lady May.” You’ll get it instantly and if you’re a fan, you’ll be sing along as well. So check out this video from YouTube that I found from Saturday night.
Now I mentioned the album ‘Bottles and Bibles’ in the Laid Back Country Picker section of this article, and wouldn’t you know it, Tyler delivered that very song to the delight of everyone there.
Then came the two songs that were easily the two loudest songs of the night. Why? Because the crowd was singing louder than Tyler was. When he hit those first notes of “Nose On The Grindstone,” Lewisburg collectively lost their minds. And i mean that in a very loving way. While “Nose On The Grindstone” could essentially be considered the theme song of Healing Appalachia, I don’t know that any other song embodies who we are as Appalachians, as much as “Follow You To Virgie.” We’re hard-working people that love deeply. Family is everything. Our hearts belong to each other. All those values are hit with a bright spotlight as Tyler pays tribute to a Lady that had a profound effect on him. I’d be willing to bet that at least 80% of the people at those fairgrounds were singing along at the top of their lungs. That song gets me every single time I hear it. Be it recorded or in a live setting, I get misty-eyed. No one portrays a more truthful light upon the character of Appalachians than Tyler Childers, and that’s exactly why Tyler will forever be relevant, and legendary. He embodies all that is good in our hearts and its perfection when he is standing there preaching from his pulpit.
“Honky Tonk Flame” was spectacular as it always is, then we were treated to one of the songs that will be on the new album on September 30th. “Way Of The Triune God,” is one of the songs I’m most excited about. Well, the entire album honestly, but not for the obvious reasons of it being new. Nope. I’m excited because this album will be the first release that Tyler’s band, The Foodstamps, will be featured on. Rather than go the Nashville route of assembling a team of hired guns, Tyler decided it was time to let the world know about the best band in all of the land, and from what I’ve heard so far, Tyler made a terrific decision. Check out a performance from July below:
Tyler’s version of “Tulsa Turnaround” is a bit of a sped-up hybrid version of the original song from Kenny Rogers and First Edition, mixed with the Goose Creek Symphony version. Goose Creek are a HUGE influence on Tyler and with their Kentucky roots, you should definitely do a deep dive into their catalog of music. They’re the Kentucky/Arizona version of The Grateful Dead. They’ve been doing that cover for several years now and it still feels fresh and new every single time. That’s a skill that you can not be taught.
At this point, knowing that I had to gather my belongings, I stepped away from the show. I heard an extended and funkified intro to compliment “House Fire” that I’m totally bummed I didn’t watch. Sigh That was followed up with “Universal Sound,” which contains many lines about the beautiful areas of West Virginia, so that one almost had to be included!
Then Tyler’s night was wrapped up really nice with a pretty bow on it for all of us. As he busted out Kentuckian S.G. Goodman’s amazing song, “Space and Time.” If you’ve never heard that song, or Tyler’s version, you can check out his performance from the Healing Appalachia Livestream from earlier this year. I could barely see Tyler from the side of the stage, but I had to get a glimpse of how intensely he performed that one.
Oh, and don’t forget about the after-party coverage below the photo gallery!
As many folks made their way home, there were several hundred that stuck around for two more performances. Cole Chaney and 49 Winchester played the after-party that raised funds for the flood victims in Eastern Kentucky. As an Eastern Kentuckian myself, this was one show that I simply had to be a part of. The fact that two of my favorite artists happened to be playing didn’t hurt when I was making that decision though.
Cole Chaney is probably a newer name to most folks, but his name is one that you will want to know. At just 21 years old, Cole is blossoming into a superstar right before our eyes. His blend of Bluegrass, Country, and singer-songwriter gel incredibly well with his old soul and youthful energy. Cole comes along when many folks are attempting to be the next popular thing, but Cole just wants to be Cole and that’s exactly why his future is so incredibly bright. Equipped with songs like “Ill Will Creek,” “Back To Kentucky,” “Spirit,” “Humble Enough To Hear,” “Grind,” “Charlene,” and “Coalshooter,” Cole put his heart on full display for everyone to see and hear. I can’t tell you how many people were standing in that room, completely mesmerized. It was one of my personal favorite moments of the entire weekend.
Cole has shown that his music won’t be held back. He’s an honorable young man that’s about to set the world on fire, and I’m telling you right now, in a couple of years, the world will know this young man’s name and music. Go on and hop on this bandwagon and enjoy the ride!
Closing out the night were the fellas in 49 Winchester. These fellas have been road dogging it for several years now, and with the recent release, ‘Fortune Favors The Bold,” those dues they’ve paid are finally starting to pay dividends. They made their Grand Ole Opry debut just a couple of weeks ago, and things are looking up in the 49 Winchester camp.
Deservedly so, as their performance around 2am was the most fun set of the entire day. Vocalist Isaac Gibson’s energy was infectious and those flas energized my old bones to get up and do some dancing on my own.
Starting off with the acapella intro to “Annabelle,” they put their foot down on the loud pedal and never let up. Tearing through songs like “Chemistry,” “Fortune Favors The Bold,” “Everlasting Lover,” “Russell County Line,” “Neon,” and my personal favorite in “Damn, Darlin,” these guys became the cherry on top of one sweet a$$ sundae of music and fellowship. You can mark my words, 49 Winchester and Cole Chaney won’t be playing an after-party the next go-around.
So there ya have it. A little over 10 hours of driving, and 13+ hours of music in one huge article. It felt incredible to be able to see so many friends again. Capture Kentucky is truly a community of family, and being able to share Saturday with all of these incredible artists is something I will never take for granted. I’ve been incredibly blessed to watch this family of music doing their best to take over the world.
Saturday night sure did a lot of healing for this ole Appalachian.