In a rather short period of time, Kentucky’s Dillon Carmichael has staked his claim as one of the best young songwriters in Nashville. Dillon moved to Nashville right after High School. He landed a publishing deal and took off chasing his dream and that’s where I want to let Dillon’s lyrics speak for themselves. In the track “That’s What Hank Would Do”, Dillon tells us how he became the young man he is today. Check it out:
I pulled into Nashville
Writin’ songs for the radio
But chasin’ a sound didn’t work
I had to stick to what I know
And then I asked myself
“What would Hank do?”
He’d say “In with the old and out with the new”
That openness and honesty is a breath of fresh air for me. You’ll get no “Bro Country” or “Tractor Rap” from Dillon Carmichael. He’s a troubadour with a retro style of real country and his smooth baritone vocals conjure up many of the greats. Now I’m not saying Dillon is the level of a Waylon or Merle, but for a debut album, Dillon is MILES ahead of the game at only 25 years young. In fact, ‘Hell On An Angel’ is easily in my top three albums from 2018.
We were extremely lucky last winter. We had the opportunity to help put together a show at the world famous Austin City Saloon. We had two of Kentucky’s rising stars in Dillon Carmichael and Tyler Booth. Dillon has a record deal and a deal for Tyler Booth is simply just a matter of time. These two young men have a very bright future, especially for their respective ages. (Dillon – 25, Tyler – 22) Feel free to check out our article from that show here.
Now onto the venue. If you’ve been to Central Kentucky, you’ve likely seen or at least heard about our castle. If not, well, hold on to your hats. The Kentucky Castle is now a hotel and restaurant that is available to anyone, but as you can imagine, it stays pretty full because of weddings. I’ve driven by it many times. I’ve photographed it from the road, but I had never set foot inside. Out of respect to those eating dinner and staying at the Castle last night, we chose to walk around a bit but took no photographs of the patrons or the interiors. We’ll save that for another, less rainy not so miserable day. Feel free to check out their site here for more details or simply check out the great tour from Ken Heron on YouTube below. The “Green House” is placed where the tennis court is at in the video.
Now onto the music! This was my third time seeing Dillon perform. The first time was the aforementioned show with Tyler Booth. The second time was Dillon’s CD release party at Austin City Saloon. Since, Dillon has been on the road for some time now, so needless to say, I was anxious to see what or if any improvements have been made.
Now, I jokingly called Dillon, Kentucky’s Prince Charming, in the title to this article. Sure we were in a castle, so it’s a playful, fun thing to say, but in all honesty, it’s not much of a stretch. Dillon’s larger than life personality is always on display. So much so, that I’ll use an old saying here. Dillon Carmichael could use his charm to persuade an Eskimo to buy ice cubes from him, and they’d make it a double order. You simply can’t resist his charisma and I feel that’s going to be a huge part of his career.
Dillon stripped the set down to two guitars and his Momma, Becky Montgomery, singing some sweet harmonies. There’s just something incredibly beautiful and unique when hearing family members sing together. Be it siblings or in this case, Momma and her son, the harmonies blend so seamlessly. Seeing that in such an intimate setting was truly beautiful and something we won’t forget any time soon.
Several times Dillon took the time to explain songs and even crack a few jokes. Once asking if there were any Luke Bryan fans in attendance. Several people gave a surprising cheerful approval, to which Dillon responded with, “Bull$hit.” He was in rare form and truly happy to see so many familiar faces.
The atmosphere was loose. The vibe was laid back. It was as if Dillon played on his front porch and his neighbors, family and friends filled up his front yard. Forgotten lyrics, kicking over his water bottles, Dillon didn’t have a care in the world and since he had a blast, so did we.
He sang most of his album, a few covers and he even dropped a couple new songs, which I’ll tentatively title as “Waiting” and “Honky Tonk Bar In Heaven.” Let me just say, WOW! Both songs were fantastic. Dillon played roughly 90 minutes and he sang songs like “It’s Simple”, “Country Women”, Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin”, the Waylon Jennings classic, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” and Billy Joe Shaver’s “Georgia On A Fast Train”. He even covered Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, the biggest sing-a-long on the night was the John Anderson classic, “Straight Tequila Night.” What a totally unexpected and fun cover! Dillon also played four of my personal favorites in “That’s What Hank Would Do”, “Might Be A Cowboy”, “Hell On Angel”, and of course his radio hit, “Dancing Away With My Heart.”
All I can say is this, catch Dillon now in as small of a venue as you can, because he won’t be playing them very long. I can not tell you how happy and supportive I am of all the amazing talent that Kentucky has to offer. Quite simply, Kentucky is where it’s at. So get out there and support the artists or lose the art.