After one of the best days of live music that I’ve personally experienced, I came into day two of The Moonshiner’s Ball with lower expectations. Why? Because the bar was set so high, there was no way day two could top day one. Right? Wrong. Wrong on every level.
The rains came and made parking in the field a bit of a nightmare, but that is the only complaint you will get from me. In fact, the young man below and his willingness to make lemonade out of the lemons that Mother Nature gave us, was the inspiration I needed to let go and just enjoy the day. A day that turned out to be beautiful and filled with some unbelievable music.
We arrived about midways through The Blackfoot Gypsies set. I was caught so off guard, I forgot to take any photos of them. Seriously, they were that mesmerizing. So much energy, power and attitude. I was honestly surprised that they played so early, because singer-songwriters usually play early and the rock jumpstarts the party later on. I am thankful that I did get to see what little bit I did.
Next up was the man that many see as the next Country Superstar, Tyler Childers. And I say that he has rightfully earned that reputation. Tyler is a young man from right here in Kentucky with an incredible knack for telling stories. His melodies are written beautifully and his delivery is ferocious, yet seemingly effortless at times.
When the song and melody reach a point of pain, Tyler appears relives the moment right before you. You hear, feel and see the pain and that is the mark of a true artist. A friend and I had a conversation recently about Tyler. I described him as a modern day, less nasally Bob Dylan. He described him as an Appalachian Bruce Springsteen. I think both descriptions are equally appropriate.
Tyler sings songs of heartache, love, drinking, smoking, living and dying. You will find few artists that are more authentic, and if you do, they’re already a household name. He draws many comparisons to another Kentuckian in Chris Stapleton, and it is easy to see why after his performance. Do yourself a favor and go see Tyler Childers now, because in a couple years he will be playing much, much larger stages.
The next band I want to discuss is one that I’ve been following closely now for about a year. They’re called Johnny Conqueroo and they’re based in Lexington. Fresh out of High School, these young men have created a musical style that borrows from many, but sounds like no other. Johnny Conqueroo are a traditional power trio that’s rooted in the blues, nourished by rock and roll and delivered with a punk attitude. Their music has evolved so much over the past year and in my humble opinion, their future is a bright one.
I based my opinion above on what I’ve witnessed at three live performances. There is something unexplainable about an artist when they have “it”. Whatever “it” is, Johnny Conqueroo has it in spades. You need look no further than the reactions if those in attendance to clearly see the connection being made. In the age of social media, most concerts are littered with people holding their phones up to humble brag about being at an event, but not at a Johnny Conqueroo show. People are dancing their hearts out and hardly anyone is buried in their phones. That to me tells me everything I need to know about where these guys are headed. They are raw, efficient, compelling and captivating. For me, they’re the future of rock and roll.
Founders of and the resident band at The Moonshiner’s Ball are none other than the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers. They bring a unique style that is a mix of bluegrass, country amd folk and let me tell ya…they know how to party! The moonshine was definitely flowing for their set and the crowd was having a blast. I may or may not have been guilty of doing a little toe-tapping and some foot-stomping myself. The Blind Corn Liquor Pickers have created a fantastic event that is as Kentucky as they are themselves. It was awesome to witness them enjoying the fruits of their labors.
Our night was closed out by Con Brio and I’m going to sum up what I’m about to say very succinctly…OMG! Go see Con Brio!!
Now if you would like more details, here we go. Con Brio is fronted by Ziek McCarter. Ziek embodies the spirit and moves of so many legendary performers. You can sense a bit of artists like Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown and many, many more. He is the total package when it comes to a performer. His dance moves are inspiring, his vocal range is out of this world, his stage presence is second to none, his melodies are infectious and he has the looks to be a model. What’s the best part about him? His humbleness. He knows the talent that he possesses, but he is far from arrogant.
Oh and about the band, holy cow patty, Batman. They’re a well-oiled machine that delivers the funk like few others can. I simply can not say enough kind words about them. I am definitely not a dancer, but on this night, even my feet were moving.
One cool thing that the afforementioned rain brought out, were the bullfrogs. Those little suckers were loud and proud. Their croaks provided a rather unique band of backing vocals and that was music to my ears.
I have experienced over 1,000 bands in my lifetime. I’ve written about many of them and I am going to be completely honest, Saturday was the greatest night of music that I have ever personally witnessed. I now have all the faith in the world in the Moonshiner’s Ball and it is now a Kentucky tradition for me. Do yourself a favor and join me next year, you will not be disappointed.