It’s been a bit since I’ve written anything about the folks in Sundy Best. I was honored to photograph a show way back in 2014 at the Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville. The guys were ramping up and riding an incredible high at that time, but unfortunately, the band would come to an end back in 2018.
Both Nicholas Jamerson and Kristofer Bentley, the duo that make up Sundy Best, continued their musical journeys. Jamerson released one of the best albums we’ve heard here at Capture Kentucky, back in 2020, so it was a bit of a surprise when the two announced their reunion, but definitely a welcomed one.
You can check out our review of Nicholas Jamerson’s ‘The Wild Frontier’ here.
The fact that Nick and Kristofer have been lifelong friends weighed heavily upon their decision to give things another shot. Nick recently became a father and Kristofer saw his Dad struggle after a car accident. Through those events, the two bonded again and decided that their new perspectives and purposes deserved a second chance. With new music already written and recorded, you’ll be well-advised to keep your eyes and ears on the Sundy Best folks.
Now let’s get into the show, shall we?
Prestonsburg’s Archer Park was the setting for the Saturday night event. The Park partnered up with the Mountain Arts Center to bring folks to what was dubbed the “Kinfolk Reunion.” A three-day event that featured Sundy Best sharing the stage with several local musicians. The Friday night show saw Duston Hoover open the show, Saturday was Brit Taylor, and Sunday featured the Mystery Meat Blues Band.
If you don’t know the name Brit Taylor, let me preface the rest of this article by advising you to rectify that immediately. Taylor released one of the best albums of 2020 and her inclusion on Saturday night was the definite cherry on top.
Check out “Broken Hearts Mend” below:
If forced to compare, I’d liken Brit Taylor to a mixture of Lee Ann Womack and Kentucky’s Queen, the treasured Loretta Lynn. Those are pretty big shoes to try and fill, but Taylor possesses the songwriting ability to take her wherever she wants to go.
Brit opened the show all by her lonesome. Stripped down to just her and her guitar, and she was absolutely captivating. So much so, that her pupper Whiskey HAD to join her onstage. It was a beautiful moment for sure. The now Nashville native allowed her Eastern Kentucky roots to shine while applying the polish that comes from being a Nashville recording artist.
Taylor’s abbreviated set delighted those that gathered in Archer Park early and I’d venture to say that Brit picked up many fans to add to her blossoming fan base.
I’ll betcha her pupper Whiskey has a whole bunch of new fans, and who can blame ’em?!
Highlights for me included “Rose Garden”,”Waking Up Ain’t Easy,” “Wagon”, a cover of Dwight Yoakum’s “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”, “Married Again”, “Tomorrow”, and my personal favorite song in “Real Me.” She also tossed in some Judds, the biggest surprise was just how well “Back In The Fire” translated to the stripped-down performance. That one stole the show for me.
As the sun began to settle behind the mountains, the time had come for the reunion that many folks had longed for, but wasn’t sure if it would ever become a reality. The hometown musical duo took the Archer Park stage, much to the delight of the seemingly ever-swelling crowd.
They started the show with great energy and the gas pedal never left the mat the rest of the night. The energy and sheer joy between Nicholas and Kristofer was contagious and the hometown crowd absorbed their energy and gave it right back to them tenfold. It was absolutely wonderful.
I’ve said it a thousand times that a hometown show is an incredible experience and should always be attended whenever possible, BUT, if you can catch a hometown reunion show and you don’t go…that’s just poor judgment. Lol
Armed with a vast catalog of original tunes, Sundy Best mixed in some fantastic cover songs and even tossed in some medleys to keep folks on their toes.
The first big moments of the night for me hit one right after the other. First were the stories that Kristofer told about one of my favorite Sundy Best songs in “Four Door.” Let’s just say that I’ll never look at Dairy Cheer the same again, but I will forever cherish their performance.
We then got our first glimpse into new music as the band debuted “Walk By Faith.” A tune inspired by Nicholas reading his daily devotional. II Corinthians 5:7 happens to be one of my own personal favorite Bible verses, so let’s just say that I may have a new favorite Sundy Best tune to look forward to.
They then hit us with my current favorite Sundy Best song in “Hindman.” That song is absolutely timeless. It may be written towards more of a regional target audience, but judging by the number of folks singing along, the message hits home for most. “Hindman” transitioned seamlessly into a short rendition of the Skynyrd classic “Tuesday’s Gone.” What a wonderful moment.
As the night progressed, the entourage kept on growing with the addition of more special guests and musicians.
The duo were joined by Ireland Owens and her Dad Trent Owens, as well as Wes and Aaron Smith to round out the band. Ireland gave us a performance of one of her originals and she then proceeded to drop jaws all over Archer Park as everyone joined in for the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams.” That. Was. Incredible.
Ireland and Trent treated us to another original written by Trent. I believe the title was, “If I Loved You”, (I may be off on the title), but it was also beautiful and I look forward to seeing and hearing more about Ireland soon.
After the brief intermission, Emily Jamerson joined them on stage to perform “Stay With Me.” A song that she helped write. She brought a great energy to the stage and her harmonies pulled a few smiles from her hubby as well. That performance really moved “Stay With Me” up the list of favorites. For whatever reason, it clicked on Saturday night and I found myself infatuated with the song once again.
Next up, I wanna discuss the performance of the Steeldrivers tune, “Angel Of The Night.” At first, I was apprehensive because Chris Stapleton is a completely different voice from Nick. And an entirely different animal to cover. I’ll tell ya what though, when Aaron hit that fiddle and the four-part harmonies hit, that song became a Sundy Best song and in all honesty, I was blown away.
Most folks would’ve taken the win right there and went home, but not these guys. Nope, they rolled right into the Tom Petty classic, “Breakdown”. Now, if you aren’t aware of Wes and Aaron Smith outside of the shows from this weekend, I strongly suggest you take a few minutes and dive into their band, Brother Smith. I’ve seen both brothers perform in several different scenarios and those guys are the absolute perfect compliment to Sundy Best.
I want to take a moment and talk about “Mean Old Woman” here. It may have been my favorite performance of the entire night. The majority of the crowd had found their way through most of their coolers and made it to the front of the stage. During “Mean Old Woman”, let me tell ya, they were bouncing in unison like House of Pain told them to “Jump! Jump!” It was one of the rowdiest moments on Saturday and the energy in the air could’ve been cut with a knife.
Then, Nicholas took off his jacket, revealing his Prestonsburg football jersey. When he screamed out, “I’m P-Burg till the day I die!” Needless to say, crowd participation grew immensely and it was flat-out awesome to witness!
We were treated to one song from Nicholas’s solo work. After Kristofer led everyone through the first “Holler and Swaller” salute, the band hit us with “Brother Rabbit” and it was absolutely fantastic. As the music tempo varied wildly, the band danced in unison, mimicking Brother Rabbit as he ran through the woods. What. A. Freaking. Blast!!
Nicholas brought his brother, Joseph Jamerson for a few songs. Joseph handled the guitars and vocals, as Nick slid back over to the bass. They performed a total of five songs together, but the last three blew me away.
Tearing through Willie’s “On The Road Again”, “Teardrop Inn” and some Toby Keith. Seriously. The four-part harmonies being sang in unison by two sets of brothers was unmatched as they completely owned Toby Keith’s “Shoulda Been A Cowboy.” The party had arrived and it was in full swing by this point!
If you’ve ever seen a Sundy Best, you’ve experienced “Swarpin.” If not, no spoilers here, but get ready for a “Holler and Swaller” to get the mood right!
“Smoking Gun” was even better than I remembered, but it was “Painted Blue” that really took on a whole new light for me on Saturday night. I’ve always loved that song, but seeing it live again, with a renewed passion and a field choir joining in was easily the most moving moment of the night and one that brought a realization that I’m going to end this article with. If you take one thing from this article, let it be this. Sundy Best are back, but this time, they’re making their own rules. Sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ll thank me later. I promise.