Have you ever heard a song or artist that you immediately knew where they’re from and what to expect? It’s not all that common, but when it happens, I often find there’s an unusually deep connection with that song or artist moving forward. It’s like they allow you to know who they are immediately. There’s no digging around, trying to figure them out. What you see, or in this case, what you hear, is exactly what you get. It’s those artists that I find incredibly refreshing, and endearing.
The Local Honeys give you that immediate introduction. With their new self-titled release on La Honda Records, these two ladies have embodied the history, the people, the music, the dialect, the kindness, the love, and the beauty of what it means to be a Kentuckian. When you push play, you feel at home, immediately.
**Photo taken at my first Local Honeys show back in 2017**
That feeling was no accident. As the first two women to graduate from Morehead University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Traditional Music Degree, Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs set a course to honor the traditional music that has been created here in Kentucky. As you’ll soon hear, that mission is accomplished, but with a twist. You can call this album a straight-up bluegrass album, but it’s much, much more. These ladies have struck a balance of traditional bluegrass that has an ever-expanding sound. You’ll hear banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, drums, an organ, and even a trumpet. Yes, you read that correctly, a trumpet.
Linda Jean and Montana have been on this trajectory for several years, and since their beginnings as a duo, one very important man has been a constant supporter, Professor Jesse Wells at Morehead University. There’s another reason that name may sound familiar, he’s also a member of The Foodstamps. The backing band of Mr. Tyler Childers. Jesse’s familiarity, knowledge, and unbelievable skill made him the perfect co-producer for this project. As a mentor, he’s almost an honorary Honey. His familiarity with The Honeys music and goals shine through like a mid-day’s Summer sun.
Kentucky is bountiful when it comes to singer-songwriters these days. It’s kinda embarrassing to be honest, but we’ll sure as heck enjoy the ride while we can.
Today, I want to focus our little spotlight on one of the youngest, but brightest rising stars in Larah Helayne. Larah is an inspiration in many ways, and the future is a very bright one that I’ll be watching for a very long time.
Photo By Erica Chambers
So allow me to introduce you to Larah for a bit. Larah hails from the home of ‘Court Days’ which is a festival that takes place every year in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. The Whirlin’ Sterlin’ as it’s often referred to. Helayne is a strong voice within the LBGTQ+ community. Identifying as non-binary, Larah is blazing a path that is dubbed as they lovingly describe as “Queer Country: for the adolescent and adventurous.” So it’s no coincidence that Larah is releasing this sophomore EP during Pride Month. Yet another wink and nudge that Larah knows where they want their heart and full attention to be. Helayne recently dropped out of the University of Kentucky to pursue music full-time. A move that could become a truly defining moment in Larah’s career.
The past year has seen several Kentuckians release some of our favorite music yet. The meteoric rise of Tyler Childers and the return of Sturgill Simpson were definite bright spots, but the introduction of several new artists make this a list that we’re extremely proud to present to you.
Please note that this isn’t a comprehensive list of every Kentucky artist that released music in 2019, this is just an overall summary of some of our favorites. Also, the music included below is in no particular order, we love ’em all equally, and hopefully you will as well!
We put together a Spotify playlist to accompany the article. Hope you enjoy!
Kentucky music is no longer a secret and people all across the country are taking notice. You may ask, “What makes you say that?” Glad you asked. Because we have been invited to be involved in tons of Festivals and shows in several different states in just the past year.
First we made it out to Iowa for Hinterland. An event that featured three Kentuckians in Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, and Wheeler Walker, Jr. (Review here)
We then invaded Nashville for three shows.
We partnered up with Whiskey Soldier during the SEC Tournament for a Kentucky Takeover show with artists like Tyler Booth, Senora May, Jericho Woods, and Timmy Dunn. (Review here)
Lastly, we saw Tyler Childers make his debut at both The Grand Ole Opry and his Ryman debut in support of Margo Price. (Review here)
As Tyler Childers fame continues to reach new heights every day, he continues to be presented with larger opportunities and he recently sold-out the most acclaimed venue in the United States, perhaps even in the world, at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. (Review here)
With that taking place, Darren Byrd approached me to give him some input as he put together an event to give all those traveling Kentuckians something to do while in Denver. The event was to be called ‘Appalachia On The Rocks.’ (more…)
I’ve been blessed to be able to work with Master Musicians Festival. I was given the honor to be their staff photographer this year by Tiffany Finley. Many of you know Tiffany, but for those that don’t, she is the President of Master Musicians Festival. She is also an avid supporter of local music and all things Kentucky.
What makes Master Musicians Festival (MMF) so unique? The Festival is ran by ALL volunteers. That’s right. ALL volunteers. From the local roller derby tending bar, high school football teams setting up and tearing down the stages, marching bands providing golf cart rides to folks like the Don Franklin family of dealerships putting up sponsorship money, Somerset comes together and shows everyone else how it should be done.
With that army of volunteers, MMF has an economic impact of 3 million dollars. That’s absolutely incredible and astonishes me even after typing it.
This will be the 26th year that MMF has taken place and they handpick the artists. So since I’ll be there this year, I thought it would be fun to put together a top 15 list of performances that You should definitely try and take in.
There are a few tickets still left, so pick up your tickets here and enjoy the show.
Recently we announced that we’ll be partnering up with Somersessions for some premieres. So I wanted to take a moment and put together a list of performances that I have revisited many times and this will allow me to show you why we’re so excited for this collaboration.
I really enjoyed putting this together, it was definitely a fun one! (more…)
I wanna say something that likely won’t mean anything to you, unless you know Josh Nolan. We’ll get to his new album momentarily, but I feel the need to share some insight that I feel is relevant.
Now what I am about to say, is not a negative thing. Perceptions can be tricky when trying to get the information to folks in a manner that makes sense to everyone. So follow me as I explain why this young man should be on your radar.
I want to start this article by saying something that I can likely never say about another artist. I have never heard an album that captures a person’s personality more than Chelsea Nolan’s new release, ‘chelsea.’ What does that even mean? Glad you asked. Follow me down the rabbit hole and enjoy this one!
I’ve spent some time with Chelsea over the last year. I was honored to take a few photos for promotional purposes and I’ve seen her perform several times. In a way, I watched these songs be born and grow into what you now hear.
The crickets, frogs and birds provided the soundtrack for a peaceful nights rest and it was once again time to do some kickin’ on the creek.The music started early on my day two and the fact that Mr. Childers would be playing later on Saturday night, I fully expected the crowd to be much thicker.
The Wine Tree Band began the day for folks, but I have to admit they didn’t start mine. So my apologies to those folks. The sirens song that the frogs and crickets sang kept me in bed until about 9:15. As I awoke and scanned the schedule for the day, I suddenly realized that Saturday was going to be a who’s who for Kentucky and regional music. (more…)