With his most recent studio album, Sturgill Simpson produced in 2017 Purgatory, Country / folk singer / songwriter Tyler Childers has become the darling of critics and the American ensemble. But fans of Greater Cincinnati have been hailing him as a superstar for a few years now. Thanks to regular visits over the years, its relative proximity to the region (it comes from Eastern Kentucky) and some of today’s best musical compositions, Childers has amassed enough local followers to sell shows on a regular basis, including a two-night party at Southgate House Revival in 2017.
And when Childers opened for the legendary John Prine at the Taft Theater last year (where, in mutual respect, he joined Prine on his headlining set on a few songs), fans of the singer / songwriter helped create an intensely electric atmosphere, one rarely felt when performing a supporting act. Rooted, intimate and whispered or head-smacking honest, Childers’ songs have a magical quality that allows him to immediately connect with listeners.
Maybe this magic comes from a higher power. Or, in the case of Childers, it may be higher powers. Ahead of his sold-out shows in Newport, Kentucky in 2017, Childers spoke to CityBeat about his unconventional spiritual / philosophical journey, which was informed by 60s spiritual mystic Ram Dass, offering a good example of his unique worldview and artistic outlook.
“East Kentucky, good old Baptist Baptist, eighth grade and I was reading these books by this guy who was raised in Catholicism but created his own personal belief system with Catholicism mixed in with Buddhism,” Childers said of his discovery of Dass. “(It) made me realize early on about the idea of doing an honest assessment of your heart and if that doesn’t fit the culture around you then maybe the culture could be wrong. “
The last of the children local shows start on March 25 To Covington, the Madison Theater in Kentucky, where he will be joined by a pair of Cincinnati actors he has come to know on the touring circuit – Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound and Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle. The show kicks off an unprecedented three-night booth at the Madison Theater (it will also perform on March 27-28), but you’ll have to look for tickets in the resale aftermarket (beware, beware crooks). Unsurprisingly, all three shows sold out weeks ago.
The kids might have to play at US Bank Arena or Riverbend next time around to welcome its legion of area fans.