Working his way from the backroads of Kentucky to a club near you, Americana singer/songwriter Tyler Childers is making a name for himself with his thoughtful songwriting and earnest delivery that has been compared to everyone from Sturgill Simpson to Jason Isbell.
He’s become a regular on the local music scene (and a new resident of Greenbrier County), and this Friday, he returns for “An Evening With Tyler Childers” at the V-Club in Huntington.
The Gazz spoke with Childers about how he got started, his influences and why you should maybe spend five bucks on the visiting band’s EP.
Q: How did you get involved in music?
A: “I grew up singing in church. It was always just part of what I did. I got interested in guitar when I was 5 years old, but then that interest dwindled in favor of baseball. I picked it back up when I was about 13 and, early on, started singing and playing my own songs.
“My biggest passion is writing, and singing and playing music was a good vehicle for me to get my writing out.”
Q: Who are your strongest musical influences?
A: “Early on, I listened to anything I could get my hands on. That sent me all over the place until I ended up at the doors of John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and guys like that. Because of them, I discovered Chris Knight and Jason Isbell — songwriters who do stuff a lot like how I do it.”
Q: What was your first paid gig like?
A: “Well, I started playing open mics at the V-Club in Huntington. Because of that, I got my first gig at a bar called Shoops. I opened for Dead Beats and Barkers, played an acoustic set and they did that, too. It was just a really good experience.”
Q: How was your summer?
A: “Busy, but fun. I’ve been playing a lot. This is the first year I’ve really gone out on long tours, instead of just weekend warrioring it. It’s also the first year I’ve lived outside of Kentucky. It’s good, very inspiring here. It’s beautiful.”
Q: You’ve released one CD and a couple of EPs. Why the EPs?
A: “The latest one, ‘Live at Red Barn II,’ they [the venue] called me when a friend of mine booked to play there couldn’t make it. She was sick. We got some recordings from the show, and I picked out four of them I felt good about for the EP.
“There are two covers and two of my songs. One of my songs, “Follow to Virgie,” I didn’t see it going on a full-length album, but I wanted it recorded somewhere. The other, “Bottles and Bibles,” I recorded on my first CD, but I always wanted to do more with it.
“Anyway, I’m playing in a lot of new territories these days, places where nobody knows me. And the EPs, don’t cost me much, not as much an album, so I can sell them for $5, which seems like a good price to pay for something from a guy you’ve only listened to for 20 minutes in a bar. You can take that home and see if you like it.”
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter.