ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team faced questions about its play this week.
The Bonnies had produced two underwhelming post-Charleston Classic performances and had learned senior point guard Kyle Lofton would miss the next several weeks with an ankle sprain.
The Bonnies provided an emphatic response with an intense win, 68-65, against the University of Buffalo at the Reilly Center Saturday afternoon.
“We just really rallied together and gave it our all and knew we could win this game,” senior guard Jalen Adaway said. “It’s just a matter of how tough are we willing to be.”
The teams traded buckets in the first half. UB led 27-23 with 4:28 left in the half before a Jalen Adaway three sparked a 12-2 Bonnies run, giving them a 35-29 lead at halftime.
“I thought our guys came out and played really aggressive, played downhill,” Bona’s head coach Mark Schmidt said.
The Bonnies remained in control after halftime. Seniors Jalen Adaway and Osun Osunniyi led the Bonnies’ scoring attack, while fellow senior Jaren Holmes impressed while facilitating the offense.
“I thought Jaren was tremendous playing out of position,” Schmidt said. “He’s a warrior.”
The lead grew to as many as 11, but Buffalo continued to hang around thanks to the play of senior forward Jeenathan Williams. The Bonnies forced six turnovers from the senior, but Williams continued to find baskets and smoothly finish at the rim.
Buffalo took a timeout after senior guard Dominick Welch gave the Bonnies a 63-52 lead with 3:05 remaining. But the Bulls made a final push, tying the game at 65 with 29 seconds left, setting up St. Bonaventure to take the last shot.
With the clock winding down, Holmes drove left, drawing two Buffalo defenders. Holmes passed the ball back out to Adaway who drained the game-winning three pointer with one second left, giving the Bonnies a 68-65 win and sending the Reilly Center into pandemonium.
“He’s always in the gym. He deserved to hit that shot,” Schmidt said. “When you put all that work in, you wanna have that shot.
“It’s priceless,” Adaway said. “I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and how happy I am and how big of a moment it really was.”
The win moved the Bonnies to 7-1 on the season. Despite missing on-court leadership from Lofton, the Bonnies showed an abundance of another attribute: toughness.
“We found a way to win. It’s a game of toughness,” Schmidt said. “Everything is skill and athleticism but when it comes down to it it’s a game of toughness and I thought we made those tough plays when we needed to.”
Bona’s reserves had arguably their most impactful game of the season. Quadry Adams took the Lofton’s spot in the starting lineup, finishing with only six points but adding a perimeter defensive presence necessary in Lofton’s absence.
Redshirt sophomore Linton Brown had 10 points (all in the first half) and shot 2-4 from three. Abdoul Karim Coulibaly provided a paint presence when senior big Osun Osunniyi sat due to foul trouble.
“It’s just them being positive when they’re on the floor and I thought all three of those guys did a really good job tonight,” Schmidt said.
After defeating Buffalo, the Bonnies face Loyola (MD) on Wednesday before a road matchup with UConn on Dec. 11.
“We all have to get better. We’re not a finished product by any means,” Schmidt said. “We have a lot more game in us.”
Acclaimed musician and songwriter Taylor Swift announced on June 18, 2021, that she would re-record her fourth studio album Red, including 10 never-released songs in addition to the 20 original tracks. She releases the album Friday, Nov. 12.
Swift, 31, is one of the most influential female artists of the twenty-first century. She continues to reinvent herself and her music to this day.
On a personal note, Taylor Swift is my favorite musical artist, and Red is an album that I loved as a kid. I sang my heart out to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” at the age of 12, as if I’d been hurt in a relationship myself. I also remember dying of laughter to “I Knew You Were Trouble” goat remixes with my mom in our living room.
And a few years ago, my mom and I actually performed “Red” together at my guitar recital. That was a real full-circle moment. Obviously, there’s a lot of sentiment attached to this album for me, so I’m super excited for Red (Taylor’s Version).
A lot of excitement surrounds Red (Taylor’s Version) for “Swifties” and the general public alike. First, it includes 10 never-released songs that Swift wrote during the time of the original release of Red. One of these songs, “Nothing New”, features breakout indie artist Phoebe Bridgers, and another, “Run”, features original Red contributor and singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran.
Second, one of the most iconic and heartbreaking songs from the original album (“All Too Well”) gets transformed into a 10 minute (yes, you heard me right) extended version on Red (Taylor’s Version). And if that wasn’t enough, a short film starring Stranger Thing’s Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien accompanies the 10-minute masterpiece. The actors share the same age difference as Swift and actor Jake Gyllenhaal, about whom the song is written.
Third, the album is known for its fall aesthetic, so its release in the midst of the season must be no coincidence.
This isn’t Swift’s first dabble in re-recording her albums. On Feb. 11, Swift announced she would re-record her second studio album, releasing it as Fearless (Taylor’s Version). This being one of her most iconic albums, the project was well received by both fans and musicians worldwide. The new record included the 20 originals as well as six never-released songs deemed “from the vault”. Fans were delighted by Swift’s mature vocals as well as her ability to bring old feelings and emotions to life; Swift wrote the original Fearless album at 18. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released on April 9.
After the re-release of Fearless, fans wondered which of Swift’s albums she re-recorded next. After weeks of fan theories and speculation, Taylor announced the release of Red (Taylor’s Version) on June 18, 2021. Red (Taylor’s Version) had an initial release date of Nov. 19, but the anticipation was so extreme that Swift moved the release up a week to this Friday.
Before discussing how important this re-recording is, we first must deluge in a Taylor Swift career retrospective; what brought her to re-record her previous work?
Taylor Swift began her career as a country singer, attracting listeners with a heart of gold and words that resonated with all ages. Her early music touched on motifs such as first love, first heartbreak, and the importance of family. Songs like “Teardrops on My Guitar”and “Our Song” catapulted her into the spotlight at 16. Following the success of her eponymous debut album, Swift released Fearless, her first true country-pop album, in 2008. It included some of her biggest hits to date, like “Love Story”, “White Horse”, and “You Belong with Me”.
Following the success of Fearless, Taylor shocked the world with Speak Now in 2010, an album furthering her pop leanings, with heartfelt tracks like “Mine”, “Dear John”, and “Enchanted”.
Whereas Speak Now was still reminiscent of her earlier work, enter Red. Swift fully embraced pop-star status on this totally innovative album featuring some of Swift’s most popular songs, including the title track, “Red”, and radio hits like “22”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. The album also included beautiful melodies (listen to “All Too Well”) with lyrics to match.
In 2014 Swift released 1989, which may be Swift’s best album lyrically, melodically, and conceptually (and it’s my personal favorite). 1989 continued Taylor’s work rewriting the rules of pop, with smash hits like “Welcome to New York”, “Blank Space”, and “Shake it Off”, among several others.
After the extremely successful release of 1989 and its equally successful stadium tour, the media began alleging “snake” behavior by Swift following a leaked audio clip of her apparently giving consent to Kanye West to use her name in his song, “Famous”. The two have had a rocky relationship since West’s infamous “I’mma let you finish, but…” in the middle of Taylor’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Music Awards. But in 2016, when “Famous” was released, Taylor denied ever approving of having her name in Kanye’s lyrics. Six months after the release, West’s wife Kim Kardashian tweeted out a video, later revealed to be edited, of Taylor on a phone call with the couple approving of Kanye’s vulgar lyrics about her in his song.
After a year of hiding from the media, Swift turned the harmful words into the smash hit reputation, with visuals and lyrics referencing snakes and betrayal. She used the negativity that once brought her down to build herself up again.
This edgy era received mixed reviews from the media as well, and even from loyal “Swifties”— her fanbase—which motivated Taylor to write a better and more cohesive record that she could be proud of, and soon she revealed Lover to the world. As the title implies, Lover explores themes of love, commitment and loyalty and honors Swift’s boyfriend of over 3 years at the time of the album’s release, actor, Joe Alwyn.
Less than a year after the release of Lover, the COVID-19 pandemic struck Taylor Swift with inspiration. In mid-July, Swift shocked the world by surprise-releasing her eighth studio album, folklore, a hauntingly beautiful work of fictional stories about heartbreak, loss and self-reflection. Swift then dropped evermore, a self-proclaimed sister record to folklore, less than six months later, expanding on the themes from the previous album. These albums were a shift of pace for Swift and caused her to regain some of the Swifties who have not listened to her music since her release of reputation, as well as garner a new fanbase comprising indie/alternative listeners. Swift gained respect from the music industry for not only releasing folklore and evermore in such a close timeframe and during a global pandemic, but also for completely shifting genres once again while still keeping her same fanbase despite doing so. folklore was so successful that it won Album of the Year at the 2020 Grammys.
You might be wondering: what’s the big deal with these rerecordings? Many might believe it is a quick cash-grab, but the choice to re-record means so much more than profit; it symbolizes ownership and taking back what is rightfully yours. In 2019, Republic Records sold her master tapes to Scooter Braun, a popular music producer, without her consent. Taylor does not legally own any of her music or have any licensing rights despite writing and singing practically everything that she has ever released.
Thus, re-recording her music is a way for Swift to regain control over what is rightfully hers. This sends a message not only to fans but to everyone in the music industry to fight for what is right and claim what is yours. This message comes across clearly in “Change (Taylor’s Version)”, from Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which is an anthem to standing up against those who bring you down.
“Because these things will change / Can you feel it now? / These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down / It's a revolution, the time will come / For us to finally win”.
It is also a way for Taylor to prove her strength and her willingness to stand up against adversity. I am beyond excited for this record, first for the nostalgia and second for the amazing symbolism and deeper meaning behind Swift’s time-consuming and monumental career choice.
So grab your favorite scarf and a box of tissues and get ready to settle down for the almost two-and-a-half-hour masterpiece that is Red (Taylor’s Version) on this Friday, Nov. 12. Can you feel my excitement?
And– even if you’re not a “Swiftie”, I hope you have a musician or a band that makes you smile and brings you undeniable joy and comfort. Listen to that artist today. Take a walk and breathe in the fall air, which is feeling more like a pre-winter chill.
(Iris Archer is a feature contributor for The Intrepid and is also a Taylor Swift superfan.)
“Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper” is the utmost praise an emcee can earn in their career. MF DOOM, or DOOM for short, garnered this acclaim before his untimely passing last year. Yet, I bet many of you have no idea who DOOM was. That was part of his genius.
Just remember, it’s all caps when you spell the man’s name.
1. The Mask
The very first feature of DOOM you noticed was his mask. I thought at first, why the hell is he wearing a mask? According to DOOM, he rarely revealed his face to the public. He wanted his audiences to revere his emceeing abilities over any of his other extraneous features.
You can see that DOOM wasn’t your prototypical celebrity or entertainer. His luminescent, silver Doctor Doom mask enthralled any eyes that glanced upon it, and, ultimately, the mask further enhanced DOOM’s mystique.
MF DOOM is arguably the most inconspicuous hip-hop legend ever. No sources could detect or verify any of DOOM’s personal information besides him and maybe his wife and his closest friends. For the longest time, the general public didn’t even know his birthday.
And peep this—you could attend an MF DOOM show, and not have even seen DOOM. Yes! DOOM had doubles he used to substitute for himself!
Who else does absurd things like that?
MF DOOM also had many self-proclaimed monikers that contributed to the shield around his actual identity. Each of his aliases had distinct personalities and styles of rapping, along with their own albums and projects. MF DOOM also featured his own personas in songs to make an even greater distinction between his true self and his aliases.
DOOM’s hip-hop career, and everything that surrounded it, was rather abstract. He spelled his name using all capital letters, even though DOOM doesn’t stand for a damn thing. No one else in hip-hop had DOOM’s distinct cadence, flow, lyricism and voice.
His rhyme scheme, specifically, was quite eccentric because of his elite ability to deceive the listener. DOOM would take words and phrases from everyday prose and leave them hanging on a cliff or replace the word we expect with an unexpected word or phrase.
Take his song ‘Great Day’, off his classic album Madvillainy,featuringMadlib. MF DOOM had a classic example of this when he rapped:
Last wish/I wish I had two more wishes/And I wish they fix the door to the matrix’s mad fridges/spit so many verses my sometimes my jaw twitches/one thing this party could use is more…booze.
We all know what word rhymes with ‘twitches’ that would be more ideal for a sentence pertaining to a party. We’ll leave it at that.
So you may never have seen or heard of MF DOOM. In some ways, it seemed like he wanted it that way. The inconspicuous emcee, the metal-faced villain, became a legend of the hip-hop zeitgeist. In my opinion, there will never be another DOOM.
(Akim Hudson is a feature contributor for The Intrepid.)
ST. BONAVENTURE (Oct. 3, 2021) — Sunday afternoon the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will host a solo piano performance in honor of late university trustee and local business executive Erick Laine, who passed away last December at 87.
The event is at 3 p.m. and is free to attend. It will feature internationally renowned English pianist Phillip Edward Fisher. The Julliard-educated pianist will play selections from Beethoven and Hayden, as well as works by Finnish Romantic-period composer Jean Sibelius to honor the Finnish-born Laine.
Marianne Letro Laine, Mr. Laine’s widow and noted local philanthropist, is currently the chairwoman of the Guild of the Quick Center for the Arts and donated the new Steinway piano that will be used in the concert.
“The piano arrived shortly before Covid,” Mrs. Laine told The Intrepid. “But we haven’t had a chance to display it in all its glory.”
Mrs. Laine also spoke about her husband’s contributions to the Bonaventure community.
“One of Erick’s passions… was education,” said Mrs. Laine. “It was a good fit for him to be on their board because he really, really was very interested in the education part of it.”
“His other interest— and this goes back to being Finnish— was, for several years, he supported a tennis program that brought kids from Finland to the U.S. for college. Two of them were named a couple of years ago into Bonaventure’s hall of fame for tennis, and these two came every year for four years and graduated. Erick was thrilled to have participated in that.”
“This is a gift for everyone who loves music,” said Quick Center executive director Ludwig Brunner to the media about the donation.
“I have been a part of the Quick Center before it was the Quick Center,” said Mrs. Laine. “It’s really a treasure, and the community is very lucky to have it.”
With a five-piece band behind him and a stack of Bud Lights at his side, Austin Post lit a cigarette and lifted a microphone to his face.
The hip-hop artist, better known by his stage name Post Malone, wrapped his jet-black painted fingernails around the microphone as a camouflage hat cast a shadow over his tattoo-laden face.
He proceeded to lead Dwight Yoakam’s band through a cover of Brad Paisley’s 2001 hit “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” hitting every note with ease as steel guitars and fiddles played behind him.
Malone performed the country hit as part of Matthew McConaughey’s “We’re Texas” virtual benefit concert, which helped raise money for Texas’ victims of February’s severe winter storm.
While this may have been Malone’s most prominent nod to country music thus far, it was far from his first.
And, while his hip-hop success has made Malone one of the world’s most popular artists, he could likely stray from the genre before his career ends.
Evidently, Malone’s country album is coming. It’s just a matter of when.
Malone’s relationship with Yoakam, a country music artist whose career started in the 1980s, dates back to Malone’s first album.
On “Feeling Whitney,” an acoustically driven outlier on Malone’s 2016 half sung, half rapped debut “Stoney,” Malone references Yoakam.
“I put on a little Dwight and sang a happy tune,” the 25-year-old Syracuse-born, Texas-raised artist sings.
Then, in 2018, Malone joined Yoakam’s show on SiriusXM satellite radio and accompanied him on “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” one of Yoakam’s 13 top-ten hits.
Malone’s current discography obviously identifies most closely with hip-hop.
He’s had No. 1 singles with hip-hop artists 21 Savage, Ty Dolla $ign and Swae Lee. His most recent album, 2019’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” won an American Music Award in 2019 for “favorite rap/hip-hop album,” and won a Billboard Music Award in 2020 for top rap album.
Malone has left a paper trail of interest in country music throughout his career, however.
Aside from the Yoakam shoutout, his song “Stay” on 2018’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Beerbongs and Bentleys” sounds like it came from an Eagles record. He’s covered Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, Jr. He sang on stage with Keith Urban.
And, in a 2017 interview with Shop Talk, Malone recalled playing country music at a restaurant near his adolescent home of Grapevine, Texas.
He’s been known to wear a cowboy hat and boots, and can often be seen on the red carpet sporting a “Nudie suit,” a term coined for the rhinestone-filled outfits created by tailer Nudie Cohn that became the normal apparel for country stars throughout the 1960s, 70s and beyond.
At this point in his career, straying from hip-hop would be redundant for Malone. He and his music are too popular.
However, once his shelf life begins to run out and he reaches his mid-30s, the album will come.
It may not even be worth asking whether Malone will record a country album or not. The better question, however, is which current (and former) country stars he’ll feature on it.
Each genre of music has its own take on holiday music.
While country artists have covered plenty of holiday classics, this genre has produced its own fair share of seasonal music, as well. Here are the five best holiday-themed country songs, ranked.
5. “Christmas Cookies,” George Strait (2000)
This upbeat score by the “king of country music” sounds exactly like the title would suggest. Strait repeatedly says, “I sure do love those Christmas cookies,” and for a variety of reasons. The best part of baking cookies, according to Strait?
“Every time she sticks another batch in the oven, there’s 15 minutes for some kissin’ and huggin’.”
4. “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen (1994)
Later covered by Montgomery Gentry, this holiday epic from Texas-based indie artist Robert Earl Keen tells the story of a stereotypical poor, redneck family getting together to celebrate Christmas.
The song’s lyrics have an abundance of twists and turns, including chain smoking while listening to Christmas carols, a quest for extension cords and a motor home blowing the host family’s Christmas lights.
3. “Honky Tonk Christmas,” Alan Jackson (1993)
If you’re a fan of Alan Jackson’s fiddle-filled tunes from the 90s, this song is for you. Jackson’s 1993 holiday album, of which this song is the title track, is filled with the same steel guitar and other traditional country sounds that made him famous.
On this record, however, his songs of hard work and heartbreak are focused on Christmas. “I Only Want You for Christmas” is another highlight of the album.
2. “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy,” Buck Owens (1965)
Owens is most well-known for bringing the “Bakersfield sound,” a west-coast style of country music that featured twangy strings and limited bass, to the mainstream. On this track, he carefully weaves a Christmas tale from the perspective of a child that snuck out of their bed late on Christmas Eve.
“It’s not the way I had him pictured,” Owens screeches in his unmistakable baritone. “Santa was much too thin.”
“If We Make It Through December,” Merle Haggard (1973)
Haggard has a hit song for everything; Christmas included.
The title track of Haggard’s 1974 album with his band “The Strangers,” this song has been covered by many artists in its 47 years of existence. Unlike many country songs that are Christmas-themed, this one doesn’t have a positive undertone.
Haggard tells the story of a factory worker who isn’t particularly fond of the winter time. To make things worse, this year, the song’s narrator has been laid off from his factory job, leaving him wondering how he is going to be able to afford Christmas presents for his daughter.
For many, December is meant to be the “happy time of year,” as Haggard sings. However, that isn’t the reality of the holiday season for many people. As he did for so many years and on so many hit songs, Haggard illustrates the reality of Christmas from the working man’s perspective.
“If we make it through December,” he says, “we’ll be fine.”
The beginning of the 2020s found country music in a place that is as familiar to the genre’s history as is a guitar and fiddle.
While some artists work to pull country music forward and evolve its sound, others try to preserve its traditional sounds, as has always been the genre’s case.
The previous decade saw the rise, dominance, and (near) fall of “bro country,” before a new class of Nashville sooners made sappy love songs the featured song type on the radio once again.
Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and more dominated the 2010s by tapping into these sounds. Now, however, country music seems to be experiencing a “changing of the guard,” as it has before and will do again in the future.
Of the young artists vying to become the next Aldean, Blake Shelton or Thomas Rhett, four have emerged that represent the current state of the genre holistically.
Each artist’s sound is similar enough to fit the mainstream, yet distinct enough to allow them to stand out. And, while tapping into slightly different circles of an ever-vast world of country music, these four have primed themselves to be the genre’s biggest stars of the 2020s.
Luke Combs is already a superstar.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native’s popularity skyrocketed in 2017 off of the success of his debut album, “This One’s For You,” and since then, it really hasn’t stopped.
Comb’s sophomore album, “What You See Is What You Get,” not only dominated country charts in late 2019 and into 2020, but also peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s genre-binding Top 200 chart. The album has produced four singles that have reached No. 1 on the US country airplay chart, and is certified platinum by the RIAA.
If that’s not impressive enough, “This One’s For You” spent an unprecedented 50 weeks at No. 1 on country charts.
So, what makes Combs so popular? He has a little bit of everything, which suits everyone. He seamlessly transitions from relentlessly authentic love songs to tales of buck-wild Friday nights, all while maintaining his trademark, acoustic-based sound that features just the right amount of electric guitar.
Combs once again proved his popularity with the release of five new songs last Friday, including “Forever After All,” which soared to the top of genre-wide streaming charts, a feat that is rarely achieved by a country artist.
It’s hard to argue against Combs being the face of country music right now. He dominates the radio. He dominates streaming services. And, if his music catalog stays true to its roots, he will dominate the decade.
Jon Pardi’s debut album put his name in the Nashville conversation six years ago, but it was his 2016 album “California Sunrise” that launched his career to the level that it is currently at.
Pardi is this list’s representative for traditional country music. All three of his studio albums are loaded with fiddle, and the Dixon, California native has had a lot of radio success despite keeping his sound and lyrics traditional instead of leaning toward pop.
“California Sunrise” produced four top-10 singles, and is certified platinum by the RIAA.
In 2019, “Heartache Medication” became Pardi’s third No. 1 single on US country radio airplay, and was the lead single for his September album that bears the same name. The album made it to No. 2 on US country charts, largely held back by the dominance of Combs, and continued Pardi’s momentum as the modern-day defender of the “Bakersfield Sound.”
Pardi is 34, which is prime age for a country artist to have the biggest years of their career. Expect to hear him throughout the 20s and beyond.
The bad boy. The wildcard. The mullet.
Despite being the most pop-centric artist on this list, Morgan Wallen has adopted the role of Nashville’s “bad boy” after his rise to fame on the success of his 2018 debut album, “If I Know Me.”
Wallen’s signature mullet, cutoff flannel and skinny jeans look was everywhere in 2019, and, in case you haven’t noticed, an absurd amount of American teenagers are cutting their hair into mullets.
Wallen may be to blame.
He’s gotten into some trouble this year, infamously getting arrested at Kid Rock’s bar in Nashville in May, and getting removed from hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live in October after videos surfaced of him partying the week before.
However, country music has always made space for outlaws. And while Wallen’s music doesn’t fit the outlaw bill, his freewheeling lifestyle does.
At just 27 years old, Wallen’s potential is endless. George Strait, whom many consider the king of modern day country music, didn’t have his first No. 1 hit until he was 30. Wallen has had three such hits on country radio so far, and his new single “7 Summers” not only debuted at No. 1 on country charts in September, but at No. 6 on pop charts.
Wallen’s upcoming album, for which “7 Summers” was the third released single, will be a good litmus test for his popularity. Don’t be surprised to see Combs-like numbers produced by that record, and the rest of his work this decade.
Representing the state of Alabama, Riley Green is perhaps the least popular of the aforementioned artists. At least for now.
The Jacksonville, Alabama native embodies the rural south through and through, and his lyrics reflect it. He played quarterback at Jacksonville State before pursuing a music career, and released his debut album, “Different ‘Round Here,” in September 2019.
Green’s sound is more traditional than Combs but less than Pardi, and his unapologetic songwriting has contributed to his popularity, despite some negative publicity.
Green is the underdog in the race for country music stardom, and although he may never achieve the walloping chart numbers of Combs and Wallen, he’s here to stay throughout the 20s.
Tyler Childers made his message clear in the words that he sang and the words that he spoke.
The 29-year-old country singer from Lawrence County, Kentucky released a surprise album on Sept. 18, and in its aftermath, left some fans rejoicing, some furious, and some scratching their heads.
The album, titled “Long Violent History,” replicates the sound of Childers’ previous music catalogue, filled with strings and little artificial production.
Eight of the album’s nine tracks are instrumentals. It’s the title track, however, strategically placed at the end of the record, that makes this rising star of rural Appalachia an unlikely defender of social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“How many boys could they haul off this mountain, shoot full of holes, cuffed and layin’ in the streets,” Childers cries in his powerful, gruff cadence. “‘Til we come into town in a stark ravin’ anger, looking for answers and armed to the teeth?”
Empathy. That’s Childers’ message.
Fully aware of his predominantly white, rural fan base, Childers presents his plea for justice in a way that his listeners can relate to.
“Thirty-ought-sixes, papaw’s old pistol, how many, you reckon, would it be, four or five,” he continues. “Or would that be the start of a long, violent history of tucking our tails as we try to abide?”
To make sure that his message didn’t get twisted or misinterpreted, Childers released a video on Twitter to accompany the album.
“(The album) is a collection of instrumental pieces intended to create a sonic soundscape for the listener to set the tone to reflect on the last track, which is my observation piece on the times we are in,” Childers said. “COVID has been a strain on all of us in some form or fashion… all the while, we have witnessed violent acts of police brutality happen around the nation that have not been addressed.”
Childers continues by asking his “white rural listeners” to do a self-examination on the matter.
“I venture to say that if we were met with this type of daily attack on our own people, we would take action in a way that hasn’t been seen since the battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia,” Childers says. “If we wouldn’t stand for it, why would we expect another group of Americans to stand for it?”
He closes the video with an appeal to vote out the people who have “been in power and let this go unnoticed,” as well as a questioning of the morality of the Confederate flag.
The day the album and video were released, Childers began trending on Twitter, a space that is rarely taken up by country music artists. However, it is difficult to say whether his political stance will help or hurt the rising star’s career.
Childers has been one of the buzziest independent country artists of the past few years. His album “Country Squire,” released by his indy label Hickman Holler records in August 2019, reached No. 1 on the US country charts with virtually no radio airplay.
He was named “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2020 for his performance of the second single off of County Squire, “All Your’n.”
Engulfing himself in modern-day politics is an audacious move for an up-and-coming artist who heavily relies on a rural, and presumably conservative, audience.
The sound of the album is rock-solid. The 32-minute retreat to the hollers of Kentucky that Childers hails from is loaded with fiddle and mandolin, and features a sound that replicates bluegrass as much as it does country.
Other than a few sparse stomps, slaps and timpani rolls, there is no percussion on the album. If it were released half a century ago, it would likely be called a “fiddling record.”
Childers’ fanbase cannot fault his sound, as he has stayed true to his Appalachian roots with each of his projects thus far.
Will his accompanying message, however, turn conservative fans away? Or will it draw in new fans from outside the genre and continue his momentum?
Either way, Childers has made it clear where he stands. And it’s hard to deny his authenticity.