Best of 2020: Nathaniel Rateliff Talks Tyler Childers’s Long Violent History

The Kentucky artist is standing “on the right side of history.”

It’s been a strange year to say the least. In these times, we find ourselves in self reflection and looking for joy at every turn. Hoping that when we rise we will see that something has changed for good in our world.

In my search I was lucky enough to see that our good friend released an album of old-time fiddle tunes in mid-September. The music itself is a breath of fresh air, traditional tunes played the way they were meant to be played. In an industry full of shit and glitter it’s rare to see an artist release an album of songs recorded for the love of the song.

The album was released without any announcements or press, only a statement by Tyler. Expressing his concern “that the album could run the risk of being misinterpreted if not given some sort of accompanying explanation to set it in context.” He speaks briefly of his own struggle admitting that he “has no soapbox to stand on” but talked about what we’ve all seen our country and communities and “our inability to empathize with another individual or group’s plight.” He goes on to explain even more and I encourage you to read or listen to his statement.

Though I’m not a Kentuckian, I am from rural Missouri, a state with its own history of violence. I also recognize and have experienced the struggle that exists in rural communities along with the struggle to carve out a life for oneself and family in the city.

This is a beautiful collection of songs. If you have no history with traditional tunes, bluegrass, country, or Americana please give this a listen. It has been on repeat since I purchased it and brings me so much joy and hope. Music can still be made for the love of the sound and getting lost in a melody and artists like Mr. Childers are brave enough to share them with us and brave enough to stand with love and understanding on the right side of history.

(Photo Credit: left, Danny Clinch)

On March 3, Nathaniel Rateliff kicked off his sold-out “And It’s Still Alright Tour” — which marked a nine month continued run. Nine days later on March 12 the rest of the tour was canceled when the pandemic hit. After months of virtual shows and livestreams, Rateliff performed five socially distanced shows at Colorado’s renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The Marigold Project is Rateliff’s foundation dedicated to economic, racial and social justice. All funds raised through the Red Rocks were distributed to organizations working in Colorado to propel their mission forward. Lean more about the foundation at Earlier this year, Rateliff released his latest solo album, And It’s Still Alright, on Stax Records. 

(Photo Credit: Danny Clinch)