Tyler Childers Releases Surprise New Album ‘Long Violent History’

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Tyler Childers released a surprise new album entitled Long Violent History. The record features Childers on fiddle and consists of eight instrumental songs that lead up to the closing title track, which is the only to feature Childers’ vocals.

“Back in June when I wrote the song ‘Long Violent History,’ it was my original goal to continue to make fairly legible sounds on the fiddle and put this album out with no announcements or press,” Childers said in a video message. “I planned to package it as an old-time fiddle album and let the piece make its statement on it’s own, taking the listener by surprise at the end.”

Childers then provided further context for the record, calling it “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 own observational piece on the times we are in.” Childers went on to address the COVID-19 pandemic, “violent acts of police brutality” and recent protests and asked his “white, rural listeners” to address how they would react if they had to worry “about the smallest interaction with a public servant” and cited several hypothetical examples.

Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Dom Flemons was among those who contributed to the album. Flemons wrote an accompanying essay introducing the other musicians who worked on Long Violent History that were dubbed “The Pickin’ Crew.” Part of Flemons’ essay explains [emphasis added]:

For this epic recording session in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, Tyler Childers and his bandmate Jesse Wells meticulously curated a modern string band known as “The Pickin’ Crew.” This group of stellar Americana artists included myself, 5-string Kentucky banjo specialist John Haywood, mandolinist Andrew Marlin, guitarist Josh Oliver, upright bassist John R. Miller, fiddler Chloe Edmonstone and cellist Cecelia Wright. Although Tyler has been playing the fiddle for under a year, his style and technique as learned under the tutelage of Jesse Wells proves that Kentucky string band music is in his blood. The tunes presented in this album Long Violent History showcase the variety of fiddle styles that are profoundly represented in the American music lexicon.

Six of the songs on Long Violent History are considered traditional, along with Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns” and Lucas “Red Luke” Thomasson’s fiddle tune “Midnight on the Water.” All proceeds from sales of Long Violent History be donated to the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund, which supports underserved communities in the Appalachian region. Childers and his wife, singer-songwriter Senora May, established The Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund earlier this year.

Watch Childers’ message about Long Violent History and stream the surprise new album below:

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