The crowd may have been light, but spirits were high during Cole Chaney’s AMERICANAFEST debut at EXIT/IN on Thursday night. The soft-spoken Eastern Kentucky-based songwriter wasn’t fazed, though, delivering a placid and polished set nonetheless.
The show was actually Chaney’s third at the historic Nashville venue, having opened for 49 Winchester there in early 2022 and then headlining later that summer. However, it was his first there as a trio with fiddler, Ella Webster, and revered Kentucky songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Don Rogers.
Collectively, the three pulled back the curtain on Chaney’s deeply personal songs like show opener 'Another Day In The Life' and closer 'Ill Will Creek', both off his 2021 debut Mercy.
Other songs from the album performed include 'The Air Between' and 'Coalshooter', the latter of which describes the sacrifices of his grandfather, who as a teenager went to work in the local coal mines as a coal shooter — someone who’d run into the mines, place the dynamite and race to escape before it blew — out of necessity to help support his impoverished family.
The threesome also conjured up a handful of songs from Chaney’s follow-up to Mercy, 2022’s OurVinyl Sessions EP, led by another ode to his grandfather and grandmother in 'Charlene' and 'Grind', a story about his fathers sacrifices in providing for him.
On each of the songs, you can hear the appreciation Chaney has for his family in his voice. It comes from deep within, a place of complete honesty and humility, and is authentic as can be. It’s a formula that he’s been able to tap into frequently since leaving his job as a welder to pursue music in 2019, and one that looks to serve him well long into the future.
Chaney will remain on tour through the fall and winter with stops everywhere from The Burl in Lexington to opening for Charles Wesley Godwin at the Ryman Auditorium on Dec. 7 and 8.
Taken from his live performance at EXIT/IN in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, September 21st, 2023.
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